After beginning their lives in small seedling trays, the young seedlings are up-potted into 1g nursery pots around week 2 or 3, then spent another 4-5 weeks growing through the month of May. We like to keep them outdoors in the open air as opposed to inside under lights or in a greenhouse–much healthier for the plants.
Once the danger of frost has passed–which in Maine can be as late as Memorial Day weekend–the little hempsters will go into the ground. There they’ll spend the rest of their lives until October harvest comes around. It’s quite remarkable how quickly these cute little seedlings will grow into big, bushy 6-foot plants–all in about 8 weeks from June to mid August, too. Once the nights begin getting long enough in August the plants stop growing bigger and instead start focussing on growing beautiful flowers (cannabis is an annual dioecious plant–the females spend their last weeks flowering in hopes of reproducing before dying in the fall frosts).
It’s at this stage that we begin separating the males from the females–only the females grow the cannabinoid and terpene-packed flowers that are so dearly prized. It’s not always possible to identify the males by Memorial Day, so some of them end up getting transplanted, but we make sure they’re not around to pollinate the females later in the season. Pollinated flowers make lots of seeds, resulting in fewer cannabinoids and a less desirable product.
Maine had a relatively cool spring this year so the seedlings are not quite as big as in years past. But that’s OK, size isn’t everything, and as long as the plants are healthy and thriving we’re happy. There’ll be plenty of warm weather in the days to come.
Spring is a hopeful time but also a little bit stressful–it’s important to get the seedlings off to a good strong healthy start so they can meet the challenges of summer. We find careful attention and nuturing at this stage helps give them a great foundation for success.