Horticulture Of Cannabis From Seed To Harvest

Online Horticulture of Cannabis Courses May 31 – July 1 & July 11 – August 12, 2022UConn Student RegistrationNon-Degree / Visiting Student RegistrationNeed HelpThis summer (SS1: May 31 – July 1, 2022 & SS2: July 11 – August 12, 2022), UConn is offering two Horticulture of Cannabis course … The key to successfully cannabis horticulture is to understand exactly how marijuana produces food and grows healthy. Whether grown indoors or outdoors, the requirements for cannabis horticulture remain the same. The Stages of Cannabis Growth – From Seed to Harvest In North America, you don’t have to look far to find a t-shirt or hat embossed with the iconic cannabis leaf. Avid users are quick to show

Online Horticulture of Cannabis Courses

This summer (SS1: May 31 – July 1, 2022 & SS2: July 11 – August 12, 2022), UConn is offering two Horticulture of Cannabis courses (introductory and advanced) in convenient online formats. The two 3-credit courses can be completed 100% online from anywhere in the world and are designed to provide intensive overviews of the horticultural techniques used to grow and manage this medically important and high value crop. Both of UConn’s Cannabis Horticulture courses are delivered via an interactive and online platform, enabling you to engage with students, faculty and content within an asynchronous environment. Asynchronous means that you can sign on anytime of the day to complete assignments or participate in discussions.

Cannabis is one of today’s hottest and most lucrative crops. There is increasing interest in the U.S. about growing Cannabis as a recreational crop, and also medical usefulness of cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD).

Both courses are taught by Matthew DeBacco and Gerald Berkowitz, resident experts within UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.

Concerning costs for each 3-credit Cannabis Horticulture course:

  • Many visiting (non-degree) students will pay $2,051 for 1 course and $4,037 for 2.
  • Most current UConn students will pay $2,031 for 1 course and $4,017 for 2.

Note: There are multiple exceptions and special cases concerning course costs, visit UConn’s Summer Sessions Dates & Fees Page to learn more.

Horticulture of Cannabis Summer Courses

Introduction to the Horticulture of Cannabis: Seed to Harvest

SPSS 2130 Horticulture of Cannabis: Seed to Harvest – This 100% online course focuses on growing cycles of Cannabis from both macro and microscopic scales. Students will develop an understanding of some of the common challenges with Cannabis production and how to best identify and correct these issues. Lectures focus on horticultural management of a Cannabis crop grown in the field and in controlled environment.

In this course, students focus on the fundamentals of the production cycle of Cannabis including horticultural management, identification of crop issues, elite feminized seed production, seed propagation, vegetative propagation, pruning, training, optimization of cannabinoid content, and post-harvest handling. And further, the course will overview business operations related to Cannabis world-wide and in Connecticut, explore lab testing procedures, cannabidiol extraction technologies, the Connecticut medical marijuana program, and government regulation of the industry. Taught with SAPL 130.

Course material will be presented at the introductory level; the class is designed for students with diverse academic backgrounds; there are no prerequisites. There is no laboratory component to the course. Cannabis plants will be grown for class demonstrations related to specific horticultural techniques.

Prerequisites: None

Advanced Cannabis Horticulture: Production & Industry

SPSS 3995 Special Problems: ‘Advanced Cannabis Horticulture: Production and Industry’ – This 100% online course focuses on growing cycles of Cannabis from both macro and microscopic scales. Students will develop an understanding of some of the common challenges with Cannabis production and how to best identify and correct these issues. Lectures focus on horticultural management of a Cannabis crop grown in the field and in controlled environment.

Students will develop a full understanding of the production methods of cannabis in addition to postproduction methods. Aspects of the industry will also be included to provide information about extraction, end products, jobs and current research within the cannabis industry. The organization of this course allows students to be able to choose their own progression through the course to allow for individual paths that will provide advanced level details. Students will be able to select starting plants from clones or seeds and if they plan on growing indoors or outdoors. Each student’s directed path through the course allows for a deeper understanding of the topics which are of greatest interest to the students that are connected with scientific research supported information. Job opportunities related to growing as well as other careers involved with the industry will be provided.

The class is designed for students with diverse academic backgrounds; there are no prerequisites. There is no laboratory component to the course. Cannabis plants will be grown for class demonstrations related to specific horticultural techniques.

Prerequisites: SPSS 2130 or previous production experience.

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Cultivation 101: Cannabis Horticulture

The key to successfully cannabis horticulture is to understand exactly how marijuana produces food and grows healthy. Whether grown indoors or outdoors, the requirements for cannabis horticulture remain the same.

The basic necessities of cannabis are light, air, water, nutrients, a growing medium and heat to create the necessary energy to grow. Growing indoors, the requirements are the same, though it is necessary to be sure that you have the proper light spectrum, carbon dioxide (CO2) and air circulation for cannabis to grow and thrive.

When you have proper amounts of everything needed for proper cannabis horticulture the result is consistent and optimum levels of growth. Marijuana is normally grown as an annual plant, completing its life cycle within one (1) year so the seeds are planted in the spring and grown throughout the summer.

Growing larger and larger until fall, the plants begin to produce flowers and create seeds to continue the full life-cycle of cannabis. In its natural state cannabis horticulture goes through distinct growth stages throughout its life-cycle.

Marijuana Germination

In the germination stage, after about 3 – 7 days, the seedlings sprout white-colored roots and begin to establish their root system in this stage of cannabis horticulture. Soon thereafter they were to grow stems and develop their first few leaves.

Moisture, heat, and air are the activators of the seed hormones (cytokinins, gibberellins, and auxins) during the germination life cycle of marijuana seeds. The hormones of the seed reside within the durable outer coating of the seed and the hormone cytokinin triggers cells to form and tells the gibberellins to grow in size. The embryo of the seed expands in size, utilizing the supply of food stored within the seed for growth.

Cannabis Seedling Growth

A single tap-root is produced from the germination of the seed as it grows down through the soil or growing medium and then the root systems begin to branch out. While the roots grow below the surface, the stem branches upward, above the ground in search of the light for its growth.

Tiny rootlets in the root system draw in water and nutrients as the root system develops in size, helping to anchor the plant and create a foundation for its future growth. Seedlings need to receive about 16-18 hours of light for healthy, vigorous growth in the beginning stages of cannabis horticulture.

Marijuana Vegetative Growth

During this stage of cannabis horticulture the plants need a minimum of 16 hours of light to stay in the vegetative state; though a maximum lighting time of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week can also be used.

In cannabis horticulture, as the plant matures, their root systems take on specialized roles – the center, older and more mature roots contain a water transport system that may also store food for the plant.

The tips of the roots extend and push deeper and farther into the soil in search of nutrients and water to supply its growth. These single-celled root hairs are the essential key for the plants to be able to uptake water and nutrients for growth.

The roots are extremely delicate and must be handled as quickly, gently, and carefully as possible if doing any kind of transplanting since they are prone to dry up and die very easily if they lack water. They may also be damaged by open air and sunlight if exposed for too long.

Similar to its root system, the cannabis’ stem grows and stretches higher and farther to catch more sunlight. In cannabis horticulture the plants will produce nodes and buds along its stem – depending if it is Sativa- or Indica-dominant strain – the nodes will be at varying distances between each node.

The central stem’s primary function is to transfer water and nutrients from its delicate root hairs up and throughout the entire cannabis plant. Lateral and side branches continue to branch out to develop buds and for the leaves to capture light.

Cannabis Pre-Flowering

Pre-flowers will begin to show around the fourth week into vegetative growth, depending on the strain in cannabis horticulture. It is around this time that you will usually be able to determine the sex of the plant. Between the fourth and sixth node is where you will usually be able to find the pre-flowers of the cannabis plant.

The male cannabis plant will develop tiny, smooth, egg-shaped pollen sacks while the female cannabis plant will develop small V-shaped white or pink hairs called pistils.

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Sometimes it may be hard to tell which are male and female. If you are unsure then you can grow them for a longer period of time to ensure you are able to correctly identify the plant’s sex (male or female). If you want to ensure a seedless crop (sinsemilla), you will want to be sure to remove all males from your crop.

Marijuana Flowering

In natural growing environment outdoors, cannabis begins to flower in the fall when the days become shorter. Flowers begin to form during this last stage of growth, where leafy growth within the plant slows and flowers begin to form.

The changing of the seasons signal hormone changes within the plant so they go from being in a vegetative state into a flowering or blooming stage of their life-cycle. Seasonal changes and the flowering cycle of cannabis horticulture are in direct correlation to the light spectrum of the sun and the amount of time (or hours) the sun is out each day.

The flowering of cannabis is triggered by 12-hours of darkness and 12-hours of light every 24 hours. When left un-pollinated female flowers to develop without seeds, called ‘sinsemilla’. Otherwise, when a female plant is fertilized with male pollen, the female flower buds will begin to develop seeds.

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The Stages of Cannabis Growth – From Seed to Harvest

In North America, you don’t have to look far to find a t-shirt or hat embossed with the iconic cannabis leaf. Avid users are quick to show their plant appreciation using this symbol, but in reality, the true magic lies within the cannabis flower. For growers, all stages of cannabis growth and harvest go into cultivating flower, also known as bud.

The chemical basis of the cannabis experience is based on special types of metabolites found in cannabis. These include cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. On a very simplified level, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD provide psychological and physical effects, flavonoids provide colour, and terpenes contribute to aroma. Different strains of cannabis have unique combinations of these compounds.

The iconic cannabis leaf, moving through the stages of cannabis growth outdoors in the sunshine.

In this article, we’ll walk through the major steps of cannabis plant development. We’ll look at how the Big Three macronutrients affect each stage of cannabis growth, and how they contribute to producing metabolites.

Note: The word “bud” in cannabis lingo does not have the same mean ing as the word “bud” in plant science. To avoid confusion, they will be referred to as either (cannabis) bud or (plant) bud.

Cultivating Cannabis

Cannabis has been cultivated for thousands of years. In the past, research has largely revolved around hemp, or varieties of cannabis that contain very low THC content. However, recent studies are improving our understanding of this fascinating plant. We’re seeing how different environmental conditions affect the production of its unique metabolites.

Most growers generalize the cannabis lifecycle into three: stages, seed, vegetative and flowering. This is only a simplified view. Botanists use a standardized BBCH scale to describe stages of plant development. The scale has nine-steps that classify the major developmental stages by the plant’s appearance or phenotype. This can be helpful in assessing the growth process.

Stages of Cannabis Growth

Stage 0: Germination, sprouting, (plant) bud development

In this stage, roots emerge from the seed. The initial stem (the hypocotyl) and the first leaves (cotyledons) form. This stage ends when the cotyledons brea k through the soil surface.

Stage 1 of cannabis growth, where leaf development has begun. Pictured here are two cotyledons and true leaf pairs emerging.

Stage 1: Leaf Development

The cotyledons unfold and separate. Leaf development begins as the two cotyledons and true leaf pairs emerge, it ends once the first lateral shoot appears. Leaf pairs continue to emerge in stage 2.

Stage 2: Formation of Lateral Shoots

(Plant) buds along the initial stem develop into new lateral shoots or stems. This process is known as tillering. Tillering is highly dependant on soil moisture, with low moisture conditions driving deeper root systems rather than bushier growth from increased lateral shoot formation.

Stage 3: Stem Elongation

During this stage, the cannabis plant grows rapidly up to its final height, forming nodes along the stem. Nodes are the points on the main stem where leaves and branches form. Spacing between nodes varies among cannabis strains. Indica strains have less spacing relative to Sativa and tend to grow denser and shorter .

Step 4: Rooting

This BCCH stage does not exist for cannabis development.

Step 5: Inflorescence emergence

(Cannabis) buds, referring to the complete flower head of cannabis , are scientifically known as inflorescence. Each inflorescence contains the main stem as well as its many branches ending in clusters of flowers. This stage is where the “vegetative” stage ends and the “flowering” stage begins. This stage is also when female cannabis plants can first be differentiated from the unwanted male plants which contain low concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes.

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Step 6: Flowering

The flowers in each inflorescence begin to open. Within each female flower, there is a pistil that contains the ovary and stigma. These collect the pollen that later fertilizes the ovary, forming the cannabis seed. The ovary is protected by structures known as bracts, which are covered in tiny glandular structures known as trichomes.

Trichomes are found all over the cannabis plant, but specialized capitate glandular trichomes are only found on bracts. These are the only trichomes containing cannabinoids and are responsible for the stickiness found in (cannabis) buds. The “natural cell factories” produce large amounts of specialized metabolites, including flavonoids and terpenes.

Metabolites are present at their highest levels in this stage, meaning it is the optimal time to harvest. Without harvest, metabolite levels will begin to drop off. Growers look for a high bract-to-leaf ratio in (cannabis) buds, identified by a higher weight. Denser (cannabis) buds have a higher metabolite content, and are considered most potent.

Step 7-9: Post Harvest

In these steps, new seeds form and mature and the plant reaches the end of its lifespan.

Nutrient Needs Throughout Development

There are three nutrients that play a major role in plant development: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients have different roles by stage of cannabis growth, so it’s important to know exactly which steps require high or low amounts.

Nitrogen

Nitrogen is the main macronutrient responsible for lush, green growth. It plays a vital role in photosynthesis and chlorophyll production.

In all types of cultivation, nitrogen is responsible for lush, green growth. This is due to nitrogen’s major role in photosynthesis , the production of energy from light. The higher the concentration of nitrogen found in leaves, the higher the concentration of chlorophyll (the molecule responsible for plants appearing green). Nitrogen is transported by plants towards the top leaves , allowing for photosynthesis to be more efficient, resulting in more growth. Nitrogen is key for stages 1 through 3, allowing the plant to capture the energy necessary to grow to its full potential.

However, excess nitrogen in later stages means that your plant will continue to promote growth, instead of allowing inflorescences to develop. Excess nitrogen drives further leaf development, which will lead to a lower bract-to-leaf ratio. Nitrogen can also increase the proportion of male to female plants, decreasing the efficiency of your grow.

Lastly, nitrogen plays an important part in seed formation . This means that your cannabis plant may progress through stages 5 and 6 rapidly and move into stage 7, lowering the harvesting window and preventing the formation of dense, potent buds.

Takeaway

Nitrogen is key for optimal early development. For higher yields, it should be reduced in later stages of cannabis growth.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is involved in every growth phase and is vital for maximum crop yield . Phosphorus’s interaction with micronutrients is extensive and phosphorus levels are often targeted by growers as an indirect method of controlling micronutrient availability.

Plants require large amounts of phosphorus. It is part of the energy currency used in cells, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and is used in nearly all cellular functions. From initial development to flowering, phosphorus is in constant demand. Phosphorus is also directly involved in the formation of cannabinoids. If phosphorus in the soil is consumed and not replenished in the early stages of cannabis plant growth, stage 5 and stage 6 the plant will produce fewer cannabinoids. This will lead to less potent crops.

Takeaway

Phosphorus is key in all stages. It should be replenished in later stages of cannabis growth for higher yield and potency.

Potassium

Most known for its regulatory function in pH and water uptake , potassium also activates over 50 plant enzymes . Some of these enzymes trigger plants to move from stage 3 to 5 . Supplementing with potassium reduces the time it takes for your crop to reach the flowering stage.

Additionally, higher levels of potassium are correlated with a longer inflorescence period , meaning higher concentrations of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. While a direct link has not yet been found, enzymes directly responsible for cannabis metabolite production may also be activated by potassium.

Takeaway

Potassium drives (cannabis) bud formation and leads to a more potent crop.

BlueSky Organics Flower Two is a phosphorous and potassium additive for the flowering stages of cannabis growth. It helps to increase bud density and potency.

BlueSky Organics & Flower Two

Whew! We covered a lot of important information in this post. Understanding the stages of cannabis growth is key to troubleshooting issues encountered in growing. It can help you fine-tune your process, leading to your best harvests yet.

As we learned, nutrient needs can shift between stages. Delivering the perfect ratio of nutrients can result in significantly higher yields and quality of (cannabis) buds. Denser, more potent buds can be achieved by applying BlueSky Organic’s Flower Two . Carefully designed for simple application during the flowering stages of growth, Flower Two adds phosphorus and potassium to your soil when it needs them most.