Posted on

what is the best color of marijuana seeds to grow

How LEDs Are Making Weed Better

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

A few years out of graduate school in botany, Paul Gray found himself tinkering with the lights for growing Green Crack. Yeah, that Green Crack: the strain of weed so strong that none other than Snoop Dogg—according to ganja lore—bestowed it such a name. Gray wasn’t just messing around, though. He found that growing Green Crack under light-emitting diode lamps could make the already potent strain even stronger.

Gray works for Illumitex, one of many LED companies catering to the cannabis industry. As more states legalize recreational and medical marijuana use, the business is growing and professionalizing. And LEDs, for their part, have recently gotten cheap enough to be more than a novelty. The once-underground world of indoor cannabis growing is coming out into the light—a soothing, magenta glow from LEDs.

LEDs offer two main advantages: One, they give off specific wavelengths of light that can be fine-tuned to the plant and its stage of growth. That’s why you see so much blue mixed with red, or magenta, light. (More on that later.) And two, they use way less energy—up to 60 percent less than traditional bulbs, by some accounts. Indoor marijuana farms are a notorious energy suck, and stories abound of illegal farms getting busted by their electric bills. So yes, illegal farms have an obvious incentive to cut their power bills. So do legal growers, though, who can save money and burnish their eco-conscious reputations at once.

See also  does autoflowering marijuana plants produce seeds

When Tweed, Canada’s largest pot grower, was setting up shop, its plant scientist turned to, where else, the Internet. “I can’t tell you how much time I spent in the beginning looking at forums just trying to get ideas,” says Katya Boudko, who heads up R&D for the company.

Boudko found that conventional weed-growing wisdom pointed to high-intensity discharge lamps, basically the lights you see shining down on stadiums. Growers typically use metal halides for the early vegetative or “veg” phase, and high-pressure sodium lights for the flowering phase.

This advice actually originates in peer-reviewed research, sort of. In the 1990s, scientists at NASA’s Advanced Life Support Program began studying how astronauts could one day use LEDs to grow food in space. They knew that plants tend to use blue and red light for photosynthesis. (The green reflects off the leaves.) They had good red LEDs twenty years ago, but they didn’t quite have blue. “You can grow plants under just red, but they would not grow normally. They would become very stretched out,” says Ray Wheeler, a plant physiologist at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

So what does this have to do with veg and flowering? Well, metal halides tint blue, which seems to induce the plant to grow leaves. And high-pressure sodium lights tint orange—the red component seems to help plants flower. But now, good blue LEDs exist (they even netted their inventor a Nobel prize last year), and LEDs offer a much more precise way to tune wavelengths for a plant. Tweed currently uses the classic set up—metal halides and high pressure sodium—but Boudko is actively experimenting with LEDs in her R&D department. The visual quality and cannabinoid content of the LED-grown weed is higher, she says—though Gray cautions that not all lighting affects different strains equally.

See also  homegrown marijuana seeds