Which method of cannabis cultivation—sungrown, indoor, or greenhouse—produces the highest yield? Here is a list of the advantages and disadvantages and the difference between indoor and outdoor weed.
Hawaii offers some of the finest, volcanic soil appropriate for outdoor cannabis cultivation, as well as abundant sunlight and a favorable environment. However, recent Hawaiian medical marijuana legislation stipulate that all cannabis grown for dispensaries must be grown indoors.
Several other U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana have prohibited outdoor cannabis growth. Even in sunny California, local authorities have the option of mandating indoor cannabis cultivation. Much of the cannabis sold in California’s dispensaries for medical marijuana is cultivated under artificial lighting. Indoor cultivars are quite popular among cannabis users that prioritize “bag attractiveness” while purchasing weed. “Bag appeal” typically refers to trimmed and cured cannabis flowertops that have the proper combination of appearance, fragrance, and strain name to appeal to medical patients, blue collar stoners, and pot snobs.
The majority of agricultural crops in the world are cultivated exclusively outdoors, such as wine grapes. Not that long ago, cannabis was also exclusively grown outdoors. Due to marijuana prohibition and the need to escape discovery by surveillance helicopters and police, this has altered. During the 1980s, when the Reagan administration expanded and militarized the war on drugs, indoor cannabis production took root in the United States in a significant scale. Frequent law enforcement raids that targeted outdoor gardens accidentally generated a cottage economy of creative products and accoutrements for growing marijuana indoors, including an assortment of nutrients, soil amendments, special lighting, and temperature and humidity control devices. Cannabis, an adaptable plant that can grow under a diurnal or 24-hour light cycle, has successfully acclimated to the new indoor habitat.
But which production method, outdoor or indoor, yields the best cannabis? Exists a discernible qualitative distinction between the two? Some cannabis consumers swear by indoor cultivation, while others choose outdoor cultivation. Here is an overview of the pros and downsides of each:
ADVANTAGES OF SUNGROWN
- Reduced carbon footprint and costs:
Outdoor cannabis uses significantly fewer resources and is less expensive to produce than indoor cannabis. Sungrown relies on the natural environment for growth and does not require artificial, bright lighting. Indoor cannabis plants often require less soil amendments, fertilizers, insecticides, and fungicides than those grown indoors. Indoor electricity and water consumption are extremely resource-intensive. According to Energy Policy by Evan Mills, an indoor-grown kilogram of cannabis is related with 4,600 kilos of carbon dioxide emissions. “From the standpoint of individual consumers, a single Cannabis cigarette produces 1.5 kg (3 lb) of CO2 emissions… The energy required to generate one marijuana cigarette could also produce 18 pints of beer, according to Mills, who adds: “There is little, if any, evidence that public policymakers have considered energy and environmental factors in their choices on cannabis production and usage.” Although indoor producers can utilize renewable energy sources such as solar power, sungrown cannabis will always win the sustainability competition due to its far reduced carbon impact.
- Complements the natural life cycle of the plant:
Photosynthesis-performing plants have evolved and flourished under the sun’s light for millions of years. According to scientists, cannabinoid and terpene synthesis is greatest in the presence of ambient light. Natural light is more intricate than even the best artificial grow lights can replicate. In contrast to indoor plants, outdoor cannabis is exposed to a complete spectrum of light from the sun, moon, and stars. Outdoor gardening permits natural airflow and ventilation; electric fans are not required. It is impossible to replicate nature’s superior design when cannabis is grown inside.
- Ecology and adaptability:
Unique landrace varieties indigenous to certain bioregions (Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, etc.) have developed to deal with local pests and other dangers. Due to the fact that outdoor crops are part of the ecosystem, the plant interacts with the elements, which aids in the development of adaptability and tolerance to temperature changes and potential threats. Mold, mildew, and predators in general are less likely to invade healthy plants. Organic farming practices can protect and improve the complex biota of the earth’s soil in a manner that helps to retain carbon and mitigate global warming. A farmer has more freedom to employ sustainable methods of cultivation, such as the permaculture approach of companion planting, when cultivating outdoors. These strategies employ different natural techniques to maintain a healthy ecosystem: intercropping (with plants that complement cannabis), growing ground cover (which retains water and nutrients), and introducing beneficial insects. Companion planting avoids monoculture and introduces a variety of plant species for complementing natural pest management, so contributing to a diverse and healthy ecosystem. This is achievable to some extent with indoor cultivation, however permaculture approaches have limited use indoors.
- Therapeutic gardening:
Sun-grown plant cultivators receive a healthy dose of nature therapy simply by being outdoors. This is especially crucial in a society where individuals are generally isolated from the natural environment; spending time outdoors can assist to compensate for this lack. Sunlight, a crucial source of Vitamin D and much more, is inherently curative. According to a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine in October 2016, inadequate exposure to sunshine can be as detrimental to human health as cigarette smoking. Farmers that cultivate cannabis outdoors also benefit from being immersed in the symphony of native odors and organic aromas. In reaction to environmental stressors, plants communicate with one another and their neighbors, particularly insects, by emitting odiferous chemicals known as terpenes. Certain plant odors attract helpful insects, while others repel predators. It is fortunate that many of the same substances that plants produce in response to stress have therapeutic characteristics that aid humans in coping with stress.
ADVANTAGES OF INDOOR
- Continuous cultivation:
Indoor cultivation is not dependent on the seasons. Theoretically, indoor growers could produce cannabis at any time, in any part of the world, with the proper equipment. They are not constrained by unfavorable environmental conditions, unlike outdoor farmers who can only cultivate in pleasant climes. Indoor cannabis can be grown year-round in otherwise inhospitable regions, where rain and humidity would increase the risk of mold infestation and disease if the plants were grown outdoors. Although the yield of indoor plants is typically lower than that of outdoor plants, multiple indoor grows throughout the year will produce more cannabis than a summer garden.
- Control over the growth environment:
Cannabis plants grown indoors are more sensitive than those grown outdoors; hence, a grower must carefully monitor and alter a number of conditions within a confined, interior grow chamber. A professional indoor grower has complete control over the light, airflow, soil, and nutrients that effect the plants. This creates a perfect environment for breeding, study, and the preservation of unique DNA, if done correctly. For instance, if a cannabis cultivar has a purple hue that appeals to consumers, indoor production can target and emphasize this trait in future generations of the plant’s life cycle.
- Consistent produce:
As the cannabis industry evolves, consistency and predictability will be necessary to standardize a medical product and receive pharmaceutical approval. For clinical trials to be conducted on a reliable, repeatable product, standardization is required. Every part of the growing process, including water, light, humidity, pest control, etc., must be regular and consistent if such requirements are to be met and plants are to be shielded from harmful influences. This can be extremely difficult for even the most attentive outdoor planter, as it is impossible to control humidity, fungal infestation, and other environmental conditions that might negatively impact a cannabis crop cultivated in the sun.
- “High-class” production:
Cannabis customers need aesthetically pleasing and aromatically pleasing products. When displaying cured cannabis flowertops, dispensaries place a premium on “bag appeal.” A professional indoor grower may manage environmental parameters to emphasize desired characteristics, resulting in cannabis that looks and smells fantastic. This will result in a more valuable cannabis product when it hits the market. A frequent misconception is that cannabis grown inside is more potent than cannabis grown outdoors. (“Federal sources and independent testing labs find comparable potencies when proper techniques are employed,” according to Mills.) However, indoor cannabis tends to command a higher retail price than sungrown cannabis, which is less expensive to cultivate. Outdoor cultivators are able to cultivate their plants with minimum overhead, fewer equipment, and less electricity, but a lower price tag does not necessarily indicate a lower quality product. Again, it comes down to perception and bag appeal.
THE RIGHT APPROACH
There is a third approach for cannabis cultivation that combines the advantages of indoor and outdoor cultivation. A well-designed greenhouse fosters cannabis growth. A greenhouse grow-op can harvest sunlight year-round and allows a qualified horticulture to carefully control environmental conditions that protect plants from disease and pests. The sun’s rays can also be regulated via a technique known as “light deprivation” (or “light dep”), which can alter the daily grow cycle in a greenhouse so that farmers can harvest three or four crops per year, similar to indoor cultivation but without the need for excessive energy. In many ways, a greenhouse provides the ideal blend of a regulated, constant growing process and the utilization of natural sunlight.
Before cannabis is sold, it should be checked for infections, pesticide residues, and other toxins, regardless of whether it was indoor or outdoor cannabis. On product labeling, cannabinoid and terpene content should also be included. Regardless of price and bag appeal, a truly “top shelf” cannabis product would satisfy all of these characteristics. There is no reason why cannabis consumers should not have access to a vast selection of strain types, THC to CBD ratios, administration methods, price points, and cultivation techniques. Insist on high-quality standards for your medication, regardless of how it was grown. And let’s not forget the origin of cannabis: the soil.