Growing Cannabis: 5 Tips for LED Growers
Jul 22, 2016
Categories : Cannabis cultivation
LED lights (light emitting diode) and their capabilities have made considerable leaps and bounds in recent years. So much so that they are now being considered as a viable alternative to your standard and somewhat ancient HPS (high-pressure sodium) grow set up. The benefits can be substantial; significantly less electricity and heat generation to name a few. Whilst the cost savings may have you taking note already, can they actually produce quality weed? The simple answer is “yes”, but need a different approach to your conventional grow set-ups.
We've compiled five top tips for any growers making the switch to LED lighting set-ups. We highly recommend having experience and knowledge in growing cannabis in a typical HPS/HID grow environment before making the switch. The knowledge and watch-outs gained from such experience will make the transition to LED's much smoother, knowing what to look out for and how to adjust things like mounting position and light cycles on the fly if your grow starts to run into difficulty. That's not to say they can't be used for the first time grower but knowledge is key!
#1 Additional Heat Source
That huge cost saving you're now experiencing as a result of switching, whilst great for the pocket does come at a trade off. Very little heat generation from LEDs means careful consideration is needed when placing and setting them up. You will need to increase and control the temperature in your grow environment through additional sources rather than using the lights themselves. It is also important to consider the mounting position as a means of managing temperature much like a typical HPS grow set-up.
While this may seem like a simple tip, it can often be overlooked. LED lights produce significantly less heat than their counterparts. Not only that but most LEDs don't produce any infrared light (IR) which can also dry out your plants and the surrounding soil. Due to this lack of heat, your plants will need much less water so make sure you observe how much you actually need to water them as a result.
#3 Mounting in the Right Position
Just like the need to manage temperature through mounting position, light coverage is equally important. It is all too easy to just plug some lights in and away we go. The key with the mounting position is maintaining a uniform light distribution that radiates deep into your grow. Mounting too high will increase the light coverage but reduce the intensity and vice versa. Most LED manufacturers will supply a mounting recommendation for the ideal middle ground. It's best to start with this and as your knowledge and experience grows to adjust the light coverage and intensity at different stages of the grow depending on your desired outcome.
#4 Specify Your Light Cycles
Light defines the growth cycle of your plants. Just like the great outdoors grows as a result of day and night cycles so will your cannabis plants. However by growing your chosen plants in a controlled environment we can manipulate these light cycles to reach desired outcomes. Grows set up in greenhouses can use blackout blinds to limit light exposure whilst an indoor grower can simply turn the lights off. Defining these cycles at different stages in your plant's growth can help accelerate or slow down the different states. An example of this would be increasing the light cycle during the vegetative cycle to aid the plants growth, whilst reducing the amount of light exposure during the flowering stage. Just like any normal grow set-up, growing with LEDs will require you to think carefully about the light cycles for your plants ensuring they are adjusted as the grow progresses.
#5 The More the Merrier
Thanks to LEDs spotlight ability you can target specific areas of your grow environment or even specific areas of your plants without the heat or excess light akin to HID's or HPS setups. However, your overall grow will be better served when you use a series of lights to create a uniform lighting situation. This allows you to overlap beams of light and ensure every part of your grow has the same light distribution and intensity. Just like all ventures into a new growing experience it is worth understanding how big your grow area and the subsequent plants will be. This way you can devise a light plan for the area you are growing to identify just how many LEDs you will need.