Big versus small yields


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That’s real talk. I was a cannabis plant mass murderer when I first started growing. I’ve found that doing very little has produced greater results. About all I’m interested in doing these days is some low stress training and a little bloom boosting. I do know what it’s like to wait for months or more for a yield that will last you two weeks.


I can honestly say that the weed that I grow is far more satisfying in terms of the psychoactive effect (elevation and duration) than most bud I buy. I recently had some Panama Red from a local dispensary that is an exception. It was right up there. I certainly prefer my own bud.

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My soil plants get no nutes. I only feed them compost teas that I make, but do have a very specific soil to dried hardwood mulch ratio that I use to ensure that there is enough organic material to feed the mycelium that colonizes the medium. I keep it all natural.

I also do hydroponic grows using DWC and use only compost tea mixed with worm castings as the medium. I’ve been done with spending money on nutes for a while. Trees grow in the cracks between buildings and asphalt parking lots. I’ve killed enough plants as I’ve complicated their lives with nutrients.


I didnt realize that the cannabis community is the niche really pushing the organic stuff. Because of that it seems to be a hard uphill battle. I had a conversation with my grandmother in law and she didn’t believe big box fertilizer was evil. Her response “well why do they sell it” lol. I’m literally just learning this stuff too but because of my background in science I believe it completely. My next batch of soil will be the most organic I can make it. Goal of water only


Thanks for the great topic Slingshot. Sorry for the essay but I had a lot to say about this one. I am sure everyone has strong positions about this. This is just what I have noticed and not the gospel. I have made a lot of observations about this and paying attention to the minute details is my curse. I am not saying anyone is wrong. This is just what I have noticed growing lots of plants over the years. Respect for all the growers :blush:.

To be fair, to even hypothesize a position of this topic, one must be scientific in analyzing the plants. You are NOT being scientific if this experiment is not carried out on sister clones. Sister seeds do not count, sister seeds have ridiculous variance.
For example, sisters:

I’m talking sister clones from the same exact cut. Then we do experiments, we put them in small pots, in big pots, and put them in the ground. If you did not work with sister clones it is bro science bro.:point_left:

Next, one has to ponder their own definition of quality. For me, quality is all about the terpenes. I love the taste. I don’t give a shit about THC. If I go to the dispensary I will pick the 17% thc that tests off the charts in terps. Don’t you dare show me that 30% thc strain unless the terps stink thru the jar.:scream_cat:
I do like THC, but terpene free weed to me is soulless. Is it bag appeal? No, not for me. Soulless weed can still look beautiful, don’t make up your mind until after the first date. (@BlackSheep I bet those buds smell great, who cares how they look. They look nice and dense to me.)

Anyway, I think the method grown is a more important factor to ponder first before thinking about the plant size. I think both answers are correct, bigger and smaller.

In pots the smaller plants definitely win by lots. They seem to have more terpenes and richer flavor. How do I measure my “seems to” statement? I wish I could afford to lab test my crops but I cannot. First, by how much my wife complains to me about the stink in the house after a night trimming in the garage. She absolutely detest everything about cannabis and never fails to let me know when she smells it. (I am banned from skunk and headband in the garden she says.) Sometimes when I’m trimming she says nothing. That one is no longer a keeper. But when she says what the hell are you doing out there our whole house fucking stinks. That’s how I know it’s a winner. The smaller ones in pots definitely get more complaints from my wife than the bigger plants growing in the same pot.
The second test: when you’re out a whole year how does it smell when I pop open that jar? If you only put up a couple of ounces, then you have to put aside a couple grams and wait a year. If you ever put away pounds, then you know what I mean. After a year, some of them lose all their funk skunk and sweet. And some of them just keep on ripping through the jar or tote loudly. That 1 gram off the small plant will outlast its 6oz sister that was bigger every time when grown in pots. It’s also important to mention that if you do this, you have to store it the same way. What I mean is don’t lock one up in an airtight mason jar, and shove the other one into a roll up baggie. That is not science.
I think MDbuds hit the nail on the head here…despite quoting slightly out of context. He was referring to raised beds, not pots.

Basically bigger plants deplete the soil faster than their smaller sisters when the roots are limited by a container. I always take late cuts off plants at the solstice and flower them out. Just for science and fun.:blush: They usually come in under 2feet when their big sisters (in pots) usually get around 6-7 feet. Those lil sisters are always my personal smoke because they always have way more flavor. (Don’t worry I have grown inside plenty. I just like sun grown better these days. Mainly because I feel better locking away carbon rather than burning it while I make my medicine. I made the same smeller-vation (observation) indoor too.)

To expand on this line of thought I often look to Bansai as an example. Bansai is all about ratio of foliage to roots. It is not about making super soils or salt feeds. Ratio of roots to foliage is the most important factor. If you are not increasing the root space then you must reduce the foliage to be in the correct ratio. Or else your Bansai will die. On potted cannabis top dressing organically, compost teas, nutrient salts, and even good old urine all help. But eventually growth (even in fabric air prune pots) pushes that ratio between roots and foliage to get so out of balance it affects the quality of the smoke. Yes, upsizing to bigger pots fixes this problem. But in my humble opinion you need 10-20gallon pots to make up the difference if you have a long veg. For max terps. Or otherwise, like Bansai, you have to get a little more aggressive with the Edward scissor hands. Honestly, you are way better indoor to flower after 2-3 sets of true leaves and be done quicker.

:speaking_head:I would humbly suggest this as a top tip to new growers. Try flipping to flower faster on smaller plants. 2-3 sets of true leaves. You will have less nutrient problems later in flower and I promise your smoke will be more flavorful. :star:

Even experienced growers with their routine dialed in for them. I still humbly suggest a quick flip smaller plant when running new genetics on a first date. Save that 6 or 8 weeks of veg and just flower 6 weeks quicker. Outdoor, you have to repot as she grows or you are robbing yourself of all the terpene and flavonoid production. Or start them later like at the solstice or week after. My real job is installing and maintaining custom aquariums. I used empty aquariums (for science) as pots and even in an 100gallon aquarium the roots reached the edges < 3 weeks. I think of it as a root window using old acrylic aquariums with bottom drains plumbed in. I did a 10g, 20g, 29g, 40g, 55g, 75g, and 100g. The 10 gallon took 3 day to have roots all over the windows. These were all sister clones rooted at the same time same size. It was eye opening to me :eyes:.
I think we all vastly underestimate the ability of cannabis to lay down new roots. I know I sure did myself.

This transitions nicely to the other method of growing: release the kraken. Release them in the ground. Cannabis in the ground grows big. These bigger plants in the ground are the exact inverse of small plants in the ground. Those lil solstice clones (for fun and science) when put in the ground get lost in its vastness. They don’t have enough time to grow all the roots they want to and just bud out weak sauce and flavorless. Those big ass sisters just become smell generators. In my opinion sun grown in the ground has the richest smell quality I value the most in my crops. Definitely not the same bag appeal, but I am not selling it so it is not a factor for me. I would put my sun grown in the ground against anyone’s indoor for flavor and terps in a blind taste test. You would have a hard time deciding.

Why do I grow outdoor in pots and in the ground? Because I only have room for 16 keepers in my raised beds. My wife values our family produce over my medicine. Strawberries are an excellent cover crop FYI. Everything else I pollen chuck in the winter green house, buy at banks, or am gratefully gifted gets tested in a 1g prove it pot. It must prove its place as a keeper. Meanwhile, I clone it and abuse it with the whips and chains. I am ruthless with selection. If it passes the test then next year the keeper clone makes the raised bed. Everything else gets bird feeder seed dumped or composted. Did I mention be ruthless at selection?

I am spoiled now with my raised beds that I have been working the soil with compost and char for 15 years. But I still do guerrilla growing with about 100 extra keeper clones every where I walk my dog. My dog is a spaz and can briskly trot for miles.

My belly has shrunk greatly thanks to her. I politely Johnny apple weed forest belts and public wild parks because in my brain it is fun to think of making a wet mold resistant Washington PNW landrace. Like in 100yrs or something. The point is the few I go back to are really quite amazing in the native soil only. Before my beds were dialed in I noticed this coorolation in just my native soil without amendments. Basically if you want to grow BIG & TASTY plants outdoor (my quality factor) put them in the ground and forget about the pots. Just my opinion. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers or crisp any leaves. Take it or leave it.

And of course, my final thoughts from the thread conversation. Mike, (Mrb53004) i can’t help but keep thinking about your post.

quote=“Mrb53004, post:12, topic:8419”]
…we are still in 110 plus at these times of year. I am still at 85°F during the day and my southern yad is still hitting th 90’s… My tent plants far outperform (potency, taste) my outdoor
About the high temperatures where are you live and that you find your indoor taste better than your outdoor consistently. I hypothesize that the higher temperatures have probably more to do with it than plant size or whether it’s in a pot.

That may be something to consider depending upon the heat factor where you live. Where I’m at near Seattle there’s usually just a handful of days we even hit the 90s. Were usually in upper 70s to lower 80s all summer long. Anyone whom has ever decarboxylated for edibles knows that high temps definitely evaporate off the terpenes and breaks down the flavonoids. It would be an interesting experiment to make an unvented heat dome over a big in the ground giant motherfucker and see what happens next summer. I’m real curious how mrb53004 notably higher temps affects the flavors…

Currdogg, you kind of blew my mind when you mentioned determinate versus indeterminate plants in the vegetable garden. I have never made that line of thought towards cannabis rudderalis and photo period Cannabis. I think you are absolutely right. The ruderallis is the ever bearing strawberries and the photoperiod is the June bearing. Or the Roma vs the beefsteak tomato. Brilliant connection I haven’t seen before… But I do think it’s more of a prohibition bred for small plants and odor free plants; the opposite of all the landrace traits and directions humanity has nudged them towards historically in the long run. We are still recovering from that today in my opinion. VS a true lack of domestication. It seems science keeps finding cannabis in all the cradles of civilization and it’s many religions. I also really enjoyed your explanation of powering up and watering down auto flower potency with the back crosses. Simple and makes sense. And I agree, the June bearing strawberries always taste sweeter and get bigger than the ever bearing ones. But it sure is nice to have strawberries all summer long too. :strawberry:

Lastly, slingshot, I love growing pumpkins. I do a neighborhood patch every year in my front for all the kids we know. It is so fun. I would love to grow a 200 pounder if you got a line on some seeds? So far the best I have done is 46lbs. I never selectively reduce to 1 pumpkin per vine so I think that’s my problem. Or the fact I pull my own seed and I need some bigger genetics. Ha image|668x500


@KinglyLife1 have you ever played around with biochar?

I have found mycelium engulfs char like it’s something special. It is a Hyphae hotel. Like in 3 weeks if you play in the soil. But lightly grows on and thru hardwood chips that I also play around with a lot in my raised beds. They don’t play with the wood chips until they have huegeled down a few years into smaller particles. Even the occasional fist size piece of char just gets wrapped in mycelium like an overstuffed carne asada burrito. It just seems they like the carbon in char better without the lignin,sugars, and cellulose.

Adding cardboard as well seems to really supercharge the mycelium in just a few weeks. I just lay it down like lasagna and lightly top dress it with a little of my soil. Especially off season or to turn in any cover crops or old spent dead plant pieces or root balls. It’s a great way to get rid of all those Amazon boxes that pile up (or paper grocery bags) and boost the carbon of your soil to feed your mycelium. It breaks down so quick if you lightly top dress it. If it dries out on top you will still see it next spring.


@Noddykitty yeah I love biochar myself. Fungi and bacteria love it because it not only bonds with cations (such as nitrogen in its positive form), but it also retains an appropriate amount of moisture to create an amazing environment for them. It’s also full of microscopic tunnels and caverns just perfect for bacteria and fungal hyphae to hide out in.


I try my best not to disturb soil. The only other substances added to my soil are barley and mycelium that has They are mixed in as I am setting a pot up. After a harvest, I clip the plants just far enough into the soil to cut the roots from the stem. These days, I keep my grow as simple as possible to replicate nature in small ways, and am glad because when I was using nutes, I was killing plants.


Eureka! I have found it! Yes, Watson, the elusive soil evangelical tribe. Notice how the soil evangelical tribe prays their meager worm casings will be blessed with the happy terpines of a satisfied weediety.

Sorry, folks. But this is what happens when you cross weed smoke and guerrilla growing in an atmosphere of felony condemnation.

Now corn, corn we understand. You can get a degree from Nebraska state in corn husking. You wanna grow a pineapple six ounces heavier with five more ounces of sugar? Honolulu got you.

But weed? Weed we all been praying at the church of snoop. Sumbitch knows how to smoke and pay people to grow the stuff. He ain’t gotta know about terpines and CBD and whatnot. He ain’t even gotta know which end of the lighter to hold onto. He got bic to fix that.

The rest of us just smoke too much and talk shit.

For the rest of us, a sixty year old who says your homegrown bud smells and looks amazing, “not like that processed shit we been buying before it was legal.”. When a hard charging youngster with about ten years on the pipe says “A, no A-+, gotta leave room for theoretical improvement.” Those are great moments, but they’re not science. Weediness is in fact godliness, but we ain’t gotta copy the priests and make shit up when we don’t understand. Check that. It’s fine to make shit up. Scientists make shit up all the time. They just TELL YOU THEYRE GUESSING, create it into experiments and figure it out. They ain’t guessing and calling it gospel.


All good information I take to heart. Still the question remains uncertain. Small plant in a pot that never runs out of nutrients is more potent. I can believe that. Big ass plant that never runs out of nutrients(much harder to accomplish organically) would be what then? Fire wood? Plant any one of those plants you care for at the base of a redwood in old growth forest and someone tell me the potential of that bush. Theoretical to me, I just started growing, heavy knowledge of science, however. @Northcountryguy very true, the real science is there for other plants. Sadly even then it’s very basic. I encourage every here to watch this video titled Joel Williams Making Compost Tea (YouTube) watch the whole thing like I did if your really listening. If anything this guy is saying is true we know nothing of your corn like you think. Or you pinapple relative to what we don’t know. All because of ignorant people who see control and money before the passion of real science. Your just talking sugar talk that farm boys can understand. No offense I grew up around country.


small / large plants - if size and depletion of nutes is an issue, thane a simple drip, dwc, hydro or even coco/peat substrates fed daily resolve that issue.
Terps…far more the important issue than THC. Smaller plants have less hidden bud space for UVB/IR to pump up the terps.
Lifetime experience - I have had much better highs / effects from terpenes than any thc count. The reason I went with Frankenstein to breed…LOW THC (probable the lowest of 90% of what is out there (like 12%) but one of the most a__kicking buds I have ever had the pleasure to have


@Mrb53004 great point! Adds more to my point as to how little we actually “know” to be true. How’s these bacteria, fungi, plant interact to create a truly unique expression of one self and environment. Having said all of that, its generally true that people who have been at it the longest have the most knowledge but understanding in terms of biochemistry is another.


I like your thinking. A caution however.
When we theorize about extreme cases, we often miss or illuminate previously missed variables.

A big plant that is haphazardly growing at the foot of the mighty oak or redwood might well end up compost after a frazzled attempt at survival, or it might do like the tomato plants I inadvertently planted over an old coal ash pile buried under topsoil. I got bushels of tomatoes that stayed green until the frost took them. Now I would know they were all kinds of nitrogen and lousy light, but I didn’t know it then, and wouldn’t know if even talking about it could cause a home invasion.

But I digress (because weed). I think a plant that is moderately stressed but has the resources to recover on its own has the best potential. No stress means weak reserves, sorry roots. Too much stress means diverted resources so maybe too little left for yield. But moderate stress can kick in hormone reactions and help improve yields in the context of plenty to draw from.

Fimed Plant may do real well if given resources to react to the insult, for example.


Wow!! I love this place. I would never have thought there could be so many viewpoints on the topic. But that is great. Just like all the cross-breeding that gave us Kick-Ass strains, we are seeing a cross-breed of ideas. I think that is what great garden are made of.
There is more here than I can aggregate at the moment and most of you are so far ahead of me that I’m struggling to follow. But follow I must.


Thanks @Noddykitty good info and love the way you put it out there. I’m finding I can come off a little aggressive in my phrase delivery. I can’t preach enough how much love I have for this plant. It blows my mind that we know so much and are just scratching the surface🥲


It’s not so hard to do really. I am all about the organics. One just builds up your soil in the off-season when fallow and load it up with all the organic nutrients. I think of it as feeding the soil life and not feeding the plants directly.

I didn’t go into how I make my compost, but it’s a mouthful. I will link it to the thread. I agree with you about compost tea. I love it. I make aerobic and anaerobic teas both. The aerobic make great foliar feeds. I particularly like to catch the drain drips (compost goo really) out of my 3 compost tumblers in a bucket. Bubble it overnight and foliar feed it. For anaerobic I like to pack weeds (blackberries, dandelions, comfrey, horsetails mainly) into a 5 gallon bucket. Float it with water. Top it with urine. Lid it. Then forget it for 3-4 weeks. It becomes stank goo. I then dilute it as I water it out, or even better pour it over the raised beds while it’s raining.

How I do my compost thread:
Dramatic size difference wow

I don’t think of them as firewood, just compost. But I have my chainsaws just incase😜. And lots of stinky good bud.


@Noddykitty Beautiful girls!! :heart_eyes: I honestly believe your naturalistic thoughts. If this science is right plants can never be limited in nutrients when “properly” colonized by bacteria and fungus. That’s why you plant a seed in the rainforest and give it full sun it would be uniquely special. Like you said genetic variance from the presence of the seed!!!:exploding_head: and if you took a clone from it and planted it in an old growth forest you would have completely different :fire: despite it even being the same genetics. The bacterial and fungal differences would completely alter the terpene profile. All this is in theory based on this new soil science. But think it through. Why is France know for grapes. Nicaragua cigars, coffee in Brazil, and Hawaii.


Damn! Just damn!!!

Do you ever get lost in that forest?

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I have never thought of myself as preaching a soil evangelical prayer to a (false god?) weediety. But that was some great writing that instantly set off a lot of imagery in my brain. Like robes, initiation, candles and a big 5footer bong. The weedilluminati or the dank masons. You could be a novelist. Especially when I start off my thoughts with literally saying this is not the gospel just what I have noticed and observed. Respect to all.

Sorry but I have to completely disagree with you. I may not be able to afford to officially confirm my science in the lab. I grow too many plants for that. But I do keep impeccable notes and make observations. As a matter fact I look at the entire world is a big chemistry problem. Chemistry is always first on my mind. My undergrad was an Organic chemist major with a minor in genetics. I even went back to school and got a degree in fish ecology because I love fish. The scientific method is definitely at use in my process. That said there’s definitely more than one method. Especially depending on where you live and the way you grow.

Also feedback from others is a power tool for testing results. I don’t want to get in trouble, but I definitely give away some serious poundage. Actually fluid ounces. 90% of my samplers want oil extracts and pass on the flower. Many, many different walks of life consume my products due to the eclectic group of people I meet with my job installing custom aquariums. I honestly have never charged a dime for anything I have grown. It just feels like bad karma to do that. I’ve also personally been consulted on local state legal dispensary grows. For my opinion on problems. I have some good college friends in the biz. I also personally been hit up for some of my genetics discreetly in the state run market. I breed every year for mold resistance.

Sorry, I don’t mean to get my panties in a bunch, but I can’t disagree with you more that I am NOT applying science to my method. And once again I never call what I do a gospel to pray to as a weediety. One of the things I like best about the plant is how many different ways there are to grow it.

Also my guerrilla grows are never ever ever used for harvest. I have never picked a single bud off one. They are purely about trying to grow a wild Landrace strain in my region and that makes me happy. More of a side note really, not my grow focus.