For cannabis growers who plant outdoors, turning leaves signify the fall harvest. During the month of October — colloquially known as Croptober — cultivators throughout Colorado cut down their marijuana fields, the first step in the plants’ journey to reach consumers at dispensaries.
Growing outside is reminiscent of the days before cannabis was legal, when producers raised their crop in hidden fields rather than in today’s high-tech indoor operations, which come with expensive lighting apparatuses, air monitoring equipment and soil treatment.
But, it isn’t easy. Growers contend with unpredictable weather, pests and natural disasters, like wildfires. They also face a long-rooted stigma that sun-grown cannabis is inferior to the flower grown indoors. Still, those who grow outside — including with greenhouses — point to plenty of benefits. Lower startup and operational costs allow them to increase their profit margins, while their operations have a lesser impact on the environment.