Cannabis originally grew across the Eurasian Steppe, which is somewhat chilly and quite dry. However, in the millennia since its domestication, cannabis has come to rely on a good amount of water, to the extent that even a brief drought can cause a cannabis yield to plummet.
Unfortunately, climate change is drying up more and more areas of the country, which means more and more cannabis growers are facing the challenges of raising a crop with less water than it needs. If you are a home grower interested in cultivating cannabis on your own, how should you manage drought conditions?
Give up and Buy Your Weed From a Dispensary
Many cannabis users mistakenly believe that growing cannabis at home is a good way to save money on bud — but that just isn’t always the case. If you have to invest in extensive equipment just to keep your cannabis crop alive, as you will if you are growing in a hot, dry climate, you might be better off acquiring your flower from a dispensary. Even if you are a heavy cannabis user, dispensaries can offer deals and discounts on bud that you won’t find from garden suppliers or energy companies. If you are committed to growing your own weed at home, it will take some time before your cannabis crop is ready to harvest, so it doesn’t hurt to get to know a dispensary in Tucson with good pot and good prices.
Invest in a Good Irrigation System
The main problem with drought conditions is the lack of water. Cannabis plants require one gallon per usable pound of cannabis flower per day. Indoor plants are likely to produce a pound or less, which doesn’t require much of an intensive watering schedule if you don’t have that many plants to worry about. However, outdoor crops can yield between two and four pounds, so if you have a significant outdoor garden, you need to work hard to keep your plants appropriately moist — and this water estimate is for temperate regions like California, where cannabis thrives.
An irrigation system is crucial for cultivating cannabis in arid climates. Unless you want to spend all day watching a soil moisture meter, you need an irrigation system to dole out the exact right amount of water to help your plants survive and thrive. Drip irrigation systems work great for smaller home growing, and they don’t have to be exorbitantly expensive.
Select Your Cannabis Strain With Care
If you are willing to transform your home into a cannabis cultivation center, you might be able to make any type of cannabis grow. However, when you are trying to keep your energy costs low in a drought-affected environment, you need to prioritize pot strains that can survive in the heat and dryness. Some strains bred for drought conditions are finicky and not ideal for the beginner grower. Fortunately, there are a few strains that are both easy to find and easy to grow:
- Blueberry. A multiple-award-winning strain, this indica is beloved for its ability to eliminate stress and pain.
- Afghan Kush. Descending from some of the oldest cannabis genetics known, this strain produces huge nuggets smothered in resin.
- LSD. Reportedly, this strain causes psychedelic effects in users thanks to sky-high THC content.
- Jack Herer. One of the most famous sativas, this strain does well in outdoor gardens, even in arid environments.
- Critical Kush. This strain is one of the most tolerant of dry and hot climates, which is somewhat surprising given its potent indica effects.
Choose the Right Growing Medium and Supplements
It doesn’t matter whether you are growing flowers, vegetables or cannabis — the soil makes the plant. As important as sufficient sunlight and proper watering is healthy, nutritious soil, which will give your cannabis crop what it needs to grow tall and produce large, resinous buds. In hot, dry climates, substrate is even more important because it will work with you to keep your plants appropriately cool and moist. It might be wise to mix a few supplements into your soil to ensure that your cannabis crop is getting what it needs. Some ideal supplements for drought conditions include:
- Water-absorbent plastics. Polymers are small plastic beads that can help retain water in the soil around your crop’s roots, which is essential for keeping the crop hydrated in between waterings.
- Coco coir. Made from coconut husks, coco coir helps plants fight heat stress by soothing the roots of your cannabis plants.
- Various heat stress–fighting nutrients. Humic acid, silica and kelp extract are all useful nutrients to add to the soil to strengthen the cells against stress from heat and low humidity.
You might not live in the Eurasian Steppe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow a successful cannabis crop. As long as you are willing to invest in the right tools and devote a good amount of time to raising your reefer, you should be happy with your desert-grown pot.