Climate is one of the key factors that determine the success of an outdoor crop, which is why many growers who live in areas with cold climates are apprehensive about planting cannabis in the open air. But if you’re not lucky enough to live in an area where nature favours outdoor cultivation, don’t be discouraged. Fighting the elements is not only possible but also has some amazing benefits if done correctly. And it all starts by choosing the strains that are better adapted to adverse weather conditions.
Growing cannabis outdoors can be such a rewarding experience that even growers in colder areas should give it a try. An outdoor crop gives you the opportunity to use the power of nature to save on equipment and electricity. Thanks to the fact that there aren’t as many space restrictions as inside, you’ll also be able to harvest many more buds than an indoor crop could ever produce. Growing in cold climates doesn’t mean giving up on quality, either. In fact, there are many growers that produce excellent yields despite living in zones with unfavourable climates.
If you live in a region where you get to experience the best and worst of the four seasons, the only thing that can stop you from growing outdoors is your unwillingness to be a little creative. This means that it can be a bit more challenging when compared to growing in a tropical area, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Let’s face it: not everybody is lucky enough to live in a place where the sun shines all day long. In fact, many cannabis growers must cope with temperate climates and even deal sometimes with strong winds, rain, and low temperatures.
Cannabis is a versatile, uniquely resilient species which can withstand many different climatic conditions. However, if it must constantly endure low temperatures, its development will gradually slow down. Once the thermometer drops below 15ºC, the metabolism of cannabis plants gradually decreases as the biochemical and enzymatic processes become paralysed. The root system doesn’t expand properly either and cannot absorb as many nutrients as usual, which in turn leads to very unproductive growth.
As the cannabis plant is vulnerable to the elements, there are two stages in its life cycle where special care must be taken. These are the start and finish of the whole growing cycle, i.e. the seedling and ripening phases. Therefore, if you live in a cold region and want to grow in the open air, make sure you provide your plants with special protection during these two crucial periods.
The cannabis plant starts its life cycle as a seedling after seed germination. During this time, it is extremely sensitive to the environment because its roots still haven’t developed fully. This is why seedlings need to be protected from inclement weather when they’re grown outdoors (from rain, wind, etc., but especially from frost).
In some areas with more unfavourable climates, a late spring frost can lead to the seedlings dying, so it can be a good idea to germinate indoors or in a greenhouse, keeping the seedlings under artificial lighting (for instance LED lights) during the first few weeks of growth. It is only then that you can start gradually acclimatising the young plants to the outdoor climate. Once they’re strong enough and the chance of frost has passed, you can transplant them to their outdoor location.
Flowering plants are not as sensitive to their environment as seedlings, but you should still protect them from frost. A strong frost at the end of the flowering period can interfere with bud production and reduce the potency of your crop. It is also crucial to protect the plants from the wind: as the buds get heavier, the branches are more likely to break when faced with strong gusts of wind during a storm.
The ripening stage is also a critical time for growers, even in the best of climates, because the buds can become so large and dense that there’s always the risk of mould or rotting. The safest way to prevent this risk is by choosing a strain that can be harvested before the bad weather arrives.
Due to the preferences of different growers and the surrounding climate, the cannabis plant has evolved differently in different geographical locations. Therefore, choosing the strain that is better suited to cold climates doesn’t only depend on identifying the conditions of the area where you’re going to grow: you also need to take into consideration the origin of the variety that you’re going to use.
So, when you buy cannabis seeds and compare between different strains, you need to pay attention to the following choices:
Thanks to their ruderalis heritage, which comes from regions like Siberia where cannabis adapted to adverse weather conditions and to the different durations of day and night, autos are more resistant to cold temperatures and aren’t photo-dependent. This means that they don’t wait for the days to shorten to start flowering, so you can choose the 2-3 warmest months of the year for their cultivation: you can plant them in early summer and harvest fully ripe buds in late August, before it gets too cold and rainy.
These hybrids combine autoflowering and photoperiod genetics. They don’t start flowering automatically, and finish doing so in autumn, but they do it a couple of weeks earlier than normal photo-dependent strains. Therefore, they offer all the advantages of the feminised varieties but are ready for harvest sooner. And with a yield that is also plentiful, since these varieties also grow vigorously and are highly resistant.
As a rule of thumb, indica-dominant plants are more resistant to the cold than sativa-leaning varieties, and their flowering time is also shorter. This increases your chances of harvesting your buds before they are spoiled by the cold, rainy weather. If you’re unsure about the outdoor harvest time of your variety, see how many weeks it takes to grow indoors: 7-8 weeks is a great figure, whereas 9-10 or more means that the strain is not as suitable for adverse climates.
If the strain’s description says that it has genetic qualities that make it mould-resistant, you have a better chance of not losing your buds at the end of the season due to the humidity that comes with the first autumn rains. There are also certain strains that have been specifically developed for mountainous regions and are therefore excellent to fight the cold, the wind, or a severe drop in night temperature.
If you’re still wondering which type of strain to choose, here are some of the seeds from the Seedstockers’ catalogue that could be a fantastic option: they’re fully tested outdoor varieties whose great cultivation over the years has turned them into reliable and trusted names in the industry.
One of the all-time classic strains, which has been grown in practically all the climates known to man. Moreover, this is one of the most frequently crossed cannabis varieties, which makes it highly adaptable to different temperatures. This indica-dominant strain, Northern Lights Auto, is normally harvested in mid-October and is highly resistant to disease. It also develops a strong structure, so you don’t have to worry about the wind. It needs relatively few hours of sunlight, and its yielding capacity is above average. All in all, a perfect plant for the regions with the coldest climates.
Another iconic strain that can easily adapt to almost any growing environment. The Kush family name refers to its origin in the Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan, so this is an indica-dominant variety. A small yet highly efficient plant that grows well in a wide variety of climatic conditions. If you’re a medical user who wants to plant in a cold region, this could be a great option for you. The effect it delivers is very relaxing and sedative. With THC levels that are generally high (around 24%), you should watch out if you’re a beginner because the experience can be a bit overwhelming. Its taste and aroma are the perfect mix for winter: a fusion of pine, lemon, and wood with citric and gassy undertones.
It’s no wonder that the Critical + family is a genetic line that is worshipped by growers, as it embodies all the qualities that anyone could wish for in a cannabis plant: vigorous growth, resistance, out-of-this-world yielding capacity, and incredible aroma and flavour. BCN Critical XXL was born from the cross between clones of Kritikal Bilbo and Critical +, by individually selecting the best seeds and crossing them with original Critical Mass regular seeds. The result is a new Critical selection that has given way to a stronger and more productive version. To top it all off, the Seedstockers’ team have also created two quick versions of this lineage: BCN Critical XXL Fast Fem and BCN Critical XXL Auto, which are specifically designed for growers who live in more northern regions.
And finally, why stop at three absolute legends when we can have four? White Widow is another extremely popular strain that is excellent for growing in cold climates. This is also one of the hardiest varieties on the market, famous for its ability to grow in almost any environment, so you don’t have to worry too much about giving it the kid-glove treatment. Its flowering time is extremely short, and its thick branches and high resistance to mould contribute to delivering a great yield. With a THC level of around 23%, this beauty produces a hard-hitting high. A brilliant strain for rookies due to its simplicity, which is loved by growers from all around the world for its simple features and powerful buzz. Highly recommended when the cold hits!