Force-Flowering Cannabis: Beat the Seasons, Maximize Yield

Force-flowering cannabis is a method that intentionally induces flowering of the plant before it would naturally occur. Whether to beat an early-autumn frost or squeeze another harvest in through the growing season, it’s a simple way to bring on the bloom when nature’s pace is a little too slow.

What is force-flowering cannabis?

Force-flowering cannabis accelerates the transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage. To initiate force-flowering, growers cover the plants to reduce the amount of light they receive. When exposed to more darkness, cannabis plants increase levels of the flowering hormone florigen which brings the plant into the flowering stage sooner. The process generally involves placing a tarp or garbage bags over the plants. Although advanced grow operations may employ high-tech solutions like a closing roof running on a timer.

Why would you want to force-flower cannabis?

There are several reasons why you may want to consider force-flowering cannabis plants. The primary reason is that it allows you to control the timing of the flowering stage, allowing for harvest before a specific time. This is particularly useful for growers in northern climates, with short growing seasons and wet conditions. By initiating the flowering stage early, you can reduce the risk of crop damage or loss during the wetter and colder autumn months.

Additionally, this practice can also be used to maximize the harvest potential in ideal climates. In places where it’s possible to grow all year round, force-flowering enables growers to produce more harvests in a year. This is sometimes referred to as perpetual harvesting and is a great way to increase yield.

When to force-flower cannabis

Timing is crucial when it comes to force-flowering and there are several factors at play.

  1. Location and local climate are the primary drivers. Differences in temperature, daylight hours, and precipitation all affect the timing of the transition into the flowering stage. Ideally you’ll want to count back from when conditions turn potentially problematic and induce flowering within a window that allows the plants to finish out before inclement weather hits.
  1. A second crucial factor is genetics. Different strains have different flowering periods and this will greatly affect the timing. Indica strains have shorter flowering periods of around 6-8 weeks. While sativa strains can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks to flower. The genetic variation across strains means many will fall somewhere in between and the timing will be specific to the strain in question.

Any of our seeds will contain ample information about flowering time. This means you can plan accordingly based on the conditions at your grow location.

How to force-flower cannabis

You can employ various techniques to force flower your cannabis. For small-scale growers, a simple blackout tarp can be an effective solution. By placing it over the plants, it provides them with a period of uninterrupted darkness to trigger the flowering stage.

Larger operations may require a specialized structure. Grow tents or purpose-built blackout greenhouses to cover the crops are common solutions. Some growers also prefer to grow cannabis in containers. This allows them to move the plants indoors and control light exposure more easily.

Precautions to take when force-flowering cannabis

When it comes to force-flowering cannabis plants, there are a few key factors to bear in mind. One of the most important things is air circulation. It’s essential to ensure proper ventilation to help prevent the build-up of stale and humid air. Stagnant air ensures an ideal environment for pests, fungi, and bacteria, few of which are good for your plant’s health.

Another important aspect to consider is the schedule. Photoperiod cannabis strains are very sensitive to changes in light cycles. Even small deviations from the schedule can cause the plants to revert to the vegetative stage or trigger hermaphroditism. To avoid this, it’s best to create a consistent schedule and stick to it.

Lastly, it’s crucial to make sure that the structure where your plants will be kept during flowering is completely light-proof. Any light leaks can cause stress to the plant and disrupt the flowering cycle. To prevent this, ensure that there is absolutely no light exposure through leaks during the dark hours.

Alternatives to force-flowering

If force-flowering all seems like too much work, then there are other options available to help your plants finish out quicker.

Fast-flowering strains are specifically bred to flower in a shorter period and are a great option for growers who want to harvest sooner or produce multiple harvests per season. Some of the faster flowering strains available in our shop include Top 44 (can have a flowering time as short as 44 days) Super Cheese, Holland’s Hope, or our latest addition Bubblegum XXL Feminized. 

Autoflowering strains are another great option. They are particularly appealing to growers in the tropics or near the equator. These strains are specially bred with ruderalis genetics and flower automatically based on their age rather than changes in their light cycle. This makes them perfect for growers who want to produce multiple harvests per year or for those who need to harvest by a set time. We stock a wide range of autoflowering seeds that’ll help reliably ensure consistent flowering and finishing times.

From seed to harvest, on your schedule

Force-flowering techniques provide a way to encourage the plant to adapt to your schedule rather than the hard and fast cycles laid down by mother nature over the eons. Whether you want to beat that early cold snap or squeeze another harvest into the growing season, this useful light hack may just be what gets your plants to harvest in time.

Have you tried this? Any tips? Share them in the comments below!

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