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Beginner’s Guide to Light Deprivation

Light deprivation can turn your seasonal bloom into an annual harvest, easily doubling what you would normally produce. While it is useful for helping cultivate countless different crops, it has recently been bringing a touch of growth-spurring darkness to the light of day in the legal cannabis industry.

How Light Deprivation Works

From the name alone, you would think that keeping your crops in the dark produces bigger plants or blooms. However, light deprivation is not merely about depriving plants of light, but timing available light based upon the specific photoperiodic needs of the particular strain you are growing.

Light deprivation, also known as “light dep” or “light depo,” is the agricultural technique of manipulating the photoperiodic response of plants to maximize their bloom size and frequency in a single growing season.

Photoperiodism

Photoperiodism is the term for describing plants’ and animals’ natural responses — both in growth and behavior — to light exposure. A single photoperiod is the length of time within a single day that the subject plant is exposed to light. By manipulating this cycle, you can trick the plant into growing and blooming when you want. With light deprivation growing, you are manipulating a plant’s natural response to light and darkness, creating longer days or nights. So, if you were trying to make a pumpkin patch bloom in the spring, you would shorten the photoperiod so that the plants “think” it is fall – It’s the same thing with growing cannabis.

Best Photoperiods for Cannabis

The best photoperiod length for weed completely depends on the strain you are growing. Because of this, you shouldn’t mix strains in one greenhouse while growing. What will promote growth for one strain will hinder growth in others. Whatever strain you decide to go with, be certain to identify its ideal amount of sun exposure.

Greenhouses

You can’t start a light dep cannabis operation without first having a greenhouse. You can choose from three tiers in quality. Some greenhouses will last you a lifetime, and others will leave you hanging just when you’ve gotten the knack of things.

Low-End DIY Hoop Houses

Often homemade creations, hoop houses are the least expensive greenhouse option available, and their quality typically reflects their price. Most low-end hoop houses will break down after a single growing season. While you can invest in sturdier materials, hoop houses are typically built with PVC piping, rebar, and wooden planks. The PVC piping makes up the frame of the greenhouse, the rebar anchors it to the ground, and the wooden planks run the length of the greenhouse to stabilize it.

You can control light exposure in a hoop house by draping a blackout tarp over it at a specific time each day.

These can work well for seasonal backyard gardens in mild climates, but when the snow comes around, or if you’re in an area prone to heavy winds, a little bit of adverse weather will level your greenhouse and destroy your garden. So, while this is a feasible option for private small-scale gardens, it’s hardly an effective choice for serious gardeners or marijuana growers looking to stock their business.

Midtier Greenhouses

These middle-of-the-road greenhouse options are sufficient for most operations. They include everything from backyard kits for serious gardeners and growers to engineered fabric buildings stretching 30 feet wide and 120 feet long for commercial endeavours. The size of your operation will determine what works best for you.

The biggest difference between these and prebuilt hoop houses is the quality of the materials they are made from. You don’t have to permanently break the bank to buy a greenhouse that will work well in the long term, but you won’t get away with cutting corners on quality either.

For anyone looking to support a serious business, these should be considered the baseline investment for a greenhouse. Midtier greenhouses provide a balanced approach to quality and keeping your budget happy. If you are buying your greenhouse from WeatherPort you can start with a high-end one, or buy midtier with room to upgrade your purchase with only the select bells and whistles that will benefit your operation as they are financially feasible.

High-End Greenhouses

These are the cream of the crop, resistant to heavy rain, snow, and wind and outfitted to simulate an ideal growing environment automatically. If you are starting a large-scale year-round operation, this is what you want. The best options out there meet international and local building codes for both safety and durability.

While you can often easily upgrade a midtier greenhouse with these features to match their yield and easy-to-use functionality, high-end greenhouses generally come equipped with:

  • Temperature control
  • Humidity control
  • Oxygen level control
  • Air exchange
  • Grow light control
  • Light deprivation

Make the Most of Your Efforts

The legal cannabis industry is still in its infancy in the United States. There is a lot of information growers and dispensaries are still learning because of its new legal status. That includes everything from how to best grow your supply, to the most effective ways to harvest and maintain it. Those who come out on top in this business will be the ones who are equipped with the best knowledge and tools. Of the tools you’ll need, a light dep-ready greenhouse is one of the most powerful for maximizing your seasonal yield and creating a quicker turnaround time between planting and budding.

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