When establishing a grow area indoors, there can be an overwhelming number of things to consider. James Defenbaugh, owner of the newly founded Humboldt Light Dep, has recently published The Light Dep Grower’s Guide: How to Harvest Marijuana Multiple Times a Year, detailing the ins and outs of various techniques for beginning and advanced growers alike. One such technique, fashioning a canopy, he expounds upon here.
The canopy is fundamental when it comes to light deprivation. Area is at a premium in light deprivation, and the canopy is defined as the area and depth that a plant’s leaves take up. There is only so much area in which you grow, so you need to make the most of it. Having the appropriate canopy will maximize your yield and save you precious time and money.
While you can stock your canopy with a few large plants or many smaller ones, as a light dep grower your objective should be to fill the space you have with a canopy that covers everything and is approximately 2 to 3 feet in depth. But of course it is important to follow your local and state growing guidelines. Every area is different in how they regulate cannabis grows, though they’re usually broken into two categories: plant count and square footage of the canopy area.
Now, I’ll bet you’re thinking: When is the best time to start covering my plants? The answer of course is “when they’re the perfect size”. I know, I know. What a letdown. The truth is, you need to consider some serious factors before you cover. You need to do your research and find out exactly how much your plants are going to stretch before they start flowering. This way you can properly gauge when to cover. To find out how much your strain will stretch, talk to your neighbor who’s grown that strain before, hop on an online forum, or call Kevin—he knows pretty much everything!
For example, if you have an 8-week strain, you’ll want to let them grow a little bigger because they don’t stretch much. If you’re growing a 10-week strain you’ll want to cover them when they’re smaller because they’ll stretch further.
You want your plants to fill the entire area so that every square foot is enveloped by week 3 of flowering. After week 3 your plants are done stretching and are now focused on growing bud. If you have empty areas, your yield will be lacking and you’ll be bummed.
A major DON’T when it comes time to pull tarp is to let your schedule determine things. If your plants are the right size, go ahead and pull. However, if your plants haven’t encompassed the canopy DON’T start pulling unless you’re okay with a smaller yield.
I’ve personally let my schedule determine when I should start and I’ve ended up with less than half what I expected. Talk about disheartening.
So that means that a bigger, denser canopy is better, right? Wrong. All that means is more work, time and resources wasted. You’ll have to cut a lot of the lower branches and do major de-leafing, because those lower branches (which are not getting any light) will divert the plants’ energy into tiny buds that won’t necessarily have the bag appeal that growers seek. And you’ll end up with an overgrown mess to clean. You’ll know your canopy is overgrown if the under branches are receiving little to no direct sunlight. Remember that the goal here is to maximize buds and minimize stalks. When you overgrow, you grow stalk. The last time I checked, we’re not in the hemp business.
With all that being said it is by far better to overgrow than undergrow. Overgrowth is actually fixable. There is no magic plant expander. All you can do when you pull tarp too early is be sad. Real, real sad.
A good time to pull is when your plants are almost touching (approximately 6 inches away from each other). This may cause you to end up with a canopy that is too dense, but you know how to fix that.
It comes down to learning the perfect size plant for the system you’re growing. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. You need to learn how they grow in your operation, and the only way to learn is by doing. When starting a new variety, choose a small section of your dep to experiment with, and build out from there.
The best advice I can give is the same advice that Kevin Jodrey gave me years ago. He said, “James, what you need to do is choose a strain, and master that strain. Figure out what it needs, how long it takes to flower, and how to reproduce those results.” If you master a strain you will have reliable results on which you can depend, so when you do choose to grow another variety you’ll be able to apply that knowledge.
P.S. For all Ganjier readers (yes, you!) I’m giving away a free chapter of my book The Light Dep Growers Guide. Click here to get your chapter!