Pakalōlō, (the Hawaiian word for cannabis) in Hawai’i is world renowned as some of the most ‘ono (delicious) Pakalōlō on the planet, but what is it that makes the Pakalōlō of paradise so special?
Plants, animals and humans seem to adapt very well to the climate here in Hawai’i for the most part, but just ask any Hawai’i grower about the challenges that arise when taking a non-Hawaiian Pakalōlō strain to the islands and growing her for the first few runs.
It can take many seasons for non-Hawaiian Pakalōlō to adapt to our various microclimates in Hawai’i. Some strains never really acclimated and have to be abandoned after a few seasons of less than desirable results, while other strains such as the infamous ‘98 Aloha White Widow quickly adapt to the climate in Hawai’i and are passed around through our underground community for other growers to sample and add to their gardens.
A strain like ‘98 Aloha White Widow that has been on the Big Island for almost two decades can change in amazing ways that even give the strain a truly Hawaiian feel to it. ‘98 Aloha White Widow growers who try to grow a White Widow strain that has not adapted to Hawai’i usually say the differences are so drastic it almost even seems like a different strain.
In twenty years ‘98 Aloha White Widow has been accepted into Hawaiian Pakalōlō culture and is even considered by many to be the hānai (adopted, related by love not by blood), haole (foreigner, alien), cousin of many of our favorite Hawaiian landrace strains like Kona Gold, Puna Buddaz, Kaua’i Electric, Moloka’i Purpz and of course Hollywood’s favorite Hawaiian Pakalōlō strain: the psychedelic euphoria inducing Maui Wowie.
Unlike many new additions to the wonderful world of weed in Hawai’i, landrace Hawaiian Pakalōlō strains have had hundreds if not thousands of generations to adapt and acclimate to our unique tropical microclimates. Since this medicinal wonder weed first arrived upon the shores of the Hawaiian island chain, it has been treasured and perpetuated by Hawaiians as one of their own.
Before the 1970’s Pakalōlō in Hawai’i was grown almost exclusively outdoors. With an absolutely perfect climate for growing year round in full tropical Hawaiian sunshine, the need to grow indoors never really arose.
That need finally presented itself in the form of Operation Green Harvest born on the Big Island of Hawai’i in the late 1970’s.
Federal, state and local narcotics officers with the aid of police and National Guard helicopters, began scouring the islands searching for Pakalōlō with the goal of eradicating perhaps the most medicinal cannabis on the planet.
By 1980 Green Harvest was a statewide operation, with the majority of funding coming from the Drug Enforcement Agency.
For over 35 years local people had to live in fear of invasive helicopters violating our privacy, stealing our Pakalōlō, and destroying families through incarceration for victimless crimes. To this day it is not uncommon to see armed officers repelling out of helicopters and leaving with loads of Pakalōlō plants in tow flying away into Hawaiian sunset. Medical patients are constantly harassed by helicopter surveillance.
Operation Green Harvest has pushed many growers in Hawai’i inside and forced both indoor and outdoor growers alike to abandon many larger Hawaiian sativa strains with their long flower cycles in favor of faster flowering strains that could be hidden in the bush or harvested months earlier and would not command the amount of electricity needed for Hawaiian landrace sativa strains, electric rates being the highest in the country.
While we can do our best to recreate the tropical conditions of Hawai’i when growing Hawaiian strains indoors and get the taste of being in pakalōlō paradise, the truth is there is no substitute for Mother Nature. But that doesn’t stop us from trying.
It is estimated that 1% of all electricity used in the United States goes to indoor Pakalōlō growing operations to supply a demand to 33 million regular users of cannabis.
With demand growing through the roof in an industry experiencing near triple digit growth in legal states, countless new grow rooms will be built this year and next, so we will now review for growers around the globe key points of cultivating Hawaiian Pakalōlō indoors.
We decided to share our Mana’o (thoughts and beliefs) on this subject so you can enjoy a taste of the islands wherever you may be. As you inhale the Maui Wowie properly grown you will exhale aloha, (love), and this is meant to be shared far, wide and often.
Hawaiian sativa strains have been grown here in Hawai’i for hundreds of sun kissed rain blessed years. During this time they acclimated to the environment. Perhaps the most important factor in growing a Hawaiian sativa indoors is the photoperiod or light cycle you give your plants.
In Hawai’i there is between a maximum of 13 hours and 26 minutes on the summer solstice June 21st to 10 hours and 50 minutes during the winter solstice.
There is less than a 3 hour difference between the longest day of the year and the shortest here in Hawai’i. There is also no daylight savings time, we never have to set our watches back or forward, we stay on Hawai’i time.
Hawaiian landrace strains barely recognize a difference between their vegetative growth photoperiod at 13 hours and the traditional 12/12 flower photoperiod. Many beginning growers who attempt to flower a strain like Maui Wowie indoors at 12/12 will notice that Wahine (female) Maui Wowie plants may take up to 4-6 weeks to even display their first hairs!?!
Try inducing a 11/13 or even a 10/14 light/dark photoperiod and watch the dramatic difference displayed as your Maui Wowie plants begin flowering right away and fully finish in 9-11 weeks as opposed to Maui Wowie flowered at 12/12 that may still be light and airy with prematurely developed buds at 11 weeks. Maui Wowie is a special plant. One needs to recreate her natural environment to give her the greatest potential of expressing herself fully.
Here is an excerpt from an article by the legendary breeder of such superb strains as Blueberry, Flo and Grape Krush; DJ Short, illustrating the important part photoperiod plays when growing sativa strains indoors:
Breeding tips by DJ Short (25 Nov, 2002)
“How to bring out the Sativa and breed the ultimate buds”:
“This is what distinguishes the true breeding, ancient acclimated, region of origin varieties – especially the tropical and equatorial Sativa – from the crosses that have happened since. The ancient specimens have a much narrower genotype range, and therefore a more specific phenotype than their contemporary crosses despite environmental conditions. It is up to future adventurers to provide the best possible environmental considerations, along with the best possible genetic considerations, in order to resurrect the legendary happy flowers of yore.
After many years of first-hand experience breeding herb indoors as well as outdoors, I am of the opinion that the two most influential factors involving phenotypic variation and expression among current indoor herb breeding projects are the photoperiod (hours of light per day) and the angle of light in relationship to the growing plant.
Specifically, I find the single most powerful influence to the Indica dominant phenotype is the traditional 18/6 veggie cycle and 12/12 flowering cycle. The 18/6 veggie and 12/12 flower cycle is an attempt, however poor, to mimic the Indica-producing photoperiod. It is my belief that this light cycle strongly influences for Indica phenotypic expression.
Sativa phenotype characteristics will manifest under a more equatorial photoperiod, closer to a 13/11 veggie cycle and an 11/13 flower cycle. This is the light timing range to use to elicit more Sativa dominant expression from your plants.”
DJ Short is widely regarded as one of the best breeders every to bless cannabis culture with his colorful creations.
Any advice on cultivation and breeding by DJ Short that you can get your hands on is highly recommended reading for any grower or breeder regardless of skill level or years of experience.
They (whoever they are) do say you “learn something new everyday”.
One of the most beautiful things about cannabis cultivation is that there is always a new lesson to be learned in this fragrant flowery field. New growers and breeders can stand on the shoulders of giants, legends who have brought abundant knowledge to cannabis botany. The readers of this very article are the Pakalōlō pioneers of the future as cannabis culture continues to grow and flourish into the future.
To sum up our advice when it comes to light, with a Hawai’i style photoperiod of 11/13 (or even 10/14) you will see your Hawaiian Pakalōlō bloom properly, as opposed to lagging behind in a 12/12 photoperiod unsure if she is supposed to continue vegetative growth or begin flowering.
After deciding upon the proper photoperiod, our next step is to choose the right light. On the market today you will find a smorgasbord of grow lights from traditional Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium bulbs to new L.E.D. technology. But as for the light that comes closest to duplicating the broad spectrum of light emitted from the sun; plasma lights are the closest you can get.
To truly create a Hawaiian style grow environment you must give your plants lots of light as it is estimated we have an average of 75% sunny days yearly in Honolulu. Light, however, is not the only factor. It is a combination of sun, soil, water and air.
In Hawaii`i, there is no denying the quality of the air, people describe the atmosphere here as being “charged”and even “alive”. In nature, where the air is fresh, negative ions are in abundance.
When the air is negatively charged, the growth of plants is dramatically increased. This is the reason everything the jungles of Hawaii`i grow so big and lush. The highest concentration of negative ions is found in places where there is moving water, where waves lap the shore or a waterfall creating a torrent of ionically charged mist casting mini rainbows when the sun angle is just right.
A negative ion generator in a grow room will aid the recreation of the Hawaiian grow environment. An ionized atmosphere affects the metabolic rate of plants. The more negative ions the faster the growth and healthier the plant.
The secret lies in carbon dioxide.
Hawai`i’s warmer temperature and active volcano on the Big Island dictates that Hawaiian strains are used to absorbing more CO2. If the CO2 takes on a negative charge, it is more rapidly uptaken during the process of photosynthesis. Ionization essentially allows a more efficient absorption of carbon dioxide resulting in faster growth.
Whereas humans and animals use lungs to breathe, plants use hundreds of tiny pores in the leaves called stomata to get CO2 out of the air. As a byproduct of photosynthesis, plants release oxygen back into the air.
In high-light situations, as in the tropics, supplying more CO2 allows plants to use more of that light, which results in increased photosynthesis. In an indoor grow, increasing CO2 and negative ions together creates a synergistic effect where the combined effect is greater than the sum of its parts. The plants stomata can absorb much more CO2 when it is negatively charged.
This simple recreation of a natural jungle environment rewards the grower with a significant increase in yield and quality of cannabis. An air ionizer imbuing the atmosphere with negative ions is a boon to any grow room.
CO2 can make your plants grow up to 20% faster, produce larger plants, and enhance your yields significantly.
Maintaining 1200-1500 PPM of CO2 in the grow area allows growers to keep temperatures much higher than normal, up to 95°F. We recommend not exceeding 85°F in any indoor grow as 70°F-85°F is the temperature perfect zone for CO2 enrichment.
They (really who are they and where did they get so many great sayings?) always say:
“You are what you eat.” This goes for the food we put in our bodies, what we feed our animal ‘ohana (family) and of course the fertilizers and nutrients we give our plants. Therefore Pua Mana ‘Ohana recommends when cultivating Pakalōlō, do so organically, feeding your plants what they would be getting in Nature, naturally.
We have a saying here in Hawai’i: Malama ka ʻĀina, (respect/cultivate/take care of the land).
The rich volcanic soil in Hawai’i is world renowned as some of the best soil on the planet. There are many organic volcanic soils on the market today that will compliment any Hawaiian strains you would like to add to your garden.
The most effective way to grow Hawaiian Pakalōlō is to grow in soil or even coco coir with a high nutrient feeding regimen. As volcanic soil in Hawai’i is extremely rich in minerals and live with microbials, make sure you give provide a soil loaded with minerals and inoculated with mycorrhizae for a healthy root zone. This will ensure great results. We do not recommend growing Hawaiian Pakalōlō in hydroponic, aeroponic or deep water culture set ups. Hawaiian sun is matched only by the soil, the lifeblood of the land.
Finding a soil containing or adding amendments such as fish bone meal, oyster shell flour, kelp meal, greensand, rockdust, feather meal, bat guano, sea-bird guano, langbeinite, worm castings, crab meal, nettle leaf and humic acids. These are the amendments that will give your Hawaiian Pakalōlō a taste of home. Volcanic soil is also very high in calcium and we have found along with high levels of CO2 Hawaiian Pakalōlō can take high amounts of calcium and magnesium and of course lots of fresh clean low particulate water!
In Hawaii, the water is very pure with not many dissolved solids. Rainwater is abundant, and rainwater can be simulated by distilling water or using reverse osmosis and then structuring it with flow forms or vortex tubes so as to recreate the way water flows in nature, meandering and vortexing in lots of dissolved oxygen. Investigate the work of Viktor Schauberger, the father of modern water science. He said “observe and copy nature.” Recreating the levity of water in nature in an artificial environment is very important to boost the vitality of plants. Plants love slightly acidic water and a home water ionizer makes this water very easily. Foliar feeding with fulvic acid and kelp in highly diluted quantities is also key. In Hawaii, fulvic acids, beneficial microbes, mineral rich salt spray are in dispersed in small quantities through the ecosystem.
Give your indoor Maui Wowie the right light, soil, water and air and watch the yield and potency increase to epic levels.
Over the decades, as the islands have become more densely populated with growers, the chance of cross pollination from invasive Pakalōlō has risen dramatically. Breeding some strains indoors ensures our genetics are pure. These insights and techniques have proven invaluable in our Pakalōlō preservation and breeding projects as well as our medical grows.
If you do grow outdoor here in Hawai’i, please make sure to Malama ka ʻĀina (respect the land), only use organic cultivation methods to preserve our ʻĀina (land; that which feeds us) for future Hanauna (generations), and watch out for the rippers and helicopters. As laws keep changing, much like Hawaiians brought their very language from the brink of extinction, so to we will bring the Hawaiian landrace Pakalōlō back to outdoor gardens in Hawai`i and the world.