If you’re familiar with cannabis, chances are you’ve heard of the infamous 4/20 holiday. Maybe you’ve heard of its cousin, the concentrate celebration 7/10. But what’s Croptober? For those that don’t know what Croptober is, it’s a nickname for the outdoor cannabis harvesting season. Technically there is no exact start or end date to Croptober. For some outdoor growers with either fast-finishing strains or light-deprivation gardens, Croptober starts in September. But for most growers, Croptober typically occurs throughout the month of October. After months of meticulously tending to the grow, cultivators prepare to chop and trim the fully flowered cannabis plants.
Cannabis is an annual plant, meaning it grows from seed to maturity and dies in only one growing season. Unlike a tree that sheds its leaves and regrows each spring, cannabis flowers bloom only once. Outdoor grows rely on the sun’s natural cycles to develop female cannabis plants. As the hours of daylight get shorter in the fall, the plants switch from growing large stalks and leaves to producing flowers (buds).
This change occurs because the shortening days send a signal to the female plant saying, “We’re running out of time! Grow buds so we can produce offspring!” Grow operations then harvest the buds produced to bring us the cannabis we know and love.
Indoor operations have the ability to manipulate the light cycles and can shorten the length of time it requires to mature by turning the artificial lights off sooner than the sun’s natural cycle. As outdoor grows are at the mercy of Mother Nature, timing is everything. Cultivators typically start the growing process in spring, so the sun’s shortening cycle in fall aligns with the optimal harvest time.
Cannabis flowering facts
As legalization sweeps the nation, more adults can legally grow cannabis than ever. But most know little about how the bud makes it to their stash jar.
- Cannabis grows as an annual plant, growing from a single seed into a 15-foot-tall tree in the span of 10 months.
- The shortening days of summer’s end trigger the production of resinous flower buds.
- Unfertilized female cannabis plants are the most potent; buds can end up 30% THC, cannabis’ main active ingredient, by dry weight.
- The THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in the flowers come with a mix of aroma molecules called terpenes that shape the strain’s perceived effects.
- It’s a month of aromatherapy. The terpenes are healing, beneficial, and restorative to one’s spirit and soul.
There’s a relatively short time frame to harvest the cannabis buds before the plant starts to become less than desirable. During this peak harvest window, harvesters must chop all plants and prepare them for drying and trimming. With some of the larger outdoor grows spanning acres and acres of land, cutting hundreds of cannabis plants down can be a daunting task to accomplish in a short amount of time.
After the plants properly dry, it’s time to trim. Trimming teams work diligently to ensure the buds are ready for a cure and then sale. For outdoor grow operations that only harvest once a year, Croptober is one of the busiest and most critical times of the year. Their entire year’s work is dependent on the proper execution of the harvest.
Cannabis fans are rejoicing across North America this month, and it’s not just because they have the perfect Halloween costume.
But it’s more than just a social media hashtag. Just like wine, millions of pounds of buds have ripened in the fall fields. Farmers were up at dawn today cutting, drying, curing and trimming for the market. By Christmas, a cannabis bumper crop causes prices to collapse on store menus, and all our bowls runneth over.
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