Is outdoor grown cannabis really inferior to indoor grown?

Gelato Sorbet Breeder: DNA Genetics Photo: der Budler

While in 2016, a survey by the Cannabis Business Times showed, that around 80% of all producers also cultivated their plants indoors, this trend had already changed by 2020. Only around 60% of all companies surveyed were producing cannabis indoors and have also focused on cultivation in greenhouses or outdoors until 2020.
On one hand, this is understandable due to the lower costs and on the other hand, it also has a positive effect on CO2-emissions. In addition, various new products and target groups ensure that greater attention is paid to diversity when choosing a location for the grow. [1]

Erdbeerli Sweet Pink Grapefruit Breeder: Alpine Seeds Photo: der Budler

Growing with sunlight is easy on the planet and your wallet

The cost savings in outdoor growing, compared to indoors, are enormous, as you need much less electricity for lamps, air conditioning, ventilation and workers, but growing in greenhouses also is a more environment friendly and cost-effective alternative compared to indoor growing.
According to a survey by Marijuana Business Magazine, the cost of a pound of outdoor cannabis is about $200 to $300, while growing it in a well-equipped greenhouse costs $300 to $600 a pound. In comparison, a pound of indoor cannabis costs between $400 to $800, which shows how different the required resources are. (2)

The situation is similar in the area of ​​CO2 consumption. If you consider that between 143 and 324 pounds of CO2 are emitted for just under 30 grams of cannabis in the USA, a rethink or diversification of the various cultivation options, depending on the product, is very welcome. (3)

This is why it makes sense, to outsource parts of the production outdoors or into greenhouses.
In addition, the proportion of consumers who consciously choose outdoor and greenhouse cannabis is steadily growing.

When producing the raw material, it is important to consider how the flowers are to be processed later.
Production outdoors or in the greenhouse has proven to be the ideal method under many circumstances for concentrates of all kinds, which are offered as hash, rosin, drops or BHO. This is practically emphasized by the fact, that companies like Alienlabs produce their cannabis in greenhouses, to extract their rosin from it. Further companies, like The Great Gardener, also rely heavily on outdoor cultivation to produce their hash.

The trend towards increased cultivation under the sun can also be observed in Canada.
According to MJBizDaily, there were only 42 licenses for outdoor cultivation in 2019, while there were already around 120 licenses in 2020, which shows that there is growing interest in outsourcing at least some parts of the production, even if the majority of production still takes place indoors, which is also due to the fact that cannabis in flower form is consumed and sold more than concentrates or edibles.

However, there is always one problem with growing outdoors: You are completely exposed to the current moods of the weather, which makes the choice of genetics more complicated, but also all the more important. A fact, that is increasingly noticeable watching the established companies, which is why a large part of the funds for research and development flows into this area. (4)

The problems caused by weather, can be solved in various ways using modern greenhouse technology, in contrast to the limited possibilities of outdoor cultivation.
However, there are several genetics that yield good results only with the power of the sun. There are even US-breeders, who choose to develop their projects in greenhouses, which makes the genetics ideal for cultivation in the same environment or outdoors later. In addition to the genetics, the success, of course, always depends heavily on the year itself and above all on the respective autumn, which just shouldn't get too humid.
But there are also strains for more humid climates, that offer high resistance to mold and other unpleasant surprises, such as pests and extreme weather conditions.

A European seed bank where you will definitely find, what you are looking for, if what you are looking for are beautiful outdoor strains, is ACE Seeds. The company was founded around 15 years ago and specializes in the selection of land races, which are then appropriately crossed with one another or are offered in their pure form.
Landraces are generally comparatively stable, because they have reproduced themselves wildly over many generations, until they were safely brought to many different homes by growers from around the globe as seeds from the relevant regions, such as Nepal, the Hind Kush or the Rif. The portfolio includes a wide variety of treasures from all over the world and even a cross of swiss strains, that caused a stir in the 90s and 2000s.

ACE Seeds also offers a Lebanese landrace with the simple and unmistakable name "Lebanese", which, depending on the selection process, has a very low THC and relatively high CBD content, and was therefore used in Switzerland for the production of CBD-flowers and even served as the basis for new varieties.

I was able to examine two special varieties with a normal THC-content from ACE Seeds with my own eyes in recent years and was very impressed by the appearance of the two women. On one side there was the Nepal Jam and on the other side was the Violetta, both very pleasant varieties, that have a lot to offer in terms of yield and resistance, but also tastewise.

It starts with the Nepal Jam, here a landrace from Nepal was crossed with the Jamaican variety Jamaica85 and stabilized over several generations. This resulted in a sativa-dominant hybrid, which impresses with its short flowering time and resistance to mold and other inconveniences and is therefore also ideally suited for cooler climates.
Outdoors, this fine one will be ready at the end of September or beginning of October in central european latitudes.

The aroma of the Nepal Jam is classically spicy with terpenes, such as myrcene and pinene and offers musk aromas with a hint of spice that is reminiscent of exotic herbs.
The manufacturers also mention, that the strain is very suitable zo be processed into hash. With the Nepal Jam you can celebrate a journey back time in the flavors of bygone days and you will definitely not be disappointed.

Nepal Jam Breeder: ACE Seeds Photo: der Budler
Nepal Jam Breeder: ACE Seeds Photo: der Budler

Now it´s time to look at the good Violetta. For her a Malawi Purple mother was crossed with a Purple Chitral Kush and the Violetta was born. This is also a sativa-dominant hybrid, but it also has more than a good trace of indica in it.
The Violetta is also ideal for outdoor cultivation, which, according to the manufacturer, can cope with the flowering period in good time up to the 47th degree latitude.

Similar to the Nepal Jam, the optimal harvest time is to be expected between the end of September and the beginning of October.
Furthermore, the Violetta has a high resistance to powdery mildew, spider mites and mold, which is why it is ideal for outdoor and greenhouse projects. Between the Violettas, I saw two phenotypes, a green phenotype, which exuded spicy to earthy aromas and a purple pheno, which had Haze aromas paired with a sweet component.
In summary: A really versatile strain, that has different flavors and should satisfy pretty much every consumer.

Violetta Breeder: ACE Seeds Foto: der Budler

Of course, there are many other varieties, that achieve the best results outdoors or in the greenhouse, regardless of whether the companies come from Europe or the USA. Especially in the USA, new, very fine, well-balanced strains have been created, equipped with the best potential to win prizes worldwide, that also achieve top yields and stable results in our latitudes.
One of the companies from the USA that focuses on special strains with breathtaking terpene profiles that can also be processed well into hash or other concentrates is Aficionado.

Into the future with sunlight

Even, if the coming years will still bring a lot of indoor cannabis from the farms into the shelves, growing it in greenhouses or outdoors, has become a real alternative, which is also used by large companies, to reduce costs and protect the environment.

In particular, growing in greenhouses is becoming more and more popular and thanks to the latest technology, it can now proudly stand its ground to indoor growing, because growing in greenhouses has just become as easy to structure, as indoor production and quality has also become seriously comparable.

This makes greenhouses extremely interesting, especially in terms of process standardization, which is essential for the medical sector. Even companies, like Tilray, produce in greenhouses, their flowers are sold to the user as a finished product and have the GMP standard, which is essential for the production of phyto-medicinal products and requires a certain level of control of the various parameters, such as light , Temperature and humidity.

(1) Cannabis Business Times Indoors, Greenhouse or Outdoors: Where Are Cannabis Cultivators Growing?
(2) The great cultivation debate
(3) TED-Talk: Whats the carbon footprint of cannabis, surprisingly high
(4) Growth in Canadian outdoor cannabis grow licenses continues despite high profile exits