Cannabis is a highly durable plant that has spread across the globe as people increasingly leverage this botanical wonder for its health and therapeutic benefits. However, in a commercial environment, we’re not simply trying to grow cannabis plants. Commercial cultivation operations tweak everything from the CO2 concentration in the air to the type of light being used to crop-steer their plants through vegetative and flowering cycles.
You may remember that we dove into the details of how to choose between different types of grow lights and how they work. If you haven’t given it a read yet, we highly recommend it. Wearing grow glasses protect your eyes from exposure to the electromagnetic radiation commercial grow lights emit. Whether you’re using full-spectrum LEDs, high-pressure sodium (HPS), or metal halide (MH) lights, there are valid concerns akin to spending extended amounts of time in the sun without proper eye protection. And in case you were wondering, your favorite pair of outdoor sunglasses probably won’t cut it in a grow room — and we’ll explain why further down!
Bringing the Outdoors, Indoors
Building an indoor grow room is a significant investment, both in equipment and energy costs. To maximize profits, it’s essential that cannabis cultivators understand the nature of their plant’s life cycle. When plants grow outside, they adjust their growth rate and reproduction cycle based on their geographical seasons. When growing indoors, several botanical principles need to be replicated for a successful harvest, beginning with mimicking nature’s seasons.
The Science of Seasons
It’s a common misconception, that the distance between the earth and the sun is what differentiates temperatures and seasons. However, it’s actually when the sun’s rays have a more direct path to the surface of the earth. A more direct path results in higher temperatures because the electromagnetic radiation is more concentrated on the earth’s surface.
In other words, the seasons are directly influenced by the orbit of the earth and its angle to the sun. To quote NASA,
Earth’s tilted axis causes the seasons. Throughout the year, different parts of Earth receive the Sun’s most direct rays. So, when the North Pole tilts toward the Sun, it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere. And when the South Pole tilts toward the Sun, it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere.https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/seasons/en/
For the northern hemisphere, the sky is brighter in June during the summer solstice, providing an abundance of blue light for a longer period of time. In December during the winter solstice, plants receive a higher percentage of red light due to the shorter days. Plants adapt to these changing temperatures and light cycles to maximize structural growth and flowering.
In autumn and winter, there’s less daylight and the sunlight strikes the earth’s atmosphere at a steeper angle. This causes sunlight to strike more atmospheric particles, creating a scattering effect. In fact, the phenomenon is known as Rayleigh scattering. This has a direct effect on the amount of energy that reaches the surface of the earth (temperature) and which spectrums of light predominantly reach the ground.
As more blue light is scattered, fewer high-energy photons reach the plant. This leaves a higher percentage of lower-energy red light to support the plant during the autumn. The plant’s phytochromes detect the spectrum shift, providing them with information that the seasons are changing. As they detect shorter days, a plant knows it may be time to complete its life cycle by blooming, flowering, and creating seeds for the next generation. So, the amount of light changes hour by hour, season to season. And plants, such as cannabis, pattern their developmental behavior in synchronicity.
Generally, outdoor cannabis plants begin their vegetative phase in the spring or early summer. Then they begin flowering in autumn when daylight diminishes, and temperatures begin to cool.
A grasp of basic botany is important for commercial cannabis cultivators, as mastering these scientific principles is a critical component in crop steering and maximizing trichome yields. If you have an outdoor grow, the particles in the atmosphere and light-scattering effects generally allow professional cannabis gardeners to work safely with minimum eyewear, so long as cultivators don’t look up directly into the sun.
The Advantages of Indoor Grow Rooms
Sometimes it makes sense to commercially grow your hemp and cannabis outside when you live in areas that boast nutrient-rich soil, plenty of sunlight and water, and moderate temperatures. However, it has become increasingly popular for cannabis operators to grow indoors within a controlled environment. Indoor grow room advantages include:
- Mitigating mold and fungus infections such as bud rot
- Maintaining control of the air, including humidity, temperature, and CO2
- Managing the spectrum and distribution of light necessary for crop steering
- Increasing the number of harvests per year
- Mitigating insects that consume cannabis and hemp plant matter, damaging your crop
- Tighter buds with high-yielding trichomes
Under the right conditions, an indoor grow room can expedite multiple, healthy harvests. This is dependent, of course, on providing your cannabis crop with an abundance of quality light that falls within the plant’s preferred spectral range of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR).
Mimicking the Sun and Seasons With Grow Lights and Crop Steering
To operate a successful, commercial grow room, it’s usually preferred to mirror the outdoor seasons we discussed above. And providing your plants with a cocktail of light spectrums is a highly customizable affair. It’s less of an exact science and can involve a bit of experimentation to tune into your strain’s preferences and maximize output.
That said, many growers have preferred types of light. Some prefer a fuller spectrum of light, while others may prefer to just use blue and red grow lights. As we mentioned there are several, proven ways to coax cannabis plants to vegetate and flower. So for our purposes, we’re going to focus less on the exact ratio of light. Instead, we’ll hone in on a few popular types of grow lights and discuss how to keep your growers safe and comfortable while operating for extended periods of time within the grow room.
Emulating Spring and Summer for Vegetative Growth
Above, we discussed how cannabis plants grow and thrive during the spring and summer months when blue light is most abundant. It’s important to note, that during this time of year, plants receive light from across the entire spectrum. Although there is more available blue light in warmer months, they receive red light as well. Light across the entire PAR spectrum is needed for healthy growth and flowering regardless of the time of year.
Blue light is also the most dangerous, as it often contains UVA and UVB radiation. During the vegetative growth cycle of your cannabis plants, when you are most likely applying a higher percentage of blue light, a grow room is filled with the same electromagnetic radiation responsible for sunburns and eye damage when outside.
Over-exposure to high-output LEDs designed or programmed to emit an abundance of blue light can be the source of botanical light burn and light stress. These injuries don’t just risk damage to your crop, but also your eyes. When growing outside, atmospheric scattering helps reduce the intensity and effects blue light has on plants and animals. However, in a grow room, the air between you and the grow lights is far less dense. This places cultivators at risk for possible retinal damage or worse. And the more UV light emitted from the grow lights, the higher the risk of optical injury.
Thankfully, with a solid pair of grow glasses, not only is the intensity of blue light reduced, but most UVA, UVB, and (in some cases) UVC are filtered out. When spending hours in a grow room that is pouring out a higher percentage of blue light, grow glasses are a must.
Emulating Autumn for Flowering
When cultivating a profitable harvest, growing a strong plant isn’t enough. A strong flowering cycle is needed to grow those resin-filled trichomes. Truth be told, blue light also helps in trichome development. Trichomes are nature’s way of protecting the cannabis plant after all and as we mentioned above, blue light can be damaging. Trichomes offer protection much like we use sunscreen against UV radiation. Still, many commercial grow operations use a higher amount of red light to communicate to the plant that it’s time to flower.
Although the longer wavelengths of red light are considered safer for the eyes, many growers use a combination of red and UV light to encourage their crop to accelerate its trichome production. So even if it “feels” safe to be in a red-light grow room, there are often deliberate amounts of UVB light that’s easy to overlook. During an outdoor grow, the red horizon of a sunset may seem safer to look at, however, there is still UV radiation being emitted. Even when scattered, UV rays can cause damage to your retinas.
Again, an indoor grow room offers similar spectrums of light, both red and UV. And there is no atmosphere and very little scattering taking place between you and the grow lights to buffer the negative effects of electromagnetic radiation. This is just one of many reasons cannabis cultivators should wear professional grow glasses, regardless of the grow lights being used or their crop’s stage of development.
The Advantages of Grow Glasses
When considering grow glasses for staff that spend hours in your grow room, consider the moon. The same sun shines on its surface, yet without a protective ozone layer to filter out UVC radiation or an atmosphere to scatter UVA and UVB light, the surface can reach temperatures of 250°F. Although your grow room may not be boiling, you can see why grow glasses are critical in an indoor garden with high-intensity grow lights.
Given that grow room staff are regularly exposed to spectrum extremes such as UV and infrared, a commercial set of grow glasses can cool the eyes while protecting them from the damaging effects of high-intensity photosynthetic active radiation.
Can I Use Outdoor Sunglasses in a Cannabis Grow Room?
The short answer is, “yes.” This is because today’s sunglasses are generally effective in filtering damaging UV radiation. However, grow glasses are designed to provide far more than ocular protection. When spending hours in a grow room, inspecting your plants and buds for developmental maturity, nutrient deficiencies, or mold, protecting a cultivator’s eyes is only one of several functions commercial grow glasses provide.
Seeing Is Believing
Grow glasses are essential in color correction and visual clarity, especially when working in a grow room that leans towards the blue or red spectrum. Every cannabis cultivator knows that time is money. Immediately identifying nutrient deficiencies, fungus, or pest damage allows for quick course corrections that can save a plant and sometimes an entire crop. Color corrective lenses can allow the cultivator’s fusiform gyrus (the area of the brain responsible for color perception) to observe yellowing or other variations in otherwise healthy leaves.
In addition, the ability for the eyes to focus is greatly dependent on visual clarity. Professional grow glasses filter very specific wavelengths, allowing the cultivator to observe their cannabis plants without the color distortion created by grow lights emitting a dominant spectrum. By mitigating these visual challenges, commercial grow glasses can:
- Diminish color differentiation issues
- Greatly reduce mistakes during visual inspections
- Improve visual focus
- Decrease eye strain
- Minimize headaches
Although designing and building a commercial indoor grow room can be a costly venture, grow glasses should not be ignored as an important expense. Proper, professional eyewear reduces ocular damage to cultivators, reduces mistakes and errors, and allows for a healthier crop harvest after harvest.
Grow Eyewear: An Essential Tool for Cannabis Cultivation
Although an easy tool to overlook, professional grow glasses should be a staple in every commercial grow room. Cultivators need to be able to focus their eyes to inspect plants, and overexposure to high-energy light will take its toll on the eyes without proper protection. Thankfully, with the engineering of Method Seven’s state-of-the-art eyewear, the risks of extended, daily exposure to high-intensity grow lights can be entirely mitigated when worn properly.
If you’re building an indoor grow room or are interested in adding grow glasses to your cultivation operation, our team is available to help guide you to the best commercial eye protection. We’re just an email away and look forward to hearing from you!