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HARVEST TIME in the Pacific NW!

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    HARVEST TIME in the Pacific NW!

    The first week of October we were driving down the highway in southern Oregon and every few miles the sweet smell of cannabis poured in through the windows of my truck. Signs advertising jobs as bud trimmers and harvesters were all around.

    October is harvest time in the fields and green houses of the Pacific Northwest. Especially for those who’s crops are entirely sun grown outdoors or sun grown in greenhouses.

    We visited 5 different farms to check out the different types of commercial grow operations. Basically there are outdoors sun grown, greenhouse sun grown, greenhouse with natural and artificial lighting and indoor grow rooms with entirely artificial lighting.

    Different methods were being used to create the most productive environments for their crops. Just like we do in our personal gardens!

    The commercial growers who’s objective is to produce more than one harvest per year need to have the capital and acreage to build greenhouses and/or indoor grow rooms.

    Those growing outdoors under the sun aren’t dependent on greenhouses, grow rooms, lights, air exchange systems, and more. Though may of them do use a green house to start seedlings and clones before planting them outdoors. They also don’t need to keep their canopies as “flat” as we do when growing indoors under artificial light. The light output from the sun is the same at ground level as it is 100’ above, unlike light from artificial sources that drops off significantly with every foot of elevation. These commercial growers all used some type of support system, usually a grid suspended over the plants to train them, keeping the colas separate and the plants growing wide and full.

    I’m almost six feet tall and I was looking up at the tops of plants -many that were nearly twice as tall as me and coming out of the ground at my feet, not 3-5’ above the ground or floor in a planter. The outdoor plants averaged 8-12’ depending on strain. The plants in mixed lighting greenhouses were consistently the second largest, average 4-8’ and those under only artificial light about 3-6’.

    The quality of the smoke and effects didn’t seem to differ much. Many folks say that plants grown outdoors in living soil had more flavor and aroma. From my experience I can’t really say that one way or the other produced the best tasting flower. Consumption of extracts, edibles, tinctures, etc. were even more difficult to discern.

    Regardless, It was epic to stand among hundreds of fragrant plants in full bloom! Especially at night under the Harvest Moo

    They say the larger the root system, the larger the plant, and that sure seemed to be the case. The outdoor sun grown plants were larger than the plants grown in greenhouses. The only greenhouse plants that were over 6’ were ones grown in 100 gallon smart pots or large grow boxes about 4x 3x12 feet.

    The plants inside growing rooms under artificial light were usually in containers holding 5-7 gallons of media
    For all these differences though I couldn’t tell you which had the best smoke, they were all fragrant and powerful. Regardless of whether they were grown under the sun or artificial light it seemed that the strain, their health throughout the grow, the time when they were harvested and the cure were what contributed the most to their unique differences.

    One of the Living soil sun grown farms we visited in southern Oregon was experiencing dawn temperatures of 39-48 degrees F and daytime temps in the low 70’s to high 80’s. I thought the nighttime temperatures were way too cold and extreme for cannabis but the growers weren’t really concerned and it didn’t seem to be causing the plants any harm. Fall colors were getting into full swing in the world of cannabis too_yellow, purple & red combined with the green.

    Further north in the Willamette Valley and central Oregon most of the growers were using a combination of greenhouses with and without artificial light and indoor grow rooms with artificial light only. This strategy helps insure that if something goes wrong with one crop then hopefully one of the other grows will produce well. If the Fall is wet then the indoor and green house plants stay dry. In this part of the NW bud rot and mildew can be challenges when the weather turns cool and wet.

    All the commercial growers we visited were now using organic green grow methods to supply nutrients and natural remedies for diseases and pests. This insures their harvested flower contains no contaminants or pollutants insuring they pass the states clean green standards. It also caters to the market which seems to increasingly demand organic products.

    Many of these operations also used a variety of planters, grow boxes, nutrients and delivery systems on the same farm.
    For instance one farm used 100 gallon smart pots in their greenhouse with amended soil and for the indoor grows they used 5 gallon buckets with a drip system in a coco based medium with mixed artificial lighting (LED and HID combined).
    Another grower used large grow boxes about 3’deep, 4’ wide and 12’ long in their greenhouses with natural and supplemental LED lighting and watered the plants by hand. Indoors they used a drip and drain bucket system on a timer and a mix of LED and HID lights.
    They also had veg and flower rooms so they could produce perpetual harvests year round. And other sealed rooms where they were developing their own genetics.

    Ever since I started growing I’ve wondered if there is one best way to grow. What became obvious is that there is no best way to grow different strains under different conditions. It all comes down to adapting a strategy that works well for the size of your grow area, whether its indoors or out, the type of lights, nutrients, growing media you use, the genetic preferences of the strain(s) you grow, training methods, the time you have to devote to your grow, humidity, temperature, and of course your budget!

    Many of the commercial growers using mixed and artificial lighting used different grow lights as well. About 30% used a combination of lamp (HID) and LED lights, even in the green houses using supplemental lights. Those using all artificial light had some rooms with all LED, others with a combination and others with all HID. They all used lights from a variety of manufacturers. Some used commercially available organic liquid nutrients while others brewed their own “tea’s” and others growing in soil used blends of organic nutrients in less soluble forms mixed into or on top of the soil.

    They also used different techniques for training plants. Some used SoG, some ScrOG, some topping combined with LST, often combined with skeletal support using either flexible grids, netting or stakes when needed.
    All used defoliation to one extent or another, except some of the outdoor sun grown farmers.
    Even the outdoor growers used some sort of support system to help open up the colas so they got as much sunlight as possible and also to keep them from falling over when the colas got heavy. Since these outdoor plants have the room to grow as tall as possible some growers used at least two if not three tiers of support systems_one to open the plants up during veg and another later once the colas started to fill out and perhaps a third so they’d have support when they fully matured further up the plant.

    They also all grew from seeds and from clones, not just one or the other. For the most part those growing outdoors used seeds and clones from plants that were bread and raised outdoors. While those working in protected environments didn’t seem as concerned where or how their seed stock originated. Except those who were growing their own proprietary strains under strict and enclosed conditions.

    The sun grown farmers explained that a lot of commercially available seed stock is grown indoors because its much easier to isolate the parent stock keeping the genetics “clean” and more stable over generations.

    Indoors the parent plants are usually raised under ideal conditions- temperatures, humidity, wind, water, nutrients, pests and diseases are controlled within a stable environment. After a number of generations the seeds produced are conditioned to grow best in the same environment their parents have for generations.

    Outdoor growers tended to prefer seed stock and clones grown outdoors under similar environmental conditions to what they were growing under. Plants that have survived multiple generations outdoors have adapted to the temperatures, wind, water, humidity, soil, pest and disease resistance and produced the best harvests under similar conditions.

    After returning from our cannabis adventure I decided my next grow was going to be in a coco based medium with liquid organic nutrients.
    Other than obtaining the best harvest I can my objectives are to find an organic nutrient solution and schedule that works well in coco, to see if organics do produce better smelling and tasting bud, and to find out if growing with organics provides any additional benefits over using mineral supplements. Does one provide advantages over the other such as being more or less susceptible to nutrient burn, nutrient buffering, etc? Time may tell, if not it’ll be fun anyway.

    I’ll be uploading a grow journal detailing the progress of the grow for those interested in trying liquid organics in coco, indoors with artificial lighting.

    Hope you enjoy the photos.

    Cheers to all !
    Current grow_ coco based medium, Fluence LED lights, AIT, 5 gallon planters,
    liquid organic nutrients by Advance Nutrients and Vegamatrix. Strains_ Exodus Cheese (feminized), Meltdown (regular) and Caesar (regular).

    Absolutely beautiful my friend, what a great experience and opportunity to learn. Check out aurora farms, they’re doin large scale indoor operations with glass ceilings, meaning they have the complete control of an indoor but can use the sun most of the day so cost stay down, I think that’s genius. Looking forward to your journal and to learn about coco together. Happy growing


    • ZigZag
      ZigZag commented
      Editing a comment
      9fingerless_ Hey thanks, it was an awesome experience. I hope to be able to go visit some others net time. i heard of Aurora Farms...I think I tried to contact them but didn't get a reply. sounds like a great setup. One of the farms I went to had two large glass greenhouses with supplemental indoor lighting too. They used it in much the same way. Sounds like a very similar construction- the ones I saw like that had mechanized windows, that were opened and closed the full length of the greenhouses as the sun moved over them from east to west- let in full strength sunlight, filtered sunlight and supplemental indoor lighting. It all looked very expensive so I hope things go well for them. Cheers for the Holidays! And Hey, our legislature just passed the ok to have "cannabis clubs/bars" where folks can consume in public...don't know when any establishments will actually open... so we'll see.....

    Fascinating, Zig Zag!! Man, I wish I could make that drive myself, but your descriptions are quite vivid and I can see it in my mind's eye. What amazing sights you saw, and to think it's all legal and business is booming. Your pictures are awesome, too--especially the one with a dark filter and the sun over the hills and a field of beautiful colas. I'll bet you learned a lot. Thanks for sharing all that!!
    Anyone can grow schwag. If you want to grow top shelf bud, study hard:

    Growing since July 21, 2016; pothead since 1967
    2 BCNL Roommate hydroponic grow boxes w/ 400w COB LEDs, Future Harvest nutes
    Grow # 18, Aug. 2023: Anesia Seeds: Imperium X, Future 1, Sleepy Joe, Slurricane


    • ZigZag
      ZigZag commented
      Editing a comment
      alltatup_ yeah I sure did. It really opened my eyes to whats going on in the industry in Oregon anyway. I had no idea there was so much being grown outdoors in southern and eastern Oregon. Perhaps my favorite place was near Cave Junction_ almost on the California border_ name of the farm is "East Fork Cultivars".
      They specialize in high CBD/THC strains using their proprietary genetics. And if you ever want to visit a farm they have an "air B&B" that you can rent for I think about $70/night_ new cabin thatt sleeps at least 5, has outdoor seating, a small pond and a natural spring fed pool and a big field of hemp right out the door. You can also visit the cannabis "compound" as well but must have a guide and pass_ its a 12' fence, barbed wire on top, electrified with purveyance camera's. Thats where I spent lot of my time. I'll attach a photo below_ sunrise looking out over the Cannabis from under an old oak tree. Beautiful morning!

    Opps, Lost the photo somehow_ OK, here's the farm at sunrise...
    Current grow_ coco based medium, Fluence LED lights, AIT, 5 gallon planters,
    liquid organic nutrients by Advance Nutrients and Vegamatrix. Strains_ Exodus Cheese (feminized), Meltdown (regular) and Caesar (regular).


    • alltatup
      alltatup commented
      Editing a comment
      Zig, you gotta send that picture to Nebula to publish in the newsletter: it's an absolutely stunning photo and I'm saving it. A+++++++++++++++++

    Glad you like it, was a magical morning for sure! Once in a while I get a decent photo but I'm an idiot with this online stuff....I'd be glad to pass it along to Nebula_if you can tell me how I'd be glad to!
    Current grow_ coco based medium, Fluence LED lights, AIT, 5 gallon planters,
    liquid organic nutrients by Advance Nutrients and Vegamatrix. Strains_ Exodus Cheese (feminized), Meltdown (regular) and Caesar (regular).


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