Light deprivation is a popular method for cannabis growers seeking to find a happy medium between price and quality. Cultivators who have gone through the legal permit process have found making money with legal grows isn’t as lucritive. Light dep growing allows them to produce quality product at a reasonable price. Explore the pros and cons of “light dep,” and see why it’s become the method of choice for cultivators on the west coast.

Indoor Growing

indoor grow lights

Indoor cultivation offers complete control over the environment and every aspect of the plant’s cycle. Indoor buds are most likely what you’re looking at when looking at nug porn on Instagram.

The buds are tigher, the frost is frostier and the trim is manicured. Top shelf cannabis flower at the top of the quality spectrum comes with a higher price tag.

In the bay area good indoor flower lands in the $50 – $80 price range for an eighth.

 PROS:

  • Proudces the best cannabis
  • Control over the growing conditions
  • Allows cultivation throughout the year
  • Automation options
  • Can choose which kind of light and flowering schedule.

CONS:

  • Uses more energy
  • Finding space in a secure building
  • Higher cost

Light Dep

Light Dep weed

Light deprivation aka “light dep” is a method of growing outside in a covered structure similar to a green house.

Natural sunlight comes in through the clear plastic giving plants what they need. To begin flowering, a dark cover is placed on top of structure during certain hours.

Prices for an eighth are around $35 – $40.

 PROS:

  • Uses natural sunlight
  • Control over the environment
  • Allows 2 grows per year
  • Lower overall cost
  • Great quality for the price
  • Good option for prerolls

CONS:

  • Requires more effort
  • Smaller plants & yields
  • Humidity control

Outdoor Growing

outdoor weed

Generally, outdoor cannabis is lowest on the quality scale, but it’s also the most inexpensive.

One thing to love about outdoor is the sheer magnitude of those trees. There’s no ceiling to limit their growth, so outdoor plants can grow huge.

Prices for an eighth are $30 or less. Outdoor is often offered in half ounce deals by local dispensaries.

 PROS:

  • Uses natural sunlight
  • Can grow huge plants
  • Bigger yields
  • Lower overall cost
  • Good quality for the price

CONS:

  • One grow cycle a year
  • Considered the “lowest” quality

Flowering light schedule – When the light cycle provides your cannabis plants with longer hours of uninterrupted darkness, they enter the flowering stage. Your plants will stop growing and instead put their energy into producing buds (flowers). Outdoors, this will normally happen when the days get shorter around the end of summer.

For most cannabis strains, the flowering period will last about 7-9 weeks, although some sativas require even longer for their buds to mature.

For Cannabis plants to enter the flowering stage in indoor crops, the photoperiod must be switched to 12 hours of light / 12 hours of darkness schedule.

Growing outdoors, plants will start the flowering stage when the days grow shorter, usually when Autumn is coming.

cannabis light schedule
what is cannabis

Why choose light deprivation?

Generally speaking, people who are considering starting a grow operation may assume that growing indoors is the best way to go. Due to issues of legalization, indoor growing used to be the best way to produce a high quality product while staying under the radar. However, given the resources now on the market indoor growing is no longer the ideal set up.

There are many risks that come with an indoor growing operation. Some of these include house or building fires caused by electricity overload, mold and mildew buildup in structure, large energy consumptions, and a higher risk of pest and infection of plants.

Most of the long-term extensive damage occurs due to toxic molds and mildews. These can develop in a matter of a few short months and require very expensive structural repairs to eliminate. Some mold damage is so toxic, extensive and irreparable that homes or buildings are permanently ruined and no longer hold their value.

To set up an indoor grow that won’t damage your building or cause pest infestations, you need an expensive array of equipment. The reason you need all this expensive equipment to grow plants indoors comes down to the way plants grow and the type of environment they thrive in.

Plants breathe out most of water that they absorb through their roots. This biological process is called transpiration. Up to 95% of the water plants absorb from their nutrient solution is expelled back out into the environment.

In a confined environment, this excess moisture in the air will cause humidity build up. If this unwanted moisture is not dealt with in a timely manner, either via temperature/humidity variance or by dehumidification methods, high moisture levels  in the grow room will slow down plant growth, and may cause mold and mildew build up on the plants and in the growing environment.

Another issue that can cause your temperature / humidity variance to get off kilter is the use of growing lights in indoor operations. Standard grow lights (HPS, MH, CFL) give off a lot of heat. This will cause your temperature to climb if the proper ventilation and cooling systems are not included. Newer LED grow lights are much more efficient when it comes to energy use and heat output, but their upfront cost is often too much for growers to swallow.

It can be particularly difficult to keep the relative humidity in an indoor grow room at a stable level without a lot of extra equipment, because you can’t use the air circulation naturally provided by being outdoors. A confined environment means putting in extra fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers to keep a constant agreeable environment for the plants.

Light depps

photo by Security Business Magazine

I’ve always said the best source of light is the sun. It requires no expense, no electricity, and its bright beams do not draw suspicion. Nothing puts out more lumens than the sun:  

And it’s free!  

Ed Rosenthal

It’s less expensive

When growing in a greenhouse, initial cost of required equipment is much less. The structure itself will be easier and cheaper to erect than building a warehouse on your property. Being able to utilize the natural environment for airflow and light means there are fewer obstacles in your way of a high quality product. And with light deprivation techniques, you can still harvest 3-5 times a year!

Especially when growing during the spring and summer seasons, environmental control can be much easier to manage, as you can utilize functions of the greenhouse not available in indoor setups.  With the right greenhouse covering, you can combat heat from the beginning. Poly coverings like SOLARIG™(read more on Solarig in our post The Best Greenhouse covering for You) have IR additives that help reduce the amount of heat build up in your greenhouse in those hot summer months.

You can also install roll up sides for your clear poly walls to keep a free exchange of air, making sure your plants are breathing in plenty of CO2. Anti-insect netting can be installed to keep out unwanted pests. Including an exhaust fan and some circulation fans to keep the ridge air moving will help keep a uniform temperature/humidity variance throughout the greenhouse for your plants to thrive.

CdP Thanksgiving wine
CdP Thanksgiving wine

The Grower Benefits from Natural Growing Conditions

Being able to utilize the natural light and airflow around you means less stress over maintaining your environment. There are now some great environmental controllers on the market to help automate all of your equipment.

You can now set heating, cooling, humidity , and lighting stages, so all of your accessories will be running when they are needed and will kick off when they’ve done their job. This helps save on energy costs and the time/labor it takes to run it all manually. When utilizing a light deprivation system, you can set your time points to simulate a 12 and 12 light cycle without pulling a single tarp.

Grow Bigger Yields Without Sacrificing Quality

There’s nothing like the pure power of the sun to grow bigger, healthier plants that produce the big fat kolas you’re looking for.  With Solarig’s light diffusing properties, light will be evenly dispersed through every corner of your greenhouse, no matter the angle it enters from. This will help ensure that all of your plants are getting the light they need. With anti-drip additives, you can combat mold and mildew issues that arise from condensation raining down on your plants.

Also, with greenhouse growing, you are alloted a larger square footage to grow in, because your grow will be classified as an outdoor operation. Utilizing light deprivation techniques allows you to harvest three to four times a year (strain determinate) without any additional supplemental lighting. Growing in an outdoor, light dep greenhouse operation, your projected yields will be roughly 25-30% higher than an indoor operation. And these days, the quality of product developed in a greenhouse environment rivals indoor production in value.

CdP Thanksgiving wine