Selecting Property for Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation – What to Consider

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Growing marijuana outdoors has many benefits: increased yield, lower start-up and overall cost, a more organic product, and leaving a smaller carbon footprint. There are several factors to consider while looking for land to be used as an outdoor cannabis grow. Many of these vary in importance depending on how you choose to grow; directly in the ground, potted, or hydroponic cultivation. Things to consider while shopping for the perfect outdoor cultivation property include: the location’s climate, soil quality, water access and wetlands, power availability, acreage, compliance with laws, and accessibility. 

Climate & Sunlight:

Many people believe a hot, subtropical climate is required to grow marijuana outdoors. This is not the case. Cannabis originally comes from the high areas of Central Asia, where the climate can be harsh and often cold at altitude. There are cannabis strains bred specifically for outdoors in colder climates. Strain selection is a crucial part of a successful outdoor cultivation,  since you do not have full control of the growing environment outside.

As long as you have a sunny location, in an area that has at least eight to ten weeks of relatively sunny weather, and temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow cannabis outdoors. If the local growing season is short, you can get a jump on things by starting your plants indoors, then transplanting your seedlings after a brief hardening period. If you live in a warmer climate, you can simply plant your seeds outside after the threat of frost passes.

Marijuana loves plenty of sunlight. Your chosen land should have at least three hours of direct sunlight each day, preferably more. Plants will grow faster, and yield more product, with approximately five hours of natural sunlight per day. Cannabis prefers morning sunlight to afternoon sunlight, so keep this in mind when choosing a location for outdoor growing. Also, don’t plant a photoperiod strain under or near a bright street lamp; otherwise, it may not flower properly. 

Consider surrounding objects such as buildings and trees, and how the angle of the sun changes over the course of the growing season. As a result, an area that gets full sun all day long during one part of the growing season may be shaded part or all of the day during another part of the growing season. Ideally, your grow site will get sun all day long throughout the growing season.

If you are planting cannabis in pots, the containers can easily be moved around if the sunny locations in your space change over the course of the growing season.

Soil:

While choosing a site for outdoor, in-ground growing, it is also important to consider the soil quality. Make sure the soil has a good drainage system. Cannabis can grow in a wide variety of soil types, as long as the soil has sufficient drainage. If it doesn’t, you can amend the soil, or plant in containers. In a container, you can easily customize your soil mix to create the perfect grow medium for your plants.

Planting in-ground is generally easier and more forgiving. With quality soil, you don’t have to worry much about plants becoming root-bound or developing root rot, and you may not have to water as frequently.

The soil should compact when squeezed, but easily break when poked. Fertile, healthy soil contains organic matter, such as decomposing wood and other plant matter. Good soil is also home to many organisms, including earthworms, grubs, beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. If you don’t see anything crawling around in your soil, it is probably lacking in organic matter. You can mix mulch and other amendments into the soil to increase its fertility, if necessary. If the soil has poor drainage, add sand, perlite, or vermiculite. 

The soil’s pH level should also be tested. An ideal pH level for growing marijuana is between 5.5 and 6.5. Soil of extreme pH levels discourages absorption of plant nutrients. Low pH levels also tend to produce more male cannabis plants. An application of hydrated lime can help increase the pH level, while adding sodium bicarbonate into the soil can decrease the pH level.

Wetlands & Water Access:

Water levels should also be considered in the property selection process. Does the property contain wetlands? If the water table is too high, the soil will stay waterlogged, causing the roots to receive an inadequate amount of oxygen. This will cause plants to die. On the other hand, if the water table is too low, frequent watering will be required since the soil will dry out too quickly. 

Plants can be grown in containers if the soil is too wet. The larger the pots, the better. The pot should have an inch of gravel at the bottom to promote drainage. 

Access to water on the property is important. Unless it rains every few days, you’ll need to water your plants regularly, so pick a site that has easy access to water. 

Power Availability:

Power availability may be a priority if you are planning for a hydro system, building, management, or processing on-site. If not, a power source may not be needed, but it is still a good idea to check for power availability to the selected property. 

Acreage:

The amount of space you will need depends on the number and types of plants you want to cultivate, and are legally permitted to grow. Your plants will need to be separated by at least three to five feet, so they all get plenty of sun and breeze. For example, a Class C Cultivation Permit allows for the growth of 1500 marihuana plants. If planning to grow 1500 plants, a minimum of 4500 square feet of land will be needed. 7500 Square feet of land would be ideal for maximum plant growth and ease of tending. Crowded plants will shadow one another, leading to less sunlight exposure and lower product yield. 

Compliance:

Your grow site must comply with all local rules and regulations. In most locations, your cultivation area must be secured with a locked privacy fence, and plants can be no taller than the fence. Any gates must be locked to prevent unauthorized personnel from reaching the plants, and to discourage theft. Outdoor cultivation facilities must be placed within a certain zone in the city, township, or village. There are also buffer zones to check, along with other rules and regulations. Check with the municipality of the proposed property regarding their local ordinances, as these can vary greatly.

Visibility:

While looking for marijuana cultivation land, you should also consider whether or not the plants can be hidden from the road with a fence. Is the property sloped upward in a way that the public could see marijuana plants over the barrier?

According to the State of Michigan, the cultivation area must be fully enclosed by fences or barriers. These must completely block outside visibility of the marihuana plants from the public view, with no marihuana plants growing above the fence or barrier that is visible to the public eye. 

Also keep in mind that growing plants in a pot will add height to each plant. Take this into consideration when installing a fence.

Accessibility: 

Location and ease of access are important. Plants will need to be tended to regularly, especially if they are being watered manually. This being said, select a property that can be reached conveniently and often.

Knowledge is power, so make sure to keep all of these factors in mind while looking for land to start your outdoor cannabis grow. With the right property, outdoor growing can be highly profitable while costing less to maintain. Check out some of our approved cannabis cultivation locations HERE!

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