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Some cannabis plants can succumb to drought conditions. As global temperatures continue rising, drought is a clear and present danger to many ganja farmers and will soon be for many more. Harden your cannabis garden or plantation now with our practical drought countermeasures.
Extreme weather and climate change have direct consequences for the cannabis cultivator. Wildfires are burning California in December; meanwhile, snow storms whip across Europe. Summer after summer, record-breaking high temperatures are increasingly grabbing the headlines. The ice caps are melting, deserts are expanding, CO₂ levels are at their highest since man set foot on the planet. Growing cannabis in drought conditions could potentially be the norm for many marijuana growers in the very near future. If it is not already.

What seeds you choose is the most important decision of your grow. The clever grower plans his or her outdoor grow thoroughly. If you know you are likely to encounter drought conditions during your outdoor grow, seed selection is incredibly important. Not all cannabis strains can tolerate drought conditions.

Polymers are highly water-absorbent plastics that are usually branded as water crystals or hydro-gel. The outdoor grower can use polymers to maintain a healthy root zone and keep plants alive during drought conditions if they have been blended with the soil mix. There are two readily available types of polymer that cannabis growers can and do make use of. Both are described below.

The polymer of choice for the outdoor grower cropping photoperiodic strains in the dirt are known as polyacrylamides. These have the potential to absorb approximately 300-400 times their own weight in water. Best of all, they take a long time to break down in the soil, usually five years or more. Guerrilla growers will often dig as deep a hole as they physically can and pack the base with pre-hydrated crystals before covering with soil. This effectively creates a huge reservoir of hundreds of litres of water or nutrient solution; it sits ready and waiting for the roots of large plants to tap into during the worst drought conditions.

To identify these polymers correctly at the garden centre, make sure the label clearly states the product is “safe” for food and/or agricultural use. If pressed by staff for a genuine-sounding reason for enquiring, you can say you need them for your ornamental cacti.

If you are growing autoflowering strains, then you can potentially use polyacrylates. These polymers are even more absorbent than polyacrylamides, sometimes double their potential, and even easier to get your hands on discreetly. Diapers or nappies rely upon polyacrylates to function, and if you cut them open with scissors, you can shake the crystals free.

The drawback with these polymers is after about four months, they will begin to break down into ammonia salts and later, nitrogen. Given most contemporary autos have a life cycle of 12 weeks or less, you can avoid tainting the flavour of the bud by harvesting before polymers degrade. Unfortunately, just when most photoperiodic strains are completing bloom is the last time you want nitrogen building up in the root zone. Although effectively confined to use by growers of autoflowering strains, just a cup full of polyacrylamides in the soil mix can be a tremendously effective and inexpensive drought countermeasure.

Drought conditions go hand in hand with high temperatures and intense sunshine. By creating a little artificial shade for plants using netting or similar material, you can keep your cannabis plants a little cooler. Take a trip to the local garden centre for a few bamboo sticks and a roll of garden netting. Straw bedding can also be used to prevent soil temperatures from getting too hot for the roots and drying out too rapidly.

Black plastic pots are a bad idea. If you must use plastic pots, use white-coloured pots so the roots are not completely cooked. Alternative containers to use in drought conditions are Air Pots or fabric pots. Many outdoor growers prefer these modern pots as they allow more air to reach the roots. Granted, using these containers will require more frequent watering, but that is to be expected in drought conditions. The best containers are the kind you can pick up and move easily. Growing plants in pots has the advantage of mobility. The grower can simply move plants into the shade when it gets too hot.
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