By James Defenbaugh

The way the industry is going (yes it is a full blown industry!) you as an outdoor grower need to seriously maximize your return on investment. Gone are the days of $3000 pounds, or even a $1500 a pound. You need to make every square foot of your garden count more than ever.

That’s not your only hurdle you also need your bud to be top shelf just to compete in the emerging market. The great news is you can grow world class cannabis AND keep up with the market. Not only can it be done, but you can do it 2 to 3 times a year without having to invest in a bunch of HID lights and electricity.

You can actually do it with the sun, when you introduce light dep. into your growing. How is this possible? Simple. It all comes down to the sun and its light intensity from May to September in the northern hemisphere.

The sunlight is much more intense from May to September because the light has a shorter distance to travel through the atmosphere. Shorter distance equals higher intensity. The higher intensity light allows your plants to grow faster because it has more light energy to work with then in the fall. This extra light energy also produces denser and healthier flowers. The plant doesn’t stop there either. The plant will also produce higher concentrations of THC and CBD with that extra light energy. That said, light depping in the summer months makes for some of the highest quality sun grown buds. You end up with a product that is denser, has better bag appeal and has higher concentrations of THC and CBD.

 Does that mean light dep is for everyone?

No, light dep is not for everyone. If you are a hobbyist or growing for your personal needs, light dep is probably not for you. The reason is simple. When you pull tarp you need to do it for 60 to 70 days straight at the same time every day, without fail. Otherwise you could end up with plants that turn hermaphrodite on you and seed your whole crop, or even worse if you accidentally leave it covered all day in the hot months your plants could die (happens more often than you think).-

Light dep is for those who are growing in the industry as a business, whether it is recreational or for medical purposes. This is because of the labor, dedication and cost it requires to cover your plants for 60+ days straight manually or with automation.  

While the big growers do use light dep. in their strategies, I feel it is far more important for small to medium growers to introduce the technique into their farming regiment.
I believe this because the smaller to medium growers generally tend to have a tighter budget and they need to make every dollar invested count. And light dep. is the absolute best way to accomplish that with your already set greenhouse space.

Light deprivation allows you to harvest 2 to 3 times a year, depending on your personal drive and motivation. This means you will be able to double or triple your production. You instantly go from a feast or famine mode of having one harvest a year, to having a stabilized income and workload that gives you a payday 3 times a year. Imagine what that would do for your bottom line as a small to medium grower. 

You know what’s better than that? Being able to sit on your fall harvest when the price is down, and wait for the price to come back up. With light dep you can afford the luxury of waiting out the market because you already have 1 or 2 harvests under your belt.

Additionally light dep. allows you to maximize your grow space because you are able to pull of 2 or 3 harvests a year in the same space. This means you will be able to triple your production in your greenhouse without having to triple your set up or cost of goods sold. Not only that, but you get to decide precisely when to you want to harvest. And because you chose when to harvest, you can make sure that you pull off 2 harvests before fall. This allows you to get those summer prices which are higher, and you will be able to move your product faster because the market isn’t flooded any more. 

You have some big event that is planned that you can’t miss? All you have to do is pull out a calendar and find that date and then you do some simple math to make sure that you are either A:  not growing/depping at that time or B: not harvesting at that time. You get to choose! And that simple math? That’s just counting weeks. You got an 8 week strain? Then you count out your 8 weeks or so from the event. You got a 10 week strain? Just count out those 10 weeks! The math is simple-the pulling of the tarps is not.