If you want to really get a room of cultivators talking and taking sides, there’s one question to rule them all. Indoor vs. outdoor cannabis? Knowing which methods to choose and why can be difficult when starting out. While both methods can produce quality cannabis, there’s really no best way to do it.
There are, however, key differences and constraints to keep in mind when selecting your ideal cultivation style. When growing indoor vs. outdoor plants, indoor tends to be easier; however, sun-grown weed also has benefits.
Indoor vs. outdoor cannabis growing
The first thing that comes into play when deciding between indoor and outdoor cultivation is outdoor viability and space. Some climates are not ideal for cannabis cultivation. It needs temperatures of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 30 degrees Celsius) throughout the plant’s life cycle. The space and security to grow outdoors may also be hard to obtain for many home growers.
If the climate is right and space isn’t an issue, then outdoor can be considered against indoor. Both will lead you to quality cannabis with the right methods and setup but with slightly different results and varying levels of effort.
The debate between indoor vs. outdoor cannabis cultivation has been ongoing since indoor cultivation became so prevalent. Illegalization drove growers indoors for obvious reasons and changed how we grow cannabis, but outdoor flower is undoubtedly unique and stands up against it.
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Grow guide available
A recent scientific publication attempts to lay the issue to rest but cannot do so. Rather than finding one method was better than the other, they found that growing weed outside vs. inside from the same genetics produced differing compositions of cannabinoids and terpenes.
There’s also a completely different take on this argument in favor of outdoor cannabis due to the lower carbon footprint. Indoor cannabis grows take a lot of energy and materials. In the long term, outdoor and greenhouse cultivation will be the most sustainable option, barring new discoveries.
As a consumer and cultivator, I enjoy cultivars rich in terpenes and other cannabinoids. I’ve found cannabis worthy of connoisseurship created by each method. I do recognize the environmental impact of indoor cannabis, though; it’s something the industry and community is working to improve.
Growing marijuana both indoor and outdoor is easy provided you know the proper technique. Download my FREE marijuana grow bible to get an easy step by step guide.
Overview of indoor cannabis cultivation
Indoor cultivation can be quick and simple or done to rigorous scientific standards. This ease of entry for indoor cultivation makes it a viable option for beginners with a small space or a lower budget.
With indoor-grown cannabis, the grower plays the role of mother nature, which is a blessing and a curse. It is great to control the light, temperature, water, and humidity, but it can require a high degree of precision to get it done right.
It can be hard and repetitive work for indoor growers to maintain their garden. Along with this level of control comes administrative overhead – work! I would best describe indoor growing like doing construction in a closet. The main constraint for indoor growing is the space, as plants must be kept to a certain size.
Along with this labor comes the cost. That light, temperature, water, and humidity are not free indoors. Nutrients, tents, or a dedicated room/closet, along with needed equipment, can add up and impact monthly bills. That being said, you can start with a smaller level of control and settle on some tradeoffs for quality when getting started.
In general, indoor cultivation requires at least 1 room to see plants through their vegetative and flowering phases before harvest. This would include providing necessary light, nutrients, support structures, and air quality for the plant. Depending on your setup, there may be times when the plants need repotting into larger containers.
A major benefit to indoor growing is the perpetual harvest; you don’t have to rely on seasons. This, along with the ability to create more “vibrant” looking flower and better control of the indoor environment to improve terpene content and create diverse and powerful aromas and flavors, is why indoor growing is perhaps the most common method of cannabis cultivation.
Features of indoor-grown marijuana plants
Indoor plants are smaller than those grown outdoors and often manicured heavily to fit the space. Growers may top them to reduce height and encourage more colas or train them with a screen of green to maximize indoor space.
While the goal is to reduce stretching indoors, the length between nodes on the plant may be longer on indoor plants, and the leaf color may look lighter in color depending on the cultivar.
Indoor plants are pruned heavily before flowering to reduce foliage and chances of pests. The plants also may be weaker in structure without a deep root system or be completely rootbound in their containers.
Overview of growing weed outdoors
Growing outdoors is a great option if you have the space and security to do so. The micromanagement of indoor environments is traded for the natural outdoors. This is also a blessing and a curse for growers. Less labor, lower costs, and lower environmental impact come with less control over the plant life cycle, more risk for pests or adverse weather, and typically more space required.
With outdoor-grown cannabis, soil can be natural or supplemented with methods like Korean Natural Farming and other living soil techniques. The soil will be more forgiving of ph and micronutrient issues that can occur quickly indoors for potted plants but can still go awry if mismanaged.
Outdoor growing is extremely vulnerable to poor weather and other natural phenomena that would not occur indoors and is typically only useful for part of the year. Sometimes as an outdoor grower, you’ve got to make the best of it where an indoor grower could make adjustments in their setup and avoid issues like cloudy days.
Cannabis grown outdoors creates larger plants, in general, with larger yields. Outdoor cannabis plants can be huge if left on their own, especially sativa-leaning cultivars in the right climate. Cannabis plants grown outdoors also tends to produce more terpenes. More terpenes, of course, mean a richer, more complex aroma and taste, along with a more nuanced effect.
Features of outdoor-grown marijuana plants
Outdoor-grown weed with optimal weather conditions will be hearty and bulkier than its indoor counterparts. They can still be manicured and trained to fit the desired methods of the grower but will benefit from the full natural sunlight and temperature variations.
Depending on the cultivar, the coloration may be darker, and the final product may not be as flashy as certain indoor strains. There can be a “waxy” appearance and feel to sun-grown cannabis due to exposure and the plant’s responses to natural stress.
If growing from seeds outdoors like those available on ILGM, the plants will have a long central tap root instead of the indoor “root ball” to keep them healthy and stable.
What is greenhouse cannabis growing?
Greenhouses shake up the outdoor vs. indoor bud growing debate. They can be an option for some or all of the plant life cycle, allowing for hybrid approaches to cultivation. For example, cultivators can start seeds and clones inside and veg them for a few weeks in a greenhouse before putting them into the ground outdoors.
Many commercial growers take advantage of the cheaper construction costs of greenhouses to create massive facilities. Home growers can set up low-tech greenhouses of any size if desired; these can mitigate extreme weather and allow for some degree of climate control.
Greenhouses are a true mix of indoor and outdoor cultivation in that you get some of the natural light without other aspects of the environment that can be hard to control, like wind and pests. Greenhouses are generally much cheaper than growing indoors; run them for a single season, or pull the shades and get multiple harvests a year.
Greenhouses will almost always need a little bit of light supplementation, especially if growing late in the season when temperatures may swing. For beginners, I’d recommend trying a few harvests indoors or outdoors, but there’s no reason you can’t start with greenhouses if you have the materials, budget, and space.
The difference between indoor vs. outdoor cannabis
Differences in bud structure and size of weed flowers
The bud structure differs for outdoor and indoor. Outdoor flowers are typically bulkier than indoors thanks to fully developed root systems and natural beneficial microorganisms. The bud structure of outdoor flower is often not as dense (fluffier) as cannabis grown indoors.
Differences in color of the marijuana plant and flower: Flavonoids
The color is a quick way to distinguish indoor vs. outdoor cannabis. Outdoor will be darker in color and tone with some brown even near the stems. Indoor, on the other hand, is often a brighter palette of color.
This distinction of color between indoor and outdoor is still up for debate and depends on cultivar selection and environmental factors. The flavonoids in cannabis contribute to coloration. Some research suggests they can influence the flavoraroma profile. Studies are still being done to see which metabolites contribute the most. Optimized cultivars or stress methods during cultivation can create deep blue, red, purple, and yellow cannabis rich in anthoxanthins and whiteyellow in those with anthocyanins.
Flavor and smell differences between indoor and outdoor cannabis plants: Terpenes
The Flavonoids mentioned above are small building blocks in the complex flavor profiles of cannabis. The main contributors to flavor and aroma are the terpenes. Cannabis contains more than 150 different terpenes, with many unique to cannabis only.
The combination and concentration of these create our wildly diverse selection of cultivars and give insight into indoor vs. outdoor weed price variation. Outdoor weed has been proven to be higher in terpenes, and the flavor and aroma produced are the ideal quality. That being said, indoor cannabis is no joke; growers can create wonderful aromas and high-quality cannabis indoors as well.
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Trichome density for indoor vs. outdoor cannabis plants
Trichomes are typically more concentrated in indoor-grown cannabis due to their optimized environment. The grower can harvest at just the right time, whereas outdoor marijuana is typically on a tight seasonal schedule that can be affected by different weather. This may be one reason why indoor cannabis was found to have higher levels of THCA than outdoor.
The previously mentioned study on outdoor vs. indoor cannabis potency found that the outdoor test had higher concentrations of terpenes and all other cannabinoids except for CBCA and THCA when compared to genetically identical plants grown indoors.
Yield differences between indoor and outdoor cannabis plants
Due to outdoor plants being bigger and having full sun and more developed root structures, the yields are often larger with outdoor. Indoor plants can be high yielding with the right setups and training methods but are typically grown smaller than outdoor plants.
Potency difference with indoor and outdoor cannabis plants: Cannabinoids
This is the interesting topic the Molecules study outlines. The study mentioned that indoor cannabis had higher THCA and CBCA and lower terpenes and other cannabinoids. This means genetically similar plants grown indoors were slightly more “potent” in THC than their counterparts grown outdoors but lacking in other cannabinoids that may contribute to the complete experience or entourage effect of cannabis. Outdoor-grown plants also had THCA derivatives that create less anxiety than the standard type found in very high concentrations indoors.
In general, the potency of indoor cannabis is often higher from a THC perspective. Where outdoor flower is lacking in THC, it makes up for it in other cannabinoids. Outdoor flower can have higher levels of terpenes, CBD, CBGA, and more.
Is there a real difference in quality with indoor and outdoor cannabis?
At the end of the day, the quality argument is not over. There’s no “better” way to do it. Each cultivation method has its merits, and each can produce excellent top-shelf bud. There are downsides to both; in general, indoor cannabis is more accessible. It is easier to pull off than outdoor cannabis, which can take up a lot of space and rely on the weather.
If the climate is perfect for outdoor cannabis, then it will likely beat indoor cultivars in the same area; sun-grown cannabis is true craftsmanship when done right. But if the climate is not reliable or optimal, then indoor or greenhouse cannabis will be the best that can be had.
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The best indoor and outdoor cultivars at ILGM
Cultivar selection is always a fun part of growing. ILGM has a wide range of seeds available. The smaller cultivars, or those that grow shorter like indica-leaning varieties or autoflowers, are a good place to start for indoor setups. For the outdoor growers, you’ll want to select cultivars that can thrive in your environment based on where you grow geographically. Although there can be some difference between indoor and outdoor strains, ILGM seeds are selected and sold because they can thrive indoors and outdoors.
Best ILGM marijuana strains for outdoor grows
California Dream, with its ability to flourish in multiple climates and its good yields and potency profile, is always a great choice.
70% indica 30% sativa
Up to 24%
Indoors | Steppe | Mediterranean | Mold Resistant
4 to 8 weeks
21 oz per plant
Buy California Dream Seeds
70% indica 30% sativa
Extreme THC levels up to 24%
Good yield indoors, even better outdoors
Powerful sedative relaxation
Amnesia Haze is another solid outdoor option to take advantage of the outdoor space. This high yielder has awards on the shelf as it is a previous winner of several Cannabis Cups.
Critical Mass brings a higher CBD level than the previous two, along with a potent yield. It won’t be too difficult to tame in indoor setups.
80% indica 20% sativa
Up to 22%
Indoors | Mediterranean
4 to 8 weeks
8 to 9 weeks
14 to 17 oz per plant
Taste and Smell
Earthy | Pungent | Sweet
Happy | Relaxed
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80% indica 20% sativa
High CBD and High THC levels
Easy to grow
Eases your mind and physical aches
Indoor, outdoor, greenhouses, or combinations of the three can all produce wonderful quality flowers. The different methods bring out different characteristics in cannabis. Growers and consumers should decide which they like best.
The skill of the grower and the optimization of their setup and workflows will determine quality more than whether or not it was sun-grown. Along with those skills, good genetics are necessary for creating fine cannabis. Legacy strains with a proven track record help to take some stress out of the process. Find the right cultivar for you at ILGM.
FAQs About deciding between growing indoor vs. outdoor cannabis
How much of a difference in quality is outdoor vs. indoor weed?
This question will always vary based on the growers’ methods and the cultivars they are growing. Certain cultivars, climates, and processes create quality. Good cannabis can be made indoors, outdoors, or in greenhouses.
Is indoor cannabis stronger than outdoor?
Some studies show indoor cannabis has a higher concentration of THCA, which is one way to consider cannabis’s “strength.” This is not always great, as it can drown out the complex flavor and effect profiles that outdoor cannabis brings to the table.
Can outdoor weed be top shelf?
One hundred percent. Outdoor cannabis grown in the right climate by an experienced grower can be exquisite top-shelf quality, especially when done so with good curing methods.
Within the cannabis industry, terpenes are highly regarded for their ability to shape the flavours, aromas, and effects of various strains. Of all these terpenes, caryophyllene stands out for its spicy and peppery profile. Interested in the best spicy weed strains? Let’s discuss the 7 best strains with a peppery punch.
Which terpenes are responsible for the aromas in spicy strains?
Terpenes work synergetically with other cannabinoids, creating what is commonly referred to as the entourage effect. This unique collaboration plays a crucial role in shaping the overall sensory experience of cannabis strains and their effects. While a strain’s terpene profile can vary based on factors like genetics and cultivation practices, here are some terpenes commonly associated with spicy weed strains!
Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene found naturally within various plants, most commonly black pepper, cloves and oregano. It is also one of the most prevalent terpenes in cannabis varieties. This compound carries a distinctive spicy and peppery aroma which directly contributes to the unique aroma and flavour profiles.
Myrcene is a naturally occurring sesquiterpene found in various plant species, such as cannabis, hops, and even some fruits like mangoes. This terpene is known for its distinctive musky and earthy scent and is frequently responsible for the overall aroma and flavour of many different cannabis hybrids.
The top 7 strains high in caryophyllene
Now that we understand that specific terpenes contribute to a strain’s scent. Let’s take a look at seven weed strains that are high in caryophyllene!
1. Jack Herer
Jack Herer was created in the early 1990s by meticulously crossbreeding Haze with Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk. It was named in honour of the cannabis activist and Ben Dronker’s close friend, Jack Herer. This weed strain has gained worldwide popularity within the cannabis community and was even the first hybrid to be prescribed by Dutch pharmacies. It has also won numerous cannabis cups, further solidifying its status as an outstanding hybrid.
This cultivar thrives in a Mediterranean climate and can produce some impressive yields with ideal growing conditions. Jack Herer has four phenotypes, three of which are sativas and one of which is an indica. This strain is particularly well-suited for producing concentrates because of its high resin production. Growers can use training techniques like SOG or SCROG to increase yields even further!
The terpene profile of Jack Herer is known for being extraordinarily spicy and contains abundant levels of the pepper-scented terpene, beta-caryophyllene. The aromatic notes are complex and intense, featuring a blend of sharp, savoury, and earthy flavours that escalate after the harvest. Jack Herer is known for its uplifting and cerebral effects when consumed, providing users with a soaring high accompanied by a slight body buzz.
2. White Diesel Haze
White Diesel Haze was meticulously crafted by crossing Haze and Ruderalis with NYC Diesel. It is a sativa-dominant hybrid with an exquisitely spicy profile and is an excellent choice for those seeking an energy boost throughout the day.
This particular weed strain stands out among other sativas due to its distinctive qualities. Its compact and stocky structure allows it to thrive even in colder climates, making it an ideal choice for growers in Northern Europe. Its autoflowering traits make it an easy-to-grow cultivar with a pungent terpene profile and frosty dense buds.
With high levels of beta-caryophyllene and myrcene, White Diesel Haze has a remarkable terpene profile featuring an unmistakable aroma of pungent diesel fuel, complemented by subtle undertones of tangy grapefruit, sweet pineapple, and refreshing citrus notes. This weed strain is ideal for daytime use, as it delivers an invigorating and uplifting high that enhances creativity and mental clarity.
3. White Widow
A prevalent cultivar in the Dutch coffeeshop scene since the early 1990s is White Widow. Our dedicated team of breeders carefully developed this revolutionary hybrid by crossing a Brazillian sativa with a South Indian indica. This weed strain has triumphed in numerous cannabis cups and remains a favourite among enthusiasts to this day.
As the name suggests, White Widow has dense, dark green, resinous buds covered with sticky white trichomes and deep orange pistils. Its dense structure, tight internodal spacing, and robust, resilient characteristics make it a popular choice for commercial growers.
White Widow has a distinctly peppery aroma, accompanied by subtle hints of tangy citrus that perfectly complement undertones of moist earth, sandalwood, and spicy charas. It offers a well-balanced blend of cerebral stimulation and physical relaxation, increasing creativity and mental clarity before transitioning into a calming body high. Its spicy flavour and uplifting effects make it an excellent choice for those seeking a well-rounded cannabis experience.
According to popular belief, a cultivator from the United States named Chemdog acquired a top-quality ounce of cannabis at a Grateful Dead concert in 1991, containing a handful of seeds. After germinating them, he selected the finest phenotypes and shared them with fellow cannabis in the community. It has since been utilised to create unique hybrids with distinct terpene profiles and has become a representation of ingenuity and originality within the cannabis community.
The buds of Chemdawg tend to be dense and resinous, often covered in a thick blanket of trichomes. Densely packed calyxes help contribute to its high resin production. During flowering, Chemdawg exhibits a range of colours visible throughout the foliage and bud structure, including deep shades of purple and vibrant orange or red pistils.
Chemdawg has a highly distinctive aroma, renowned for its spicy profile that is high in beta-caryophyllene and myrcene with low concentrations of limonene. It has an exceptionally gassy flavour reminiscent of gasoline, with subtle hints of zesty citrus and fresh sandalwood that accompany pungent notes of hashish. According to many cannabis enthusiasts, it provides a stimulating and uplifting cerebral boost that transitions into a soothing body buzz.
The breeders at Sensi Seeds developed Durban by taking the best characteristics of the original landrace, Durban Poison, native to Durban in South Africa. It is considered one of the purest sativas in our collection and was bred to thrive in temperate climates.
Shorter than most sativas, Durban has a compact structure, tight internodal spacing, and elongated lateral branches that support dense bud formations. As it enters the flowering stage, the calyxes swell, and pistils change into vibrant deep red and pink hues. This short-flowering cultivar has impressive resistance to mould and can be grown outdoors in most climates. Its resilience and robust properties make it a standout option for novice growers.
Durban is known for its unique peppery aroma, featuring loud notes of tangy citrus, pungent aniseed, damp earth, and subtle undertones of coffee, sandalwood, and cacao. This weed strain is highly regarded among the cannabis community for its potent cerebral effects that boost creativity and mental clarity. Despite its powerful effects, Durban is also known for its incredibly calming and relaxing properties.
6. OG Kush
OG Kush was developed in California during the 1990s and has gained worldwide recognition as an indica-dominant powerhouse! There has been much discussion within the cannabis community about whether the “OG” in OG Kush stands for Ocean Grown or Original Gangster. However, given its origins in a coastal region with fertile soil, many tend to lean towards the former. Nevertheless, we would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
This powerhouse displays its indica characteristics through its short stature, abundant lateral branches, and thick foliage. The buds are large, compact, and covered in a sticky resin with a beautiful lime-green hue. For optimal growth, it is recommended to cultivate these plants indoors with lighting or in a Mediterranean climate.
OG Kush has a rather pungent and complex aroma profile, with noticeable levels of caryophyllene, limonene and myrcene. It emits a pungent odour reminiscent of diesel fuel among earthy and piney notes, with subtle hints of tangy citrus and skunk.
Well-balanced high that induces a sense of uplifting euphoria and increases creativity before dissipating into a full-body high which relaxes the muscles. Its effects are well-balanced, starting with a joyful and creative high that eventually transitions into a full-body relaxation which relaxes the muscles. However, be warned: it can be pretty sedative in larger doses.
7. Silver Fire
Initially introduced as part of our Sensi Seeds Research project, it was added to our catalogue permanently in 2019. Silver Fire is an indica-dominant hybrid developed by interbreeding our award-winning Silver Haze with the ever-popular Fire OG.
This cultivar is known to flourish in a warm, Mediterranean climate. It has a classic sativa morphology with a tall, elegant structure, thick apical mainstem, elongated lateral branches, and sufficient internodal spacing. Those growing Silver Fire can anticipate clusters of dense, sizeable buds with extremely swollen calyxes coated in a sparkling blanket of trichomes.
The high concentration of myrcene and caryophyllene is responsible for its piquant allure. Silver Fire’s flavour profile includes a delightful combination of sweet and spicy scents with hints of mouth-watering citrus, fresh sandalwood and spicy hashish. Many connoisseurs have praised its balanced effects and reported feeling an uplifted, creative high that induces mental and physical relaxation.
The fascinating world of spicy weed
In conclusion, the world of cannabis provides a diverse range of experiences. These spicy weed strains provide unforgettable experiences due to the interplay between terpenes and cannabinoids. Spicy strains entice users with vibrant flavours and effects, but personal preferences can be crucial in choosing your favourite. In comparison, some enthusiasts might prefer the subtle pepperiness of Durban, and others might enjoy the citrus undertones of White Widow. What are your favourites?
Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
Across North America, something called Hop Latent Viroid (HLV) is wreaking havoc. This virus-like infection can make plants sickly and destroy harvests. It’s highly contagious. Studies have estimated that perhaps 40% of cannabis flower sold legally in Canada carries HLV. As much as 90% of cannabis in California might be infected, costing billions of dollars in lost yields. What exactly is Hop Latent Viroid (HLV), how does it work, and what can growers do to protect their precious Cannabis plants?
Hop Latent Viroid: What are viroids & How are they different than viruses?
Viruses are tiny infectious agents. They can infect animals, plants, or single-celled organisms. They are much smaller than even a bacteria cell, consisting of a small piece of genetic material (DNA or RNA) protected by a protein shell. These protective shells help preserve the genetic material of the virus and contain various proteins enabling them to infect specific host cells.
Viroids are similar to viruses, but different in key ways. Viroids do not have a protective protein shell. Instead, they are small circular strands of RNA. They seem to specialize in infecting flowering plants. In other words, they are tiny, “naked” pieces of genetic material that infect certain plant species, causing disease. When they infect valuable crops grown by humans, such as Cannabis, this can have a devastating economic impact.
The “goal” of viruses and viroids is the same: replication. They cannot reproduce on their own. They must come into direct contact with the right host cell, smuggle their genetic material inside, and hijack the cell’s replication machinery. Eventually, the host cell fills up with viral particles and bursts open. When you get sick with a viral infection–such as COVID or the common cold–it’s because your immune system is responding to a large number of these viral particles circulating throughout the body.
Marijuana seedling and plant care
Hop latent viroid: What does it do to cannabis plants?
Hop Latent Viroid is a viroid that infects hop plants, which are used to brew beer. Cannabis is a relative of hops. In recent years, HLV jumped from hops to Cannabis. Infected plants show various defects, ranging from stunted growth and reduced foliage to uneven trichome coverage and decreased cannabinoid production–symptoms of what’s been called “duds disease.” This is a huge problem for cannabis growers, whose livelihoods depend on reliably growing healthy, cannabinoid-rich plants with bountiful harvests.
Cannabis plants infected with HLV show obvious outward defects: smaller overall sizes, reduced root development, and discoloration. Here are some pictures. They have smaller flowers (the part of the plant meant for human consumption), and can produce up to 50% fewer cannabinoids, like THC.
How does hop latent viroid (HLV) spread in cannabis
Similar to viruses, viroids like HLV need to come into direct contact with their hosts to infect them. Cannabis plants can catch HLV when they come into physical contact with infected plants. Although HLV doesn’t infect humans, we can spread it between plants through contact with body surfaces, tools, or equipment. Contaminated water supplies are also a major source of infection, as HLV tends to concentrate in the roots.
All of these potential points of infection enable the rapid spread of HLV, as Cannabis plants are often grown in high density, require human contact at multiple points of the production process, and can be connected to common water supplies (e.g. in hydroponic systems).
Hop latent viroid can also spread from mother plants to offspring, both through clones generated by taking cuttings and through seeds. All offspring can potentially carry HLV if their parent is infected. This makes it essential to identify infected plants, even if there are no obvious outward signs of infection or you’re working with tissue culture systems with physically isolated samples.
Because HLV is so contagious, it has already spread widely and caused mass losses for Cannabis growers. It is likely to continue spreading. Growers must be prepared.
How can growers protect against hop latent viroid (HLV)?
Whether or not growers are already battling HLV, they need to have processes in place to test and remove infected plants. It is obviously important to learn how to visually identify potentially infected plants, but it’s always possible to miss subtle signs.
As far as I can tell, the only reliable way to be sure whether plants are infected is to conduct genetic testing, similar to what would be done to detect something like COVID infection in yourself. A sample must be taken from a potentially infected individual and subjected to a laboratory test capable of detecting the presence of genetic material from a particular pathogen.
For Cannabis growers, this means either developing in-house capabilities and purchasing test kits, or sending samples out for testing elsewhere. Any plants known or suspected to be infected with HLV need to be immediately removed to prevent the spread of infection. Plants in close proximity, even if they show no signs of infection, should be quarantined or monitored closely.
Dr. Zamir Punja’s research team has conducted studies looking at how well HLV infections can be managed using a test-and-remove approach. They were able to reduce the percentage of infected plants from 35% to 7% over a period of seven months. In other words, handling a HLV outbreak is likely to be costly in terms of time, labor, and money. For commercial Cannabis growers, it is advisable to have a robust detection process in place, before isolated infections turn into full-blown outbreaks. Being diligent could mean the difference from a few infected plants vs. the loss of an entire harvest.
Other preventative measures should also be taken. HLV is surprisingly stable on surfaces, with the ability to survive for days or even weeks on equipment or plant material. This viroid is also apparently capable of withstanding high heat, UV radiation, and disinfectants to some extent. For these reasons, growers need to be proactive and conscientious about hygiene. Are tools and equipment being fully sterilized between uses? Are supplies and staff traveling between rooms with different plants? How often are disposable items being reused and thrown out?
Identifying bud rot, mold, and root rot on marijuana plants
Any large-scale growers with high-density grow operations should be prepared, especially if their plants share common water supplies, nutrient sources, and soil. Given the rapid spread of HLV, Cannabis cultivators everywhere should be prepared. As I’m sure we all know by now, viral outbreaks are difficult to manage and can be highly disruptive. Growing Cannabis is hard. It’s a science and an art form. In an already competitive market with slim profit margins and the inability to deduct normal business expenses due to the schedule I legal status of marijuana, every harvest counts.
It’s that time of year: the weed plants are flowering but the first storms of fall threaten to damage your garden.
Southern California had the Tropical Storm Hilary coincide with an earthquake. Multiple inches of rain fell in the course of day. Winds howled. On the East Coast, hurricane season is warming up, throwing wind and water at East Coast gardens.
We jumped on the phone with master of cannabis horticulture, Ed Rosenthal, for some first aid plant tips. He said a lot of plant first aid is analogous to human first aid. You have to treat and disinfect wound sites, and bind and support broken branches. Tips we cover:
Shake your plants out to get water off the flowering buds
Give your plants an air dry—especially the buds
Wrap stem breaks and support the injured plant—like a limb on a crutch
Re-cover exposed roots to keep them wet and covered from the air
Cut away any majorly injured parts, and disinfect the cut site with an alcohol pad
Spray potassium bicarbonate to deter mold and mildew
Reapply bacillus thuringiensis to deter pests
Listen along for details on the actions you can take to save your crop. Good luck to all the growers—may you have a happy, terpy, bountiful harvest.
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Leafly Senior Editor David Downs is the former Cannabis Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’s appeared on The Today Show, and written for Scientific American, The New York Times, WIRED, Rolling Stone, The Onion A/V Club, High Times, and many more outlets. He is a 2023 judge for The Emerald Cup, and has covered weed since 2009.