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Gigantic Marijuana Plants

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Cannabis crops are some of the most versatile crops on the planet, capable of adapting to almost any growers needs thanks to the amazing variation in how long some strains take to grow versus others. You can find spectacular autoflowering strains that are ready to cut in just about two months of cultivation, and then you can also find seasonal strains that need certain photoperiods (periods of light and darkness) to grow and flower. Today we’re going to talk about some tips and tricks to grow gigantic marijuana plants; to do this they’ll need a longer growth period and a whole lot of care, but you’ll be rewarded with the biggest specimens that you have ever seen.

Many growers have already seen astonishing images in which American growers are standing beside incredible 4 or 5 meter tall marijuana trees with an enormously dense branch structure that end up looking like big green balls. This phenomenon is quite typical in Humboldt’s seed catalogue and other American seed banks, as well as professional growers books and of course thousands of images and videos online.

Choose a good strain

Choosing a strain with a decent growth level is essential because your plants entire structure will depend on this specific characteristic. Sativa strains tend to have a much larger growth as well as a larger distance between nodes and a thinner, taller structure. Indicas, however, grow into more manageable plants with shorter distances between nodes, more branches and a stronger central stem.

Indica and sativa hybrids obviously have characteristics from both genotypes, although depending on the strains used to create the hybrid and the percentage of indica vs sativa, they’re more likely to have certain characteristics. Generally, the biggest specimens will have a sativa percentage of over 60%; if the plant is indica-dominant then the specimens will be more compact but with a larger branch structure.

Make sure they get a good growth period

Growth timing is definitely a key element when trying to grow large plants due to the fact that once your plants move on to the flowering stage, they tend to get a lot bigger. This means that the bigger your plant grows during its growth stage, then the more they will develop during the flowering stage.

For outdoor crops, growers have to depend on the seasons and the climate for their plants to switch periods, whereas indoors the grower decides when to change the light period, allowing him or her to choose how big their plants should grow. This means that indoor growers can play around with the number of plants and the timing of their crops; with a shorter growth period you can have more plants. This is how SoG systems were born; cuttings don’t need a growth phase and seeds only need two growth weeks.

There are also growers that like to fill their crop area with just one plant, giving it an enormous growth period as well as a large flowerpot; this makes for plants that would leave outdoor growers astonished. Some seed banks keep mother plants for over 10 years, so we know that you can give your plants all the growth time you want and rest assured that they won’t die (if you take care of them properly).

So, now that you know that you can grow plants indoors for as long as you want, and that outdoors marijuana plants grow a larger branch structure, the question is: What would happen if you let your plants have a long growth period and then took them outside to flower?

When you grow your plants indoors and then take them outdoors they go from getting 18h of light a day to getting a lot less, so they immediately begin flowering. If it’s still growth season your plants will begin budding but then they’ll revegetate, losing potency in the process which is something you want to avoid, especially with a crop like this that takes a lot more work.

However, if you take your plant outdoors to flower when the sun begins to set earlier, your plants will begin flowering normally and should be ready around the same time they would be ready if you had planted them outside from the beginning. The obvious difference is that these plants will be much larger and have a much higher yield; by using this method you can get plants that are over 4m tall.

Increase the number of branches through pruning

If you use the previous method it’s not hard to get gigantic plants, but large plants don’t necessarily have a lot of branches. If you’re looking to increase the number of branches on your plants then you’ll need to consider pruning them.

It’s actually quite common for indoor growers to prune their plants every now and then when they’re employing a long growth period. If done properly without stressing your plants too much, then your plants should grow various new branches per pruning. All you’ll need to do is use a revitalizer on your plants to reduce stress and a couple of weeks after pruning more branches will have grown. If you’re thinking of using a growth period of a few months then you’ll have enough time to repeat this process a good few times. Once they begin flowering the amount of branches will obviously be higher, making your plants incredibly leafy and bushy.

Stake or string your plants to increase strength

Staking plants is essential if you want them to develop correctly and constantly, so you’ll need to start doing it during their first few days. You’ll need to start by staking the trunk and then wiring the branches that grow, which will give a higher yield thanks to being held up.

When your plants have reached the production levels that we were talking about before, the stakes or string you’re using might not be strong enough to put up with the weight of the branches and buds; one of the most recommended systems is by using metal meshes. By doing this you can hold up each branch individually and with less stress on the mesh due to the fact that the weight of the plant will be evenly distributed. It’s also pretty easy to set up, all you have to do is extend the mesh over your plant, placing each branch in a hole making sure that light can still access all of them.

So, now you know that if you want to get monstrously huge plants you have to consider the strain, give them a much longer growth period, prune selectively, and make sure that it can deal with the weight of all of those amazing buds. If you follow all of these tips you’re guaranteed to produce enough per crop to keep you going in between seasons. We recommend using organic fertilizers to increase flavor and cannabinoid levels in your plants, so that way your gigantic marijuana plants will have an extremely high production rate as well as powerful and flavorful buds.

Learn how to grow gigantic marijuana plants, you'll get an enormous yield without using any chemical fertilizers that could alter the final product.

Growing Massive

Butsch of Massive Seeds and Roganja, believes organic farming helps produce a top-shelf crop, but he admits that the microclimate in Southern Oregon really allows the plants to thrive. Photos by Pete Alport.

Peter Butsch and his brother, Paul, have been growing cannabis in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley for as long as they can remember. They originally learned the secrets of organic-style cannabis farming from their father, who had grown marijuana on the property since the 1970s, and they’ve been carefully refining those techniques for years to create a sustainable, top-shelf product.

“I know every farmer thinks they grow the best weed — and I do too,” Peter Butsch says, laughing at his own boldness.

But no one can blame Butsch for his obvious bias. After all, he knows the time and energy required to grow his delectable crop and he understands the minute details that went into the cultivation process at Roganja, a state-licensed producer in the heart of Oregon’s cannabis country.

Roganja uses green manure that includes daikon radishes and fava beans to prepare the soil.

Green Manure

Healthy soil is the lifeblood of any organic farming operation.

But truly organic, living soil can’t be created overnight. It often takes years of properly developing the soil to create the right microbial balance. At Roganja, this ongoing process ramps up in early March when Butsch plants a cover crop of legumes, beans, peas and radishes. The daikon radishes and fava beans are particularly important at this stage, he says.

The daikon radish roots act like “thousands of drills in the soil” and provide necessary aeration. The fava bean roots extend six feet deep into the soil, helping translocate deeply buried nutrients closer to the surface.

The nitrogen-fixing cover crop was planted March 1, then chopped down about three months later. While some farmers prefer to harvest their cover crops and leave the plant material on top of the soil, Butsch cuts down the plants and reincorporates the “green manure” into the soil. He tills the field and integrates the decomposing cover crop into the native dirt. The process adds biomass and helps the beneficial bacteria and fungi thrive. It also produces naturally occurring fulvic acid, a common element in organic farming that helps with nutrient uptake.

“The plants just love that fulvic acid,” Butsch says.

Roganja is allowed up to 40,000 square feet of canopy.

Growing from Seed

While the cover crop grows outdoors, Roganja raises cannabis seedlings in a nursery greenhouse that doesn’t use artificial light. About 90% of the company’s plants are started from seed rather than clones.

This year, seeds were planted March 7 and transplanted into Southern Oregon’s great outdoors in May and June. A small amount of potting soil mixed with the native soil helps ease the transition, Butsch says.

Throughout the season, a wide array of organic nutrients are used to bolster the plants as needed, including crab, fish and kelp amendments, as well as llama and chicken manure. Butsch believes diversity is key in organic farming.

“The more diversity you bring in, the more nutrients are available to the plants,” he says.

The company has had some lab tests done on soil in the past, but most of the amendments are based on intuition, Butsch says. It’s a skill that’s been honed over the years of learning the microclimate and the region’s soil.

The result is an “indoor-quality” flower produced in a sustainable, low-impact manner and currently carried by about 30 Oregon retail shops. Meanwhile, the Butsch brothers also run Massive Seeds, a separate brand focused on genetics.

Because all adults in Oregon are allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants for personal use, 10-packs of Massive Seeds are available at about 15 retail outlets and the company also sells some seeds to other commercial farmers.

Look to La Luna

Using the cycle of the moon could be a pathway to more productive plants, but scientists tend to be skeptical

By Garrett Rudolph

How do most outdoor growers determine when to plant their cannabis crops?

Like many elements of the marijuana industry, the answer varies widely from one cultivator to the next. While some stick to a set date at the beginning of the season, others rely heavily on intuition or they’ll follow an agricultural calendar of projected “frost-free days.”

And some growers abide by a higher power: the waxing and waning of the moon, a technique as old as farming itself and one with just as many fervent followers as it has science-based skeptics.

The concept is that the moon’s gravitational pull impacts moisture in plants, the soil and water table, so planting at the optimal phase helps produce healthier crops and larger yields.

Adding another layer to the complexity of the subject is that while most lunar planting calendars list favorable planting dates for a wide range of flowers and vegetables, cannabis is, not surprisingly, absent from most lists. That means growers who want to plant based on the cycle of the moon would have to find a comparable plant to use as a guideline or refine their own schedule through years of experience.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, annual flowers and above-ground vegetables should be planted during the waxing of the moon (from the day it is new to the day it is full). The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s lunar calendar divides North America into four regions. Southern California and Florida are Area 1; Northern California and the majority of Washington and Oregon are classified as Area 2; Colorado, New England and Southern Canada are Area 3; Northern Canada is Area 4.

So for example, the “moon favorable” planting dates for tomatoes in Area 2 are March 27 to April 11, while spring wheat in the same region would be April 26 to May 7.

Flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers and below-ground vegetables should be planted during the moon’s dark cycles (waning).

However, in a 1991 New York Times article, Cynthia Rosenzweig, an agronomist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, called the benefits of lunar planting schedules “mythology”.

“There has to be a physical reason why the moon’s different phases would affect soil properties, soil temperature, moisture content, precipitation, which are the actual physical factors that make seeds germinate,” she told The Times. “And that isn’t documentable.”

Frank Abramopoulos, an astrophysicist interviewed in the same Times article, echoed Rosenzweig’s outlook on the subject.

“The tidal force — the gravitational pull of the moon — would be there, but at a level smaller than would affect any biochemical processes,” he said.

1 – Marc Cathey, the former director of the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., was also interviewed for the Times article and said lunar planting connects modern farmers with their forebears who had to rely substantially more on weather patterns — but today’s technology and genetic improvements have lessened Mother Nature’s stranglehold over successful crop production.

“These things like planting by the zodiac and the phases of the moon were based on close observations of periods of chill and clouds and exposure to light and the ups and downs of barometric pressure,” he said. “But they were damped out by sprinklers and fertilizer and peat moss and tomato seeds that germinate so well, every dadgum one comes up.”

Yet, thousands of gardeners — both of the hobbyist and commercial variety — swear by the lunar calendar.

It’s more about the fact that planting by the moon does work — for one reason or another — not about how it works.

“While science may not fully understand why planting by the moon works, anecdotal evidence suggests that it does,” Richard Telford wrote for the Permaculture Research Institute in a 2015 article on the organization’s website.

Planting by the cycle of the moon is one of the oldest techniques in farming.

Lunar-Powered

Roganja embraces another technique that separates it from other cannabis producers: using the cycles of the moon to determine its planting schedule.

It means the growers have to pay close attention to the waxing and waning of the moon, and you’re more likely to find a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac being used around the Jackson County farm than you are one of the dozens of marijuana growing guides published by self-proclaimed experts.

At first blush, it might sound like hippie pot grower folk lore, but farmers have been using agricultural astrology for thousands of years.

Butsch says the difference can be seen in the “overall vigor” of the plants.

“The weather patterns seem to follow the moon cycles,” he adds. “It always seems that a nice rain will fall right after planting.”

The METRC system has been “kind of a nightmare” for farms that use a multi-harvest strategy, Butsch says.

Operations

Roganja and Massive Seeds have transitioned from Oregon’s medical program into the state’s emerging recreational market. As a Tier II outdoor grow, the company is allowed up to 40,000 square feet of canopy.

While many growers have struggled with Oregon’s strict pesticide regulations, Butsch says he likes that the state implemented such a rigorous set of guidelines.

Roganja and Massive Seeds have received the Certified Kind stamp of approval, meaning they do not use chemical pesticides and follow standards that closely mirror the USDA’s National Organic Program.

However, Oregon’s seed-to-sale tracking requirements have been a different story. Using Franwell’s METRC system has been “kind of a nightmare,” Butsch says.

While the program itself works fine, Butsch says it wasn’t really built for farms like Roganja, which uses a multi-harvest strategy, cutting down the top colas early and letting the rest of the plant continue to develop. The company may harvest a single plant multiple times, making it extremely costly and time consuming to track every gram from every plant with METRC during a process that may take a month or more.

“I think there’s a better way to still have oversight, but put a little more trust in people,” Butsch says.

Legendary Microclimate

While the Butsch brothers deserve their share of credit for Roganja’s quality crops, they acknowledge Mother Nature’s role in creating some of the country’s finest cannabis.

The Roganja and Massive Seeds gardens are located in a five-acre irrigated pasture on a 30-acre plot of land in Jackson County. It’s situated in one of the hottest parts of the Rogue Valley, and the Butsch brothers have been breeding strains specifically acclimated to the hot, dry, Upper Rogue microclimate that generally works well for sativas. Strains like Rogue Valley Wreck, Lemon Pineapple and Pineapple Pomegranate have thrived in the area.

Roganja has helped Portland State University with a study of Oregon’s cannabis terroirs and how genetic traits are adapted to geographical regions. Early research indicates six or seven different unique terroirs in Southern Oregon.

Butsch believes quality of the final product is the combination of well-suited genetics, the Rogue Valley’s legendary microclimate and use of organic farming practices.

“It’s really the land that produces the best herb,” Butsch says.

Growing Massive Butsch of Massive Seeds and Roganja, believes organic farming helps produce a top-shelf crop, but he admits that the microclimate in Southern Oregon really allows the plants to