Winter can be a challenging time for any farmer, and the same is true for cannabis farmers. While you can’t do anything about the cold weather, you can take a few relatively simple steps to maintain a healthy cannabis farm through the winter months. Here are our recommendations to turn the offseason into a productive growing season and a time to conserve and renew your soil.
Add life to your soil
Winter is the time to rejuvenate your soil with organic plant cover mix. Think of organic matter as a warm, cozy blanket to keep your cannabis covered from the cold. It also brings life to the dead of winter, as cover crops such as rye or mustard can sprout quickly in even the coldest of temperatures.
“Winter cover crops are an ideal way to add organic matter because they replenish soil nutrients depleted over the growing season, suppress weeds and disrupt their growing cycles, and build organic matter and soil integrity,” Genevieve Slocum writes in Rodale’s Organic Life. Cover crops to protect the soil’s microbial life from freezing conditions.
It’s best to prep for winter in early to mid-fall, laying the organic matter first, followed by a thin layer of mulch. If you have waited until the last minute, you can trim the cover crop sooner and use dry compost instead.
Cover crops will naturally reduce runoff and erosion, but you should also keep an eye out for excessive water outflow. Casey O’Neill, author and Board Chair of the California Growers Association, likens soil and water to “body and lifeblood,” explaining that it is imperative to both your cannabis and your farmland to ensure that any outflow is “slow moving and free of silt or nutrients.”
Cover crops aren’t the only way to see growth in winter. You can also plant an array of winter vegetables, including turnips, leeks, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower. Again, any additional crops, whether for cover or harvest, will help minimize runoff, reduce erosion, and improve soil health.
Cover your soil and winter crops
Finally, protect your cannabis from frost with plastic sheeting. This last step is essential, because cover crops can still succumb to sub-freezing temperatures and/or wet weather in January and February. If a cover crop acts as a blanket, plastic sheeting serves as a waterproof tent to further protect your cannabis from the elements.
Americover liners and heavy-duty sheeting products are durable enough to keep cold weather from killing your cannabis yet flexible enough to maneuver on and off your crops with ease. Click here to learn more about our various heavy-duty sheeting solutions, which may be used to cover your cannabis crops this winter.
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