Hawaii is awesome for growing. The sub-tropical climate makes for an ideal place to grow marijuana all-year outdoors.
Hawaii’s medical cannabis program allows registered patients to grow up to ten plants at the patient or caregiver’s property. While this doesn’t seem like a whole lot, remember that it’s year-round growing in Hawaii. There are ways to maximize yield from only a few plants by using additional lighting and cycling methods.
Table of Contents:
- Seasons, Daylight, and Additional Lighting
- Long Season Natural Growing (Without Lights)
- Short Season Natural Growing (Without Lights)
- Additional Lighting for Multiple Harvests
- Are LED grow lights worth it for Hawaii?
Seasons, Daylight, and Additional Lighting
Let’s discuss Hawaii’s growing seasons and how the daylight hours affect the growth of the cannabis plant. We’ll answer some frequently asked questions such as the right times to crack (germinate) seeds during the different times of the year.
As you may know, cannabis plants react to the changing of the seasons. This trait is called photoperiodism. Indoor growers can manipulate this natural plant reaction to control the size and life-cycles of their plants. In essence they control their seasons.
Outdoor growers however are subject to the seasonal changes that affects the plant’s growth. This is why you hear many Hawaiian growers talking about when’s the best time to start seeds.
Long Season Natural Growing (Without Lights)
The long season is the same spring-to-fall growing season the rest of the northern hemisphere is on. That means cannabis plants growing in long season use spring for vegetative growth and summer-fall for blooming.
Hawaii is located at about 20° N on the map. The daylight hours in Hawaii range from a high of 13.5 hours in the summer to a low of about 11 hours in the winter. That’s not much variance in daylight which is why many strains don’t grow relative to their normal flowering times. Some strains won’t even grow larger than a lollipop if you started them too late.
When to crack Sativa strains in Hawaii?
Sativa strains started too early may grow woody and weak by the time they are ready for harvest. On the other hand, starting sativa strains too late will result in plants that end up blooming through winter and revegging into spring.
Start sativa seeds or sativa dominant cannabis seeds as early as even February for long-flowering sativa strains such as Asian, African, Central American and Hawaiian varieties. Most Hawaiian growers start seeds on the dark of the moon in April.
When to crack Indica strains in Hawaii?
Indica strains sprouted too early in the season may not grow according to the long season and end up finishing around June or July as stretchy buds. That’s why it’s better to start the fast flowering indicas a little later than the big sativas. However starting indicas too late will end up bringing the plants budding into winter, where yields are reduced and humidity dangers increased.
Start indica seeds or indica dominant cannabis seeds anywhere from April until July to catch onto the long season. The dark of the moon in May is the best time to crack indica dominant strains.
What about hybrids?
50/50 (sativa/indica) hybrids or breeds close to that ratio tend to grow more like an indica than a sativa, so use the indica strain germination guidelines for best results.
Start hybrid seeds anytime after February until July. Hawaii is in the northern-hemisphere, so the standard crop start-til-harvest plant cycle is the same as other places in the USA.
When will the plants finish?
Cannabis plants growing in the long season typically finish from August-to-November, depending on each strains flowering time. Some long flowering sativa strains will even keep budding into winter, such as Thai strains. Here are two considerations to make before planting:
- Everyone is going to have bud in November, so you can beat the flood with a fast-flowering strain that finishes in August.
- Or, you could go big with a pure sativa strain. These plants will grow larger than most and yield enormously, although they take a very long time to finish.
Short Season Natural Growing (Without Lights)
The short season is the season that plants catch onto if you crack the seeds in late summer or winter. The plants grow slower in short season and end up producing buds in the winter, spring and early summer.
Why is that?
The reason that plants grow slower in the short season has to do with two factors.
- Decreased daylight hours
- Colder temperature (at high elevations)
Cannabis plants that are not supplied with enough light during the vegetative growth cycle will grow slowly, almost stunted as it starts it’s life off in what is essentially a flowering room.
Depending on the time of year and the amount of sativa genetics a plant has, you will be lucky to get 4-6 foot cannabis bushes naturally in the short season.
Growing Sativa strains in the Short Season
Certain sativa strains have dealt with short seasons all throughout their genetic history. Through natural evolution, the plants have developed methods to grow and reproduce in the warm tropical winters around the world.
However amazing this trait may be, growers are often disappointed with short season sativa plants due to the very stretchy, airy buds they produce in the winter. On top of that, most sativa strains will jump on the chance to grow again for the long season once it hits early spring. That means all of your buds will reveg and end up rotting on the plant. You can do light deprivation techniques to stop this, although it’s easier to just plan ahead.
By using any of the popular sativa dominant hybrids instead of a pure sativa, you can finish in the safe window, which is harvesting around Dec-Feb. As a rule of thumb, the only time you’ll want to grow sativa strains in the short season is if you can get them to finish before March.
Growing Indica strains in the Short Season
Indica strains are quicker to grow, but most indica and indica-dominant strains simply don’t get enough light hours during the winter to grow big. A lot of growers end up with what we call lollipops – a stick in the ground with one bud.
Your best bet is to start the indicas around late summer and fall. That way the plants can get bigger than they would have been if started in the winter. As we get into December it dips to under 11 hours per day which makes it really hard for plants – they’ll just sit there and not grow.
Growing Hybrid strains in the Short Season
Sativa-Indica hybrids do best: The most rewarding option for the natural-lighting short season cannabis cultivator to use is sativa-indica hybrid seeds & strains. 60/40 and 70/30 sativa-indica cannabis strains do well for the Hawaiian short season. Sativa genetics will help the plant vertically, while the indica genetics will help prevent vegetative morphing in Jan-May.
Additional Lighting for Multiple Harvests
What is most ideal for the medical marijuana grower to do in Hawaii is to supplement additional hours of light to your plants. If you keep the total daylight hours somewhere above 16 hours for most strains, the cannabis will continue to grow in vegetative growth status and will not start flowering until you stop providing them that additional light.
Why provide extra light?
So you can harvest buds whenever you want. Using extra light in Hawaii replicates indoor growing, giving you the option to control a plant’s growth cycles and size.
Medical marijuana plants can be be grown outside during the day, soaking up the sun’s free light. Then, before the day’s sunset (or alternatively before sunrise) the plants will be provided additional lighting in the form of grow lights.
How to do this?
1.) Set up a grow room, or outdoor cannabis arena: You can have your plants in pots and carry them in to a grow room, or grow in a greenhouse/covered outdoor area and have lights turn on for the plants as the day ends. This will keep them in vegetative growth as long as you keep doing this daily on schedule.
2.) Calculate the total hours of daylight and add up to 18 You can check daylight hours online- timeanddate.com/sun Then add the number of hours under lights. Plants in their vegetative growth cycle should be provided more than 16 hours of total light per day. This will give you fast growing plants that stay in veg (they don’t flower).
3.) Keep on the lighting schedule daily: Interruptions in the vegetative plant’s growth cycle will trigger the flowering cycle prematurely. Even missing one day should be avoided. Try getting a friend to do it if you’re busy.
5.) Induce flowering: Simply stop providing the additional lighting, and the plants will start their flowering process. Refer to your strain’s flowering time to estimate when you will harvest buds.
6.) Make a calendar (optional): Rotating clones or seeds on a schedule works great for harvesting year round. Knowing your strains flowering time, you can easily make a scheduled bud harvest that finishes exactly when you want it too.
That’s it! Now you can harvest the crip pakalolo (quality cannabis) every 30 days, 45 days, 60 days, wheneva. Mark dates to cut new clones (or plant seeds), start light dates, transplant dates, start of flowering and harvest.
Are LED grow lights worth it for Hawaii?
LED grow lights are a good option for many cannabis growers, especially due to the high price of electricity in Hawaii. LED grow lights do not use much power and deliver the right kind of light needed by cannabis plants to grow. The secret to these efficient LED grow lights is that they are designed to output only the exact spectrum of light that is the most absorbed by plants while ignoring other light frequencies that cannabis does not use in photosynthesis, such as green light.
The best bang for your buck LED light, 300w Galaxyhydro LED is for serious growers who want save on money and power, but still demand vigorous growth from their plants. Expect to see drastic improvement in your speed of growth using additional lighting with a good led light – you will be able to easily pump out multiple harvests quickly and efficiently. Don’t get ripped off by overpriced lights in magazine ads, this one does all the work for a fraction of the price.
Once you have your grow light set-up, you can control how big you want your plants to be and when they will finish. When you are ready to start flowering them, simply remove the additional lighting. As soon as this is done, the plants will react to the sudden change in daylight hours and start the flowering process, no matter what time of the year it is in Hawaii.
Pure and landrace sativas have naturally adjusted to the seasons and will be eager to stretch out and hook on to long season if you try to finish them in late spring/early summer. Quick flowering 60/40 sativa indica strains are the preferred choice for high-yield production all-year-round.
If you really are low budget, or using a small solar system, these little lights will do the job for you cheap. These small led lights are under $25 each and are only using 12 watts of power. Kinda silly if you think about it but these little LED lights actually do a better job than the equivalent match in flouros. Put one or more over a few clones, and as they get bigger, use a single light for each plant until they 2 feet plus. Buy 4 lights and your only @ 48 watts power draw.
Better LED Grow Lights
Currently as of late 2018 we’re trying to introduce a bill for the legalization of cannabis seeds throughout Hawaii. More details soon, you can check out Hawaii Cannabis News for related information.
What are your favorite grow methods and strains for cannabis growing in Hawaii? Leave your strains and comments below. Aloha!