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Marijuana growing climate
September 25, 2020
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As you contemplate growing marijuana, one of the most important decisions – choosing your preferred strain – should be made. Indoors, that is likely not a concern as you have absolute control over the growing environment. But outdoors, you are at the mercy of the climate. Instead of thinking about that as a disadvantage, you can turn it into a positive one. Know the climatic conditions, pick the right seeds, and you should be on your way to successful cultivation and bountiful harvest of aromatic and potent buds.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of choosing the seeds, there are a few things to discuss. It is essential to understand climate zones and the nature of marijuana species (concerning their ideal growing conditions).

I. Climate Classification Systems (H2)

Quite certainly, the first thing you need to understand is the climate. But that is easier said than done – if you are to determine which classification system to follow. For simplicity, we pick the two most commonly used – USDA Hardiness Zone and Köppen Climate Classification.

USDA Hardiness Zone

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) classified the country and its territories into 13 zones encompassing a range of climatic conditions. It is meant to be a rough guide for plant cultivation and has since been adopted by other countries to suit their climates.

The hardiness zone refers to the USDA scale, which defines the minimum temperature plants can withstand.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service has an interactive GIS-based map that lets you zoom in on state levels.

On the surface, it appears that using the USDA hardiness zone map is more than good enough to determine the suitability of a marijuana strain. However, it does not take into account other factors that affect the growing conditions.

For example, the USDA map puts Albuquerque in New Mexico, and New York City in New York, in Zone 7. In the European equivalent, Reykjavik in Iceland, Berlin in Germany, and Stockholm in Sweden are also in the same zone. These cities, though, have vastly different atmospheric conditions. In particular, their average temperatures, precipitation, and length of daylight are not the same.

That is not to say that the USDA hardiness zones are not useful. It is, but only as a rough guide.

Köppen Climate Classification

At the end of the 19th century, Wladimir Köppen – a German botanist and climatologist – classified the world into five distinct climate zones. It considers the two critical factors of climate – temperature and precipitation – both of which are intricately linked.

The Köppen Climate Classification System mostly uses the temperature of a region as a criterion. Zone B, on the other hand, is an exemption, focusing more on aridity.

  • Zone A: Tropical climate or equatorial zone (represented by blue colors)
    • Group Af: Tropical rainforest climate; the average precipitation every month is 60 mm (2.4 in)
    • Group Am: Tropical monsoon climate; the driest month has less than 60 mm (2.4 in) precipitation
    • Group Aw/As: Tropical wet and dry or savanna climate; the driest month has less than 60 mm (2.4 in) precipitation
      • Subgroup Aw: Tropical savanna climate with dry-winter characteristics
      • Subgroup As: Tropical savanna climate with dry-summer characteristics
  • Zone B: Arid or dry climate (represented by red, pink, and orange colors)
    • Group BW: Arid climate; “h” denotes the coldest month has an average temperature above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F). “k” denotes at least one month’s average temperature is below 0°C or -3°C (27°F).
      • Subgroup BWh: Hot desert climate
      • Subgroup BWk: Cold desert climate
    • Group BS: Semi-arid (steppe) climate; “h” denotes the coldest month has an average temperature above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F). “k” denotes at least one month’s average temperature is below 0°C or -3°C (27°F).
      • Subgroup BSh: Hot semi-arid climate
      • Subgroup BSk: Cold semi-arid climate
  • Zone C: Warm/mild temperate (represented by green colors)
    • Group Csa: Hot-summer Mediterranean climate; coldest month average above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), at least 1 month average temperature above 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 3 wettest months have 3 times as much precipitation, while the 3 driest months receive less than 30 mm (1.2 inches).
    • Group Csb: Warm-summer Mediterranean climate; coldest month average above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), all months average temperature below 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 3 wettest months have 3 times as much precipitation, while the 3 driest months receive less than 30 mm (1.2 inches).
    • Group Csc: Cold-summer Mediterranean climate; coldest month average above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), 1-3 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 3 wettest months have 3 times as much precipitation, while the 3 driest months receive less than 30 mm (1.2 inches).
    • Group Cwa: Monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate; coldest month average above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), at least 1 month average temperature above 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 6 warmest months have 70% or more average annual precipitation.
    • Group Cwb: Subtropical highland climate or monsoon-influenced temperate oceanic climate; coldest month average above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), all months average temperature below 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 6 warmest months have 70% or more average annual precipitation.
    • Group Cwc: Cold subtropical highland climate or monsoon-influenced subpolar oceanic climate; coldest month average above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), 1-3 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 6 warmest months have 70% or more average annual precipitation.
    • Group Cfa: Humid subtropical climate; coldest month average above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), at least 1 month average temperature above 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F).
    • Group Cfb: Temperate oceanic climate; coldest month average above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), all months average temperature below 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F).
    • Group Cfc: Subpolar oceanic climate; coldest month average above 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), 1-3 months average above 10°C (50°F).
  • Zone D: Continental zone (represented by purple, violet, and light blue colors)
    • Group Dsa: Mediterranean-influenced hot-summer humid continental climate; coldest month average below 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), warmest month average temperature above 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 3 wettest months have 3 times as much precipitation, while the 3 driest months receive less than 30 mm (1.2 inches).
    • Group Dsb: Mediterranean-influenced warm-summer humid continental climate; coldest month average below 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), warmest month average temperature above 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 3 wettest months have 3 times as much precipitation, while the 3 driest months receive less than 30 mm (1.2 inches).
    • Group Dsc: Mediterranean-influenced subarctic climate; coldest month average below 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), 1-3 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 3 wettest months have 3 times as much precipitation, while the 3 driest months receive less than 30 mm (1.2 inches).
    • Group Dsd: Mediterranean-influenced extremely cold subarctic climate; coldest month average below -38°C (-36.4°F), 1-3 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 3 wettest months have 3 times as much precipitation, while the 3 driest months receive less than 30 mm (1.2 inches).
    • Group Dwa: Monsoon-influenced hot-summer humid continental climate; coldest month average below 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), at least 1 month average temperature above 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 6 warmest months have 70% or more average annual precipitation.
    • Group GDwb: Monsoon-influenced warm-summer humid continental climate; coldest month averaging below 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), all months average temperature below 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 6 warmest months have 70% or more average annual precipitation.
    • Group Dwc: Monsoon-influenced subarctic climate; coldest month average below 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), 1-3 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 6 warmest months have 70% or more average annual precipitation.
    • Group Dwd: Monsoon-influenced extremely cold subarctic climate; coldest month average below -38°C (-36.4°F), 1-3 months average above 10°C (50°F). The 6 warmest months have 70% or more average annual precipitation.
    • Group Dfa: Hot-summer humid continental climate; coldest month averaging below -0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27 °F), at least 1 month average temperature above 22°C (71.6°F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F).
    • Group Dfb: Warm-summer humid continental climate; coldest month average below -0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), all months average temperature below 22°C (71.6 °F), at least 4 months average above 10°C (50°F).
    • Group Dfc: Subarctic; coldest month average below 0°C (32°F) or -3°C (27°F), 1-3 months average above 10°C (50°F).
    • Group Dfd: Extremely cold subarctic climate; coldest month average below -38°C (-36.4°F), 1-3 months average above 10°C (50°F).
  • Zone E: Polar (represented by gray colors)
    • Group ET: Tundra climate; warmest months average temperature 0°C (32°F) and 10°C (50°F)
    • Group: EF: Icecap climate; all 12 months average temperature below 0°C (32°F)

Compared to the USDA Hardiness Zone, the Köppen Climate Classification system is far superior because it considers average temperature, length of the day, precipitation, and even altitude. Since its inception, it has undergone changes and updates. Nonetheless, expect some discrepancies as specific places may have unique geological features.

II. Marijuana Species

Indica strains produce a physically relaxing buzz. Sativa, on the other hand, delivers a euphoric cerebral high. These are the two species anyone who has had interests in marijuana for whatever reasons should know. But there is a third species – Ruderalis.

Before determining which strains you can grow based on your climate, let’s go through the basics of these species and discuss hybrids a little bit.

Indica Strains

Cannabis indica mostly originated from the highlands of Kashmir, Morocco, Afghanistan, and Tibet. One thing common between these places is that the climate is relatively cold. These plants adapted to their natural environment where it can be breezy, which is why they are short and bushy. Moisture is not a concern, so they developed broad dark leaves to maximize sunshine absorption without worrying about evapotranspiration.

Compared to Sativa, Indica strains flowering period is much quicker at around 7 to 9 weeks, avoiding extreme colds as the growing season comes to an end.

Sativa Strains

Cannabis sativa strains are the big brothers of Indica. They are taller, with some strains reaching 12 feet or more. Most of these species originated from warm regions – Southeast Asia, Central America, and South America. Because these places do not have winter seasons, these plants adapted to have long flowering periods with some strains reaching 16 weeks.

Sunshine is plentiful. Hence, instead of developing broad leaves, theirs are slim and have a lighter shade of green. That helps them prevent more moisture from being released, keeping them hydrated.

Ruderalis Strains

Not many people have heard of Cannabis ruderalis. They do not produce much THC, rendering them useless for most consumers. However, for breeders, these plants are the reasons why they were able to create auto-flowering seeds.

These are short plants (shorter than Indica) that are acclimatized to Central Asia and Russia’s cold weather and harsh conditions. Because of low light conditions, they stopped relying on light cycles by flowering automatically after a short vegetative period. Moreover, they reach full maturity around the same time that it takes Indica strains to complete the bloom stage.

Hybrid Strains

Both Indica and Sativa strains have their pros and cons – not only in effects but also in growth patterns. Since decades ago, breeders have learned to cross these two species to create new strains called hybrids. They have plenty of reasons to do so – and that is not only to make designer strains, something they could call their own.

One of the benefits of crossbreeding is to take away weaknesses or enhance particular traits. For example, Sativa strains have long flowering periods that can test your patience. By crossing with an Indica strain, breeders could develop Sativa strains with short flowering periods, much like an Indica.

Recent years have also seen the rising popularity of auto-flowering strains. These plants have, indeed, come a long way from the earlier experiments that produced mediocre hybrids. Modern autos not only have rapid growth cycles but they are also more potent and aromatic.

Essentially, creating hybrids is to take the best traits of two or more strains, combining them into a new subspecies. Practically all marijuana seeds you buy today are hybrids.

III. Choosing the Best Seeds for Your Climate

So, which strain do you want to grow? Actually, choosing a suitable candidate becomes easy when you know your location’s climatic conditions and limiting your search to seeds that thrive in such an environment.

Tropical Monsoon Climate

These are places that are on or near the equatorial line. There are only two seasons – wet and dry. Throughout the year, the temperature is warm and does not vary much. Already, a significant advantage you have is that there is no need to deal with the winter season and frost. It means that the growing season is longer too. Sure, you can grow Indica plants. But with all the time you have, try these Sativa strains instead.

  • Purple Thai Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 20-24%
  • Flowering Time: 11-13 weeks; Late October to early November
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Chatty and cerebral
  • Medical: Fatigue and stress
  • Super Silver Haze Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 18%
  • Flowering Time: 10-12 weeks; Mid-October
  • Yield: Medium to heavy
  • Effects: Uplifting and euphoric
  • Medical: Fatigue and stress
  • Orange Skunk Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 16-20%
  • Flowering Time: 8-10 weeks; Early to late October
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Focused and creative
  • Medical: Arthritis and stress

Mediterranean Climate

Compared to the tropical monsoon climate, the Mediterranean has a lower temperature. Summer is warm and sees little rain, but winter is wet – cold, not snowy. Some places may be foggy, others may see frost. You have plenty of options if you live in an area like this.

  • Blue Dream Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 17-24%
  • Flowering Time: 7-9 weeks; October
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Happy and relaxing
  • Medical: Stress and depression
  • Jack Herer Autoflower
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 24%
  • Flowering Time: 10-12 weeks
  • Yield: Low-Medium
  • Effects: Expansive and creative
  • Medical: Depression and stress
  • AK-47 Autoflower
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 13-20%
  • Flowering Time: 6-8 weeks
  • Yield: Medium
  • Effects: Happy and relaxing
  • Medical: Pain and stress

Humid Subtropical Climate

These are the places with warm to hot and humid summers. Occasionally, there would be thunderstorms. Winters are wet but should not dip below freezing point. Your best choices are strains that can tolerate higher-than-average moisture in the air.

  • Sour Diesel Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 22%
  • Flowering Time: 9-10 weeks; Early November
  • Yield: Medium to heavy
  • Effects: Uplifting and happy
  • Medical: Depression and stress
  • Amnesia Haze Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 22%
  • Flowering Time: 9-10 weeks; Early October
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Energizing and psychedelic
  • Medical: Depression and fatigue
  • Durban Poison Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 17%
  • Flowering Time: 7-9 weeks; Late September
  • Yield: Medium
  • Effects: Energizing and uplifting
  • Medical: Depression and stress

Arid and Semiarid Climate

Under such environments, it can be challenging to grow marijuana. But that is the beauty of science and ingenuity of breeders. We have strains that thrive even in arid conditions.

  • Blueberry
  • Genotype: Indica hybrid
  • THC: 15-24%
  • Flowering Time: 8-9 weeks; Mid October
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Relaxing and euphoric
  • Medical: Tension and stress
  • Afghan Kush Feminized
  • Genotype: Indica hybrid
  • THC: 17%
  • Flowering Time: 7-9 weeks; Late September
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Relaxing and sleepy
  • Medical: Pain and stress
  • LSD Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 24%
  • Flowering Time: 8-10 weeks; Mid-September
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Relaxing and happy
  • Medical: Depression and stress

Maritime Temperate Climate

The oceanic climate is damp, with temperature moderated by the ocean. Summers are warm, and winters relatively cold but not extreme. These are not ideal for marijuana plants. Mold-resistant strains are your best bets.

  • Power Plant Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 15-20%
  • Flowering Time: 7-9 weeks; Mid-October
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Happy and creative
  • Medical: Depression and stress
  • Strawberry Cough Feminized
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 18-23%
  • Flowering Time: 7-9 weeks; October
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Happy and uplifting
  • Medical: Depression and stress
  • Early Skunk Feminized
  • Genotype: Indica hybrid
  • THC: 15-22%
  • Flowering Time: 7-9 weeks; Mid-October
  • Yield: Medium to heavy
  • Effects: Focused and creative
  • Medical: Pain and anxiety

Hot Summer Continental Climate

These are regions where the summers are long and dry with occasional afternoon thunderstorms. One concern in this environment is water, and so your best choices are strains that do not need that much water.

  • Critical + Feminized
  • Genotype: Hybrid
  • THC: 15-20%
  • Flowering Time: 8-9 weeks; Early October
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Giggly and creative
  • Medical: Spasms and depression
  • White Widow Autoflower
  • Genotype: Indica hybrid
  • THC: 18-25%
  • Flowering Time: 10-12 weeks
  • Yield: Medium
  • Effects: Creative and Euphoric
  • Medical: Anxiety and depression
  • Northern Lights
  • Genotype: Indica hybrid
  • THC: 18%
  • Flowering Time: 7-9 weeks; Mid-October
  • Yield: Heavy
  • Effects: Psychedelic and couch-locking
  • Medical: Pain and stress

Subarctic Climate

There is not much time to grow marijuana in this climate. Summers are short, cool to warm. Winters, on the other hand, are harsh, lasting 5-8 months. Autos thrive in practically any environment, but it is here where it shines. A small growing season is more than enough for them.

  • Lemon Haze Autoflower
  • Genotype: Sativa hybrid
  • THC: 17%
  • Life Cycle: 9 weeks from seed to harvest
  • Yield: Medium to heavy
  • Effects: Euphoric and productive
  • Medical: Stress and fatigue
  • Northern Lights Autoflower
  • Genotype: Indica hybrid
  • THC: 18%
  • Life Cycle: 8-9 weeks from seed to harvest
  • Yield: Light
  • Effects: Euphoric and relaxing
  • Medical: Insomnia and depression
  • Skunk Autoflower
  • Genotype: Hybrid
  • THC: 12-15%
  • Life Cycle: 10-11 weeks from seed to harvest
  • Yield: Medium
  • Effects: Energetic and creative
  • Medical: Fatigue and stress

Why Choose the Best Marijuana Seeds for Your Climate?

Environmental conditions play a significant role in the survival of marijuana plants. Try growing a strain that needs plenty of sunshine in subarctic weather, and they struggle. As you can see, determining which climate you belong to is as easy as consulting the USDA hardiness zone or Köppen Climate Classification system. After that, just pick a strain that grows well under those conditions.

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