Dry Farming is a cultivation method that has been gaining popularity among cannabis growers over the past few years. This method uses exclusively subterranean water or rainwater to irrigate the plants . It became increasingly relevant in 2016  in Humboldt County (California) due to the huge drought that the area went through. Plenty of growers moved over to that area because its irregular geography kept crops away from prying eyes. This started a tendency that meant a before and an after in the cannabis world. 

Dry Farming emerged during the Industrial Revolution in the XVIII century thanks to the invention of farming machinery; which allowed the cultivation of soils that would have been previously considered as sterile. This invention pushed farmers to move to these new cultivation areas; which is similar to what’s happening with Humboldt nowadays but in the cannabis field. 

How does Dry Farming work?

This method doesn’t contemplate manual irrigation, therefore, the only two options to hydrate the crop are rain and soil. The first one is unpredictable, therefore, the grower has to prepare the land to make sure that subterranean water reaches the roots of the plants. Sunshine Cereceda, Sunboldt Grown’s founder, mentions to the MJ Biz Daily that “ You need to scrape the capillaries of the soil after seeding because it promotes water to move upwards”.

He also mentions that he was very surprised by how this method works; “On hottest days, when the soil is warmer, is when it is most humid. This happens due to evaporation, soil gets warm, water evaporates and moves upwards, reaching the roots”, explains Cereceda.

However, this cultivation method also takes into account other aspects that might favor the crop, such as rain or geographical accidents. Cereceda himself founded Sunboldt on the bottom of a hill, which means that rain and ice water end up on the crop.

dry farming marijuana

Dry Farming benefits

Due to the drought California went through in 2016, cannabis growers had to think of other ways to make their crops succeed. However, making the decision to go dry farming  wasn’t easy: “ Dry farming is not for the faint-hearted”, said Sunshine Johnston, professional grower, during an interview with Cannabis Now. Johnson says that when she saw her plants growing so slowly and poorly looking, she was sure she had made a mistake. However, the crop recovered slowly and as a matter of fact, formed bigger and more resinous buds, with up to 30.5% more of THC.

Cereceda also mentions that dry farming boosts cannabis pure flavors: “My buds don’t have excess water, therefore, they dry and cure very well. Besides, as there is less interference with the growth of the plant, flavors are intensified”.

Growers who grow cannabis with the dry farming method have noticed that avoiding fertilizers and additives actually boosts flavors and increases the formation of resin, trichomes and cannabinoids. Soil conditions drastically reduce fungi and plagues that could ruin the crop, therefore growers are less worried about such nuisances.

Lastly, and although it might seem contradictory, plants are smaller but they don’t have less flowers because they grow great quality buds all over the surface.

Does Dry Farming reduce environmental impact?


It’s undeniable that not using water for farming is beneficial for the environment. The conclusion we can make out of this is that cannabis doesn’t really need as much water as it normally receives. Johnston mentions that “ Cannabis plants do way better with less water and less fertilizers. Cannabis crops usually use up a lot of water, but I carry out successful grows with very little of it. Cannabis intensive farming is really not necessary”.

For this reason, water usage for cannabis grows is closely monitored in areas where its cultivation is legal, like for example, California. Farms that grow cannabis legally are very careful and try hard to minimize environmental impact, such as water usage. This favors the implementation of sustainable cannabis crops over the next few years.

Dry Farming


Very few people talk about the erosion this type of growing causes to the land; “Dry farming dues cause certain problems. It’s great not to use any water, but are we compromising the land? What’s more important, not to use water or preserve the soil?. “I incline towards the second one”, concludes Cereceda.

He mentions that the soil makes a big effort to keep the plants hydrated. Due to this work load, the land becomes naked and if we add the necessary scraping to open the capillaries that promote hydration, the soil end up suffering erosion. “I’m looking for other ways to carry out dry farming without harming the soil; and also for more gentle ways to keep the capillaries open.

He also gives ideas to minimize dry farming impact, such as avoiding the use of tractors and other machinery (or use the least aggressive ones); or throw wood splinters around sterile soil to keep the capillaries of the soil open.

As a final conclusion, Dry Farming is environmentally friendly and promotes healthy, sturdy and potent plants. Therefore, it is quite likely that this method will soon trespass USA frontiers and become popular all over the world.

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Erik Collado

With more than 10 years of background in the cannabis sector, his experience and knowledge are the base of GB The Green Brand’s success

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