First of all, not all strains can produce hard, dense buds and give you big and heavy yields. Genetics play a huge part but some manipulation and techniques can be used to increase overall yield, both from more bud sites and from more heavier buds.
To have the optimal yield and harvest, plants need to be grown in optimal conditions. To some that may be in a warm climate outdoors directly in soil and to some it might be indoors under a specific set of lights and other environmental factors. Finding a “sweet spot” might require some observation and you might not get it perfect in the first run.
With more and more countries legalizing cannabis, regulations are written, in most cases, so that they limit the number of plants people can have, either by person or household, so increasing the yield and maximizing the production is key. The same methods and techniques can also be applied to hemp plants, that are usually grown for CBD and other non-THC cannabinoids and compounds.
Optimising grow room conditions
Optimal grow room temperature should be between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius in vegetation and between 17 and 27 degrees Celsius in flowering. Sativa (dominant) strains usually like and can handle warmer temperatures while indica (dominant) strains like cooler temperature more. Having optimal temperatures assures that you have tight and small internodes with compact, more dense buds.Too hot and to some extent too cold temperatures will produce either small buds or fluffy,airy and extended ones.
Humidity should be between 70 and 80 percent during the seedling or clone stage, between 40 and 60 percent during vegetation and between 40 to 50 percent during flowering. Sativa (dominant) plants like a more humid environment than indica (dominant) plants. Optimal humidity and temperatures will make sure your plants produce high quality potent buds loaded with terpenes.
Good airflow is crucial for healthy and big cannabis plants for a number of reasons. Good outtake takes care of the hot, stale air that the lights produce keeping the temperatures lower while intake provides fresh air and air exchange which makes it harder for any pests, fungus or bacteria to attack your plants.
Having a few vents or fans gently blowing on your canopy is also a good idea. Not only will it strengthen the plant and make for more sturdy branches and stalks but it will make your plants grow faster. You don’t want them blowing too hard but having the tops of your plants slowly moving would be ideal. By blowing between the canopy, vents remove excess humidity that comes from transpiration which in return make the plant absorb extra water and nutrients from the roots. Also, by removing the stale, warm and humid air, it greatly decreases the chances of mold or mildew appearing and gnats or spider mites attacking the plant,
The size of the container defines the size of the root system and big roots will give you big, strong plants. Choosing the proper sized container is very important because it will have crucial influence in your plant development and eventually harvest results. Depending on the size of the container you might want to leave you plants in vegetation for an extra week or two for them to reach their full potential.
Beside the size, the type of container can make a big difference too. Some materials will warm up faster and more when exposed to grow lights, some will absorb oxygen differently and some will help form your root ball better.
If you use regular potting containers you can drill a few holes on the sides to allow for better air circulations and air pruning. And if there aren’t already there, drill a few holes on the bottom to allow the extra water to drain.
Increasing light intensity
Stronger and better light will also give you that extra and is the factor that usually brings most benefits. There are different lights you can use for your cannabis grow and all have their pros and cons. Choosing the right spectrum of light for every phase of plant development will greatly increase your plant growth and bud production. Putting stronger lights with more wattage or more lights and adding other light spectrums such as UV will give you more output. Different light spectrums give you different cannabinoid and terpene production causing higher potency or better quality buds.
When it comes to lights PAR is the measurement you need to look at. 600-900 PAR will be good enough for flowering. Going over 1000 PAR would require CO2 to be introduced so that the plants could use that extra light. Replacing your CFL or MH/HPS with HID or LED lights will give you lower temperatures, allowing you to lower the lights and enabling the plants to use more of the light energy while keeping the electricity bill lower too.
Another method some growers use to increase the yield is to put additional lights below the main canopy or on the sides, exposing the lower buds that would usually get much less light and making them bigger and denser. If not used already, reflective materials like mylar, poly film, foylon, microfiber or just a coat of clean white paint will increase the reflection of the lights and give out better light penetration and coverage.
There are several ways growers train plants to get bigger yields but not all strains respond to it the same way and not all are suitable for every kind of training. Basically, what you want to accomplish is more bud sites with bigger, denser buds.
To get more bud sites, you want to expose all the growth sites and tops to the light and to accomplish that, growers often use:
LST or light stress training, which is done by tying the plants tops down and making it grow more horizontally with each branch becoming a top and growing vertically. Mainlining is a form or LST in which you cut off all other tops and branches except the certain number you train your plant for which in return makes for that number of bigger and denser buds.
Topping or Fimming which is very similar to one another. Topping is done by cutting the top of the plant and on the place where you cut the top, two new tops will appear. Fimming is done by cutting the ⅔ of the top, including top and joining leaves part, which in return gives you 3-4 new tops.
Supercropping, which is bending or twisting and breaking your stalk or branch, allowing other growth or tops to catch up. The trick is not to break off the stalk but to damage the tissue enough. Usually the branch or top that you’ve supercropped will come up in a few hours, although you can force more damage and just have the branch or top grow bent, forcing all the internodes to form new tops. After your plant recovers, a knuckle will form on the place where you broke the stalk which will allow for more energy to travel through that part because of the bigger surface and will also make it stronger.
SCROG or Screen of green method, which is basically just LST but with a net or a screen used to train our plants canopy. Materials used should be from natural and soft not to damage the plant tissue, with a grid of rectangles a couple of centimeters wide and long. You place the screen or a net over your plants and as they grow, you just tuck the tops below the net, making the plants grow horizontally and getting a new top on every new internode that will continue to grow upwards.
Lollipopping is often used by growers in order to get bigger and denser buds. Basically it’s just removing the bottom third of your plants. Those parts of the plant would receive very little light and those are called popcorn buds, usually not worth the trim. By removing all those smaller buds, the plant concentrates its energy towards the growth that’s left, making the buds bigger and denser.
General pruning, removing the big fan leaves that block the light and removing the underdeveloped growth will also increase the light energy your buds are getting and using too.
Water and nutrients
Overwatering is the main mistake new growers make. Allowing your plant roots to intake fresh oxygen is as important as giving them plenty of water. Watering more often but with less water gives you more optimal grow conditions. Forcing the roots to seek the water while keeping the humidity at more stabilized levels gives you a bigger and healthier root mass.
Nutrients play a key role in the final yield too. Using too much and expecting the plant to give you a better yield just because you pumped it full of nutrients is one of the most common mistakes new growers make. There is a limit of nutrients that your plant can use and it can vary significantly from strain to strain, even from phenotype to phenotype. The best way to find the sweet spot for your plants is to start from a lower dose recommended and build up to full dose or more. Measure the PPM going in and out and figure out how much can your plant use and always, look at your plants and how they react to anything. Often, less is more but by providing your plants with all the nutrients and elements that it needs you you can get a considerable increase on your yield.
It’s always best to measure things and we measure the amounts of nutrients in PPM.
Most strains will feel most comfortable with the feeding in between 700 and 1000 PPM in the first and 1000-1600 PPM in the second part of flowering, followed by a flush.
Wrong PH levels may cause your plants to have slower growth or even be toxic to them. Too low PH levels, both in the growing medium and in the water or nutrients can be toxic to the plants, while too high PH levels will cause your plants to exhibit slowed or stunted growth. Optimal soil or medium PH should be 5.5-6.5 while optimal water or nutrient PH should be 5-6.5 depending on your medium and strain preference.
Some growers like to introduce CO2 to the growing environment to increase the yields too. Although CO2 alone won’t increase your yield, it allows you to lower your lights, as your plants can then take higher temperatures, and it allows your plants to use the nutrients more faster and efficiently. Adding CO2 makes your plant perform photosynthesis more efficiently, producing better, faster and stronger plant growth.
Of course, all the training, nutrients and environmental parameters can’t change what’s in the genes. Selecting the strain that’s most suitable for the training and growing method is crucial. Generally, sativa (hybrid) plants are taller with bigger internodes, usually yielding less, with buds that are not as hard and dense as the ones produced by indica (hybrids). Looking for traits like good branching, big solid buds and fast growth will assure you get the biggest and best yield and quality.
Remember: It is illegal to germinate cannabis seeds in many countries including the UK. It is our duty to inform you of this fact and to urge you to obey all of your local laws to the letter. The Vault only ever sells or sends out seeds for souvenir, collection or novelty purposes.
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The Delta-8 THC Controversy
Even as the edifice of cannabis prohibition crumbles state by state, the federal illegality of the plant and its principal psychotropic component THC continues to drive a quest for loopholes in the relevant statutes. Hence the recent focus on Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol — a psychoactive but less potent cannabinoid than the more common and notorious Delta-9 THC.
Is there any truth to the claim that the 2018 Farm Bill inadvertently legalized Delta-8 THC, as some entrepreneurs maintain? That certainly wasn’t the spirit or intent of the Farm Bill, which did not seek to legalize psychoactive cannabis compounds.
The Farm Bill removed hemp – defined as cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC – from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act. But the Farm Bill never actually mentions Delta-8 THC. And there’s considerable disagreement among hemp advocates regarding the legal status of this compound and what it means for the cannabis industry as a whole.
The Delta-8 Craze
Delta-8 THC (like CBD a couple of years ago) is suddenly everywhere — from upscale boutiques to truck stops. The Chicago Sun-Times (April 13, 2021) writes, rather credulously, that a “growing number of Chicago businesses are now exploiting a loophole in federal law that appears to allow the unfettered sale of a trendy hemp byproduct called Delta-8-THC, which has commonly been described as ‘marijuana-lite’ or ‘diet weed.’ Retailers across the city have started selling a variety of Delta-8 products in settings that resemble licensed cannabis dispensaries but aren’t subject to the same stiff regulations. Many sell everything from edibles to vape cartridges, as well as smokable hemp flower sprayed with Delta-8 extract.”
Emporia such as the Wake-N-Bakery coffee shop in Chicago’s Lake View district “seized on Delta-8 after the federal Farm Bill of 2018 made legal the distribution and sale of hemp and its byproducts. That law explicitly excluded Delta-9, but there’s no mention of its mellower relative.”
Typical boosterism is displayed in a February 2021 press release from the Boston Hempire company: “There are about 120 total cannabinoids within the hemp plant including the most known CBD, THC, and CBG. New cannabinoids like CBN and CBC are starting to enter the market as well. As science begins to dive deeper into the plant’s genetic makeup, new products like Delta-8 THC are coming to light. This federally legal derivative from the hemp plant falls under the 2018 Farm Bill Act.”
A somewhat more sober assessment is offered by Hemp Benchmarks website, which asks if Delta-8 will be the “ ‘Next Big Thing’ or a Dead End for the Hemp Industry?” It states: “While there is burgeoning interest in Delta-8 THC in the U.S. hemp industry, its legal status is uncertain.”
Pushback from State Law Enforcement
In March of this year, police in the town of Clinton, South Carolina, raided a vape shop and seized an inventory of Delta-8 products. TSR Vape Shop owner Robert Oggenfuss was surprised by the turn of events. “They just told me point blank that they had it tested, it broke the law, so they’re taking my stuff,” Oggenfuss told WYFF, the NBC–TV affiliate in Laurens County.
In typically garbled verbiage, WYFF reported: “The Clinton police chief referenced SC Law 44-53-0190, which classifies Delta-8 as a controlled substance for having levels of THC … According to the South Carolina Hemp Farming Act, a product cannot contain more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. No South Carolina law appears to specifically address Delta-8.”
To clarify: Delta-8 cannot have “levels” of THC, because it is THC. Presumably, what the report meant is that the products on sale had above 0.3% Delta-9 THC. Or that the police labs could not distinguish Delta-8 from Delta-9. Or that the authorities consider them equally illegal and therefore any product with more than 0.3% Delta-8 THC is forbidden in the Palmetto State.
Although law enforcement operations targeting Delta-8 THC products have been few and far between thus far, some states are proactively moving to ban Delta-8 THC. The Alabama Political Reporter informs us that the legislature in Montgomery is considering a measure that would add Delta-8 and Delta-10 (another THC variant) to the state’s controlled substances list. The measure, which has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee, is being “vociferously opposed” by the Cotton State’s hemp industry.
But of course the big-ticket question is federal law — and here, the claims and counterclaims about Delta-8 THC are hot and heavy.
The DEA, as Usual, Just Says No
In August 2020, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued new regulations for CBD and other hemp derivatives, which classified Delta-8 THC as a Schedule One controlled substance. Entitled “Implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,” the DEA’s Interim Final Rule explicitly states that the Farm Bill “does not impact the control status of synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols … because the statutory definition of ‘hemp’ is limited to materials that are derived from the plant Cannabis sativa L. For synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols, the concentration of Delta-9 THC is not a determining factor in whether the material is a controlled substance. All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances.”
So the question hinges, to a large extent, on whether the Delta-8 in a given product is “synthetically derived.” Nearly all the Delta-8 on the market today is produced by chemically tweaking CBD in a laboratory. In other words, it is not directly extracted from the hemp plant but is synthesized from CBD that is directly extracted from the plant.
Also at issue is the 1986 Federal Analogue Act, which states that a chemical analog of a controlled substance “shall, to the extent intended for human consumption, be treated, for the purposes of any Federal law as a controlled substance in schedule I.” This means that the provisions of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) that make Delta-9 THC a Schedule I substance also apply to Delta-8. Technically, Delta-8 THC is an isomer of Delta-9 THC, which means the molecules are made up of the same atoms, but they are arranged differently.
Moreover, the DEA’s official list of Controlled Substances, under its entry for “Tetrahydrocannabinols,” names these as: “THC, Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC, dronabinol and others.”
Is there really any ambiguity here? Only inasmuch as the 2018 Farm Bill carved out hemp-derived cannabinoids other than Delta-9 THC from the Controlled Substances Act. This is the narrow point seized upon by the Delta-8 boosters to make their case.
The Benefit of Mr. Kight
The most aggressive and sophisticated of these boosters is Rod Kight, a North Carolina attorney who is currently representing the Hemp Industries Association and other plaintiffs in a federal court challenge to the DEA’s Interim Final Rule of last August. The case actually does not concern Delta-8; it involves the DEA’s classification of “waste hemp material,” which may contain THC, as a Schedule I substance.
On his blog, Kight contends that Delta-8 THC is legal because “tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp” are not controlled substances, according to the Farm Bill. But this argument hinges entirely on whether the Delta-8 now being marketed was, in fact, “in” hemp to begin with — or was it synthesized from “tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp”?
Project CBD spoke by phone to Kight at his office in Asheville to better understand his views on the matter. “I consider Delta-8 to be a hemp extract,” he says. “Or, the clearer way to say it is that is Delta-8 can be extracted from hemp. If Delta-8 is extracted from hemp, it’s legal — and that’s undoubtedly the case. Delta-8, while remarkably similar to Delta-9, is not Delta-9. And CBD derived from hemp is actually hemp from a statutory legal standpoint because hemp derivatives are also hemp under the Farm Bill.”
Kight’s quixotic quest for a legal loophole is reminiscent of the persistent stoner folklore that Cannabis Indica is actually legal because federal law only references Cannabis Sativa. The legendary botanist Richard Evans Schultes actually testified in court to this effect on behalf of cannabis defendants in the 1970s. But the court didn’t buy it, finding that the meaning of the name Cannabis Sativa was for legal purposes in the domain of judicial, not scientific, authority.
Good Guys & Bad Guys
Kight credits the Delta-8 boom with being a salvation for a new business sector in a very challenging time. “It single-handedly saved the hemp industry during the COVID-19 recession,” he asserts. “I say this based on communications with numerous clients. It’s been responsible for saving a large number of my clients.”
He also refers to the pruported therapeutic benefits of Delta-8 THC: “It doesn’t have the paranoia effects associated with Delta-9 THC. It’s also effective against nausea. There are a lot of reasons people are purchasing Delta-8. I’m surprised how many people prefer it over Delta-9 products.”
Kight does acknowledge that there is reason to be concerned about the lack of oversight for unregulated Delta-8 products that are falling through legal cracks.
“There’s a lot of bathtub gin being made out there,” he states metaphorically. “We oppose that. My clients are very concerned with the safety of their products. It takes time for regulations to catch up with the development of products, that’s a big issue for sure. And testing protocols have not been standardized — the DEA and most state labs don’t even know how to distinguish between Delta-8 and Delta-9. One of the concerns in the industry is getting these methodologies in place so the good guys can continue to operate and the bad guys cannot.”
Distillate or Synthetic?
Greg Gerdeman, PhD, a West Virginia-based neuroscientist and cannabinoid biologist, isn’t swayed by Kight’s efforts to interpret his way out of the Controlled Substances Act. In Gerdeman’s view, “Delta-8 THC is unambiguously illegal. There is nothing in the language of the 2018 Farm Bill that carves out Delta-8 from the Analogue Act.”
“They are calling Delta-8 a distillate, but it’s actually a reaction product,” Gerdeman explains. “You cook the CBD in a strong acid, and you’re converting it into something that it wasn’t. Whereas, with a distillate you take a complex oil and you’re removing part of it; it’s not a process that converts one product into something else. Distillation is a refining process, not a chemical reaction.”
He notes that Delta-8 should actually involve both chemical synthesis and distillation, since “a final distillation step is necessary after the chemical reaction is quenched, in order to remove chemical reagents and byproducts” (thus technically creating a distillate of a reaction product).
Gerdeman admits that this distinction is “debated within the industry, and there is a tilt in favor of calling it plant-derived to avoid the negative connotations of the word ‘synthetic.’ But to my mind, it’s a synthetic chemical reaction. What comes out as Delta-8 was not Delta-8 in the plant … This is drug development as far as I’m concerned — taking one molecule and turning it into another molecule. And once it goes down the avenue of drug development, it should be regulated as drug development is.”
Apart from the legal distinction, Gerdeman feels there’s a “truth in advertising” issue that needs to be acknowledged: “Retailers have gotten used to the language of the market, in which distillate is a refined extract rather than a chemically synthesized new product. Delta-8 is produced by synthesis because you’re creating something that wasn’t there before. That’s my perspective as someone who’s taught biology and chemistry. Whether it’s legal or not, consumers should know that it is a synthetic compound.”
Gerdeman is skeptical of claims that Delta-8 does not cause the paranoid reactions sometimes associated with THC intoxication. “I don’t think anyone should be buying this product under the misapprehension that they’re not gonna get too high if they overdo it,” he says, adding: “Delta-8 is being marketed with virtually no oversight. I don’t think there’s any reason Delta-8 should not be regulated as much as herbal cannabis. Companies have jumped through these loopholes, but the products are not audited for safety. Without more rigorous research and quality control, I would never vape a Delta-8 THC product.”
Consumers at Risk
Jim Prochnow, a Colorado-based attorney with the firm Greenberg Traurig, specializes in litigation concerning DEA and Food & Drug Administration regulations — often in collaboration with his son Justin, who also works at the firm. He tells Project CBD by email: “Both my son, Justin Prochnow, and I advise our clients on the issue of whether Delta-8 THC, also referred to as D8–THC, can legally be used as a dietary ingredient in food or in a dietary supplement. As I see it, all serious evaluation of this issue begins with the definition of ‘marijuana’ in the federal Controlled Substance Act and the definition of ‘hemp’ that exists in the Farm Bill of 2018 … If the compound is created in a laboratory or manufacturing facility from chemicals, it is highly likely that a court will consider the D8–THC to be not included in the definition of ‘hemp’… The DEA expressly adopted such a position in its Interim Final Rule.”
Prochnow adds that “the Government, including the DEA and FDA, is also likely to maintain that most, if not all, D8–THC substances are synthetic, not included in the definition of ‘hemp,’ and will be regarded as a Schedule I controlled substance because of … evidence that the amount of D8–THC in … finished products is well above any naturally occurring trace amount in the Cannabis Sativa plant.”
Yet despite their seeming illegality, Delta-8 products have taken off as the newest way to get high, and therefore “they require a regulatory structure in line with state medical and adult-use marijuana programs,” according to the Federation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS), which states flatly on its website: “Delta-8 is NOT Legal.”
And because Delta-8 products are federally illegal, “they do not fall within existing regulations for hemp products, which means they are not required to contain warning labels or advice to the consumer on the potential for impairment,” says FOCUS. “It also means no one is monitoring the production of these products to assure only safe production practices are being used, or that the products being sold are of good quality.”
FOCUS warns that the lack of oversight “puts consumers at risk” and also jeopardizes “the unwitting business owners that are carrying these products, without an understanding of their own liability for selling them.”
It’s ironic that the chase after loopholes continues even as cannabis legalization has been achieved in numerous states — and the Holy Grail of federal legalization even seems, at long last, possible.
“The notion that you can interpret your way out of the Controlled Substances Act by chipping away at the plant one compound at a time seems like a strategy that has run its course and is doomed to failure,” says Project CBD director Martin A. Lee, author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana — Medical, Recreational and Scientific. “It’s like picking at the scab of prohibition. Anything short of legalizing the whole plant, at this point, seems dubious.”
Delta-8 THC no doubt has medical value, but clinical data demonstrating what it’s good for is limited. Nor is it clear whether it can confer unique benefits beyond the remarkable – and federally recognized – therapeutic attributes of delta-9 THC (which is legally available nationwide as a single-molecule prescription pharmaceutical).
Medical patients and other consumers deserve easy access to a safe, well-regulated supply of cannabis-derived products, including Delta-8 options if they are effective, along with a wide range of CBD-rich and Delta-9-rich remedies. If there’s a market for “THC-lite,” then smaller concentrations of Delta-9 in combination with CBD should take the edge off of THC’s tricky psychoactivity.
Lee draws attention to another aspect of the current Delta-8 craze. “Claiming that Delta-8 THC is legal when it’s synthesized from hemp-derived CBD opens a Pandora’s Box of difficult questions that the cannabis industry will have to grapple with sooner or later,” he says. “If synthesizing Delta-8 THC from CBD is legal, then what about synthesizing Delta-8 from yeast-derived CBD, which is already technically possible? Would that also be legal – or desirable? Why not skip CBD altogether and synthesize Delta-8 THC or other minor cannabinoids directly from a yeast substrate? How would it help the fledgling hemp industry if these synthetic compounds aren’t actually produced by the cannabis plant?”
For now, Delta-8 THC might seem like an interesting play, but the emphasis on synthesizing single-molecule cannabinoids doesn’t necessarily bode well for the future of artisanal cannabis.
Bill Weinberg, a Project CBD contributing writer, is a 30-year veteran journalist in the fields of drug policy, ecology and indigenous peoples. He is a former news editor at High Times magazine, and he produces the websites CounterVortex.org and Global Ganja Report.
Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.
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