There are pros and cons of both indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation. Every grower has a preference. Which is easier? Which is more expensive? Which returns better quality? In this piece we’ll take a look at the benefits and drawbacks to determine is indoor or outdoor cannabis cultivation better?
Positives of Outdoor Cultivation
One of the biggest advantages to growing cannabis outdoors is the savings on energy costs. Lights, fans and filtration systems are expensive. The sun is one of the best sources of energy for a plant.
Another benefit is a potentially healthier plant. The plants receive better circulation, nutrients from the sun and are able to build up a tolerance to plant disease and potentially harmful pests. Some plants are also able to grow stronger in an outdoor setting.
In an outdoor setting, you may be able to naturally increase yields. Stronger growth cycles in outdoor settings play a role in aiding the production of those higher yields. In some cases, a more potent plant is produced with more trichomes.
Lights can’t replicate a full spectrum of light. Cannabis plants need different light cycles, and those that occur naturally aid the plant in maintaining a proper growth cycle.
With outdoor cannabis cultivation setups, plants are more resistant to mold and mildew. In an enclosed setting, it is difficult to control humidity and it is also difficult to create a properly regulated indoor space that mirrors a natural environment.
The soil in outdoor settings is natural and is easily fortified with natural nutrients and vitamins with the creation of organic supersoil. When organic cultivation methods are used, the natural ecosystem is preserved which also helps the space to be more sustainable for replanting. The natural nutrients in soil can be more beneficial.
Disadvantages of Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation
One of the things you can’t change in outdoor cannabis cultivation is the weather. Not all climates are ideal year-round for outdoor cultivation. Variances in temperature, humidity, heavy winds and fluctuations in precipitation can make it difficult to achieve a good harvest.
In some climates, the outdoor growing season is only a few months, which may only allow an outdoor cultivator to make one harvest, which is not as profitable as a year-round operation.
The other disadvantage is visibility. Other cannabis lovers may help themselves to your crop if they are not properly protected. This can cause serious losses. The other thing to worry about, especially if you are growing in an outdoor space in a state that has not legalized cannabis, is potential interference from law enforcement and prosecution.
Animals, pests and insects may find their way to your growing operation. While they may have an endocannabinoid system and may need some cannabinoids, animals can leave behind bacteria and germs. This may cause disease within your plants. It reduces the integrity of the plant and may cause plant death. It can also result in a loss of crop and may cause you to have to tear out your entire crop.
Greenhouse Cultivation Operations
We’re including a brief section on greenhouse cannabis cultivation because more growers are purchasing abandoned greenhouses and converting them to cultivation spaces. One of the main advantages is still being able to experience natural light cycles and receiving natural sunlight.
One downfall is potential increased humidity and condensation inside the space, which can lead to mold and mildew.
You’ll also need to install fans for circulation and may need an air filtration system if the space is not properly vented.
The plants are shielded better from environmental factors such as rain, wind and temperature changes. For those living in a complex climate with steep changes in temperature, this may help extend and outdoor growing season and may provide year-round opportunities for those in colder climates.
Advantages of Indoor Cultivation
Some prefer indoor cultivation for the security. It is much easier to install a security system that is always monitored when you have a secure building. Security helps cannabis cultivators feel at ease when leaving the operation for the day.
Some prefer indoor cultivation because you can grow all year long. Using science, a cultivator can recreate an outdoor setting to help the cannabis plant think it’s getting so many hours of sunlight and darkness, a specific temperature and a specific amount of humidity.
It may be easier to control irrigation in an indoor setting as well. Most indoor growers have a watering schedule, some also have an automatic irrigation system setup.
There are more methods of cultivation in indoor settings such as hydroponics, bubbleponics, organic and aeroponics.
Disadvantages of Indoor Cultivation
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of indoor cannabis cultivation is the cost. It is beyond expensive to run fans 24-hours a day, to operate filtration systems all day and night. Let’s not forget the cost of operating those expensive lights. The cost of the lights themselves is rather expensive, as is a carbon air filtration system. You’ll need different types of light at different parts of the growing stage in an indoor grow area.
Getting the humidity levels right can be a full-time job. Cannabis plants need different amounts of humidity at different stages of growth, regulating this can be costly.
Chemicals and fertilizers are expensive. There is a higher risk of improper flushing when chemicals and fertilizers are used, which can stay in the dried cannabis flower. Tasting chemicals or receiving a chemical headache is not anything that a cannabis user wants.
There is a bigger risk of mold, mildew, plant rot and disease in an indoor grow. As we mentioned, it’s extremely difficult to regulate an indoor area to act as a natural outdoor setting. This can cause plant disease that may spread to some or all of your plants – this can result in total crop loss.
Without natural light from the sun and the benefits of a natural ecosystem, obtaining higher yields and higher potencies may not occur.
So, what’s the verdict? The answer is simple – it absolutely depends on the climate that you live in and the environment around you. The advantages of outdoor and greenhouse growing far outweigh the advantages of indoor growing. The disadvantages of outdoor and greenhouse growing are miniscule compared to the disadvantages of indoor growing. In some legal markets, outdoor grows are not permitted, so this does leave patients and recreational consumers in those areas at a bit of a disadvantage.