Homegrown in Maine: Caring for cannabis plants during the winter

How do your plants feel about the weather?
Living in New England, a chilly winter wonderland in the morning can become a sunny, muddy 50-degree mess in a matter of hours. Although most New Englanders have come to adjust (and even thrive) off of this constant weather change, it can be difficult for plants to find the same rhythm. With the recent legalization laws, Mainers are now allowed to possess up to six flowering marijuana plants, and keep all harvested cannabis from the six plants. Because of the sometimes harsh and unpredictable weather of New England, it can be difficult for growers to ensure they are getting the best product out of their six plants while remaining within the legal possession limits.
 
For cannabis, environmental consistency is key. 
 
Unfortunately, unpredictable weather makes it nearly impossible to find and maintain the required consistent environment for these plants outdoors, so many growers turn to greenhouses or indoor grow rooms. This provides a much greater level of year-round control and the ability to tightly regulate what the plants are exposed to, and regulate they do. Across the country, established grow operations employ around the clock guards to ensure that plants remain in the ideal environment for each stage of development. The time, money and energy put into ensuring the plants remain in a perfect environment can only be described as a labor of love. 
 
For smaller growing operations, the love of growing still exists, as does the desire to give the plants the best possible environment. However, it is a considerable challenge for these small operations to provide 24-hour care to the plants they are cultivating. Is around the clock monitoring really that important? And is it possible for home growers to monitor continuously while maintaining a job and life outside of growing? The short answer to both is yes. Monitoring grow conditions is paramount to producing a bountiful, healthy crop of any size, and is easily achievable for growers at every stage when the correct tools are employed. 
Why Monitoring is Important
Average temperatures for ideal growth is between 70-75 °F, during the light periods and 50-60 °F during the dark, although different growth stages may require slightly lower or higher temperatures. Marijuana plants are hearty and to some extent, can adapt to environmental fluctuations when grown outdoors, as long as the temperatures remain steady. Plants grown indoors are especially susceptible to cold temperature damage. Although plants kept below 60 °F can survive, their growth will be drastically retarded. Some plants may be able to recover from temporary low temperatures, but crops will likely be noticeably smaller than those grown with consistent, warmer temperatures. Extended periods of low temperatures can also cause roots to stop absorbing essential nutrients, causing leaves to turn purple. 
 
Although low temperatures can lead to many problems for cannabis production, higher is not always better. High-temperature growing can lead to an onslaught of other problems as well. When temperatures rise above 80 °F, bud growth will slow, but that is just the beginning. 
 
High temperatures during the early growing stages can cause elongated stems which leads to airy buds. High temperatures can also cause the potency of the cannabis to decrease and the plants to remain small. Burned leaves, stretching or bleaching can alert growers that temperatures are rising too high, but by the time these signs are noticed, it may already be too late. 
 
Temperature is just one of the environmental parameters that needs close monitoring in order to ensure that plants are able to reach their full potential. Humidity, Carbon Dioxide, pH, and light all play an important role in the growing process. When any one parameter is not at the ideal level, additional time, money, and energy must be exhorted in order to save the plants, and even then, some environmental exposures can result in complete plant loss.
Solutions for Around the Clock Monitoring
While bigger growing facilities have around the clock personnel to monitor environmental parameters ensuring they continuously remain in the appropriate range, 24-hour supervision is not a likely option for home growers with a maximum of six plants. Fortunately, there are other options.
 
With the expanding legalization across the country, monitoring solutions are being engineered that are cost effective and readily available for growers of all sizes to reliably measure and record any parameters that impact growth potential. Compact wireless data logging devices are easily deployed and give growers instant access to real-time environmental conditions right from their smartphones. This provides the ability to oversee many crops or locations 24 hours a day, from virtually anywhere.
 
By implementing precision devices to continuously police environmental growth factors, accuracy and reliability increases. It also allows users to receive a text or email alert if things start to drift in the wrong direction. This gives growers peace of mind and typically guarantees that the opportunity to react to problems and head off product loss is very likely.
 
Regardless of what method growers use to monitor their plants, monitoring the growing environment is a key part of ensuring plants are protected, nurtured and cultivated to reach their full potential. 
Meredith Orbacz is the Market Research and Content Manager at MadgeTech, the New Hampshire-based data logger manufacturer and worldwide leader specializing in the environmental monitoring of indoor growing facilities. Learn more at www.madgetech.com
Last modified onFriday, 24 February 2017 17:08