While there is a science, a method to the madness, of marijuana growing, a daunting array of factors makes it difficult to find a hard line to follow. There’s a real skill involved in cultivating your cannabis crop; a merging of experience and instinct not unlike that of a master chef. With almost any question you have about marijuana growing, you’re courting a veritable army of answers and many of those answers contradict each other. While farming marijuana would be text book simple if answers offered black-and-white precise points, most questions are answered with gray ranges ideal for building experience through a trial-and-error approach. It’s within one of these gray ranges that we find the fuzzy answer to the straightforward question “when is it too late to start growing marijuana outdoors?”
The Vital Vegetative Phase
If you’re a novice to marijuana growing, it’s important to begin with the basic understanding that two major phases mark the growing process of your crop: the vegetative phase and the flowering phase. The vegetative phase relies heavily on abundant sunshine so, if you’re in the Western Hemisphere, the long summer days of June are ideal.
The vegetative phase is crucial in determining the abundance of your crop yield. While length of vegetation isn’t the sole factor in your plant’s size and yield, it is a major consideration. Other elements that contribute to the size of both your plant and its crop are humidity, temperature, light, nutrients, root ball size, and even the plant’s genetics. It’s this plentitude of variables that makes intuition and experience so valuable in marijuana growing.
Finessing the Flowering Phase
The flowering phase is when your plant actually begins to produce buds but some sort of catalyst or stress is required. In most cases, the cannabis plant goes into the flowering phase when stress is induced through alterations in the plant’s light cycle. This is a much easier feat to achieve manually when growing marijuana indoors. When you’re doing an outdoor grow, you’re left to the whims of Mother Nature. Luckily, she often knows best but it doesn’t hurt to know her habits before you get into marijuana growing. If you’re in the Western Hemisphere, starting your outdoor grow in early June sets you up for a nice vegetation period before the days begin to shorten and the plants are naturally stressed into the flowering phase. With a bit of experience, it’s possible to manipulate outdoor growing phases through tarping procedures though these methods come with their own risks. One minor slip in the procedure could result in the plant reverting back to the vegetative phase.
A Silver Lining to Late Growing
While the point of this article is to help prevent you from growing too late in the year, there are actual benefits to a late grow depending on your perspective. Since the vegetative phase is so vital in determining your plant size, it only makes sense that a shorter vegetative phase could be helpful if you want to grow plants that are less conspicuous. If you find yourself jumping into the marijuana growing season late, take heart that even with a measly month-long vegetative phase under your plant’s belt, it can still produce a crop, albeit a meager one.
You may have heard rumors that certain cannabis plants instinctively intuit that they’ve entered the growing cycle late and will course-correct by shooting to great heights quickly and producing just as abundant of a yield as one might expect from a 3-month vegetative phase. This happens rarely, if ever, so don’t make the mistake of counting on the exception to the rule. A late start at marijuana growing typically just means smaller plants and lighter yields.
The Hazards of Early Marijuana Growing
Marijuana growing can be a sensitive science, so you can also expect consequences from jumping the gun and starting your grow too soon. While starting earlier can give you larger plants, you can also find yourself waiting longer for the flowering phase; in some cases too long. When these plants hit the pinnacle of their vegetation phase, the days are still lengthening rather than shortening. The result is often tall lanky plants with thin buds due to the length of vegetation and the eventual weakening of sunlight. Cannabis plants started in June may be more diminutive than the lanky plants started in spring but they produce heavier buds from less conspicuous plants.
If you live near the equator, any time is a good time for marijuana growing but for the Western Hemisphere outside of the tropical zone, June 1st is approximately the best time to start your outdoor grow. As with many growing questions, the answer is more of a gray area open for trial-and-error experiments but generally there is a period that would be considered “too late” as well as “too soon” to start growing. Often, the best answer will come from just diving in, getting your hands dirty, learning from your mistakes, and ultimately celebrating your successes.