There is no factor more critical to successful cannabis cultivation than light, and when it comes to light there is no replacement for Mother Nature. Natural sunlight may be tricky to control in certain climates, but South Africa is blessed with near perfect conditions for cannabis. With an average of 10 daily hours of sunlight and optimal UV levels thanks to its latitudinal location, South African cannabis can be grown under optimal conditions even outdoors, a fact that has fostered traditional cannabis farming in the region for hundreds of years. An additional benefit of outdoor growing is the operational cost savings and environmental sustainability: longer hours of natural sunlight translates to no need for full-spectrum grow lights.
But why is sunlight so important? Today in our blog, CannaTech is bringing you a little lesson in photosynthesis and its critical role in cannabis cultivation. We will be landing in Cape Town this November, and in anticipation of our South African sizzling summer event, we’re talking SUN.
Photosynthesis is the biological process by which plants capture light from the sun and convert it into chemical energy. Light is first absorbed by chlorophyll, the same compound that makes plants green, then a series of chemical reactions convert light into special energy-carrying molecules. This stored energy combines with carbon dioxide to make glucose (sugar). Plants use this stored energy to bind molecules into larger and larger chains, and these larger chains equal plant growth.
Green plants use a portion of the energy captured from the sun to grow and function. The rest is reserved within the plant structure to provide nourishment to other living organisms when consumed. This entire process generates oxygen, which the plant releases into the atmosphere, creating the conditions necessary for life.
More sunlight means more stems and leaves that in turn possess more receptors that capture more light and that convert to more energy and more plant growth. This growth pattern explains why long hours of sunlight are so important to cannabis farming, and how South Africa’s climate is optimal for this purpose. Maximum growth means maximum yield, and more sunlight means more growth. Sunny South Africa is perfectly lit for high quality and high yield cannabis farming. While soil quality and water are also critical to the plant life cycle, light is the most important factor in cannabis cultivation.
While long hours of sunlight are conducive to stem and leaf growth, cannabis buds rely on darkness to initiate flowering. For outdoor farming, this translates to seasonality – as dark hours increase with the winter, mature cannabis plants will direct energy captured in the leaves to flowering instead of continual growth. The best climate for cannabis growing will not just have many hours of sunlight, it will also have defined seasons. Traditional outdoor cannabis farmers plant in the spring, allow the plants to grow large and hearty through the sun-drenched summer, and foster flowering in the fall as the days become shorter. South Africa’s climate is uniquely perfect for growing cannabis: while it is not an exact science, the country’s mild, sunny, seasonal climate has enabled it to become one of the largest producers of unregulated cannabis in the world.
The South African provinces of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo are particularly well-suited to cannabis farming and are the major producers of the country’s 2,500-ton per year yield. Once legitimised, this yield will translate to a multi-billion legal cannabis market. According to Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, these regions also stand to benefit the most from legalizing cannabis farming.
CannaTech is a premier global cannabis industry conference platform. We travel the globe shining a light on emerging regions, technologies, and challenges in cannabis, bringing the brightest minds, highest quality investors, and most disruptive thought leaders together to propel innovation. South Africa’s cannabis landscape is rapidly expanding with major shifts in regulation, making it the perfect next destination for a premier medical cannabis conference. CannaTech will be lighting up Cape Town this November with illuminating content and invaluable networking opportunities.
Don’t miss out on the unique opportunity to learn more about the African cannabis landscape at CannaTech Cape Town coming November 2019.
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