For both novice and expert cannabis cultivators, one of the most common questions is “How long should I vegetate plants before inducing flowering?” While there may not be a single definitive answer, extending the veg time of clones can significantly increase final yields in many situations. Let’s look at why staying in the vegetative stage longer before flipping to bloom can result in much bigger harvests.
Maximizing Growth in Veg
Cannabis plants grow exponentially faster in the vegetative stage under 18+ hours of light per day. During vegging, all the plant’s energy goes towards upward growth and producing more nodes, leaves, and branches. Plants are simply much more productive photosynthetically under long daylight periods.
The larger a clone becomes before being switched to flowering, the higher its overall capacity will be for bud production. Just a few extra weeks of vegetative growth can dramatically increase plant size, number of nodes, and future bud sites.
A small clone flowered immediately may yield 10 grams after 2 months total cycle time. But allowing that same clone to veg for 4-6 weeks may yield over 60 grams after 3 months cycle time. The extra veg period multiplied plant size and capacity tenfold.
Benefits of Larger Plants
Along with increased yield potential, larger vegged plants offer other advantages:
- More tolerance to stresses and errors with gardening
- Ability to take harder pruning and training
- Improved light interception with a wider, taller profile
- Larger root systems can access more water and nutrients
- Thicker branches support heavier flower clusters
Maxing out veg growth results in plants better equipped to pack on weight during flowering. Bigger root structures supply more water. Sturdier stems hold up fatter, denser buds.
Fill Your Space
When growing indoors, the vegetative period offers a chance to fill up your allotted space. For example, a 4×4 tent can fit 4 larger plants or 9 smaller ones. Which scenario has greater yield potential?
For a given space, fewer larger plants tend to produce more than many small crowded ones thanks to better air flow and light distribution. Letting clones properly fill their environment before flipping allows them to capitalize on all available resources.
Strain-Specific Veg Times
Some cannabis strains naturally grow taller and stretch more than others during flowering. These sativa-dominant plants benefit from a shorter veg period to prevent excessive size. More compact indica varieties can utilize longer veggie time to spur dense branching.
Growers should consider the strain’s natural growth habits and adjust veg time accordingly. But when uncertain, erring on the side of more vegetative development rarely hurts as long as plants have room.
Vegging out clones longer provides more opportunities for training techniques like topping, low stress training, and manifolding that enhance yield. Plants need proper maturity and growth before responding well to such practices.
A small 6 inch clone is too juvenile to top effectively. But allowing topping at the 5th or 6th node on a larger plant directs energy into multiple colas. More veg time means plants can undergo multiple trainings to shape maximum production.
Perhaps counterintuitively, extending vegetative growth of clones can lead to earlier first harvests compared to flowering very small cuttings right away. This is because larger plants mature faster once flipped.
For example, flowering a 2 inch clone may take 10 full weeks to mature and finish. But a 10 inch plant flowered after 4 weeks of veg may ripen in just 8 weeks. The sole focus onaccelerated flowering makes up time lost in veg.
Bigger buds and higher overall yields more than compensate for the slightly longer total cycle. And the ability to harvest earlier rounds of mature buds gives growers an income flow sooner.
Finding the Sweet Spot
Determining ideal veg time always depends on the particular strain and situation. But in most cases, erring towards more vegetative growth results in significantly higher yields with manageable flowering stretches. A good guideline is vegging clones until they occupy about 2/3 the intended height before switching to bloom.
Don’t rush the process – cannabis plants thrive on ample veg time. Be patient and allow clones to properly establish, train, and fill out the canopy before starting flower production. The benefits of maximizing clone growth in vegetation will become obvious at harvest time when those buds keep coming!
To explore the latest trends in Cannabis Industry, our articles on Legalizing of Four Cannabis Plants per Household in Canada, How Much Cannabis Can I legally Carry In The Canada, and New York Governor Announces Start Of Recreational Weed Sales offer valuable insights.