Humans have been growing and cultivating the marijuana plant for thousands of years. Nowadays, you can get a Bachelor’s degree in cannabis chemistry.
You don’t need a formal education to understand the basics of cannabis growth. But to understand industrial cannabis processing, you’re going to want some guidance.
There’s a lot that goes into commercial growing and manufacturing cannabis. We’re going to look at the whole operation – from potted seedlings to trimmed and dried flowers. Keep reading as we take you through the processing behind the cannabis growth stages.
Germinating and Seedling
Germinating the seeds takes about 7 days. During this, the seeds need to have enough moisture and darkness to take hold and begin sprouting.
To help the seedlings grow, commercial farmhouses use industrial humidifiers and HVAC systems. These keep the air moist and circulating which helps the seeds get to their seedling phase.
Cannabis seedling growth lasts for 2 to 3 weeks. This is when the signature leaf starts to take shape and the plants start turning a deep shade of green.
For this stage, it’s important that growers have a lighting system in place. The lights have to copy the sun’s diurnal cycle by giving the plants about 16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness.
Vegetative and Pre-flowering
Once a plant has at least 7 sets of leaves, it’s in the vegetative stage. During this stage, the plant is maturing and new growth is rapid.
Commercial growers will use magnifying glasses to inspect each plant. They look for irregularities that might present themselves while new leaves form.
The pre-flowering stage lasts between 1 and 2 weeks. This is where you can see the sex (male or female) of the plant.
Industrial growers only use female plants and seeds because they produce flowers. They use small hand trimmers if they notice a stalk on which they want to encourage or discourage growth.
Flowering and Harvesting
The flowering stage takes the longest – about 6 to 8 weeks. Once the flowers are mature, it’s time to harvest and go through the cannabis drying process.
Workers harvest the plants with two-handed clippers they call “loppers.” After that, they collect all the cuttings to dry them.
A common drying method is to hang the stalks upside down before processing. This happens in a space away from the humid conditions the seedlings need to grow.
Dried flower harvesting comes in many forms. Some growers sell special products to retailers, and in those cases, they like to grind the flowers down. This grinder at franklinmiller.com, for example, makes the flower suitable for pre-rolls or concentrates.
The Commercial Cycle of Cannabis Growth
There’s a lot that goes into commercial processing for all the stages of cannabis growth. From sprout to flower, specialized tools and equipment keep new plants cycling year-round.
If you enjoyed this look at how the industry grows its plants, check out more tips for cultivating marijuana in our Grow blog!