BackYard Cannabis Farming 2020 - Episode 6: Growing in the Midst of High Winds, Forest Fires, Thunderstorms, & the Worst Air Quality on Earth
Prepare yourself for the most intense BYCF episode ever! This episode includes video from before, during, and after the heaviest wind storm I have ever experienced with 65 mph gusts, in the midst of heavy smoke from historic Oregon forest fires, creating an apocalyptic-like atmosphere which ranked Oregon #1 for the worst air quality on the planet (which also created an over-week-long hazy fog that lingered in the valley).
I also demonstrate the effects of the heavy rain, wind, and lightning that followed the fires that eventually helped move out the smoke and fog from the area. This is always a challenging time of year for full-term growers.
All this occurred during the time when I was finishing final audio production and in the middle of recording a music video for a song I entitled: ELAmental Forces... all I can say is - indeed mother Gaia, I receive your acknowledgement of my call.
The warning from meteorologists regarding the windstorm that eventually exasperated the infernos already blazing here in the Pacific northwest was less than a 24 hour notice - this storm stirred up suddenly. When I got the news on Sunday afternoon (9/6), I knew I had to do everything I could to prepare my plants for the coming bombardment. Fortunately most of my garden was already best protected by the 2nd layer of trellising I installed in August. I continued this trellising method for the rest of the plants that had not yet been fully supported, and was even able to stake up my smaller Purple Kush plant.
Despite my meticulous preparation, my garden still took a hit, which is why it is imperative that you do everything you can to preventively minimize the coming damage as much as you can (because imagine what would happen if you didn't).
The first thing I noticed was that all my soil was drying up completely, not even 24 hours after each watering (even after heavy waterings) during the few days of high winds. This was due to the combined conditions of high winds, temps, smoke, and terrible air quality that resulted from this horrid concoction of poor environmental conditions dehydrating the soil at an extremely rapid rate. I would normally never water multiple days in a row (or recommend it), but when you have these sort of conditions (especially the high winds), an excessive amount of extra water is required for your plants to survive. In similar scenarios, never be afraid to water repetitively.
I will note that the last watering during this period included a heavy water, along with nutrients and organic compost tea to help them recover from the battering they endured. Directly after doing this the winds died down, and the soil did not dry up again for a full week, right before several days of rain (just in time).
What will also undoubtedly happen in these situations is something known as wind-burn. This is when consistent and/or high winds manipulate and dehydrate leaves on cannabis plants to the point where the dry out, curl up, crumble, and die. Keeping your plants properly hydrated and supported during these times is the best strategy for minimizing wind-burn. Wind-burn is more commonly seen with indoor grows that have too much or improper airflow, but when you experience a once in a century wind storm, it will inevitably happen outside as well.
The most vital advice I can give any outdoor grower experiencing (or about to experience) any kind of inclement weather, is to stay with and constantly/closely monitor your grow if possible. Stepping away from it with severe environmental factors occurring may cause unpleasant surprises upon your return (as happened to me when I went to work and came back to my Monsterberry on the verge of death - pictured below).
All the extra smoke in the valley made it hard to breathe outside, and to a degree was hindering plant growth/health all on its own. The smoke also caused a consistent layer a fog to prevail over our valley for more than a week, resulting in undesired moisture retention on all the flowers (which fortunately did not cause botrytis since they are not quite developed enough yet) - this is where selecting mold-resistant phenotypes designed for outdoor farming in the PNW comes into play (which I did this season).
Another factor that has pushed back the harvest dates slightly is the fact that the combined thick smoke and fog manifested a barrier that the sun could not penetrate well for over a week. I also had to move my potted plants (the ones that will finish last and are slightly less mold resistant) into a covered carport to protect them (the wind was trying to tear them strait out of their pots - cage and all). This also meant they got even less light than just having the sun blocked by smoke/fog.
When I brought them back out, I tied the cages to the poles on the carport, and then eventually repositioned them in the yard for maximum sun/airflow, and tied the cages to T-posts I staked into the ground.
Eventually rains finally came along with thunder, lightning, and a massive downpour, the likes of which I have never seen in this part of the country. While the heavy rain provided a much needed reprieve, moving smoke and fog out of the area while helping to stifle forest fires, it did a number on the plant pistils - flattening and distorting them (pictured above).
High winds can also prematurely alter the color of the pistils, hairs, and trichomes, which will mimic what they should look like when ready to harvest (this happened to my plants as well). This is a trick of nature and not to be mistaken with naturally timed harvest indicators.
Since all the rain occurred while overlapping my feeding day, I was forced to feed them in the pouring rain. This is not ideal as some of the nutrients may get washed out with more rain after the feeding (not to mention risking overwatering) - but often times when growing outdoors, you just have to do the best you can... it was either that, or skip a week of feeding (only 2 feedings left for this grow).
After the skies cleared and fair weather returned, we cleaned up all the plants of any dead/damaged leaves and branches that were affected by everything mentioned above (a healthy amount - pictured above). This will prevent any extra moisture being retained by the dead foliage inside the plant, which will minimize chances of botrytis, PM (powdery mildew), and other fungi, while reallocating the most resources possible for the still healthy parts of the plants (redistribution of nutrients, minerals, and photosynthesis).
Overall my garden is the best it can be considering the circumstances, and the measure of my devotion to this grow has certainly shined through with the results so far. I look forward to a bountiful harvest, and will continue to do all which is necessary to get these ladies through the next sets of rain coming in. Ideally I would cover or greenhouse this garden, but this season I have strategically planned so I will (hopefully) not be required to. Enjoy episode 6 of BackYard Cannabis Farming - complete with all of mother nature's fury!
Click here for info on how to help Oregon families displaced by forest fires
Here are the links for every episode of BackYard Cannabis Farming to date
Click here for ALL of Season 1 (2018)
Click here for ALL of Season 2 (2019)
SEASON 3 SO FAR:
Episode 1: Transplanting Clones & Planning Your Grow Space
Episode 2: Constructing an In-Ground Garden & Final Transplants - 3 Day Project
Episode 3: Trellising, Training, & Pest Control - 2 Day Project
Episode 4: 2nd Vigorous Pruning, 1st Pest Control Sequence Complete, Fireworks Damage, & Addressing "The Claw"
Episode 5: 2nd Layer of Trellising, Final Round of Pest Control, Caterpillar Exit Success, & Transition to Flower
Please enjoy episode 6 of the 2020 Backyard Cannabis Farming series. Hopefully we all acquire great wisdom for growing cannabis effectively, organically, & naturally - together...
From 9/7 - 9/19
Click pic or link below to play Episode 6:
Enchanted blessings - with love, truth, respect, & honor - @ELAmental.
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