MJBizMag March 2021 - 53

Workers then place each individual
seed into a small pot by hand with
tweezers, cover it with soil and give it
a little water. Then, in middle to late
April, they germinate the seeds.
" That next 30 days, from middle April
to the middle of May, is very delicately
watching the temperatures and moisture
content of those pots, " Johnson said.
Of the 9,000-10,000 original greenhouse
seedlings, about 6,000 seedlings
make it into the field by late May.
It's imperative that cultivators have
materials ordered and prepped by the
time the germination and transplanting
phases begin, Johnson said.
Pick the right
pot size for your
seedlings.
The bigger the pot, the
more room the roots
have to grow-so that when they are
transplanted into the ground they can
continue to grow and thrive.
The downside to a larger pot, Johnson
said, is that more soil equals more
cost and a greater carbon footprint. Soil
contains carbon that is released when it is
tilled for agriculture. Repeatedly manipulating
soil increases atmospheric carbon,
which can contribute to climate change.
" We're doing somewhere in the range
of 8,000 to 9,000 seedlings in one push.
So even an extra few inches in width or
depth of a soil pot can really add up. And
we're very cognizant of our carbon footprint,
as much as we are about our input
costs, " he said.
It also takes more time and labor to
transfer plants into the earth from big
pots than small ones.
" The larger the pot you use, the more
time it takes for someone to come in,
gently pull the thing out of the pot and
dig a little hole and stuff it in the earth, "
Johnson said. " We found that in years
past, when we used a larger pot, the time
for planting just took way too long. We're
at a place now where a crew of three to
five people can plant 6,000 plants in less
than a work week. "
But while smaller pots are cheaper
and require less time to transplant
outdoors, the plants' roots run a higher
risk of becoming rootbound-or stop
growing because they're bunched up.
When rootbound plants are transplanted,
it typically takes a couple of weeks
for them to grow again.
If plants are starting to get rootbound
in the pot but a late freeze or
other harsh weather prevents moving
them outside, growers run the risk of
their plants getting stunted. The roots
will correct after a couple of weeks, but
losing two weeks in a vegetative growth
cycle of only 12 weeks is significant.
" The way we look at it is, we have a
finite amount of time: Outdoors, these
plants are going to flower at the same
time, regardless of whether you plant
them in the middle of May or at the
Fourth of July. They are going to flower at
the same time because they flower based
on the environmental conditions and the
photo period that's telling that plant to go
into flower, " Johnson said.
Decide when
to move your
plants from
the greenhouse
outdoors.
Choosing a planting date-when the
plants are taken from the greenhouse and
replanted outdoors-should be an early
part of your planning process.
" In a perfect world, you would plant
as early as you can, " Johnson noted.
But the decision about when to plant is
really made by Mother Nature and the
last days when freezing temperatures
can damage plants.
It's also important to factor in a buffer
between the last expected frost date and
when you actually start planting. Johnson
usually goes with seven to 10 days.
In Siskiyou's case, that's around
May 15-20, Johnson said. " We plan
around the last frost, and the thought
process is, 'How do we plant at that
moment and give our plants the best
chance of success?' "
Many factors go into the answer, Johnson
said, including:
* What is the ideal age and height of a
seedling when you put it in the field?
* What is the size of the pot the plant
is in?
* How much soil is in the pot?
* How wide and deep is the pot?
* How big of a taproot have you
cultivated?
Use cultivars
that flower and
finish over a
period suitable
for your needs.
Another important consideration is how
long plants need from the point of flowering
to harvest, Johnson said.
" In nature, it's not that simple, " he said,
because the light cycles can't be adjusted
with the flick of a light switch like they
can be indoors.
" It's a gradual transition. Certain
cultivars may transition into flower at
14 hours of daylight, and some cultivars
may flip into flower at 12 hours of
daylight, " Johnson explained. " Neither
of those indicate how long it will take
from flip for the plant to finish. There
are cultivars that flip early and take a
long time to finish. And there are cultivars
that flip late but take a short time
to finish. "
Johnson and other growers said
indica-leaning hybrids are better suited
to colder, more-rugged northern growing
regions because they require only a short
period from flowering to finish in such
climates. Sativas and sativa hybrids such
as Sour Diesel and Amnesia Haze do well
in warmer outdoor climates, although
growers will want to factor in humidity
as well.
In the end, a good planting season
boils down to good planning.
" Purchasing all your stuff ahead of
time, making sure it's landed on site,
making sure everything is lined up, is
critical, because time is of the essence, "
Johnson said. " We don't have any time to
waste when the springtime hits. "
March 2021 | mjbizdaily.com 53
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MJBizMag March 2021

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