History is marked with many keystone events that change the direction of evolution or society on a secure path. No revolution had a greater impact than agriculture, which allowed for a communities to grow around the secure production of food. Marijuana has a a special relationship with agriculture at large, as it is believed to be the first crop humans ever grew, and brought about a range of new products and food.
For most of western cultivation of the cannabis plant, there has been one harvest a year towards the middle of fall, when most of the world picked and started the tedious task of picking the worlds first and greatest cash crop. This model worked for the most part, and continued to be the standard until about 1911 when the prohibition of marijuana started in Massachusetts and spread globally from this epicenter.
A Bumpy Road For Hemp and Marijuana
California’s 1914 prohibition announcement came just 2 years before an industry expert estimated that an acre plot of land cultivated with marijuana for 20 years could produce 4 times the paper as the plot normally would from wood pulp. The paper was even thought to be of a superior quality. This sort of news seems to plague the history of cannabis, but this announcement made it much more difficult for citizens to freely grow the product outdoors and then process it.
Marijuana was forced into hiding and industrial hemp became banned. An entire industry died over night. Millions lost their lively hood to the initial ban. Part of that ground was regained when production began anew during WWII but fresh bans in the 1970’s eliminated the industrial scale production of hemp despite its low concentration of THC. The plant is not even used as a drug, and is banned based on a relationship to marijuana in one of the most non nonsensical laws ever imposed.
An Indoor revolution
Thus began another revolution in the growth of marijuana: indoors. While some have enough land and privacy to grow without much concern, indoor growing operations became the safest and most effective way to constantly provide fresh product to an ever growing demand. In this scenario, plants are given plenty of fertilizer, natural or otherwise, and a consistent amount of light which allows the plants to grow to their truest potential. The environment can be fine tuned and optimized to the conditions a strain produces best in.
Over the last 100 years growers have mastered the art of indoor growing and have more control over internal environment than ever before. It is possible for a grower to remotely view and control his grow operation on a tablet, computer, or smart phone. While indoor growing has taken over popularity, nature provides an inexpensive form of light, ventilation,water and carbon dioxide. The only problem is that realistically only two crops can be grown outdoors, so indoor grows remain the most lucrative and productive.
The Ruderalis Effect
However, there is a strain that is revolutionizing the pot world once again. Ruderalis is naturally grown in the Himalayas and several southern ex-Soviet states. It’s a small shrub that’s unsuspecting and does not deliver the strongest high, per say, but has big implications on the future of cannabis breeding and growing. Ruderalis is the third species of cannabis that is responsible for the addition of auto-flowering to many marijuana strains.
The process did not happen over night. Breeding was done by several people in Amsterdam and British Columbia and beyond for the last 40 years to perfect blends with ruderalis that would be potent and still maintain the auto-flowering characteristics. It has taken some time, but breeder have perfected the process and are making hundreds of new auto-flowering varieties. Each breed takes time to get right, but ruderalis is being introduced to nearly every indica, sativa and hybrid strain on the planet.
The process started slowly, with just a few breeders adventuring into the brave waters of sacrificing their THC yields for other traits. It meant risking time, thought and energy on a plant that was not likely to be successful immediately. The original Lowryder Strain and Mighty Mite were some of the first autoflowering hybrids to hit the scene, but the THC content was dwarfed by the true indica and sativa hybrids on the market.
That is not to say that Ruderalis is not becoming an ever more viable option, and it seems that it is here to stay. Auto-flowering strains have been winning awards for years as THC concentrations have risen to close to 20%, while maintaining decent CBD and CBN levels. As a result, Ruderalis hybrids are becoming a more reliable source of medicinal marijuana, including White Widow, Amnesia, Jack Herrer and other legendary and established strains. Each one of these strains is being meticulously bred with other strains to preserve the original characteristics of the strain.
Auto-Flowering gives growers more control over then they will be harvesting a plant. Because the ruderalis plant naturally starts flowering after a given period of lifetime, plants bred with this will always begin flowering no matter what the light cycle is and continue to flower even if there is light 18 hours a day. Some of the worlds largest buds are being grown on plants with partial ruderalis influence, and hundreds of new combinations of aromas are being created
Harvest More Under the Power of the Sun
This is good for outdoor growers as well, who can now easily enjoy several crops a year. This will reduce the cost of overall grows, since a company who chooses to grow parts of their crops outside will save on lighting, heating, cooling and water. Outdoors is by far the most natural way to grow the plant, assuming bad growing practices like excessive fertilizer, pesticide, fungicide and rodenticide are not used. Industry standards and inspections would naturally regulate this sort of behavior and fines would force these grow to change practices or leave the market.
Some very serious ecological implications are made by ruderalis, as some estimates place indoor marijuana growth as using as much as 1% of the total power production of the United states. With more potential for outdoor yields, growing outdoors could replace indoor grows that use large amounts of energy. The Industry stands to become more green, when outdoor grows are allowed without fear of penalty.
There are also a number of medicinal uses for the Ruderalis strain that modern Sativa and Indica cannot match. Because of Ruderalises relatively high concentration of CBD, the plant can be used to make extractions of this essential oil, which is non-psychoactive. Likely only because of its lack of ability to create a high, CBD is being legalized exclusively in some states. Ruderalis is being accepted as medicine all over the world because of the undeniable benefits.
Hemp, the Close Cousin of Ruderalis
It’s important to remember that the industrial hemp industry is closely linked to the medical and recreational marijuana industry. Many consumer products such as soap, shampoos, twine, paper, bio fuel, cooking oils (which are some of the healthiest oils for human consumption.) When people talk about the medical benefits of marijuana it often sound too good to be true. It’s much the same with industrial hemp. People talk about using hemp to be used in crop rotations to revitalize soil even in places like the irradiated soils around Chernobyl.
The world of cannabis has an ever changing history, but a close relationship with the curse of human history as well. Medicinal use goes back more than 5000 years in Chinese tradition, in contrast to prohibition which only included Hashish before the early 1900’s. Prohibition of substances has been a relatively new experiment, and a failed one, but the legality of the marijuana plant is still very clear in every state, so read the laws before beginning to grow. Legalization and decriminalization may be just around the bend either way.
After the auto-flowering revolution, hopefully the wide sweeping legalization movement will swiftly follow as economic pressures worsen and scientific evidence mounts towards the legitimacy and necessity of marijuana as a medicine in it’s variety of forms. It is becoming more and more obvious that cannabis improves society and has done so for a very long time, but we have only just begun to embrace all of it’s species.
Ruderalis is the latest addition to the Marijuana world, and it seems that this strain is an undeniable part of the future of marijuana. New breeds that specialize in CBD are already being used as powerful medicines for rare forms of epilepsy. Naturally studies are being done to see what other ailments can be treated with the essential oils of this plant, that stands to continue to make a big impact on the way we view medicine, and the way we grow our marijuana.
There are many who suggest that indoor growing is going to be the only way to increase yields by area in the United States. Green Skyscrapers growing tomatoes, squash, and peas on a model pioneered by the marijuana industry. Each plant will have the specific wavelengths of light they need most to save energy, and grow bigger crops. Ruderalis and Marijuana just might help feed the world.