How Much Weed Can You Really Produce Per Plant?
Wondering how much weed you can produce per cannabis plant? Here’s everything you need to know about the variables affecting your yield.
Cannabis growers love to boast about huge harvests, but just how much weed can inexperienced growers expect to harvest from a single plant? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at cannabis yield and what influences it, and much more.
- 1. Light and nutrients
- 2. Genetics
- 3. Medium
- 4. Indoor VS outdoor
- 5. Skill
- 6. How to estimate yield
- 7. How to improve your cannabis yield: quick tips
- 1. Light and nutrients
- 2. Genetics
- 3. Medium
- 4. Indoor VS outdoor
- 5. Skill
- 6. How to estimate yield
- 7. How to improve your cannabis yield: quick tips
YIELDS VARY… A LOT
If there’s one thing that’s certain about growing cannabis, it’s this: results vary. A lot. There are many different variables that affect your plants, their health, growth, and the amount of flower they produce. And frankly, trying to guess the size of your yield before harvest is really difficult.
Most rookie growers estimate their yield based on the height of their plants. And that makes sense—at least in theory. Unfortunately, plant size isn’t a very accurate indicator of final yield. In fact, it’s really hard to estimate the size of your yield just by looking at a single aspect of your plant (like height, for example).
Cannabis buds develop on what growers refer to as “bud sites”. These are the spots on branches where pre-flower structures form roughly 4–6 weeks into a plant’s life cycle. Once a plant enters its flowering phase, it stops dedicating its energy to developing foliage, instead focusing on producing healthy buds on these sites. How big and dense these buds become depends on a lot of different variables, including light, nutrients, genetics, substrate, and more. The size of a plant, on the other hand, says little about how many bud sites it will develop, or how big/dense its buds will be come harvest.
LIGHT AND NUTRIENTS
Light is arguably one of the most important factors affecting your yield. To maximise output, you should maximise light exposure to your plant early on by using training techniques to manipulate growth. One popular training technique is low stress training (LST), which involves bending and tying down branches to optimise light exposure and encourage a more horizontal structure. The screen of green (ScrOG) method takes this further, situating a mesh screen over plants, upon which new growth is woven in an effort to boost final yield. There are many more techniques where these came from, including high-stress tek like topping (in which the main growing tip is cut off) and defoliation, to name just a couple.
Nutrients are also really important, and you’ll want to make sure your plants always have access to the macronutrients and micronutrients they need at each stage of growth. When it comes to nutes, your plants require different ratios depending on their phase. During veg, plants require higher levels of nitrogen, whereas flowering plants require more potassium, phosphorus, and micronutrients like calcium and magnesium. In addition to the nutrients themselves, plants need to be able to uptake these nutrients to develop huge hauls of big buds. In order to do so, the pH level has to be dialled in for the type of grow you’re conducting.
Arguably the most crucial factor that determines final yield are genetics. And just like there are some strains that taste better than others, there are also those that produce better harvests than others.
Remember that cannabis strains have been bred to meet the demands of growers and consumers. And with yield being so important, there are countless strains out there that have been purposefully bred to produce numerous bud sites and develop bigger, heavier flowers. Make sure to check out some of our XL strains if you’re looking to really rake in the buds.
There are many different grow media out there, and they all have different effects on the overall yield of your plants.
While soil is easily the most common medium used to grow cannabis, hydroponic media like perlite or coco coir give growers a lot more control over the nutrient intake of their plants. And while that kind of control may be overwhelming for rookie growers, experienced growers can use it to really push their plants to the next level and produce massive yields.
INDOOR VS OUTDOOR
Whether you grow indoors or outdoors will have a big impact on your plants.
Indoor growers generally have less space to work with, which means they’ll usually grow fewer, smaller plants than someone growing outdoors. However, indoor growers also have much more control over their plants’ environment. Hence, they can play around with things like lighting, temperature, and humidity to fine-tune their growing conditions and optimise yield.
Outdoor growers, on the other hand, usually have much more space to work with than indoor growers, meaning they’ll be able to grow more plants in a single season than indoor growers. Plus, outdoor growers also have the benefit of growing under the best possible light source in the world—the sun. However, outdoor growers don’t have the same level of control over their environment, meaning their yield is subject to the season, which, depending on where you live, may be unpredictable.
This is another important factor that affects your overall yield. The more fine-tuned your skills, the more control you have over your plants. And the more control you have over your plants, the better your yield.
HOW TO ESTIMATE YIELD
While yields vary a lot, there are some ways you can get at least a rough estimate of how much weed you’ll produce.
ESTIMATING YIELD BASED ON POT SIZE
Remember that cannabis plants will only grow as large as their pots allow them to. And while size is, as we saw earlier, far from the perfect indicator of how much you’ll harvest, it can help you get a ballpark estimate of what your harvests will look like.
Ideally, you’ll want to grow in at least 18-litre pots. With this amount of soil, some decent nutrients, and some light pruning/training, you should be able to grow large, healthy plants that reach at least 90cm in height. Given they get a full 4–5 weeks of vegetative growth and solid lighting that penetrates right through to the lowest bud sites, plants of this size should be able to produce at least 100g of dry bud per plant.
ESTIMATING YIELD BASED ON LIGHTING
Some growers choose to estimate their yield based on the strength of their lamps. And while this is far from an exact science, it can be a bit more accurate than calculating your yield per plant, especially if you choose to grow multiple smaller plants, rather than just a few larger ones.
If you’re growing indoors and have at least a few harvests under your belt, you can expect to harvest roughly one gram for every watt of light. If you’re a newbie grower with little-to-no experience, expect yields of around 0.5g per watt.
GO HYDRO FOR BIGGER YIELDS
Growing hydroponically gives you a lot more control over how your plants feed. With the right equipment and experience, this can greatly improve the size and quality of your yield. Experienced hydro growers, for example, can encourage yields of up to 1.2g per watt of lighting. By this logic—and using a 600W lamp—a good hydro grower can harvest over 700 grams of bud (genetics depending)!
A NOTE ON DRY VS WET YIELD
Remember, the weight of your buds will drop dramatically after drying and curing. So don’t get too excited when you weigh your buds right after trimming. Instead, multiply your wet yield by 0.25 to get a rough estimate of how much dry bud you’ll end up with.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CANNABIS YIELD: QUICK TIPS FOR GROWERS
Growing cannabis can be challenging, but there are plenty of things you can do to improve your yield as a novice grower. These include:
• Start with the right genetics. Professionally bred strains will always produce better yields than bagseed.
• Read up on training techniques. Training your plants to grow a certain way maximises their exposure to light, which will ultimately improve your yield.
• Know your nutrients. Use the info on our blog to learn more about how to use nutrients to really maximise your plants’ potential.
• Experiment. Don’t be scared to try new grow techniques and push yourself as a grower.
• Go hydro! Once you’ve got a few harvests under your belt, consider immersing yourself in the world of hydroponics, where you’ll have even more control over your plants and their growth.
• Keep growing! The more experience you have, the better you’ll get. Hence, make sure you grow consistently to hone your skills and become evermore in tune with cannabis.
Cannabis yields vary. A lot. Click here to learn more about the factors affecting your yield, and some simple tips for heavier harvests.
How Many Cannabis Plants Should I Grow? (For the Biggest/Fastest Yields)
Should you grow just one cannabis plant or many to maximize your yields? What’s the best number of plants to grow considering your grow light and the size of your grow space?
What’s the best number of plants to grow?
There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to the best number of marijuana plants to grow in an indoor setup. I’ll walk you through the benefits of growing just one plant vs the benefits of growing many, and then give you some real-life examples with specific setups. That way you get the information you need to make the best decision for your garden
One or Many Cannabis Plants: Costs vs Benefits
Growing Just 1-2 Cannabis Plants at a Time
- Easier – Fewer plants make it easy to pay attention to each individual plant and it’s often easier to reach all the plants.
- Much Simpler – You won’t need to compromise as much between plants with different needs.
- Less Time Daily – Spend less time on a daily basis caring for plants (making nutrient water, watering, training plants, etc).
- May Be Only Legal Choice – Many growers live in an area with a limit on the number of plants they can grow (for example in Canada you are only allowed to grow 4 plants at a time, and each legal US state has different growing rules). These growers don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to how many plants to grow.
- Less Variety – You’ll only be able to grow one or two strains, instead of many strains at once.
- Fewer (or Smaller) Harvests – Yield is based on how well you fill the grow space with plants before they start flowering. With just one or two plants, it takes extra time for each plant to fully spread out in the vegetative stage so you achieve the best yields. This results in fewer harvests a year. Alternatively, if the grow space has empty spots during the flowering stage you’ll end up with smaller yields.
Should you grow just one or two plants at a time and let them get big?
It took 8 weeks in the vegetative stage to train the plant to grow this way. Yet it was a joy to focus on just one plant and get to form a relationship with it.
In the flowering stage, the plant rewarded the effort with buds that filled the space where the plant was trained
Growing Many Cannabis Plants at a Time
- Faster Harvests – Especially in a large grow space, several plants can fill the space faster during the vegetative stage than just one or two plants. This allows the grower to switch to the flowering stage sooner.
- Max Yield for the Time and Electricity – A shorter grow period results in extra harvests. If you are looking to get the biggest yield in the shortest amount of time (maximizing your yield for the electricity), this is an effective strategy.
- More Variety – With a higher number of plants, you’ll have the ability to grow a greater variety of strains at the same time.
- More Daily Care – You will usually spend more time on a daily basis tending your plants, and it’s often more difficult to reach the plants in the back.
- Different Plants Have Different Needs – Each plant prefers slightly different levels of nutrients, light intensity, etc. The differences can be especially stark when growing many different strains at once.
- More Difficult to Train – Training plants to grow wide and flat results in the best yields, but it can be more difficult to train multiple plants. Some plants grow much taller/faster than others, and you have work around all the other plants. To simplify things, some growers avoid any training when growing many plants at once.
- May Be Illegal Where You Live – It may be against the law to grow a large number of plants even if growing is legal where you live.
Should you grow many plants so they fill your grow space faster?
It only took 6 weeks for those plants to completely fill up this grow space. Imagine how long it would have taken for one plant to grow this big!
No Matter How Many Plants You Grow…
- Similar Yields Per Square Foot – Cannabis yields are based mostly on the size/shape of the canopy in relation to your grow light, not the number of plants. Filling the total surface area of plants under the light with bud sites is what matters, and it doesn’t really matter if you use one plant or many to fill the space before flipping to the flowering stage.
That means even if you can only grow a few plants at a time, you can still get the same yields in your grow space as someone who can grow more plants! It just might take a little bit longer in the vegetative stage.
It doesn’t matter whether this canopy was created by one plant or many. However you got here, your yields will be about the same as long as everything else is equal!
Growing Many Plants Shortens the Vegetative Stage But Doesn’t Necessarily Increase Yields
When it comes to getting the best yields as fast as possible, you will often have better luck growing several plants than just one or two. This is because it takes several plants less time to completely fill up a space than it would take one plant to fill up that same space.
However, time might not be the main concern. Many growers don’t mind an extra few weeks in the vegetative stage if it makes the growing process easier and more fun.
But in the end, the actual yields will be about the same as long as the space does get filled. Given the same total number of colas and size of plants, it won’t matter much if you have one plant or twenty as far as yields are concerned.
What’s the “Optimal” Number of Cannabis Plants?
If you can legally grow as many marijuana plants as you want and are willing to put in the extra time and effort to grow as many plants as necessary, what’s the best number of plants to grow?
Each plant should get plenty of direct light and at least a foot or two of space to itself
The optimum number of plants depends mostly the size of the area under the grow light. A plant generally should get at least a foot of space to itself to really be able to grow and spread out, and it’s often better to give plants a little more space, especially if you have powerful grow lights like HPS or LEDs!
Suggestions for Example Grow Spaces
2’x2′ Space – 1-4 Plants
2’x4′ Space – 1-6 Plants
3’x3′ Space – 1-6 Plants
4’x4′ Space – 2-9 Plants
These suggestions definitely aren’t set in stone, but they serve to give you general starting guidelines. It is possible to grow more plants in these spaces successfully, but with more plants, you will often start running into difficulty being able to reach the plants in the back and care for them properly. Sometimes it’s more of a pain than it’s worth.
These two plants fill this entire 4’x4′ space, but you could get the same amount of canopy coverage with many smaller plants. It’s up to you to decide how you want to fill your space
Keep in Mind! Your yields are limited by the size of your grow light, not the number of plants. Light is like food for your plants and has a direct correlation with yields. The more plants you grow, the less each individual plant will get as far as light. Think of your grow light like a pie, with each additional plant getting a smaller slice to eat every day.
It’s tempting to grow a lot of plants, but you don’t want to spread your light out too thin! If you grow too many plants you might get less than an ounce per plant, and your buds will be airy and light!
Your yields are ultimately limited by the size of your grow light, regardless of how many plants you grow.
All of the following grows took place in a 2’x4’x6′ tent and produced a comparable amount of weed
3 plants (5-gallon pots)
4 plants (3-gallon pots)
7 plants (2-gallon pots)
It can be hard deciding what number of plants to grow in your space, but ultimately the best thing you can do is to pick a number and dive right in to growing. I believe in listening to your gut. When in doubt, always start with more plants than you need so you have the option of ditching any plant that doesn’t germinate, grows poorly, or ends up being a male or hermie.
Always start with more plants than you need, just in case! But remember, you may have to throw some of them away…
Each grower has a different style, and as you get more experience, you’ll be able to dial in your grow to what’s best for you and your setup.
Many growers find it more relaxing and enjoyable to grow just a few plants (or even just one). On the other hand, growing many plants at a time produces more strains, more often. The right choice depends on you and your needs.
So unfortunately I can’t give you a “best” number to end all numbers, but I hope you now have a better idea of how many plants to grow in your space!
Beginner Shopping List (What You Need to Start Growing)
How Many Cannabis Plants Should I Grow? (For the Biggest/Fastest Yields) Should you grow just one cannabis plant or many to maximize your yields? What’s the best number of plants to grow