CANNABIS: Guide to Sea of Green (SOG) for Massive Yields

If you’ve ever seen cannabis growing indoors or in a greenhouse then you’ll most likely remember a tightly packed canopy of buds. Cannabis growers call this the Sea of Green Method (SOG). The benefit of growing cannabis using a SOG is to accelerate bud development to gain large yields as quickly as possible. This method of growing calls for more plants per square foot and a short vegetative stage. The most popular benefits of a SOG grow include:

  • high yields
  • quicker harvests
  • efficient space utilization
  • efficient use of resources

When growing plants using SOG you will get bud sites quickly since you don’t need to “top” the plants. The faster the buds form means more harvests you can fit in a year. For cannabis businesses or anyone else whose goals rely on consistent harvests of big yields, SOG is an important method for speeding up your crop cycles for consistently high yields.

Close-up photo showing a Sea of Green setup

Brief History of the Sea of Green (SOG) Method

When the marijuana industry first moved to indoor growing, farmers began to use artificial light to control flowering times. This meant that they could increase yields and shorten harvest times by growing more plants in a smaller space, a method now known as a Sea of Green. But this was not always a popular method for growing.

The traditional way of growing used large marijuana plants, which comes from the outdoor farming methods practiced in Northern California and Humboldt.  In the region known as the “Emerald Triangle”, growers had all summer to produce large vegetative cannabis plants before fall came around to flower. Some of these trees could produce upwards of two to three pounds or more.

Photo of an outdoor cannabis farm in Humboldt

When the marijuana industry began transitioning to indoor growing, farmers began to increase the density of their grow rooms to use light and space efficiently. Over time, these farmers realized that by growing smaller plants using the SOG method, they could get more harvests while saving on HVAC, water, fertilizer, labor, and other costs.

Determining How Many Plants Per Square Foot Using a Sea of Green

The number of plants per square foot should be determined based on how much space you have available. Using the SOG method of cultivation, we generally recommend 1 plant per square foot, with no more than 2 plants per square foot max.

How to Use the Sea of Green (SOG) Method

It’s simple to begin growing in a Sea of Green in just a few simple steps, but first, you’ll want to consider that:

  • The SOG method works best with cannabis genetics that are more compact since you will be placing plants close together
  • The cannabis plants should all be the same height to create a uniform canopy. That’s why we recommend sourcing your starter plants using cutting propagation or tissue culture methods
sea of green per square foot
Photo of a Sea of Green in the flowering stage

Now that you’ve chosen the plants you want to work with, it’s time to start growing with these basic rules-of-thumb:

  1. Once your propagated cannabis plants are ready, move them into the vegetative stage for 2-3 weeks instead of the 2-6 weeks used in other methods
  2. After 2-3 weeks you can change your lighting and environment for the flowering stage
  3. As the canopy closes, you can trim the lower branches for better airflow and top growth
  4. Harvest when you’re satisfied with the results
  5. Repeat
Photo of LED lights on a Sea of Green

It seems simple, right? Well, for the most part, it is. The difficulty comes when you need to adjust environmental parameters and genetics to improve flower yields. Luckily, we’ve got the lighting part of the equation dialed in for you:

  1. When your cannabis clones are starting out, light them with 150-200 micromoles and gently increase to 550 micromoles for the vegetative stage
  2. Set your lights to a vegetative setting (18 hours on and 12 hours off) for the duration of the vegetative cycle
  3. Plan to slowly transition your plants from the vegetative to flowering stages by gently increasing from 550-800 or more micromoles. Generally, more light equals better Sea of Green yield per square foot, with 1% light equal to 1% yield up to a threshold
  4. Change your lighting to a setting of 12 hours on and 12 hours off. Lighting at 12 hours will induce the flowering stage

Helpful Tip: You can use specialized grow light software to automatically adjust lighting intensity when transitioning between growth stages.

led lights on sea of green
Photo showing lighting layout for a SOG grow

When setting up your grow room, consider these tips when setting up your SOG environment:

  • You will benefit from CO2 enrichment in vegetative and flowering stages, up to 1500 ppm
  • Vapor pressure deficit is a helpful number you can use to dial in your temperature and humidity
  • Decrease humidity when transitioning to the flowering stage to prevent the spread of disease

To get your grow room lighting, temperature, humidity, VPD, and CO2 right, use the helpful SOG growing guide below and get started in no time!

detailed growing guide
A detailed growing guide for the Sea of Green method

Helpful Tip: Before starting your own Sea of Green, it’s important to check the local regulations in your region.  Some cannabis authorities and governments limit the number of plants you can have.  If this is the case, there are other growing methods that will be better suited for high yields with fewer plants than using a SOG.


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