Cannabis is a complex world and still little known to the general public. With the development of the light cannabis market, generally described as CBD-rich and THC-poor, consumers are faced with a wide range of products, from which it is difficult to make a choice. One of the arguments put forward is usually the method of cultivation. Indoors, outdoors or greenhouses then decorate the label in large letters. What are the implications of these different growing methods? What are their advantages and disadvantages? What should you base your purchase on? Read on to find out.
Cannabis growing methods, how does it work?
Cannabis, or hemp (both industrial and recreational), is an annual plant that requires specific growing conditions to grow and develop in the best conditions. Indeed, annual plants have the particularity of having a short life cycle, not exceeding one year. They are therefore generally cultivated for their flowers, which ripen quickly. Once the flowering cycle is over, the species overwinters as seed, before giving birth to new plants the following season.
In the wild, cannabis plants evolve with the seasons, and thus with the environmental and climatic conditions that accompany them. Indeed, many factors are involved in their development:
- Light: natural or artificial, but also the number of hours per day.
- Soil: in the ground, of course, but also in pots or alternative growing substrates such as coconut or aquaponics.
- Air: aeration or natural breeze.
- Temperature: cannabis is sensitive to extreme temperatures.
- Nutrients: chemical (fertilizer) or natural (compost).
- Water: quantity, but also quality (especially pH regulation).
The different ways in which cannabis is grown will more or less encourage the control of these different elements. This is what will favor the choice of one or the other technique, depending on the needs of production.
Outdoor, the most natural method of cannabis cultivation
Outdoor cannabis cultivation is the most natural. It is also certainly the most complicated to master since it depends largely on outdoor conditions. Even more than the grower, it is nature outdoors that decides what can happen to a crop. Depending on the geographical area, not everything is possible. Warm and humid environments are more favorable for Sativa, whereas indica-dominant varieties are better suited to colder and generally less clement environments.
In countries where the climate allows it, outdoor cultivation is certainly the most widespread. With the development of the light cannabis market, however, outdoor cultivation is tending to lose ground. Indeed, this new market being legal, it is developing commercially very quickly. With a view to total control of production, outdoor cultivation is becoming a risky method of cultivation, which some producers are not ready to assume.
However, outdoor cultivation also has some advantages, especially for the consumer, who can benefit from the qualities of a plant that has grown with a maximum light spectrum. Natural conditions allow the full benefit of a variety’s character and genetics to be taken advantage of. For the grower, this also means more economical production, thanks to a cultivation method that is cheaper than its alternatives.
Indoor, absolute control
Indoor cultivation is certainly the trend most followed by light cannabis growers. The reason for this is simple: the opportunity for total control over all the factors presented above. While the concept is appealing, it involves an expensive and particularly technical process. What balances naturally in the wild is extremely difficult to recreate in an artificial environment as every detail counts. A simple change in the CO2 level in the air, or the pH in the water, can be enough to disrupt the whole machine and ruin an entire harvest.
Indoor cultivation also has the extreme advantage that wild pollination can be avoided. This is particularly important in the case of legal cannabis as cannabinoid levels are more accurately controlled. The THC level is thus kept as low as possible while the CBD richness is encouraged.
Greenhouse: the best of all worlds
Finally, greenhouse cultivation allows you to take advantage of both the outdoor environment and indoor cultivation. More protected than in a natural environment, cannabis plants enjoy the benefits of the sun, while offering the opportunity to limit external aggressions.
Greenhouse cultivation particularly makes it possible to deprive the plants of light on demand. The natural life cycle of cannabis is in fact monitored by the sun. The plants, therefore, need different levels of sunlight during the growing and flowering periods. The greenhouse makes it possible to artificially recreate these light phases. The terpene bouquet is thus richer, even if it is not equal to that of outdoor cultivation. Finally, and this is a strong argument, the ecological footprint is reduced compared to the technical complexity of indoor cultivation.
Cannabis indoor, outdoor, greenhouse: which one to buy?
As we have seen, each cultivation method has its specificities, which logically come with advantages and disadvantages. It is not uncommon to read that indoor cannabis is of better quality than outdoor cannabis, with equally clear-cut, and sometimes contradictory, opinions on greenhouse cultivation.
However, nothing is that simple, and no one type of cannabis is strictly better than another. The choice is therefore ultimately up to the consumer and depends mainly on two factors: his needs and the experience he is looking for.
Overall, light cannabis grown outdoors is more likely to have been in contact with pesticides. However, it benefits from the richness of nature. On the contrary, indoor cultivation offers total control but has a higher ecological cost. Finally, the greenhouse, thanks to the deprivation of light, benefit from exposure to the sun, while encouraging the production of terpenes and cannabinoids.