While cannabis has been cultivated and consumed for thousands of years, the evolution of marijuana has been rapidly accelerating, especially with an increase in crossbreeding and a consistent introduction of new and improved strains each year. However, the potency of weed wasn’t always what it is today, partially due to the limitations and restrictions that persisted all the way through the first decade of the 21st century.
How strong was weed in the past?
The height of marijuana made its mark in the ’60s and ’70s, a period when psychedelic rock also hit its stride. Although the spirit of weed was at its true peak, the potency of the marijuana was undoubtedly lower than today’s standards. This is because the quality of the weed was relatively poor all-around — countries like Colombia controlled the weed market and exported product heavy in leaves, stems, and seeds rather than the dense, resin-packed buds that most consumers have grown accustomed to today. Since cannabis was outlawed in the US, there was little freedom to experiment with genetics that could produce a superior hybrid. In 1972, the Potency Monitoring Program started measuring THC potency levels in samples that US law enforcement had seized. However, there were many limiting factors that affected the accuracy of the recorded data — low sample size (averaging at roughly 18 samples per year), age and storage conditions, and inefficient methods of measurement. Average THC content was reported to be 3-4%, but the numbers were likely much higher in reality. In the ’80s and ’90s, cannabis importation hit a decline with the rise of hydroponically grown weed. The products of this technique were fresher, domestic, and of higher quality. It is estimated that the potency was still much lower than today’s standards, although the data is not truly accurate, again, due to improper storage of samples and the aging of THC over several months (or even years).
How strong is weed today?
In recent decades, THC potency has increased significantly. By 2014, the potency average — according to a study published in Biological Psychiatry — had risen to around 12%. THC contents over 20% are also becoming more common, with some strains boasting numbers above 30%. While today’s strains are, by all appearances, more potent than the strains of past generations, this is probably due to a difference in quality and resources available in the US — not just time itself. The legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana in various regions has also greatly contributed to the rise in potency, as growers have started racing to develop superior strains at a faster rate than ever before.
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In North America, most outdoor marijuana cultivation begins in the middle of spring. Mathematically, this means that October would be the month when most cannabis is ready to be harvested, processed, and then sold. In other words, October becomes Croptober for weed farmers. In its own right, Croptober is almost as impactful as 4/20 and 7/10, specifically for marijuana growers.
How does Croptober affect outdoor growers?
Croptober is a period of both celebration and stress for anyone with an outdoor cannabis harvest. On one hand, half a year’s worth of hard labor is finally yielding results, and if successful, the harvest is abundant. Around this time, the air will be heavy with the scent of rich terpenes and ripe aromas. On the other hand, there are a few factors that could throw all of that hard work into jeopardy. October is a month when the weather becomes unpredictable — storms, droughts, heat, and cold are all wild cards as soon as the summer ends. A short bout of extreme weather could easily destroy your entire crop, so October is a crucial time to set up any necessary defense systems against the elements. In addition, plentiful harvests equate to increased competition — more weed means that growers will face competitive pricing and greater supply. According to Kevin Jodrey, the founder of Wonderland Nursery in Humboldt County, market prices for a pound of weed could drop by as much as $400 or $500. Croptober marks a time when financial planning is key. Croptober used to have a more significant impact on the cannabis market in past years, but that impact has slowly started to diminish with the rise of indoor growing operations.
How does Croptober affect indoor growers?
Indoor farmers face both negative and positive impacts of the Croptober rush. On the negative side, they’ll have to drop their prices heavily to keep up with lower market prices offered by outdoor growers in the fall. On the positive side, they have the advantages of consistent, controlled harvesting schedules and reduced risk of losing a harvest to unforeseen environmental factors.
How does Croptober affect consumers?
Although this particular month is most impactful for growers, Croptober is like Christmas for cannabis enthusiasts. After the bountiful October harvest, November and December will be prime months when all the dispensaries are stocking their shelves with new weed bursting with fresh, intense flavors.
Happy Croptober, and may the season of bountiful harvest bring you a season of equally bountiful highs.
Not all marijuana is grown the same. Many different growing styles have developed to accommodate the climate, environment, and financial resources for every grower. Outdoor growing is the original and most natural method — it’s how weed first grew in the wild before humans cultivated it for consumption. After outdoor farming came the innovation of new methods, such as indoor farming, light-dep hoop houses, and greenhouses. Below is a guide to all of the different growing styles to help you decide which method is best for your garden. Whether you’re completely new or an advanced gardening veteran, there are plenty of options for you.
If you’re starting a marijuana garden, the first decision you’ll make is whether to use seeds or clones. Because regular seeds from the same strain of cannabis are genetically a little different from each other, the resulting flower will also vary between seeds. In some cases, buds from two different seeds of the same strain will have differences in flavor. Seeds are extremely useful for breeders because they provide many different variations of a strain that allow the grower to select a favorite and make clones of that seed. Unlike regular seeds, cloned seeds are all genetically identical, and will therefore produce plants that are consistently the same in all aspects, including flavor.
Growing marijuana outdoors is the oldest and easiest method of cultivating weed. Ideally, you should select this method if you live in a “Mediterranean climate,” which has warm to hot summers, mild fall seasons, and not a lot of rainfall. Places like California, Oregon, and some regions of Washington exhibit similar climates to the Mediterranean environment.
Indoor growing is the most controlled, yet most expensive option. With indoor growing, environmental and seasonal factors are no longer a concern, and the growing space can be anything from a small cabinet to a giant warehouse. However, it costs a lot more to mimic and maintain “ideal” growing conditions artificially.
Light-Dep Hoop Houses
Light-dep (short for light-deprivation) hoop houses are a method of growing that involves covering the plants with large tarps in a large tent-like structure outdoors. They work well in ideal climate regions and allow growers to influence the amount of sunlight and rainfall the plants receive. The tarps also offer greater protection from unpredictable weather. This option offers a nice balance, as it is essentially outdoor growing with greater environmental control.
Greenhouses are another convenient option for your garden. They allow for a more controlled growing environment while exposing the plants to sunlight and limiting pest infestations. In addition, the walls of the greenhouse shelter your harvest from rough weather conditions.
Every growing style is a little bit different. They all have significant pros and cons and work for different budgets and climates. Outdoor growing is the easiest and least expensive method, while indoor growing is the most complex and most expensive method. Partial-outdoor methods like light-dep hoop houses and greenhouses fall somewhere in the middle in terms of sustainability, cost, and labor. Ultimately, choosing a growing style comes down to how much environmental control you want for your harvest, and how much effort you are willing to put into your crop.
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