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ISSUE 6Cultivating Outdoors –– Winter GrowAsh LurieWe are truly blessed to live in a country with so much beautiful, strong sunlight, no matter the season – not even winter can stop a well-cared for crop! As a grower we are always looking to take advantage of the different conditions experienced throughout the seasons. With a bit of care and correct strain selection a great winter crop can be achieved! Of course, location plays a huge role – too cold and your plants will need protection. The less intense winter sun will allow you to protect the more subtle terpenes (light oils that give your plants the flavours and aromas) that might be lost during the harsh summer sun exposure leaving you with a more aromatic flower. Things to remember Cannabis varieties react differently to cold, although below a median temperature of 12˚C they are at risk of death. As with water, which at higher temperature contains a lower concentration of dissolved oxygen once the air cools to below 18-20˚C the plant's metabolism will slow down gradually and hinder or halt development. This is important during the early stages of the plant’s life (while trying to achieve growth i.e., seedling, vegetative and early flowering stage).
So, protect your plants during this time if you wish to achieve decent yield! It’s also important to consider the daylight hours at this time of the year. Cannabis is generally a photoperiod plant (the hours of light will determine the stage of growth – 12 hours or less and the plant will be triggered to flower), Auto-flowering strains are also available and are not affected by the hours of light exposure so these strains could really be effective at this time. When using photo period strains a simple LED light can be used to extend the hours of light exposure and get your plants to a decent size before flipping into flower.
Once your plants have achieved a decent flower set and are ready for ripening this is the time to take advantage of the cooler winter temps, at this time temps below 17˚C will cause the plant to express beautiful hues of purple, blue and even red and the cold stress can actually increase trichome production! Another great advantage of a late flowering season (winter grow) is the lack of rouge male plants that might be growing in your area, this is huge as you’ll find your winter crop will most likely not get seeded 😁 and the colder temperatures will also decrease the pressure from pests that would generally be more prevalent in the hotter months. If protecting your crop from the harsh winter conditions is not an option, then you might want to skip the winter grow but you should take this time to focus on building soil quality! Planting cover crops like clover, vetch and rye that will be mulched in the springtime when conditions become more favourable. These cover crops will help keep your soil alive during the winter months and bring much needed nitrogen and organic materials needed to good healthy plants. So, there is never truly a down time for a grower, asses your environmental factors and take advantage of what you can. Even winter can be advantageous to a grower when approached correctly!