Cannabis Veg Cycle
By Dr. Robb
The technique of vegging out your cannabis crops is widely used to increase the overall plant infrastructure to support much higher yields during harvest. Your plants may have to go through the cannabis veg cycle before having to work extra hard to produce flowers. The cannabis veg cycle helps by building out their root and shoot system so that they’re ready for the rigors of high-intensity flower production. There are plants whose vegging out can be controlled, called photoperiodic, by providing them with short periods of darkness. Lucky for us, most commercially grown cannabis cultivars (or strains) are photoperiodic, which gives us more control over our crops.
Why It’s Called The Cannabis Veg Cycle?
This period of growth of the plant is called the veg cycle, or vegetative. In the world of multicellular organisms, there are two types of cells: reproductive or somatic cells (also called vegetal or vegetative cells). A somatic cell is not involved with reproduction. In order to keep your plant in the cannabis veg cycle, you have to prevent it from developing flowers. In other words, you have to keep it from developing its reproductive parts; hence, you keep it vegetative.
Why Is It Important To Veg Your Cannabis Crop Before Setting It To Flower?
The key term to that question is the word ‘flower’. As cannabis growers, we want our plants to produce lots and lots of flowers. The flower buds (yes, that is why it’s called bud) are born on the terminal tip of either the main branch or axillary branches. Those axillary branches tend to stay dormant as long as the apex of the main branch remains. As long as the tip of the main branch is still attached to the plant, the axillary buds won’t turn into new branches and will create new places for flowers to grow. Since we’re in the flower growing business, we generally want more flowers.
During the cannabis veg cycle, a grower can pinch off the apex of the main branch and break apical dominance, also known as topping. Topping will stimulate the previously dormant axillary buds to grow and eventually become more locations for flowers to develop. In addition to creating more budding branches, topping also allows for the cultivator to keep his or her plants fairly uniform in height. Achieving uniformity in production is one of the primary goals of large-scale production. It allows for more predictability come harvest. Also, if you’ve found a cultivar that is absolutely amazing and works for you and your patients, you definitely will want to get the same results time after time after time.
Now That We Know Why It’s Called The Veg Cycle, How Do We Do It?
Earlier, I mentioned that there are some plants that are photoperiodic. Most commercially grown cannabis cultivars are as well. First, let’s dissect that word: photoperiod. There are two base words there. Photo refers to light, and period refers to a period of time. The length of day/light, not the length of night/dark periods, dictates the photoperiodic cycles. Photoperiodic plants such as cannabis use long, uninterrupted periods of dark to pull them out of a vegetative state.
There are different types of plants that trigger flowering at different times of year, though. Irises flower in the summer and are called long day plants. Cannabis flowers in the fall, (and spring, if temperatures aren’t too cold through a winter climate) they called short-day plants. In order to continue through the cannabis veg cycle, a farmer can either keep the nighttime short or interrupt the nighttime with light. For more information on how much light to provide, visit our blog post on creating the grow room.
Are There Reasons Why I Wouldn’t Want To Put My Crop Through The Cannabis Veg Cycle?
Actually, yes. It depends on the style growing you would like to do. Typically, a cannabis cultivator who is growing in controlled environments (indoors or greenhouse) will veg their crops from anywhere from 5 days to a couple of months. This is very much cultivar dependent. We typically veg our OG Kush phenos for 5 days. They don’t need much time. I’ve seen growers who love to veg for long periods of time even for indoor production. (Outdoor production with 1 harvest per season sees those monster trees that produce upwards of 12 lbs. per plant because they veg for many months in the open sun).
There’s a style of production called Sea of Green (SoG) where the farmer doesn’t veg much, if at all, but plants many more cuttings. Instead of increasing the number of flower sites by topping vegged plants, the farmer eliminates that step by just planting very densely with significantly more clones. SoG requires little maintenance once you set the plants to flower. You can almost plant the SoG crop and show up 2 months later for harvest. The dense foliage doesn’t really require much pruning, and all of the flowers will be tops. These plants, sometimes called “lollipops” or “bangers,” are another very viable way to produce cannabis on a large scale. It definitely saves on labor.
Additionally, there are some farmers who prefer to grow cannabis cultivars that are autoflowering (day-neutral plants). This means that the length of day or night will have little effect on when the plant flowers. Although the crop still goes through a veg cycle, the farmer is not triggering when that happens. This means that the farmer could potentially give the crop over 12 hours of light per day and potentially get higher yields. Unfortunately, the cultivars of cannabis that are autoflowering are derived from C. ruderalis, which is the species of cannabis that doesn’t produce much in the way of cannabinoids. This makes it a bit more difficult to source genetics that has both high cannabinoid content that also autoflowers as the breeder needs to breed that cannabinoid production back into the genetics. That doesn’t mean that genetics don’t exist though.
Vegging of cannabis crops continues to be widely used to increase the overall plant infrastructure to support much higher yields during harvest. This is the stage where our babies graduate to teenagers (yes, that is what we vernacularly refer to our plants). Unless you’re growing Sea of Green, vegging the plants really is the fundamental stage of the plant’s life cycle that promotes the foundation for a stronger, healthier harvest. Hopefully, now you know a little more about the etymology, reasons why, and basics of how to navigate the cannabis veg cycle. Although there are many ways to veg out your plants, it really depends on how you want to grow and what cultivar you want to grow.
Next month, I will be talking about the next stage of the plant’s cycle: flowering, or as I like to call it, Breaking Bud. Make sure that you are signed up for our Newsletter to be updated when the next topic is posted. Also, if you are looking for more ways to increase your yields this season, check out Dark Heart’s blog topic on boosting your yield.
(For more info about Dr. Robb visit his website)
The Schedule For The 9-Part Series
Part 1 – Introduction: Meet Dr. Robb (June 19)
Part 2 – Cannabis Veg Cycle (July 17)
Part 3 – Flower (Aug 21)
Part 4 – Harvest (Sep 18)
Part 5 – Dry and Cure (Oct 16)
Part 6 – Trimming (Nov 20)
Part 7 – Assembly Required (Dec 18)
Part 8 – Maintaining Mom’s and Genetics (Jan 15)
Part 9 – Cuttings and Cloning (Feb 19)