Cannabis is hard to grow.

TRUTH: Cannabis is actually a pretty easy plant to get a good harvest out of. In my opinion, it is about on par with tomatoes as far as difficulty level is concerned. There are only a few special things that have to be learned, such as dark periods, determining lighting levels, and figuring out when and how to harvest the buds.

In general, cannabis isn’t a particularly finicky plant to grow. Unlike with fruits and vegetables, flower production is what is desired in pot plants—the pollination and fruit-set phases are generally skipped to avoid seeds (sinsemilla). In many areas, cannabis plants can grow wild outdoors without human intervention. In the days before seedless buds were the norm, cannabis seeds thrown out of car windows were known to take root along roadsides, resulting in what was known as “ditch weed” once stumbled upon and harvested.

So why the confusion over difficulty levels? Many people see cannabis as hard to grow because there is a technical side to it for those who choose to pursue getting better at it. Someone can be taught how to make a grilled cheese sandwiches in a matter of minutes, but cooking can be studied and improved upon dramatically over a lifetime. This doesn’t mean that one can’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches while learning how to make roast beef dinners with all the trimmings.

While there is a lot that can be learned about growing cannabis well, growing a plant that produces at least something pretty much amounts to not killing it, setting the dark periods to flowering at the appropriate time, and then continuing not to kill it until harvest. The infamous “loco weed” is an easy plant to grow, but improvements in techniques will allow for bigger and more efficient harvests, and can improve the final product.

Grams per watt is a good indicator of garden performance.

TRUTH: Many folks will claim to get X amount of harvest out of Y number of watts of lighting. The trouble with using this number as a measure of success is that it doesn’t give a time value (duration) for how long the harvest took to grow. This is a flaw because it gives an unfair advantage to heavily trained large plants, even if they are less efficient. As an extreme case, take the example of the sea of green method (lots of small plants grown quickly) versus the screen of green method, which is a single (or few) plants heavily trained through a screen to maximize the canopy.

Using grams per watt as an indicator of success in this case is misleading, as a sea of green may produce less weight per harvest but be a better-performing garden overall since it takes less time. (I am not advocating one style over the other, this is just as an example—there are other factors such as plant counts that should also be considered in a garden.) There is also the problem of comparing plants with different harvest times, for example, a quick-flowering indica versus a long-flowering sativa.

A much more useful number to calculate is grams per day (GPD). Subtract the planting date from the harvest-start date to find the total number of days grown, then take the weight of the harvest and divide it by the number of days grown.

This will show you how much harvest was produced each day. Calculating the GPD for each harvest allows a grower to compare the success of different grows even if the number of days for each is different. Once a baseline is established, GPD can also be used to calculate operating costs and estimate future harvest size.

Cannabis flowering is triggered by the length of the light periods.

TRUTH: Part of the trouble behind this myth is that cannabis is said to be a short-day plant, which implies that it grows in size over the summer, and flowering is triggered by the shorter days of fall. The reason this thought leads to the myth is that it is wrong—cannabis flowering is triggered by the length of the dark periods.

Specifically, photoreceptors in the leaves will signal the release of flowering hormones when exposed to the long, dark periods of fall, winter and spring, or if indoors long dark periods of 12 hours or so. These hormones will be used to trigger or continue flowering during the next lights-on period. If the dark period is shortened or interrupted, the level of flowering hormone will drop, hindering flower development.

Cannabis grown in the such and such region is by far the best in the world.

TRUTH: I’ve personally smoked enough of the “best” cannabis from around the globe to make the following claim with a clear conscience: after a certain level of quality, it is just about personal preference.

Well-grown and cured cannabis tends to have a lot in common with other batches of well-grown and cured cannabis for other regions. There are some places where getting quality weed is more difficult, and the overall quality of street weed may vary, but the best weed from the West Coast, the East Coast, Spain, Amsterdam, etc., has so much in common it’s impossible to tell where it was grown just by the quality—provided you keep tobacco out of the Amsterdam sample, of course. In addition, what is best from one person’s perspective may not be the best as far as someone else is concerned.

Everyone has different tastes and priorities, so keep an eye out for your personal favorites, no matter what the popular opinion seems to be, and realize that like fine wine, the differences get smaller the better it gets.