Sunday December 8, 2019
As any Colorado gardener can attest to, the state’s unpredictable climate requires special accommodations to make it through the volatile growing season. This is especially true of Colorado cannabis home growers who must pay attention not only to the weather but all of their surroundings, as well. Today we’ll discuss best practices for growing cannabis in Colorado’s crazy climate. But first, let’s take a look at what makes the Centennial State’s environment so unique.
Understanding Colorado’s Unique Climate
Colorado is the highest state in the nation – literally. Colorado’s average elevation is 6800 feet above sea level, though even at its lowest point, no part of Colorado is below 2000 feet above sea level. As such, outdoor crops and home grows in Colorado are susceptible to very high UV light penetration. Though this may be a good thing in terms of THC levels, it also contributes to our unpredictable weather patterns. Additionally, its inland geography and thus inaccessibility to large bodies of water means that Colorado, in general, is a much dryer state than the rest.
According to an article published by Colorado State University, the average annual precipitation throughout the state ranges between seven and 60 inches depending on location. Hence, successful growing operations must accommodate their crops based on their geographical location. To be clear, cannabis crops need about 35 inches of water on average; dry climates require additional irrigation options, whereas wet environments may fair better indoors where growers can control their water intake and help prevent mildew growth.
Finally, different regions witness extremely different weather patterns. For example, The plains are prone to sudden, relatively dry (though potentially damaging) thunderstorms and hailstorms that can cause a drastic drop in temperature. This sudden stressor may cause cannabis plants to “herm” or produce seeds as an evolutionary mechanism to protect the plant’s genetic line. However, the mountains and western side of the state are much less affected by these storms.
Advice for Cultivating Marijuana in Colorado
Colorado may have unpredictable weather patterns, but that doesn’t mean the weed there isn’t high quality. There are a few best practices growers should consider if they are to cultivate a successful cannabis crop in Colorado.
Start Seedlings Indoors in March
Seedlings require delicate care. They need a warm home and precise moisture levels. By starting seedlings indoors, you help ensure that your plants will get off to the best start possible without risking a surprise frost or other harsh weather conditions. Furthermore, by starting them in March, they will be large enough to withstand harsh winds, soft frost, and pest infestation by the time the outdoor growing season officially begins after Mother’s day in May.
Use Pots When Possible
Pots and planters are great for those with limited space. Grow pots allow growers to move them as necessary to protect them from weather or increase their sun exposure. Growing cannabis in planters also helps control plant size and makes it easier to grow them covertly.
However, the roots of plants grown in pots are not nearly as insulated as those grown in the ground. If a quick temperature drop is expected, prepare by insulating pots with dirt, old blankets, etc. If high winds are also in the forecast, bring the plants indoors for the time being. Check out this article for more information on protecting your plants from the elements.
Consider a Greenhouse Grow
Greenhouses are both secure and reliable. Not only do they protect plants from pests and other elements, but they also protect them from intruders and help them remain compliant with local Colorado cannabis cultivation laws. Additionally, greenhouses help extend the growing season to increase yield. Though greenhouses extend the growing season, year-round greenhouse cannabis cultivation requires special lighting and black-out screens to simulate different photoperiods.
Be Aware of Cannabis Cultivation Laws
Home cannabis cultivation laws vary by state and region but in general, there are a few things every Coloradian must follow. First, adults can only grow up to six plants with half flowering at a time (seedlings don’t count). Those numbers double per household if more than one adult lives there (i.e. no more than 12 plants, six flowering, even if eight adults live in the same space).
Additionally, renters and those living in public housing are not automatically afforded the right to cultivate cannabis on the premises. It is up to the landlord or the state whether or not to allow personal cannabis cultivation in these places; consult your rental/housing agreement for more information.
Finally, cannabis plants cannot grow within a 100-foot radius of a school. Plants must also be locked and inaccessible to anyone under 18 years old. If there are children in the home, cannabis plants must remain in a locked room or greenhouse, though if only adults live in residence, a lock on the front door is sufficient.
Growing marijuana at home is truly rewarding, especially for Colorado home growers who managed to protect their plants through the state’s unpredictable growing season.
Do you have tips for growing cannabis in Colorado? Share them in the comments below!