How To Increase Cannabis Yields With CO2

CO2 doesn’t do magic but if used to complement a good growing space it can increase the yields up to 30%!
Author Enzo Schillaci
17 July 2020
7 min read
How To Increase Cannabis Yields With CO2

Contents:

CO2 is commonly found in the air at 400ppm and plants need it as much as they need NPK. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential for photosynthesis and when we increase the levels (along with the appropriate environment) it will help our plant grow faster, tougher and produce more buds.

1. How Do Plants Use CO2?

Plants “breathe” CO2 through small holes called stomata, this breathing process along with the appropriate light (light fixture or sunlight) will allow your plant to produce more sugars and oxygen; the sugars being used in plant growth and oxygen the oxygen released back in the air.

Just like all plants, cannabis plants “breathe”, if provided the right way, it can make their cells multiply faster and result in bigger yields. Just make sure that you do it correctly because CO2 can be harmful, resulting in stretched plants with yellow leaves and no buds at all.

 

Increase Cannabis Yields With CO2: how a plant breathes

Cannabis plants need CO2 and light to perform photosynthesis, which is done through the stomatas.
 

An increased amount of CO2 will allow your plant to perform photosynthesis faster, absorbing more light and nutrients, resulting in faster growth and in bigger yield because the buds develop denser.

2. When should you use CO2?

Carbon dioxide can be used in the vegetative and flowering stage but plants only need CO2 when performing photosynthesis so you should only inject it when the lights are turned on.

Also, you shouldn’t increase the CO2 levels always, carbon dioxide should be used in combination with a number of factors, without these elements you may be able to see improvement but won’t be what you expect.

Vegetative stage

When using CO2 during the vegetative stage, your plants will grow faster, stronger and healthier, and when done correctly you will benefit from the bigger yields and in other things like not having to worry with giving support to the branches.

Flowering stage

Some growers say you should only inject carbon dioxide during the first 2-3 weeks of flowering, although others say that an increased CO2 level up to 2 weeks before harvest can result in denser buds, there’s no proof and it’s basically up to you and what you find works in your case.

 

Increase Cannabis Yields With CO2: appropriate light fixture

You need the appropriate light to benefit from CO2.
 

To properly use CO2, you need to use high-intensity and good quality lights, and according to the type of light you will have to adjust the carbon dioxide levels, temperature and amount of nutrients because cannabis uses CO2 in the presence of light, so the higher the intensity, the more carbon dioxide it will need.

3. Pros and cons of CO2

Despite the benefits, adding CO2 can be expensive. You should think if the benefits are worth it before starting injecting CO2 into your growing space.

Pros

  • Faster growth and bigger yields

If you’re an experienced grower and have a top notch growing space, injecting CO2 can help you grow bigger plants that produce better quality and bigger buds.

  • Grow in higher temperatures

Because cannabis plants use CO2 to “ breathe”, a high concentration (1200-1500PPM) of carbon dioxide allows you to have higher temperatures in the growing room, being able to reach up to 30°C.

  • Safety

CO2 can help you mask the smell because some methods of injecting carbon dioxide will create a natural smell that helps cover up the cannabis smell.

 

Increase Cannabis Yields With CO2: pros and cons

Pros and cons of injecting CO2 into your growing tent.
  

Cons

  • Not very effective if you don’t have good lights

Most common lights aren’t strong enough to use CO2 appropriately, you will need a very strong LED or Light bulb to benefit from this.

  • Needs an airtight growing space

When trying to maintain an elevated CO2 PPM, you will need an airtight growing space so it doesn’t dissipate.

  • Cost

Depending on the size of your growing room, it can be quite expensive to inject CO2 because the cheapest methods aren’t very good unless you have a small number of plants so you will have to invest a bit.

4. How much CO2 should I use?

Plants are used to high carbon dioxide levels and even though we don’t see it, there is actually CO2 in the air, found at approximately 400PPM.

When injecting CO2 we need to first know our light intensity to then know the limit on how much CO2 our plants can take but have in mind that the maximum is around 1500PPM, the following table gives you an idea of how it should be used.

CO2 and Light intensity

LumensCO2 (PPM)Temperature (recommended)Nutrients (approximate PPM)
100050020°C700
200075020°C850
3000100030°C1050
4000125030°C1300
5000150030°C1500

Relation of light intensity, CO2 levels, temperature and nutrients for proper use of carbon dioxide injections.
 

If you see your plants getting weak or yellow stop using CO2 and try to find out what’s wrong, when this happens it’s usually too much CO2 accumulated or it’s too hot.

Remember that CO2 doesn’t do magic and increasing the CO2 without the appropriate environment will damage your plants.

 

When injecting carbon dioxide in an inappropriate environment you will start to see signs of unhealthy plants.
 

When growing indoors it is crucial to have a ventilation system for air exchange, under good lights plants can use CO2 very fast and when the levels fall to around 200PPM the growing rate will be slowed down.

If you don’t want to invest in an exhaust fan or CO2, you can easily increase it by opening your window and letting CO2 in and oxygen out.

5. Recommendations

  • Always make sure you can benefit from CO2, using carbon dioxide inappropriately can damage your plants.
  • To know if you need to inject CO2 read the specifications, most manufacturers will indicate if you need to increase the levels and how much.
  • Have a good CO2 meter in your growing space because if the levels go over 2000PPM it will be toxic for your plants.
  • You can stop injecting CO2 when the lights are off because plants can’t perform photosynthesis without light.

6. How to add CO2 to your grow room

There are several ways to inject carbon dioxide to your growing room, some are more suited for bigger grows than others and can be more expensive but there are ways to increase the CO2 levels in all types of grows.

CO2 generator

Carbon dioxide generators are easy to use and can have an integrated timer that will turn on or off automatically when needed, the downside is they work by burning natural gas or propane and will produce heat so it’s better suited for big growing spaces in which the climate is controlled. 

 

Increase Cannabis Yields With CO2: ways of injecting CO2

There are several ways for you to inject CO2 effectively, independent on the size of your growing space.
 

Compressed CO2 tanks

This is the ideal choice for smaller growing spaces, depending on when you live, it can be fairly easy to find CO2 tanks.

CO2 tanks contain saturated carbon dioxide so they don’t produce heat but you will need to buy equipment to automate it if you wish to.

Bottled CO2

Some brands sell bottled CO2 for those who don’t want to deal with expensive or heavy equipment, this easy-to-work with pre-packaged carbon dioxide bottles content pressurized CO2 that will slowly release it into your growing room but because you cannot seal it after, you will have to buy a bottle after every 5-7 days and it can get expensive.

It really doesn't matter how you do it as long as you do it correctly and with the appropriate equipment, if you do it properly you'll definitely see a big difference.

7. In conclusion

CO2 is better suited for growers who already maxed out their growing equipment and are looking for alternatives to improve their harvests, if you’re a new grower you indeed can try it but it’s better to invest in good growing equipment before trying carbon dioxide.

If you use CO2 in your grow, please feel free to share your experience, leave a comment below!

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