Every marijuana grower wants to know how they can get the best yield possible. After all, we grow not only for the love of growing but also for that sweet bud at the end of the grow season. It’s also in many people’s best interests to be able to weigh the cost and return of growing before they spend a dime. In other words, they want to see if they’re going to get their money’s worth. Let’s take a look at what you can expect and what you can do to maximize your yields.
Best yields indoors
When you’re growing indoors, light is the name of the game. If your plants receive the proper amount of light, they will grow to their fullest extent. In theory, the math is simple. 400 watts of an HPS grow light could lead to 400 grams (14 ounces) of weed at the end of the day. 1200 watts would lead to 1.2 kilos (42 ounces) of marijuana, etc. But lights are just one part of it; when growing indoors, it is essential to ensure that every plant has the space it needs to grow and thrive.
It’s also important to remember that soil setups can vary greatly (in terms of yield expectations) from hydroponics setups. Soil growing has a lower potential yield, but the process is easier overall, so the chances of maximizing your yield are higher.
If you’re an experienced hydro grower, of course, then you’re likely to get a giant yield from your hydro setup. In fact, hydro setups generally can lead to a 20% increase in yield — but there’s basically no room for error. Hydro growers could expect yields on the higher end to be around 1.2 grams per watt (or 720 grams of weed per 600 watts from an HPS lamp).
There are a number of ways to calculate what you can expect your yield to be. An easy way is to use a yield calculator, which you can find on Yield O Rama, for example. The type of light, lumens of light (how intense the light is), your experience with growing marijuana, and what type of medium you’re growing in are all elements used to calculate the predicted yield.
It won’t be perfect, of course, as it doesn’t include some other important factors such as genetics or growing outdoors. But still, it can help you get a better idea of what to expect in the coming harvest time.
There are numerous ways to get the most from your yield. Every grower has his or her own preferences for doing so, but you can use trial and error or the advice of other growers to help you decide which is best for you.
Using the Screen of Green (SCROG) method works great for maximizing yields. It helps utilize every bit of light that your lamps are putting out, meaning your plants will get the most exposure and the best growth possible. It evens out the tops of the plants, so no plant receives more or less than the other.
You do it by putting a screen or net over the tops of the plants, then, after a branch has poked through by 4 inches, you horizontally tie it to the screen. You keep doing this until it forms a blanket of green. All the buds you get from this technique will be firm and juicy.
HPS lights and CO2
If you’re using an HPS light, you should remember that more watts don’t necessarily lead to higher yields. Plants can only utilize that extra light if you are also supplying them with extra carbon dioxide. Ideally, you should have good ventilation of air from the outside (which has plenty of CO2 to resupply your grow room after the plants use the CO2 already there).
The same goes for the other way around: if you have extra CO2, the plants need extra light to compensate. So, using a 1000-watt HPS light instead of a 600-watt HPS light only makes sense if you’re also supplying the carbon dioxide — and if you do have both, it can really increase yields.
LED lights receive a lot of hype, but so far not so much payoff. Plenty of anecdotal evidence shows that LED lights may underperform compared to what they “should” be doing. Even commercial tomato growers don’t use LED lights, showing that there’s no real economic or yield benefit. (Note: tomato plants have very similar growing needs to marijuana plants.)
Grow fewer plants
If you have just one plant to focus on, and you do a good job of maximizing its environment, then, of course, you can get a much higher yield per plant. Try growing one plant or just fewer plants because it will help you get more bang for your buck. It will take less effort overall, require less electricity, and will likely be less severe if you’re caught growing illegally.
Getting the most yield from your plants takes research, practice, and planning. Check out the growing forums on I Love Growing Marijuana for more tips.