With the popularity of crop steering, which manages plant growth by adjusting environmental factors and/or irrigation to encourage a crop's desired outcome, we thought we would examine the intended growth stages; vegetative and generative. Changing environmental conditions and irrigation allow growers to influence growth toward the desired growth stage. Let's examine the differences and the right time to direct growth towards a particular stage of the cannabis plant life cycle.
What Is The Vegetative Growth Stage?
Plants that flower go through different phases in their life cycle. The period of growth between germination and flowering is known as the vegetative phase of plant development. During the vegetative phase, plants are at the height of the photosynthesis process and accumulating resources needed for flowering and reproduction. Plants gather light and convert it into the foliage. During this vegetative stage, plants need for nitrogen is at its highest.
The vegetative stage can last for four to eight weeks depending on the strain, and sometimes even longer. You can tell when the vegetative stage ends when plants begin to bud, whether they have reached their full-grown size or because conditions have changed, triggering a change in how the plant focuses its energy.
Think of the vegetative growth stage as the foundation for the plant. The growth of shoots, stems, and leaves is needed to allow the plant to establish itself and create enough leaf area to carry out sufficient photosynthesis for flowering. It's also important for the plant to become strong enough to support the flowering weight, which is why this stage can not be rushed.
What Is The Generative Growth Stage?
When the plant has established itself, it begins the generative stage (also known as the flowering stage), and it begins to flower and bud. The plant's energy is directed toward reproduction. If a plant is overly generative, it may stop growing new leaves at the top, consequently slowing photosynthesis and new bud growth, moving it back into the vegetative growth stage.
Balancing the two stages is vital for healthy plants with a good yield of quality buds. We want the cannabis plant to stay clearly vegetative in its early stages and then generative in later stages. We do not want the plant to change the growth direction too soon or reverse from a generative to a vegetative state.
With the multiple growing strategies out there like crop steering, you can direct plant growth to fit your desired outcome. Understanding how these strategies affect commercial cultivation yields allows farmers to make informed decisions. Do your research; there's a lot of contradictory information out there. Above all else, test any new method on a small group of plants before rolling it out to your entire grow operation.