“How can I grow as much weed as possible?” You know that’s what’s on your mind when you ask or wonder about plant yield. Old and new marijuana growers (and scientists and politicians) alike want to know how to get the highest yield per plant and per grow. Planning and practice can make a huge difference-- especially when you are only growing one plant!
But, ultimately let’s not forget that the cannabis plant is a sentient being. She’s alive! Her growth is dependent on many factors and the same plant can produce a pound in one situation and a couple grams in another. Below we will detail the known factors that impact yield and potency, discuss where things can go wrong, and where things can grow right.
What is yield? (wet vs. dry yield)
Yield is the amount of weed you get when you harvest your marijuana plants. This is only the buds themselves, removed from the stems. This is most often measured once your marijuana buds are dried and trimmed. This is generally measured in grams, ounces, and pounds. The "lid" is not a used measurement anymore.
One of the most know measurements currently is an 1/8th (of an ounce) which is 3.5 grams. This is commonly found in dispensaries as well as something one might purchase from their friendly neighborhood weed guy. In this picture below, only two perfectly grown and cured buds were needed to reach this weight!
Wet and dry cannabis does not weigh the same.
Immediately upon harvesting, your buds will be quite heavy. That’s because, like humans, freshly harvested cannabis flowers are 75 - 80% water by weight. Once dried and cured, the actual harvest you get is about ¼ of the wet weight. So, if your harvest weighs out at an ounce at first cut, when it’s all said and done, you will have a quarter ounce of homegrown weed to smoke.
To estimate your dry yield from your wet yield, just multiply the wet yield by 0.25 to get an idea of what you’ll have to share with your friends (or stash away for yourself)!
This varies slightly depending on if you grew a sativa-dominant or an indica-dominant strain. Sativas are notoriously more airy so if you weigh your sativa harvest wet, you will get 20 - 22% dry. Indicas tend to be a bit chunkier so if you weigh your indica harvest wet, you will get 22 - 25% dry.
Yield vs. Potency
Yield is an important factor to consider because cannabis is an annual crop; there’s only one harvest per plant. After harvest, the plant is dead and returns to compost. Yield is the weight of the buds that you harvest. Yield should not be confused with the potency of these hefty green nuggets. Potency is the strength of the cannabinoids found in the trichomes on your cannabis buds.
In other words, you can have a high yield of low potency buds. Or you can have a low yield of high potency buds. In a perfect world, you’d get a high yield of high potency buds and we are going to discuss how to make that happen!
What to do to increase your weed plant’s yield?Let’s get the most out of your homegrown medical (and recreational) marijuana. Best plant performance and yield are the result of growing the right strains under the right conditions. The most important factors being: light, plant density, fertilizer, temperature, duration of the flowering growth stage, and plant variety. In sum, the TLDR version is:
blast as much light as you can afford, grow less plants to fill your space appropriately, feed your plants just enough but not too much, keep the space not too hot and not too cold, don’t harvest early, and don’t buy shit genetics
(bag seed gamblers are included!)
Light to Increase Weed Plant High Yield
The yield from an indoor-grown cannabis plant largely depends on the light the plant receives. Cannabis plants, being photosynthesizers, receive all their energy to function from light.
The type, quality, and amount of light you provide your marijuana plant directly influences yield and should not be taken lightly (see what we did there?)
Sunlight is the most powerful light us earthlings have access to, so if you are able to give your plant direct sunlight, do it! Sunshine is also free, and that is a big plus. The only downside is that we cannot control cloudy or rainy days and winter makes it challenging to grow with the limited amount of sunlight (the freezing temperatures also don’t help).
Moving to an indoor grow environment, when it comes to lighting fixtures, it does not benefit you to get the cheaper option. And we know how challenging it is to pick the right light-- there’s so many options out there! (incandescent, CFL, HPS, LEDs)
We do not encourage growers to use incandescent light bulbs when growing indoors. To get enough energy for your plant, the bulb would put off too much heat and not be fun to see on your electric bill. CFL bulbs are equally useless. Stick to new technology to protect your plants and your wallet.
While HPS light fixtures are historically the choice for those who want to maximize their indoor cannabis crop harvest, they are slowly fading out from commonplace. An experienced grower can expect to harvest a gram of weed from each watt of HPS light provided to the plant. This means that if the light is a 400-watt HPS bulb, then 400 grams of weed could potentially be harvested. However, LED light technology is getting more advanced. LEDs are: 1) cheaper to run than HPS and 2) run cooler than HPS which also lowers the cost of air conditioning and 3) reduces the likelihood of burning your plants with too much light.
When choosing an LED light fixture for your weed plants you are up against a surplus of options and information.
The most important metrics to look for in a lighting fixture are PPF, PPFD, and energy usage/efficacy. If none of these are present, you may want to look at a different fixture.
PPF, PPFD, and photon efficiency are measurements related to PAR. PAR is photosynthetic active radiation. PAR is not a unit of measurement but instead defines the type of light needed to support photosynthesis.
PPF is how much PAR a lighting system produces each second. This is not often listed as it does not show how much of the measured light actually lands on your plants but is a useful metric to calculate how capable a light fixture is at creating PAR.
PPFD (photosynthetic photon flux density) is the measurement of how much PAR actually arrives at your plant. This is a spot measurement and is typically highest at the center point beneath the light and decreases as light ripples outwardly. This changes with the distance away from the plant. Ideally, the higher the better but a single measurement won’t tell you much-- you want the average taken from many measurements throughout the coverage area.
Photon efficacy is a way of defining how good a lighting fixture is at converting the electrical energy into PAR light that your plant can actually consume. This is not often listed in the spec sheet for most lights. Instead, most light manufacturers list the wattage, either total electrical watts or watts per square foot. Knowing the wattage is good to budget the main cost of your indoor cannabis grow. But the wattage doesn’t give the best information about the quality of light as watts are a measurement of the energy coming into the light fixture (from your electric bill) where photon efficacy is how good the light is at giving your plant energy.
We suggest paying attention to whether or not the company you want to buy a light from lists the actual wattage or the watt equivalent. (Hint: if they are only disclosing the watt equivalent, the light is most likely not strong enough for cannabis.)
LED wattage and incandescent wattage aren't the same.
Many LEDs are marketed with their "incandescent equivalent" wattage, referring to the brightness of the LED. For example, a 10 watt LED may say "75 watts" on the package and in fine print say that the brightness is equivalent to a 75 watt incandescent. But for growing cannabis, you're going to want an actual real 75 watts (or higher!) from your LED lamp.
Can I give my weed plant too much light?
The answer in fancy, science talk:
Effectively, within the range of practical indoor PPFD levels—the more light that is provided, the proportionally higher the increase in yield will be. Therefore, the question of the optimum LI [light intensity] may be reduced to more practical functions of economics and infrastructure limitations: basically, how much lighting capacity can a grower afford to install and run? - Victoria Rodriguez-Morrison, David Llewellyn, and Youbin Zheng
In plain English:
No, not really! For a vegging photoperiod cannabis plant, you will want to give her a minimum of 18 hours of light a day-- some give 20 hours or even keep the lights on 24/7. We know that a lot of good growth happens during the dark period when the cannabis plant has time to rest so we suggest either a 18/6 or 20/4 light cycle for photoperiod cannabis in the vegetative stage.
Same goes with autoflowering cannabis, with an autoflower seed indoors, you'll want to give it 20 hours light / 4 hours darkness each day.
When it comes to using light to maximize yield, maximize the light intensity to meet your budget.
Grow Less Cannabis Plants to Get More Weed
In some ways you may think that if you pop more marijuana seeds or get more clones that you will get a bigger harvest in the end. This is not always true.
Each cannabis plant wants her own space. Planting more than one seed in a pot leads to competition between plants for the shared nutrients and reduced yields. As seen in this photo below where two seedlings starved each other and both ended up dwarfed:
The size of the container that you grow your pot in matters, too. Outdoor plants have the potential of reaching extreme oak tree size when planted directly in good soil (which can be hard to find) and allowed to flourish in an open, sunny space. Indoor cannabis plants, become much like a goldfish in either a fishbowl or an aquarium or an ocean, you will grow a different size plant from the Mini Complete Pot Grow Kit (1/2 Gallon) to the Medium Complete Pot Grow Kit (5 gallon) or the Large Complete Pot Grow Kit (35 gallon). The bigger pot, the bigger plant (and the more pot).
Growing in a grow tent, consider the total space as well as the size of your containers. It may sound like a good idea to pack a small 24’’ x 48’’ x 60’’ tent with as many pots as possible but this will limit the canopy space for your plants to fill. Best to give each pot space for the plant to fill out.
Growing less plants means:
- A longer vegetative stage. This means bigger plants. Bigger plants have bigger harvests and higher yield. When growing photoperiod cannabis indoors, it is time to transition your tent to flower when the tips of the leaves of each plant begin to touch. More plants touch each other faster.
- Less plants to manage! You know each one personally and can tell when even the slightest thing is off which means you can catch pests and diseases before they become a major problem. This also means that you will have more time for defoliation and advanced pruning techniques to maximize your yield!
In the same space with a 600 watt HPS lamp, you can either get 37.5 grams from 16 plants, 150 grams from four plants, or a pound from one single plant! Don’t compromise on plant density; the more space you give a single plant, the more she can blossom.
Best Grow Mediums to Maximize Harvest
Yield can also vary based on the particular grow medium you use. It has been clearly documented that using hydroponics to grow marijuana can result in 20 percent more yield compared to using soil indoors.
Hydroponics increases yield because it is the most efficient way to feed plants. The grower supplies all the nutrients that the plant would naturally need to find for herself in the soil.
But, hydroponic systems are also 1) more expensive to set up and run, 2) can take time (like several runs) to dial in a nutrient feeding schedule and 3) can go wrong if your plants are fed too much.
At the simplest level, fertilizers come in varying NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) formulations. Fertilizers that are richer in nitrogen are ideal for the vegetative phase, and those richer in potassium are better suited to the flowering phase. Growing hydroponically you need to know which nutrients your cannabis plants need during their different stages of growth and have that ready.
Whether you opt for organic, inorganic, or a mixture of the two is more of a personal decision. The important thing is that your marijuana plants receive enough nutrients to give you a higher yield per plant, but never too much. Unlike light intensity, there is a sweet spot for nutrients when it comes to growing marijuana. Too much of a good thing can negatively impact your plants. Unfortunately, finding the right balance between enough nutrients and excess nutrition usually comes with experience.
Soil grown marijuana can pull down some epic yields as well. But not all soils are created equal. For example, one person growing marijuana in loam soil may have a richer harvest since loam soil is easy for the roots to penetrate. On the other hand, clay soil could lead to a dismal yield since it doesn’t easily drain and can be quite compact, making it difficult for cannabis roots to grow.
That’s why a Pot for Pot specially formulated our Superb Soil to contain just the right amount of nutrients to maximize cannabis growth. With a Pot for Pot kits, there’s no need to add additional fertilizer because their soil has everything your plant needs from seed to harvest. It isn’t just easy to use, it’s optimized for marijuana growth.
Grow your Own 🌱
Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.
Right Indoor Environment for High Yielding Marijuana
When growing weed indoors, it is important to have your grow space dialed in. This means light (which we covered above), as well as temperature, humidity, and ventilation.
What’s the best temperature to maximize yield?
Temperature plays a big role in the quality and weight of the yield that you harvest from each plant. While the ideal temperature range could vary from one strain to another, generally speaking, a daytime temperature range of 72-78°F is best during the cannabis vegetative stage. This temperature should drop by up to 10 degrees in the evenings (when it is dark). These numbers can vary based on strain, so be sure to check for your ideal temperatures before you grow.
What’s the best relative humidity to maximize yield?
The relative humidity is also a factor for optimizing the yield from each plant. Some strains do better in locations with low humidity, whereas others may prefer higher humidity levels. A good range is 45-55 percent.
It is a good idea to reduce the relative humidity a bit during the last two weeks of the flowering stage. This helps protect the buds from the problems that result from high humidity, such as mold growth.
How to ventilate to increase the yield of my marijuana plants?
Fans are essential pieces of equipment in indoor grow spaces because marijuana plants require carbon dioxide to grow well. Luckily, this is plentiful in the air around us. You therefore only need to provide adequate ventilation for your plants to get as much CO2 as they need.
What if your plants don’t have enough? You can add more, however, be careful when adding CO2 to your marijuana plants, because high amounts of carbon dioxide in an enclosed space poses health risks to humans or animals. Your plants will love the additional CO2, but you will not.
Airflow is important to keep in mind. Without sufficient airflow, the oxygen generated by your plants will linger around, and carbon dioxide will be insufficient. Airflow also limits negative effects from happening to your plants, such as mold, pests, and diseases. Proper airflow limits the chance that these things will affect your plants. Ventilation also helps to maintain optimal temperature in your grow space. Extremely hot conditions could result in over-nutrition since the plants will take up a lot of water (and by extension, nutrients) and nutrient burn will result in a poorly ventilated cultivation area.
Ventilation isn’t just nice to have, it is essential to the health and productivity of your marijuana plants.
Compare Indoor, Outdoor, and Autoflower Yields
If you want the highest yield, consider growing your cannabis plant outdoors. A marijuana plant allowed to grow full term outdoors in a sunshine-filled location that isn’t too hot, will produce a minimum of 500 grams more than those grown inside.
Just like indoors, space is an important issue, so you’ll need to give each plant at least 1 square meter of space so they can thrive and maximize their yield.
Pros of growing outdoors: 1) sunshine is the best light; no indoor light can compare to the complete, full spectrum and power of our Sun, 2) no need for extra equipment-- just sunshine, good soil, and water.
Cons of growing outdoors: 1) less control, like weather-- we can’t all live in sunny California where it rarely rains!
Okay so, outdoor can yield more than growing indoors due to relative space and lighting but indoors promises a more consistent yield if you have the space dialed in but, what about autoflowers?
Autoflowering cannabis plants are often dissed because they stay compact and therefore, their yields are lower than their photoperiod cannabis cousins. But, autoflowers have a much shorter growing cycle so that means that you get more harvests.
Being faster and easier to grow, autoflowering cannabis has the potential of delivering high yields, or at least comparative yields, in the same growing year as their photoperiod counterparts. In the time it takes a single outdoor plant to mature over a spring and summer and be ready to harvest in the fall, a grower could pull down three harvests of autoflowers.
So, if you only have space to grow one plant at a time, an autoflowering cannabis plant might be the better choice to maximize yield.
Choose the Right Weed Strains for High Yield
Humans and cannabis have co-evolved. Humans have hand selected the strains that we have today because of the qualities these strains carry. Whether you plan to grow your marijuana indoors or outdoors, the quality of your genetics – whether they are seeds or clones-- will greatly impact the quality and quantity of your harvest. For example, one strain may have the potential of 600 g/m2 indoors while another strain has the potential of 900 g/m2 indoors. In another, more dramatic example, some outdoor plants have the potential to produce a 6-pound harvest, while others will never go past 2 pounds.
If you are seeking the highest yield, it helps to select genetics with the highest yield potential. If you need help finding seeds, a Pot for Pot’s grow kits includes discounts to some of the best seed banks worldwide, so you can start strong.
Growing Experience and Advanced Growing Techniques for Higher Yielding Plants
It would be unrealistic to expect a beginner grower to get the same yield per plant as an experienced one. Yield increasing skills such as pruning and training take time to master. Therefore, those new to growing marijuana should always expect yields that are slightly lower than the absolute best. As your experience increases, your yield will as well!
There are many advanced techniques that you can try to increase the yield of your plants. A popular one is scrogging or Screen Of Green. This technique can dramatically improve the yield in indoor gardens. The scrogging method involves placing a net or screen just above your marijuana plants. As soon as a branch grows over that net by four inches, bend that branch onto the net and tie it so that it grows sideways instead of vertically.
This training will eventually form a level, green canopy that will yield firm and juicy buds. This growing ‘hack’ works because all parts of the plants will be getting exactly the same amount of light.
Scrogging is an advanced technique because it places stress on marijuana plants. It’s a good idea to grow a few plants successfully before attempting this method.
In the same vein, Low Stress Training or LST is useful to increase her space, develop more of a bushy plant, and increase your yield.
LST can have a big impact with a little bit of work. Just starting out, a grower can start small and just gently tug or twist on her branches. This is the plant equivalent of a human going to the gym. The stronger the plant's foundation, the more weight she'll be able to carry when she starts to bud. A good thing to remember with LST is that it is Low Stress Training, so the plant may show signs of stress. A little goes a long way.
This pruning technique is similar to scrogging as it involves manipulating the plant’s canopy to expose more of the plant to light. You can use cages, nets, pipe cleaners, or just jute string to LST your cannabis plant.
LST is also a pruning technique that can be done on autoflowers!
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Avoid Common Mistakes
How many times can you harvest weed?
Just once! If you are looking to maximize how many harvests you can have a year, consider autoflowers because they have a shorter lifespan. Less time to grow = more harvests!
How much weed can one plant produce?
A single marijuana plant grown indoors under ideal conditions (and under a 600 watt HPS with correct scrogging) can produce a pound of dried weed!
A single marijuana plant grown outside under ideal conditions can produce even more.
Which marijuana plant produces seeds?
The female cannabis plant is the only producer of flowers (buds) and seeds. A female cannabis plant will only produce seeds if she comes in contact with the pollen of a male cannabis plant. If a plant gets seeded, she will lose potency.