Main Differences in Growing Cannabis Indoors vs. Outdoors

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The major difference between to grow indoors and outdoors is the changes in climate. With indoor farming you can completely control the environment in which your plants grow. Controlling  the temperature, light source, CO2 production, H2O, and humidity creates a stable habitat to optimize your plants’ growth without having to risk outdoor elements such as drought, floods, or freezes. On the other hand, the natural spectrum of light that the sun produces is unique, which in turn, limits indoor gardens with smaller yields and less vigorous plants. Outdoor farming, however, requires the right climate for cannabis production – good sun exposure, hot days, warm nights, and low humidity.

Nevertheless, growing indoors has complications as well. Natural predators to mites that might infest your grow do not have access to an indoor cultivation. Indoors, the grower cannot hope to completely mimic the incredibly complicated natural environment. If mites appear in an indoor grow space, they can be a challenge to control.

Difference in Cost

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Neither indoor nor outdoor growing are cheap, but there are long term differences. Indoor climate control systems can cost a a lot of money to operate, whereas a majority of the costs associated with outdoor grows are in the start of the operation.

Labor costs for indoor and outdoor gardens are also fairly different. Since indoor growing can be done all year long, there is always work to do. Pruning, trellising, watering, feeding, and harvest work are ongoing and more demanding for a more limited yield than in an outdoor grow. Many outdoor farms with large outputs can operate with up to four employees full-time until harvest, when additional workers need to be brought in.

The high costs of indoor farming have the possibility to be recuperated through breeding projects, year-round harvests, and potent products that have higher selling points. Since indoor environments allow growers to cultivate strains that would otherwise be unsuitable for their local outdoor environment and climate. However, with the rising cost of energy and an increasing demand in the marketplace, outdoor farming may be able supply the market with quality products at a more reasonable price.

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Color

One of the most significant visual characteristics that can be used to differentiate outdoor cannabis versus indoor cannabis is the color. Outdoor cannabis tends to have a darker hue in general. If the cultivar produces green flowers, outdoor nugs will appear a darker green, possibly leaning towards brown if not cured correctly, while indoor buds will be a brighter, more vivid green. If the cultivar produces purple flowers, outdoor buds will turn a deep, striking purple while indoor nugs will stay lighter shades of purple (unless the strain’s genetics produce dark purple buds in any condition).

Another visual cue is the color on the bottom of the flowers. Buds cultivated outdoors almost always have a light brown color surrounding the stalk at the base of the bud (don’t worry it’s not mold). Usually, the tiny bracts at the bottom of the stalk will be a light brown as well. Indoor buds, on the other hand, are bright green (or purple) throughout.

Quality of the Grow

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Indoor flower has long been recognized as the top-of-the-line product. Being able to control your environment and expedite breeding has resulted in aesthetically beautiful strains with magnificent flavor profiles. Introducing higher CO2 levels than in the natural environment increases bud growth and produces THC levels that are difficult to obtain outdoors. Additionally, indoor cannabis does not have to deal with rain, wind, or any of the other natural elements that can damage an outdoor crop. The buds remain in pristine condition and only start to degrade once handling begins. The scale of most indoor operations generally allows for crops to be harvested in peak conditions and for the product to be cured in a controlled climate.

Outdoor flower is, of course, subject to the natural environment. Though the end product may not look as perfect, the taste, effects, and aroma should still be there. Some consumers find sun-grown organic cannabis to be preferable to the cosmetically pristine indoor alternative.

Recently there has been an emergence of commercial greenhouse farming that strikes a balance between the two methods. This style of farming is producing quality results, which is exciting to see in this emerging industry. As we have seen, all styles of farming offer positives and negatives, and as a consumer or a producer, it’s always important to continually educate yourself.

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