How Much Weed Does One Plant Produce?
“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?
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, w hen 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.
Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.
How much weed can you get from growing one plant?
As states legalize weed and the plant becomes more accepted, more people are trying out their green thumbs by growing their own weed at home. Most states with legal weed allow one person to grow six plants at their residence and an entire household to grow 12 plants. Some allow less, and some allow more.
(To see how many plants your state allows you to grow at home, check out this table).
But how much actual weed is that in dried buds that you can smoke? An ounce? A pound? Two pounds? The tricky thing is, all weed plants aren’t the same size, and many factors affect how big a plant will get and how dense its buds become.
We’ll go through those factors and talk a little bit about the harvest process to estimate how much weed you can get from one plant.
How much bud from one weed plant?
Many factors affect how big a plant gets, but generally speaking, if you are growing a healthy plant, you can expect these yields from one weed plant:
- Outdoor plant: ½ pound of buds, or about 224g
- Indoor plant: ¼ pound of buds, or about 112g
Note that these are estimates. When growing outdoors, plants can usually get massive because they aren’t restricted to space—it’s not uncommon to get closer to a pound a plant or more.
When growing indoors, you’re often limited by space—a plant can’t get as big in a grow tent as in a big, open basement. You’re also limited by how powerful your grow light is. For example, Leafly editor David Downs harvested 150g from one indoor plant with one 200W Black Dog LED light. The company said that light maxes out around a half-pound of buds, or 224g.
Also, these estimates are for healthy plants. If a plant becomes nutrient-deficient, gets bugs or mold, or doesn’t receive enough light, expect a lot less.
How long will one plant’s worth of bud last you?
However big your plant gets, you’ll likely have more flower than you know what to do with. Many people will save a certain amount of flower for smoking, and make edibles, concentrates, and other weed products with the rest of their harvest.
Consider how much weed you smoke in a day, week, or month. For reference, a gram is about two medium joints or 3-4 bowls. Do you smoke a gram a day or a week? Two grams a day or a week?
Using the above yield estimate of ¼ lb., or 112 grams, for one medium-to-large-sized indoor plant, if you smoke one gram a day, that one plant would last you 112 days, or just under four months! Two grams a day would last you just under two months, and half a gram a day—or an eighth a week—would last you eight months.
This will help give you a sense of how many plants you should grow. If you’re growing indoors, you can grow one plant at a time, harvest it, and start another, keeping a continuous cycle of growing.
If growing outdoors, you may only get one harvest a year. Remember, check out how many plants you can legally grow in your state here.
Read more of Leafly’s guide to growing
Factors that determine a weed plant’s yield
The amount of dried buds you harvest from a weed plant is called its yield, just like any crop, such as corn, wheat, fruit, etc. Ideally, when growing weed, you want high yields and high-quality buds. Getting both takes a little practice.
A weed plant will lose about 75% of its weight to moisture loss and trimming after being cut down. A considerable amount of moisture leaves the plant during the drying process, and trimming removes all the stems, branches, fan leaves, and trim from the plant.
So if you weigh a freshly cut plant at three pounds, don’t get too excited—you’ll likely get ¾ lb. of finished buds (which is still a lot of weed).
A big plant doesn’t necessarily mean big yields, as buds can be thin and wispy. A medium-sized plant with quality, dense nugs could yield more than a six-foot tree. Also, if growing multiple plants, they can grow over each other and shade one other out, reducing yields. Make sure to give plants plenty of space.
Some major factors that contribute to a weed plant’s yield include:
- Grow duration
- Soil type/amount
Certain weed strains grow big or tall or are high-yielders simply because of their genetics. Traditionally, indicas grow short and stout, and sativas grow tall and lanky. That’s not always true across the board, but it is a good rule of thumb.
For example, Lemon Skunk is famously a tall, lanky strain, so you’re likely to get high yields from it. Blue Dream and Chemdog are also known for their high yields.
Aside from its candy-like flavor, Runtz gets its name because its buds grow small, like the runt of the litter. It might be a low-yielder, but you’ll usually get high-quality buds.
How long you allow a plant to grow, or the length of time from seed germination to harvest, is one of the most significant factors determining weed yield. If you start growing seeds in March rather than May, those plants will have two extra months to get big.
When growing outdoors, the local climate is the main determining factor of when you can put seeds in the ground. Some regions are too cold to put plants outside until May, but you can start growing plants indoors with the right setup.
Some regions get rain early in the fall, so you’ll want to grow plants that are ready to harvest by the beginning of October. In tropical climates, you can practically grow weed outdoors all year round.
When growing indoors, growth duration is determined by how much space you have to work with. If you have a spacious basement or shed, you can let plants grow for months and get as big as you want before forcing them to flower. If space is tight, like in a grow tent or other small areas, you may only be able to let your plants get a few feet tall.
How much light a plant receives is highly variable. When growing outside, it all depends on where a plant is located to receive the most light throughout the entire season. Weed plants like full sun—at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. If a plant is in the shade or gets shaded as the light changes throughout the season, it can affect yields.
Indoors, it depends on how powerful your light is. A small 200W LED is great for a small grow tent, but you’ll need something bigger for a bigger space, which also means a more expensive light.
Be sure to prune your plants to remove dead leaves and buds, and branches that won’t turn into sizable buds. Clearing out plant matter will allow the quality buds to get more light.
Weed typically likes warm, temperate climates—think of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle region—but certain strains thrive in different temperatures. Traditionally, indicas like cold, dry climates and sativas like warm, humid climates.
Sudden extreme changes in temperature can affect a plant’s growth and yields, such as a sudden cold snap, which can slow a plant’s growth, or a heatwave, which can dry out a plant.
Different soils have different nutrient levels and some nutrients can promote plant growth. You can also add nutrients to soil or water to help plants grow big and strong.
Additionally, if growing in containers, the size of the container, or the amount of soil the plant’s roots have, will affect the size of a plant. Growing in too small of a pot can stunt a plant’s growth.
Check out guidelines on how big of a container you need for different sized plants here.
Growing directly in the ground will give your plant’s roots plenty of space, but you may need to add nutrients depending on the soil’s quality.