Like Rosenthal, Rogers espouses goal-oriented farming. “Don’t just grow cannabis, grow cannabis for a specific reason.”
Climate is a factor for both commercial and hobby gardeners, explained Rosenthal. Plants need sun and warmth to thrive. Latitude makes a difference in daylight hours and length of grow season. Living situation also plays a part. If you’re in a city or worry about your neighbors, indoors would make more sense, Rosenthal said.
The design of those rooms was carefully tested to ensure roof-to-ceiling and corner-to-corner consistency of temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, and light, among other things, said Rogers. Each room can produce five crops a year, resulting in about 500 crops annually and a staggering possibility of 100,000 kilos (
“The advantage to outside is cost, right off the bat,” said Richard Zwicky, Plena’s founder and CEO. Outdoor farming in general is more difficult, he acknowledges, but Plena’s production costs come in at less than 20 cents a gram.
Those little things are informed by experiments performed in the research and development grow rooms, which hold five to fifteen trials at a time. One experiment revealed that a room with 70 wider-spaced plants produced the same yield as 100 plants, a dramatic difference to cost over 100 rooms.
When the Canadian market opened up a few years ago, Organigram took the long view, said Rogers. Other companies were racing to market, going for cheap, high capacity, and Organigram saw a huge opportunity to differentiate. “Quality will win,” said Rogers. “We’re growing the athletes that are going to the Olympics, so to speak.”
Factors to consider: price, climate, and quality
Outdoor has its place and nature has a million benefits, Rogers said. But customizable, indoor rooms and evolving technologies are what suit Organigram’s purpose: consistent high-quality dried flower.
Legalization in both North and South America has altered the cannabis game. In the past, cannabis production primarily occurred indoors and out of sight, but today, f urtive fields have been transformed into big agriculture and commercialism has changed the discussion. For companies, the indoor versus outdoor question is less about principles and more about profit.
Despite the hurdles, many first-time growers still choose to cultivate cannabis indoors (which is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Washington D.C. and Oregon), and there are steps to maximize a plant’s chances of succeeding. It all starts with a plant’s genetics. “For your typical closet setup, you’re going to want a plant that stays short,” Lipton said. “A lot of time that means an indica. Sativas are really tall and lanky.” (More on the difference between those two families here.)
Know the law.
After 55 to 60 days, growers begin paying close attention to their plants’ trichomes — the small, bulbous fibers that develop around the flower of the female plant. “Those trichomes will turn from clear to amber,” Lipton said. “They kind of look like red hairs. You know it’s time to harvest when about 10 to 15 percent of the trichomes turn that color.” On average, cannabis plants have a five- to seven-day window of peak harvest time.
Harvest and cure.
Cannabis plants yield the highest-quality (and quantity) flowers after maturing. This usually takes about a month to happen. “I recommend planting in a five-gallon Home Depot bucket,” Lipton said. “It’s really important to have proper drainage, so you want to drill some holes in the bottom. The biggest mistake people make is that they overwater and suffocate the roots. Cannabis likes to be watered and dried out before it’s watered again.” During the vegetative cycle, the plant should be exposed to a minimum of 18 hours of light. Remember to open the closet door while the lights are on to prevent the space from heading north of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.