04 May 5 Reasons Yields Are Higher In Light Deprivation Greenhouses Vs. Outdoor Grows
When comparing yields from growing in a fully-equipped light deprivation greenhouse and growing outdoors in the same season, there’s a clear winner in both quality and quantity.
Before you even try, save yourself a lot of time, money, and effort and check out these five time-tested reasons why your yields will be bigger and better in a light deprivation greenhouse compared to growing outdoors:
- You can put the sun on your schedule
- Protect your plants from pests, high wind, rain, and hail damage
- Control relative humidity and temperatures in the environment
- Maintain lower root temperatures for your plants
- Hands/stress-free automation
It’s one thing to be aware of the benefits of growing in a greenhouse, and quite another to fully understand how a properly designed, constructed, and operated greenhouse will help you to grow healthy, robust plants that bring in consistently higher yields year in and year out.
So let’s take a closer look at each one of these reasons to see exactly how and why each one of them is a key contributing factor. Together, they will allow you to unleash explosive growth and vitality in your greenhouse plants for multiple bountiful harvests every year, compared to just one for outdoor grows.
You Can Put the Sun on Your Schedule
Outdoor growers are always at the will of the natural environment. Planting your crops using the soil already available and letting them grow through their natural cycle in their natural environment is a tried and true method. It’s an efficient and simple way to produce a crop without too much manipulation on the grower’s side. Most outdoor growers will still employ nutrients and other forms of solutions to stimulate bud growth and keep pests at bay, but even in these cases, the natural environment will be the determining factor of plant health and yield sizes. Also, when letting your crop grow through it’s natural cycle, you will only be able to pull off one harvest at the end of the season. Often times, this one harvest does not result in enough product to keep growers afloat.
Greenhouse farmers, on the other hand, have learned how to develop relatively simple greenhouse technologies that can manipulate environmental factors to create more control. One technological advancements that has made this possible is the introduction of automated light deprivation systems. These systems work to put the sun on your schedule.
By using light deprivation techniques, greenhouse growers are freed of the restriction of one harvest per year the way outdoor farmers are.
Without having to switch to an indoor set up, where you have to buy expensive grow lights and pay outrageous power bills, greenhouse growers simply apply a blackout poly covering that is solid black on one side for total darkness and white on the other to reflect light and heat.
Greenhouse growers can flower through what would usually be the vegging season by applying the light deprivation tarp over the greenhouse after the plants have had 12 hours of sunlight and then remove the covering in the early morning for a 12 and 12 light cycle. If light deprivation is consistently applied throughout the flowering cycle, and you have the next round of plants vegging, ready to flip, then you can get three full harvests out of the natural growing season.
Protect Your Plants From Hungry Pests & Damaging High Winds & Hail
Being that outdoor crops are subject to the natural environmental factors, oftentimes large portions of crops can be lost due to pests, high winds, rain, and hail. These can cause irreparable damage or open up conditions for mold/mildew development in the flower. If you’re a professional outdoor grower, just one event like this could spell financial disaster.
For this reason alone, professional outdoor growers are seeing the benefits of converting into professional greenhouse growing!
Greenhouse poly covering can also contribute to controlling key environmental factors surrounding your plants. Just having a structure around the plants will help keep pests at bay and reduce the number of animals feeding off your plants. With a covering, you are able to block high winds that may rip through and damage the stock of your plants, as well as keep spurts of rain from over-watering your soil.
Outside of pure control over the environment, you can also get coverings that help you to manipulate the environment to keep a more uniform relative temperature and humidity level, reducing stress in your plants. These coverings can come with infrared blocking additives to reduce heat buildup in the hot summer months. They may also have an anti-drip coating to control condensation buildup and reduce the amount of moisture that comes in contact with the flowering plants to keep mold/mildew issues at bay.
One important aspect to look for in poly coverings is a light diffusion property. This will help to scatter the light evenly throughout the greenhouse, reduce shadows, and get full light coverage on the canopy. There are a plethora of options from standard polyethylene, woven polyethylene, to rigid poly or poly carbonate coverings. To find out what would be the best fit for you check out our blog on “The Best Poly Covering for Your Grow”. All Fullbloom greenhouses are equipped with SOLARIG™.
Sure, the initial cost of building a greenhouse is greater than growing in the open country, but greenhouse growers consider it a crucial long-term investment and money well-spent.
Control Relative Humidity and Temperature For an Ideal Environment
One of the larger contributing factors to crop loss is distress under rapidly changing conditions. If temperatures and humidity levels are fluctuating too drastically, the plants cannot withstand the stress and will suffer in vitality as a result. Using a greenhouse allows you to better regulate those fluctuating temperatures to create an ideal environment at all times of the day and in any season. The amount of equipment and energy it will require for you to regulate these temperatures will depend on the area, climate, and season you will be growing through. It will require a lot less to regulate a greenhouse environment in temperate Southern Oregon or Northern California through the spring and summer season than it would to keep an ideal environment in the dead of summer in Arizona or the dead of winter in Michigan. If all you need is some additional airflow for you plants, it can be as easy as rolling sidewalls up on the greenhouse to get some free air exchange.
If you are in a high heat, dry air climate, you can introduce evaporative coolers to cool the greenhouse down while introducing some beneficial moisture into the air. On the other hand, if you are in a high humidity climate, that moisture could be detrimental. Instead, you’ll want to invest in enough exhaust and circulation fans to keep a consistent air exchange, not allowing any air to sit still and become stagnant. Sometimes this can be as simple as an additional ridge vent exhaust fan to help with high air movement. Sometimes a dehumidifier could be beneficial as well. Harsh winter environments will require a lot more equipment and energy to regulate. Insulation, if not already included, will need to be added to the greenhouse to reduce energy waste. You can heat via standard natural gas or propane vent heaters to keep your average temperatures high. There are also forms of geothermal heating that are becoming popular, energy efficient ways to keep your temps up in the winter with little cost to the grower. You can find out more information about recommended equipment in our blog “9 Ways to Optimize Your Greenhouse Performance”
Maintain The Ideal Root Temperature For Your Plants
Often times, when growing outdoors, the soil around the roots of the plants can cook under high heat conditions. This can result in under watering because of how quickly the soil dries out, which will inhibit the ability for the plants to root out. This can cause root and internal temperatures to get too high, which will either stunt the growth of the plant, or kill it all together. The temperature of the roots is often times more important than the temperature of the ambient air for a healthy plant. In a greenhouse environment, greenhouse poly with infrared blocker additives will help reduce the heat build up in the greenhouse, meaning less heat is penetrating the soil, pots, or beds.
In the winter seasons, the opposite will happen as freezing temperatures become more consistent. In a greenhouse, it’s easy to set up a system for radiant (or floor) heating to help maintain the soil and root temperature through the freezing nights. In the enclosed environment, growers have more control over stabilizing a healthy internal plant temperature throughout all growth stages.
Hands/Stress Free Automation
An added benefit to any greenhouse set up is the ability to fully automate all of the working components of the grow operation, down to an automated feeding system if you like. Growers no longer have to manually pull blackout tarps to change light cycles or go out and turn their fans on or roll their sidewalls up to ensure proper airflow. Given that the property has power available, these systems can all operate hands free. You could potentially go days without even stepping foot on your property. Motorized light deprivation systems can be set up on a timer to run a perfectly timed 12 and 12 cycle. Or you can include a full environmental automation controller to run everything from motorized sidewall roll ups, exhaust and circulation fans, heaters, dehumidifiers, and even supplemental lighting.
Many of these controllers even have a cloud storage access. With proper internet connection on site, you can see how everything is functioning in your greenhouse from your computer or smartphone. Even if you don’t make it out to the greenhouse that day, you can rest assured everything is functioning and your plants are healthy. There are many resources out there for even setting up full auto watering systems either with a soil base or hydroponic medium.
When growers are better able to control the ambient environment for their plants, they will thrive and grow more robust and healthy. Overall, when there’s less stress for the grower and the plants, the results will be larger yields and higher potency, with a better ROI.