Can Light Deprivation Actually Help When Growing Weed?
Published on 9/1/22
When it comes to successfully growing plants, what would you say are some of the most important factors? You'll need good quality soil, nutrient-dense fertilizers, and plant foods to stick your seeds into. Water is going to be an absolute must, especially when growing cannabis. And finally, you would have to figure out a way to get your budding (pun intended) cannabis plants under the light of the sun if you're growing outside or under a good quality heat lamp if you're growing inside. Contrary to popular belief, growing some healthy, flourishing cannabis plants is possible without much sun or lamp exposure!
Despite what 7th-grade science class might have taught all of us via lessons on photosynthesis and such, a technique known as light deprivation has exploded into popularity recently and is getting great results for growers all over the world! Thankfully, we here at Where's Weed have all the details, breaking it down to the basics, so you don't have to.
This article is going to cover the fundamentals of how and why light deprivation growing techniques are so effective, the science behind how and why it works, how to get your plants onto a quality light deprivation schedule that won't destroy all of your hard work and investment into your plants, and finally some recommendations for some of the best light dep strains available today!
Let's get right into it!
What Exactly is Light Deprivation for Weed?
To understand exactly how and why light dep techniques are so excessive for hacking your homegrown cannabis plants, we first need to go in-depth on the normal light cycle of plants. That's right, folks, it's time for a little bit of a science lesson!
Just like humans have an internal clock that has developed over thousands of years of evolution, so do plants! This internal clock and observation of the environment around them are why trees shed their leaves in the fall as they detect the time spent under sunshine getting shorter and short, and vice versa for their budding cycles in the spring. Basically, plants know and feel how much sun they're getting and how long that exposure lasts, indicating to them whether they should be budding, flowering, or anything else. Cannabis plants are no different.
Crafty cannabis farmers figured out that by covering their plants with a tarp or other sunlight-resistant material, they could trick their plants into thinking the days were getting shorter and beginning their flowering process early, producing usable cannabis buds well before they would have on their own. By doing this light deprivation process early in the summer months, growers who do this right can actually get multiple harvest cycles out of their cannabis plants in a window of time that would typically only have produced one! If done right, light dep weed can be harvested once in July, then allowed to reset for its normal flowering and harvesting cycle in late October, known as Croptober for many home growers and cannabis farmers alike.
The main goal here is to use whatever techniques you can to ensure your plants get 12 hours of absolutely no sunlight at all, followed by 12 hours of sunlight or time spent under indoor grow lights. This is the sweet spot for hacking that flowering cycle and getting those buds early!
So is Light Dep Weed Good or Bad?
As long as you're willing to put in the work and do it properly, light dep techniques are a great way of getting the most bang for your buck from your cannabis plants. Not only can you get multiple harvesting cycles in a time frame that would typically only produce one, but it cuts down on the chances of something unexpected happening and ruining your overall ROI.
By speeding up and hacking those cycles, you're reducing the chance of mold ruining your crops since the process is shorter and reducing the likelihood that an unexpected cold snap in late October/early November will also destroy your plants. That way, you can offer customers fresh summer harvested cannabis buds instead of last year's aging harvest, giving your customers better quality buds overall.
All and all, there are really no major downsides to light deprivation techniques, whether you're a large-scale grower working with specifically made light deprivation greenhouses or just a small-scale home grower covering your plants with light deprivation tarps, this method is worth a try to get the very best out of your plants!
How to Use Light Deprivation Techniques on Your Cannabis Plants: A Step-By-Step Guide
Now that we've broken down the basics of light dep techniques and better understand how and why they work the way they do, let's break down step-by-step exactly how to apply these methods to your plants!
Let's get into it!
Step 1: Get Your Plants Started
The first step is to get your plants started in their growing process, whether that's indoors or outside. If you're growing outside, we highly suggest investing in a basic light dep greenhouse, which usually consists of metal hoops over your plants to which a light dep tarp can be secured to. If you're growing inside, you'll need some form of coverage as well, but in most cases, just turning off your grow lights and getting some black-out curtains for the windows should be enough.
Just grow your plants as you normally would until they reach the point of growth around mid-summer months. Once they hit that point, you'll be ready to start your light deprivation techniques to hack that early harvest!
Step 2: Maintain that Proper Light Cycle
The most vitally important part of the light deprivation process is, as its name would suggest, making sure your cannabis plants are getting 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness at a time.
Every little bit of sunlight the plants get during this time will slow down their flower cycle, lowering your yield and the overall quality of those buds you're trying to harvest. The worst-case scenario is that by not giving them the right amount of uninterrupted darkness, you'll overextend their summer harvest cycle since the process will take longer, and you'll end up with a rushed, worse-quality yield for the harvest in October as well.
It's important that you time this cycle properly. So if, for example, the sun comes up at 7 a.m., your plants need to be covered up and in complete darkness by 7 p.m. that night. The same goes for indoor plants. If those lamps go on are 7 a.m., the same idea applies. If you're growing outside, make sure you do research and keep up on precisely what time the sun rises and sets throughout your grow cycle because it will shift and change with the seasons.
Step 3: Be Consistent and Get Results
The last step here is to be patient and consistent. As long as you're consistently getting your plants covered and deprived of that light for a solid 12 hours, over time, they'll adapt and start their flowering cycle.
A good tip for keeping on task and not forgetting to cover your plants is setting reminders on your phone, alarms, or, if possible, even setting your grow lights to turn off at certain times if you're growing indoors. Technology is your friend during this process, so use it to your advantage to look up any questions you might have on the internet or to automate reminders to cover those plants when they're supposed to be.
As long as you're consistent and do things right, you'll be able to steal an extra harvest out of your plants on a yearly basis. More homegrown, top-quality cannabis buds for a little extra work? Sounds like a plan, right?
Recommendations for Best Light Dep Strains
Based on the process we just laid out above, we think it should be pretty clear that you can use these techniques to get the best out of pretty much any cannabis strain out there already. You don't really need specific strains since they'll all respond the same way to this method if done correctly. But there is still one type of strain that would make this light dep process much easier for you.
If you want to make the process even easier, we highly recommend using auto-flowering strains. With auto-flowering strains, it doesn't matter whether you go with a 122/12 sun to light ratio, a 13/11, or even something as extreme as a 24/0. As their names would suggest, they're going to flower regardless.
So, basically, the only strain that's not perfect for a light dep cycle is autoflowring strains. Every other strain will do great if you follow the in-depth light dep techniques we laid out above!
The Bottom Line
Whether you're a simple homegrower looking to get the most bang for your buck from your cannabis seeds this year or a large-scale producer or caregiver, there aren't any downsides to trying some light dep techniques this summer.
Not only will you end up with better quality buds and bigger yields, but you'll be able to get the absolute most out of your plants, saving you tons of time and money in the long run.