Why All Your Smart Friends are Growing with Light Deprivation

Gardeners have been using greenhouses to protect their crops for thousands of years. Recently, growers have been using a technique called “light deprivation” that allows you to limit the photoperiod of your greenhouse to achieve multiple harvests per year. It combines the efficiency of indoor growing with the scale of outdoor greenhouse growing. Light deprivation, commonly called light dep, can also be used to grow through the winter months.

The science is super simple. Cannabis plants rely on sunlight to determine when to stop growing large and leafy and when to start making buds. This change occurs in nature as the summer solstice passes and the fall equinox approaches. The plants sense when the light moves from long summer days and short nights to equal length days and nights. With light deprivation, the grower uses blackout poly and supplemental lighting to trick the plants into thinking that it’s time to flower. Once the grower determines their plants are big enough, he or she switches the light cycle to mimic the flowering stage, allowing the grower to get in multiple harvests per year.

Indoor growers are used to boasting the highest quality product, but they often have to dish out huge amounts of cash for lighting, air conditioning, ventilation equipment, not to mention giant monthly power bills. Beyond the environmental impact from running grow lights, indoor growers lose out on the strength of the sun – which positively impacts growth rates and quality.  Experienced indoor growers are making the switch to light dep because it removes the constant expense of running all that equipment. Also, this may seem a bit obvious but, light dep greenhouses have more room for growing at a lower cost than most indoor setups. The cost of preparing a 30’ by 95’ indoor space would require huge amounts of light, ventilation and temperature control and could cost hundreds of thousands to build. In contrast, the same size greenhouse requires only basic ventilation and maybe some supplemental lighting to function properly. With far fewer startup costs and the same ability to produce multiple harvests, light dep greenhouses can out produce indoor growing in every way.

Most outdoor growers are able to produce large quantities of plants but are shackled to the existing sunlight provided each season. They must wait patiently for autumn for their plants to finish flowering and become ready for harvest. Outdoor growers also have to deal with more insects, heat stress risks, potential for frost damage and of course a lower overall quality harvest. Now outdoor growers are upgrading to a light deprivation system in droves because it allows them to guide their plants to harvest multiple times per year while offering protection from the elements and harmful pests. Changing the photoperiod of the plants breaks your dependence on the sun, letting you control the sunlight on your schedule.

Fully automated systems make light dep growing even easier. While many growers on a budget can get away with manual light deprivation (having multiple helpers pulling blackout tarps at exact times every single day), automated systems alleviate much of the headache and risks associated with manually pulling tarps. Using auto light dep technology, the blackout poly, exhaust fans, circulation fans, heaters and literally everything else you might need are controlled automatically. Growers can set their preferred light cycles and temperature controls, letting the automation do the heavy lifting. Those controllers can also be used to turn on supplemental light sources as well, for those days when the natural light just isn’t going to last long enough.

While growing is never as easy as it sounds for beginners, light deprivation has the biggest potential rewards with a smaller chance of problems. Choosing the right greenhouse and light deprivation system prevents typical issues like light leaks, environmental issues, and automation failure.  The technique is quickly becoming the most popular method for good reason. For serious growers, with some flat land, nothing makes more sense than growing with light deprivation.

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Author: HMJ Staff


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