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How to Prune Your Cannabis

How to Prune Your Cannabis

how to prune cannabis plants

Plant pruning is an essential tool for keeping your plants healthy and keeping energy focused to the parts of your plant that need it most.

If you don’t prune your cannabis plants, the small branches and leaves under your canopy can steal that energy away. It might seem wasteful to cut off any part of your plant that looks like it is growing fine, but it can actually be the opposite.

Why Prune Cannabis?

When your cannabis plants are young and just starting their vegetative stage, they’re small and it’s easy for light and air to penetrate every part of your plants. But that changes as they grow.

As your cannabis grows taller and wider with vegetative growth, the canopy that develops can start to take the majority of light away from the lower portion of the plant. This means that branches, leaves and even potential flower sites can’t get the light they need.

Additionally, as your plant grows thicker and forms a canopy, it becomes difficult for air to penetrate and pass through the whole plant. This causes the lower parts of your cannabis to get stuck in pockets of warm air with little light, and that’s no good.

Pruning your cannabis is simply just getting rid of the parts of the plant that aren’t going to produce flower or benefit the plant going forward as it grows.

How to Prune Cannabis

You can maintain regular basic pruning practices with just your hands, but to really have an impact, you’ll want to use a pair of trimming scissors and have a pair of shears on hand in case you run into a tough branch.

Before you break out the scissors, check your plants for dead leaves, withering leaves, and leaves lower on the plant that aren’t receiving light. Remove these leaves by hand to get a better view of your plants throughout to see the branches and flower sites you might want to remove.

Next, beginning at the bottom of your plants, you want to looks for branches that are growing upward and underneath the canopy. Due to their growth pattern, these branches will never be able to get the light they need to produce harvest-worthy flowers and be cut out.

There may also be flower sites that have formed directly on the stem of your plants. You want to snip those off too.

By cutting out these branches and lower flower sites, your plants will focus more energy on the tops of your plants, producing bigger, better flowers up top.

Don’t Prune Later in Flower

While you can (and should) prune your plants regularly throughout their vegetative stage and early into the flower stage, you will want to cease pruning when they get three to four weeks into the flowering stage.

Cutting off portions of your plant later in the flower stage can reactivate vegetative growth from the sites you cut. Needless to say, if vegetative growth starts up in your flower stage, it’s going to take extremely valuable energy away from your flower sites at the top of the plants.

Hemp Industry Win: Farmers Might Finally Get Bank Access

Hemp Industry Win: Farmers Might Finally Get Bank Access

Banking has been an issue for cannabis and hemp businesses alike due to federal banking restrictions for years. But for hemp, that all could be changing very soon.

It’s safe to say that the hemp industry and cannabis industry don’t have the best relationships with banks. Because most banks are federal institutions, they have to follow federal law. This is why despite cannabis being legal in multiple state, businesses have a lot of difficulty finding a bank that will work with them.

While this will remain the case for the cannabis industry unless the SAFE Banking Act passes, the legal hemp industry has achieved another milestone in regards to banking for legal hemp businesses.

Hemp Industry Banking

Currently, the banks that actually work with legal hemp businesses could be counted on one hand. Due to strict requirements that come with loads of paperwork, most banks just avoid hemp businesses all together. But that is all about to change.

Federal and state bank regulators announced Tuesday that they were scrapping a burdensome requirement that banks said kept them away from the hemp business. With the requirement scrapped, banks no longer have to treat their hemp customers as suspicious and file reams of paperwork to anti-money-laundering authorities for each interaction.

In other words, with less paper work and red tape surrounding the legal hemp industry, banks are about to feel a lot safer about working with hemp businesses. And it’s not like the demand isn’t there either.

In November of 2019, the American Banking Association surveyed 1,800 agriculture-focused banks in the country and found that almost half had gotten questions from their farmer-customers about whether they would still do business with them if they started growing hemp.

Hopping on a moving train

Banks have been sitting on the sidelines of the legal hemp industry and legal cannabis industry for a while now, and the industry has progressed just fine without the financial institutions up to this point. Even though banks have been slow to embrace the cannabis industry, investors have been geared up to profit from it.

Analysts tracking publicly traded companies have added pot producers to their portfolios, in order to help investors decide where best to maximize their exposure to the industry. Ultra-rich venture capitalists have begun to treat pot businesses like tech start-ups. While some stocks have had their hiccups, the industry is looking strong and projected to continue growing through 2020 and beyond.

While banks have been slow to get onboard the legal hemp industry train, hemp businesses will likely be happy to work with them now that the requirements have been lessened. Even though hemp flower producers may still find it difficult having a product so similar to federally illegal cannabis, other businesses in hemp clothing and manufacturing should start finding it much easier to find a bank that will work with them.

Is cannabis banking next?

The hemp industry is making strides on strides in terms of legalization and banking access, whereas legal cannabis industries have been inching along slowly year over year. Progress has been exponential since Colorado first legalized in 2012, with multiple states following suit in the years after. But with federal law remaining the same regarding cannabis, progress has been slow with legal cannabis businesses still lacking banking access, despite state law.

The SAFE Banking Act is currently the best hope legal cannabis businesses have to achieve banking access in the near future. While the bill has already passed through the House of Representatives with large support from the banking industry. However not many are hopeful of the bill surviving the republican controlled senate headed by Mitch McConnell.

The irony of the whole situation is that McConnell is largely responsible for the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill the federally legalized hemp across the country, yet he will also be the reason that legal cannabis businesses may not get the access to banks they desperately need. Only time will tell, and for, all the wires are silent.

First Year of Industrial Hemp: Is it Booming or Bust?

First Year of Industrial Hemp: Is it Booming or Bust?

Millions of pounds harvested. Tons of CBD extracted. But the market might not be ready for so much industrial hemp.

There was no shortage of farmers ready to make the switch to industrial hemp after the Farm Bill passed at the end of 2018. Many were looking for a new cash crop that they could get in on to make some real money.

The beginning of 2019 and outdoor grow season was an exciting time for just about everybody involved. More states passed legislation over time establishing their own ground rules for industrial hemp, and farmers licensed up, cleared out their land and made the transition.

The Industrial Hemp Boom

The mass migration of farmers and traditional cannabis cultivators to industrial hemp led to a massive increase in production. Everything from hemp seeds and hemp flower to CBD extracts and the plant’s fibers were all the sudden in extremely high demand. So much so that just about every dispensary, smoke shop and even gas stations started selling CBD products on their shelves.

Sales exploded with more and more articles vouching for the medicinal benefits of CBD and the potential financial gains the industrial hemp industry could provide the country. On top of the media exposure, plenty of celebrities hopped on the CBD band wagon, with actors and athletes alike sponsoring and being sponsored by CBD companies, and some even creating their own.

CBD is the first real aspect of cannabis to break into the mainstream, and even be celebrated on a massive scale. Recreational cannabis pales in comparison to the international attention CBD has received just in the last 12 months. But with any new industry that takes off sprinting from the gate, there are going to be some trip-ups.

The Industrial Hemp Bust

While industrial hemp production was regulated on the state level, there is very little regulation in the way of CBD production, and barriers to entry were (and still are) extremely low. The lack of regulation allowed a lot of untrustworthy and potentially dangerous products out into the market. While the producers of these products made a pretty penny, the consumers soon started to learn of the risks of bad CBD products.

A lot of shady CBD manufacturers got in, sold their bad product made from poorly grown “biomass” and got out with their money. There was an industrial hemp seed deal in which the buyer was promised feminized seeds but received more than half male seeds, resulting in a multi-million dollar law suit.

As the hemp harvest season came to a close, a lot of farmers were hit with a massive reality check; too many people are growing hemp. Farmers brought their hemp to auction, some hauling thousands of pounds hundreds of miles in the hopes of getting a big chunk of change in return. Almost every single farmer at the auction left without a sale.

The overflow of product, both in biomass and CBD extract has led to a crash in the price as supply for outweighs demand. While the consumer may benefit from lower prices, many farmers who were hoping the industrial hemp would be the answer to their financial problems are starting to second guess their decision.

What Does 2020 Hold for Hemp?

The industrial hemp industry is due to have some fat trimmed. A lot of farmers are going to ditch hemp after an unsuccessful harvest and go back to their traditional row crops. As consumers learn about unreliable CBD products, the shady companies will drop off, and very few might step up and raise their standards.

Farmers with the right connections that were able to secure deals ahead of harvest made a lot of money this year, and it’s only going to increase in 2020. Hemp genetics and seed breeding is going to become more of a desired job title, and more cannabis breeders will begin adding hemp to their repertoire. 

Overall, while many did not have a successful year with legal hemp, just as many did. Industrial hemp will keep expanding into different forays of the plant’s abilities, like using its fibers to create concrete, clothing, paper and more. While some states have made a push against it, smokable hemp flower is also getting bigger as people look for a cannabis alternative that still provides medicinal benefits without the THC high.

Frankly, the possibilities of hemp, just like cannabis, are nearly endless. We can only look forward in excitement and enjoy the ride!

Do’s and Don’ts of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

Do’s and Don’ts of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

A listener had some questions about planting outdoor cannabis clones. So let’s dive in.

A recent episode of The Real Dirt Podcast went in depth about the best techniques for planting outdoor cannabis clones. Some listeners have never had any issues transitioning their clones outside, but others are doing it for the first time this season.

While the main focus of the episode is about preventing early flowering in clones, a listener from Oklahoma who is new to growing wanted to know why early flowering is such a bad thing in the first place, and some other questions about planting outdoor cannabis clones.

Outdoor Cannabis Clones and Early Flowering

A lot of new growers might plant some clones outside, come back a couple weeks later to find them already flowering, and think they struck gold. If you could grow a cannabis plant in half the time and still have it produce flowers, why wouldn’t you? But that’s not really how it works.

Here’s how it usually goes: You take the plant out in May. Two weeks later you notice those pretty flowers. Two weeks after that, you get small buds. But then the plant stalls for two weeks to a month and begins to grow weird shaped leaves out of the buds. The plant then reverts back to vegetative growth.

At this point however, it’s already the middle of July, so your plant only has two or three more weeks before it goes into flower again under the natural light of the sun. In the end, you end up with less cannabis that doesn’t look as good.

There are a few things you can do to ensure that your clones thrive outside, but there’s also plenty of things to avoid.

The Do’s of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

Know your clones – Certain clones just don’t perform well outdoors. If they come from a strain that was bred indoors and is mostly cultivated indoors, you’re more likely to encounter problems. Before you just buy an exotic strain clone from your local nursery, do some research into its growth patterns and traits, so you can be sure to avoid strains more prone to problems.

Know your light cycles – Different areas of the United States have short and longer light cycles throughout the year. You can easily look up the light cycles of where you live to determine when you should plant your outdoor cannabis clones. In Oklahoma for example, May 1 has 13 and a half hours of daylight. By June 1, there is 14 hours and 23 min of daylight. Then by June 21, the longest day of the year, Oklahoma gets over 14 and half hours of sunlight. Most clones will want to flower at this point, which you don’t want.

Keep some backups – It’s always good to keep some backup clones on hand that you don’t plant outside right away. Especially if it is your first time growing outdoor cannabis clones, start with planting half to two-thirds of your clones outdoors after ensuring they aren’t prone to problems. Should they flower early by chance, you’ll at least have some plants you can salvage and continue to grow.

Transition your clones – Use a shade cloth or a greenhouse to acclimate your plants to the sun. As they adjust to natural light you can wane them off of supplemental lights until they are ready to transplant. If you want to keep it as simple as possible, you can keep your plants under tree cover and shade and then move them out into the sun when they are ready. With this method you most likely won’t have any supplemental lighting.

Keep an eye on them Clones are extremely sensitive to transplants, and it’s common for outdoor cannabis clones to have issues when they are transplanted from a controlled indoor or greenhouse environment to an outdoor bed or pot. You need to check on your clones regularly to ensure none of them are suffering from transplant shock or other problems.

Seems simple enough, but there’s some things you need to avoid to increase your outdoor cannabis clones’ chances.

The Don’ts of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

Don’t put them out too early – Unless you are using supplemental lighting outdoors, you need to keep your clones in a greenhouse where you can control their light schedule to help them adjust to natural light over time. When the longest days in late May and early June only have 13-14 hours of light, your clones will begin flowering if not adjusted.

Don’t let your clones become root bound – The last thing you want is for your clones to become comfortable in their nursery pots, with roots wrapped around its base, only to strain those roots when you transplant them. If you transplant outdoors before your clones have rooted, it will be easier for them to adjust and root into their new medium.

Don’t stress your clones out – Clones are already delicate. They are raised in a controlled environment, with a specific temperature, humidity and lighting. If you’re keeping your clones at a steady temperature 72-74 degrees Fahrenheit indoors, you don’t want to transplant them on a 95 degree day. While it is important to keep your keep your clones wet for the first few days after transplanting, you don’t want to stress them by overwatering either.

This list of do’s and don’ts might seem long, but making sure your outdoor cannabis clones don’t flower early isn’t difficult to avoid. You can simply keep them in an indoor or greenhouse environment and slowly adjust the lights, so when you put them outside around solstice when the day is around 15 hours, your plants will be adjusted, and will transition to flower more naturally.

 

Listen to the original episode all about planting outdoor cannabis clones and let us know if you have any questions we didn’t answer!

Did the USDA Really Deschedule THC?

Did the USDA Really Deschedule THC?

The USDA did deschedule THC. Just not in the way people currently believe.

An article that has exploded within the cannabis community claims that the USDA quietly “legalized” THC last week. While this isn’t entirely wrong, it is incredibly misleading. This is because the descheduling of THC by the USDA only applies to THC in hemp.

For a quick refresher, The Farm Bill of 2018 legalized industrial hemp. This “legal” hemp is defined as any cannabis plant with a THC percentage of .3% or less. But if THC is still on the controlled substances list, how can that be?

The USDA on THC

In a memorandum submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture on May 28th, the USDA gives a legal opinion on provisions to the Farm Bill. They point out a specific amendment in the newest version of the bill that removed THC in hemp from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). 

By amending the definition of marijuana to exclude hemp as defined in AMA §297A, Congress removed hemp from schedule 1 and removed it entirely from the CSA. This means hemp is no longer considered a controlled substance at all. With the amendment to exclude THC in hemp from schedule 1, Congress has also removed THC in hemp from the CSA.

Now, that last sentence from the memorandum is what people are getting excited about. When paraphrased to say, “Congress has removed THC from the CSA,” it’s easy to see why. But the key words in the entire amendment is “IN HEMP”.

THC in Hemp

This is where the entire article claiming THC is legal falls apart. Hemp has a very specific definition, that being the definition requiring a THC content of .3% or less to be considered hemp. It makes perfect sense that THC in hemp would need to be legal, in order for legal hemp to be able to contain any amount of THC. In other words, because hemp can contain up to .3% THC, that THC needs to be legal for the hemp to be legal.

Now, because of hemps legal definition pertaining to any cannabis plant with .3% THC or less, surpassing the .3% threshold disqualifies the plant as hemp. Under this legal definition, anything above .3% THC is considered psychoactive cannabis, which is still a controlled substance that is federally illegal.

Why it Matters

The article that broke this story hinted at future possibilities with this newly legal THC, like simply breeding hemp to have higher THC. And that’s what makes this article lose all credibility.

Remember when I said that to be legally considered hemp, the cannabis plant must have a THC content of .3% or less? And remember what happens when the THC content surpasses that .3%? It’s no longer hemp.

While this article suggests that the USDA basically just added a magic loophole that will now allow breeders to grow THC rich hemp, it forgets to mention that by doing so, the plant will no longer be hemp. If the author knew the origins of the cannabis plant, they would know that most of the THC-rich strains we consume today were bred to have that high content from what originally was European Hemp with almost no THC to begin with.

What this article is suggesting, is basically repeating the entire history of cannabis breeding, so we can turn the legal hemp we have now, back into illegal cannabis. If you want The Real Dirt’s legal advice, we suggest that you don’t do that. THC has been legalized in the sense that as long as it is in hemp, and does not surpass .3%, it is legal. Once it leaves the hemp, or surpasses .3%, you’re entering some dangerous territory.

But hey, you can judge for yourself! Read the full USDA Memorandum right here.

CBD Laws Could Be Changing

CBD Laws Could Be Changing

CBD has gotten too big for the FDA not to intervene. The question now is what are they going to decide?

Contrary to the hundreds of CBD products you can buy online and at your local health store that would suggest otherwise, CBD isn’t technically legal. However it isn’t technically illegal either. And that’s why there’s a problem.

CBD is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. A relative of the cannabis plant that was just legalized, hemp, also contains CBD. With hemp legal, people saw no problem in breeding hemp specifically for CBD to make products.

However, CBD was not included in the legislation that legalized hemp, and because it is also found in psychoactive cannabis cultivars, there’s some controversy over whether or not it should be legal. Now almost 6 months after legalization, the FDA is finally getting involved.

FDA CBD Laws

With economists predicting that the CBD industry could reach a market worth of $16 Billion by 2025, the FDA has no choice but to make a regulation decision. Compared to other non-FDA approved products, CBD is already much more well known and popular, and even dangerous, should the FDA decide so. Which is why their decision is so important.

During a hearing at the end of May, the FDA will be presented with remarks from manufacturers, consumers, health professionals, academics, and more on scientific data and information about CBD products that contain cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, such as CBD.

Because of the wide range of uses for CBD, from foods and face creams to pills and oils, the FDA needs to regulate CBD more strictly compared to other ingredients that may just be used in one specific product. With now CBD laws specifically on the books, more and more pressure is being placed on the FDA to regulate.

Potential Outcomes

There are a lot of way the FDA could decide to regulate CBD laws. In the worst case scenario, they could ban CBD altogether. This is pretty unlikely, as the now ex-Commisioner of the FDA had stated in February of 2019 that the FDA would take a more “flexible” approach to CBD regulation.

What seems more likely, is the FDA regulating CBD to only be allowed to be extracted from legal, industrial hemp, while banning CBD extraction from cannabis, i.e. any other cannabis plant with a THC level over .3%. They could also permit CBD extraction from any cannabis plant as long as there is no THC included.

All we can do for now is speculate while the hearing takes place, but many CBD business owners and entrepreneurs will be anxiously awaiting the results.

The Future of the CBD Industry

It’s probably safe to say at this point that if the FDA did decide to ban CBD altogether, there would be massive, nationwide outrage. From the parents who use CBD as medicine for children with epilepsy, to the avoid CBD consumers who have made the cannabinoid an essential element of their daily nutrient routine.

While obviously the former would be most negatively affected by a full CBD ban, it would be the masses who consume CBD recreationally that would have the biggest voice in the matter. And with so many hopping on board the CBD bandwagon, we can assume CBD isn’t going anywhere.

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