Editor's Note: We're excited to bring you this article by industry veteran Christian Hageseth (pictured above). To put the article into context, I think it will help to know a bit more about Christian's background and expertise (if you're not familiar with him already).
Hageseth is the founder and co-owner of the marijuana dispensary Green Man Cannabis, which he founded in 2009, as well as several grow facilities. He also is author of the book "Big Weed: An Entrepreneur's High Stakes Adventures in the Budding Legal Marijuana Business" (published by Palgrave Macmillan and due out later this month), which chronicles his journey in the industry, including traveling the world, the start and growth of Green Man Cannabis, and the pursuit of his dream to create the world's first "weedery" (think brewery, but for legal weed).
The weedery, slated to open in early 2016 in Denver, is called Green Man Cannabis Ranch & Amphitheater and will serve as a cultivation, entertainment and education destination. Visitors will be able to tour a state-of-the-art, large-scale (100,000-plus square feet) grow facility, and learn about the ins and outs of an award-winning grow team's process. The $22.5-million venue will also feature a restaurant, rooftop bar, on-site dispensary, gift shop and a 2,500-capacity amphitheater that plans to feature a range of entertainers.
By Christian Hageseth
I have been growing legal weed on a big scale for nearly six years. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in that time. Mistakes that cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars, mistakes that have caused the loss of entire crops, and lots of mistakes that have turned out sub-par pot.
At the same time, however, I also learned to grow the best weed in the world. Don’t believe me? Well … I won the High Times Cannabis Cup in 2012, I won the U.S. Cannabis Cup in 2014 and have won another dozen first-place trophies in various competitions.
So what can you do to grow truly exceptional weed instead of the schwag most people grow? Here are my top 10 tips for the newbie or the experienced grower who is looking to take their game to the next level.
- It all starts with great genetics! In the world of top tier athletes, we can see this very clearly. You may be a great athlete, but no one person is great at every athletic endeavor. If you are a football player, you probably aren’t a gymnast. If you are a power lifter, you probably aren’t a ballerina. If you can do things on a bicycle that no one else can, you probably aren’t a world-class pole vaulter.The same is true with cannabis–genetics matter. And when you find a great strain, you need to nurture it to be the best it can be. Find what works for it and help it flourish.
- It matters what you feed it. Don't believe what every nutrient company wants to sell you. They make money no matter how great your bud is.Â Personally, I’ve moved away from premixed two- and three-part systems and have gone to the base elements. We mix those in a proprietary blend that gives the plants what they need. My recipe? Sorry bud–it’s a secret as closely guarded as the recipe to Coca-Cola.
- What you feed it has to change as it grows. Pay attention to what the plant needs. Early in the flower cycle, cannabis needs more nitrogen; near the end, it needs none. In fact, feeding cannabis nitrogen late in flower can make it taste metallic. Figure out how you will adjust your recipe over the plant’s life cycle.
- Water quality matters more than you could imagine. All water is not equal. The amount of dissolved solids in water can affect the plant significantly. Further, domestic water supplies are often treated–with added chlorine and fluoride to purify the water and subdue the masses (or maybe that’s just the role I think fluoride has in domestic water). Invest in a high-quality Reverse Osmosis (RO) water-filtration system. And change your filters often. Even then, test your water every so often to make sure that the PPM (parts per million) of dissolved solids is consistent and that the PH is consistent. This is critical.
- Light! Plants grown outdoors in natural light receive a full spectrum of light. Plants grown indoors don’t. Manmade lights have a fraction of the spectrum of what exists in nature. If you are growing indoors, invest in high-quality lights, balasts and hoods. Change you bulbs at least twice a year and your reflectors every year.
- Do not interrupt your babies when they are sleeping. Marijuana has a short life cycle–only 8 weeks in flower. Interrupting even one of two nights of sleep can have a huge effect on the quality of the plants at the end. So, when they are asleep (they sleep for 12 hours a day, and grow for 12 hours a day), stay away, keep them in the dark and let them rest.
- Temperature, humidity and CO2. Indoors or out, your ability to ensure that your plants will have the optimal environmental conditions is imperative. Weed grows like a weed on every continent on our little blue dot of a planet. However, it grows best between 72 degrees and 80 degrees, 50-percent to 55-percent humidity, and CO2 levels around 1,200 PPM. If it gets too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry or has to grow without CO2, the quality degrades quickly. Maintaining the environment is one of the most expensive aspects of growing great weed. It is very expensive to build the facilities and maintain the environment. This investment is a must for the consummate cultivator of connoisseur-grade cannabis. Make the investment or you will regret it.
- Every day matters. There are a lot of things in life that you can set on their way and forget about until they are ready. Marijuana is not one of those. You will need to tend to your quality crops daily. Watering, feeding, pruning, troubleshooting and, yes, talking to them, all matter.
- It’s not over until it’s over. The lifecycle of growing great weed does not end when the plant is harvested. After quality buds have been grown, how they are handled during harvest, dry, cure and trimming all matter. Generally, it is best not to ever use a machine to process pot, nor is it good to lay it down to dry. Hand-trimmed and hung to dry brings the best out of the plant.
- Get meaningful feedback and use it to continually improve. I won the Cannabis Cup in 2012. When I won again in 2014, I was using a system that was very different from what I used two years earlier. Why? Because I had been listening to both my customers and my critics. I’ve always taken both to heart and have been committed to continual improvement. Also, don’t rely on your buddies to tell you how good your bud is. If you really want good feedback, enter one of the many contests in the United States and around the world where judges or the public are enlisted to choose a winner. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that think they grow the best weed in the world, too. Tell you what … If you think you grow the best weed, enter the U.S. Cannabis Cup. It is the grand-daddy of them all. If you think you got what it takes, prove it. If you think you can do better than me, prove it. I will be there, as the defending champion. Will you?
Christian Hageseth is the founder of Green Man Cannabis, one of the nation’s most award-winning legal cannabis growers. He is also the visionary behind the world’s first Weedery, the Green Man Cannabis Ranch, and the author of “Big Weed” (MacMillan 2015).