Is indoor cannabis better than outdoor cannabis? This argument has been waged many times between the most knowledgeable members of the cannabis community. Both sides can make compelling cases regarding production methods, yield, environmental concerns, and consistency. The Smoke Reports guide to indoor and outdoor cannabis intends to help individuals who are on the fence as to how they want to grow their cannabis flowers.
Requirements: Space, Energy and Resources
One of the main things to consider when deciding to grow cannabis indoors or outdoors is the physical space that you can dedicate to your plants. When grown outdoors, cannabis plants tend to grow much larger, and therefore require more square footage than indoor operations. When it comes to outdoor cannabis, there are many risks to consider, including discovery by authorities or thieves who would possibly take your plants. Having a safe location and knowing the legal cannabis limitations in your state may be a determining factor in your decision to grow inside or out.
Indoor grow operations allow for more plants to be packed in a condensed space, which is beneficial for those cultivating in urban areas. While the risk of visual discovery is greatly increased with indoor cannabis, other factors can lead to unwanted discovery, including an abnormally high electric bill. Indoor cannabis does not have the advantage of harnessing the immense power of the Sun’s light, and it is estimated that each watt of light will produce one gram of usable flowers.
Production of indoor and outdoor cannabis draw on different resources. Outdoor cultivation is generally less efficient when it comes to water usage, although outdoor is also free from the expensive need for heating, air-conditioning, and lighting that indoor cannabis demands. It is certainly expensive to grow cannabis indoors, but the ability to control your growing environment means that cannabis can be grown indoors, where outdoor conditions would not adequately support the cannabis plant’s lifecycle.
Cannabis Production: Quality and Yield
A stable and controlled environment gives indoor cannabis has a major advantage when it comes to production of flowers. Indoor cultivation also allows for year-round cannabis production of a multitude of different cannabis strains. Consistent indoor breeding gives us an ever-increasing range of cannabinoid potency due to the controlled optimal conditions, and the flowers that are harvested are often far less stressed by negative climate factors. There are still worries of pest and mold with indoor cultivation, but it is free from major natural issues like rain and animals that can plague outdoor cannabis. However, nature continues to offer the sun which provides an intensity and spectrum of light that cannot be replicated indoors. The natural light, as well as roomier spacing, allows for outdoor plants to grow much larger than their indoor counterparts, and produce more cannabis flowers per vertical foot of plant.
Some cultivators believe that indoor quality is superior because of consistency, and that the reduction in flowers produced can be outweighed with an increased number of smaller plants per square foot. Check out Robert Bergman’s video detailing indoor plant production.
There are also cultivators who argue that outdoor cannot be matched in terms of the unique environmental responses of the plant, resulting in flavor-enhancing terpenes and elaborate cannabinoid ratios. Outdoor cannabis is typically cheaper in dispensaries, mostly because of its more rugged appearance. Many people agree that if outdoor cultivators spent more effort trimming their flowers, outdoor cannabis might be valued higher by retailers.
Environmental Impact of Cannabis
Cannabis has received a lot of negative press for being a boon on limited water and energy resources. A 200 square-foot garden hosting between two and ten plants can use nearly 5,000 gallons of water before it is harvested. If the plants are much smaller, the amount of water required drops drastically. Still, outdoor cannabis farms have in the past been found to divert water from public and private sources, which would be criminal even if cannabis weren’t illegal.
Hydroponic systems can be set up indoors to make water use more efficient per plant. Unfortunately, indoor cultivation requires an incredible amount of electricity, to power lights, heating, and air-circulation. Because every cannabis grow is different, yields of usable cannabis vary, both indoor and outdoor. A popular indoor growing mantra is that experienced growers can yield one gram of usable cannabis per watt used to light their grow-space. Combine that with the electricity needed to maintain a controlled climate indoors, and you are looking at a pretty hefty electric bill. One increasingly popular method of cultivation is in greenhouses, where plants can receive natural sunlight within a moderated climate, free from rains and animals.
Cultivation Techniques for a Better Cannabis Future
Cannabis cultivation has received recent negative attention, in part because of the actions growers take to evade legal authorities attempting to destroy their crops. As cannabis approaches full legality, it would be wonderful to see a shift in growing techniques that consider environmental impacts equally alongside maximum yields of cannabis flowers.
For the most up to date info on Smoke Reports, follow us on Twitter @smokereports or like us on our Facebook page. If you would like to contribute any growing knowledge to Smoke Reports, please feel free to reach out to us through our contact page.