If you were a plant would you want to grow outdoors under the sun, moon and stars surrounded in sounds of chirping birds or would you rather grow indoors under artificial light listening to nothing but the hum of fans and ballasts all day long?
For us, outdoor cannabis has always been our favorite smoke and this is why.
Growing up in the Emerald Triangle we learned a lot about outdoor growing at an early age. Long before we knew how special the land was that we were living on, we did know our area was known for having the best weed. Smoking indoor was always a treat but there was nothing like growing a plant in the great outdoors and then enjoying the smooth clean smoke. Cultivating in a perfect climate for full sun growing we are able to produce flowers that can easily be mistaken as indoor grown, yet over the years outdoor has been overlooked and categorized as mid-grade or what some call ‘Backyard Boogie’. That is because the majority of outdoor isn’t being grown properly or being grown in the right environment.
There is a very small percentage of the world that can grow perfect outdoor cannabis. We would say only about 20% of all outdoor cannabis is considered to be “high grade”. Outdoor farming is an art; there are so many elements that are out of your control and in the hands of Mother Nature and skilled farmers are forced to adapt and work with whatever the year brings. In the hills of Northern California, deep in Mendocino County, this land has long been recognized as one the best regions to grow cannabis outdoors. The world has yet to see or taste what we consider to be the best ganja because they haven’t yet had the chance to. Like us and many other farmers we always have our personal stash that we just can’t let go. This is the stuff that people have been missing out on. What they have been used to seeing is most likely not grown organically, not trimmed properly and definitely not cured correctly. There are too many farmers that are growing for profits and not showing the necessary love needed to produce good quality cannabis.
What you put in is what you get out and we wouldn’t want people to smoke something we wouldn’t smoke ourselves. Pulling off a clean indoor run isn’t hard to do when your room is dialed in, but making it through a full season outdoors and coming out with the best of the best is what makes the difference. There is something about the plants interaction with nature that just seems to bring more life to the flower. Rooted straight into the ground, tapped in with the earth’s massive root web and feeling the cool breeze enables the plant to perform at its peak. Not only do we feel that plants grow better under the natural sun light, but being under the moon and stars brings a whole new element that indoor cannot replicate. If you have ever stood in the middle of an outdoor garden under a clear sky looking up at the stars then you have felt that energy.
Through testing we have learned some strains actually produce more cannabinoids when grown outdoors compared to indoors. For example our pheno of “Vanilla Kush” tested at 23.72% total active cannabinoids when grown inside but when grown outdoor the flower tested at 26.93%. This was a very cool thing to learn because over the years we sometimes felt like we got higher when smoking outdoor weed, and in this case we actually did. Some genetics are bred specifically to cater to indoor or outdoor grows. Our partner and good friend Mark at Greenshock Farms has created Award winning strains like “Tropical Sleigh Ride” and “Purple Candy Cane” that are made to handle the tough life of outdoor growing. These strains were even created outdoors and pollinated in the natural environment that they would soon be growing in. Tropical Sleigh Ride was the highest terpene tested strain at the 2017 Emerald Cup winning 1st place. Standing in the garden with Mark he broke down what he thought about indoor vs outdoor.
“I love all styles of growing from indoor, green house and full sun, but over my years of breeding and growing my personal preference is outdoor. It seems to have the smoothest taste, most potent effects and works the best for me”. Through experience you will find that not all strains perform well outside so it is necessary to search for what will work best in your environment. Just like grape vineyards the terroir is everything; so many factors come into play with growing outdoors. The climate that you are in, the elevation, the soil and surroundings all bring certain characteristics to the plant. Just a difference in elevation can change the cannabinoid profiles in a strain. Every year is a challenge but that is what makes it fun. Although it can be a headache when dealing with the extremely hot days and rainy endings this is what truly makes it all worth it in the end. If you are prepared for the weather and have strong genetics then you can make it through without any issues.
We have heard people say “I only smoke indoor, outdoor is bammer”. These are the people who haven’t got to enjoy that top 20% of outdoor grown cannabis. There have been many situations when people say our outdoor is so good looking they will turn around and label it as green house or even indoor when it finally reaches the shelf. Even some of the weed you might have smoked could have been outdoor from Mendocino but you just never knew. Farmers deserve respect for what they cultivate and when you are able to produce something better then indoor it should be recognized. Some people think indoor weed is and always will be better than outdoor. From the point of just looking at the flower you might think the same. Something about indoor grown weed just has that eye-catching look that makes you instantly assume it is the best, but that is not always the case. Some strains look amazing but I feel can lack the flavor that outdoor grown cannabis can produce. We definitely think that some strains perform much better indoors when grown to perfection. Genetics like OG Kush seem to always grow much better indoors, from the overall looks and taste it is a great strain for the indoor grower.
Now don’t get it twisted, we do love our indoor weed and always will. You always have to mix it up, not just between strains but also indoor and outdoor grown cannabis. We have seen the best of both worlds and also the worst.
Outdoor grows can go terribly wrong in a flash due to bugs or weather. With un-controllable storms you can lose entire plants from them breaking in the wind and rain or suffer from bud rot and mold. When the season goes smooth there is nothing like standing in a field of beautiful flowers under the blue sky. When indoor rooms go bad they can go at a rapid pace. Bugs can overtake a room in days if you are not keeping a close eye on things and if you happen to lose power, you’re in big trouble. Professional indoor rooms set up properly can be the best thing to have. Being able to fully control the climate you can grow at any time of the year and produce quality cannabis anywhere in the world. What makes outdoor so special is the connection with nature. The life that surrounds the plant and the environment all play a key role in how these plants feel and perform.
People always ask us if we could only smoke indoor or outdoor what would it be? We tell them outdoor and here is why. You can’t replicate the power of the sun. With the stars and moon shining through the night, outdoor plants are at home where they were meant to be. Testing has shown that outdoor grown cannabis is just as strong and sometimes even stronger than indoor. Terpenes are testing at an all-time high grown in the full sun and the flavor from quality outdoor is as smooth as it gets. Everyone has their preference of what they enjoy smoking but for us we will always favor the outdoor flowers.
This year we are filming a new documentary on full sun growing called “The Green Dope Project” airing early 2019. This video series will take you from start to finish through an entire season growing outdoor in the hills of Mendocino County. You can follow @mendodope and @greenshockfarms on Instagram for more on “The Green Dope Project”.
Originally published in Weed World magazine issue 137