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How to use the Sea of Green method for explosive yields

Sea of green

Sea of Green or SOG is a method of training cannabis to achieve higher yields. Learn how and why to SOG here.

What is the Sea of Green method?

The sea of green (SOG) method is a technique used to maximize yield in a limited grow space. 

​​This method involves growing a large number of small-sized plants closely together, with the aim of harnessing and optimizing the plants’ energy and resources. Single colas from each plant is the goal in a SoG setup. One main, central cola ensures that each plant is only sending energy there, and nowhere else.

Why use the SOG method?

By cultivating a dense and uniform canopy, the Sea of Green method allows growers to expedite the flowering process, increase overall productivity, and improve resource efficiency. 

This technique is particularly useful for growers with limited space, as it enables them to obtain higher yields from that space, in a shorter amount of time.

By using smaller plants and a shorter vegetative growth phase, the overall grow cycle is significantly shortened. This allows for more frequent harvests, making it ideal for commercial growers.

Utilizing the SoG method will ensure every watt of light is going directly to a uniform canopy. This is beneficial for a few reasons, but the main one is simply that if you have a canopy with highs and lows there will be parts getting too much light, and some not getting enough. You can turn down the light or raise it higher to avoid leaf burn, but again you will have parts receiving less than optimal lighting.

What do you need for a Sea of Green set up?

To successfully grow a Sea of Green, you will need several key elements. Firstly, you will need a suitable growing space, such as a grow tent or a designated area with proper ventilation, temperature, and humidity control. 

SOG Method

One of the many benefits of this method is its small footprint, making it perfect for stealth growers or anybody with limited space. Additionally, you will need high-quality cannabis seeds or clones that are known to thrive in the Sea of Green grow.

An efficient lighting setup is crucial for growing a Sea of Green, as it encourages fast vegetative growth and tight node spacing. This can be achieved using LED, fluorescent, or high-intensity discharge (HID) lights, depending on your budget and preferences.

A nutrient-rich soil, or if growing hydroponically, coco coir paired with a high quality nutrient solution, is essential for optimum plant growth. You will need a PH reader to check the PH is the correct range for the different stages of growth. An EC reader is also essential to measure the amount of nutrients in your water solution.

There are many Sea of Green setup pictures online to draw inspiration from, choosing your system comes down to the constraints of your growing space, knowledge, and budget.

Lastly, sufficient knowledge and experience in pruning, training, and managing plant spacing are vital to achieve a successful Sea of Green. This technique focuses on cultivating multiple small plants instead of fewer large ones, so adequate care and attention to detail are necessary to maximize yields.

How to SOG

Step 1: Germinating

Most growers using the Sea of Green setup will opt for clones over seeds when starting up, as they will all be genetically identical, which helps keep an even rate of growth, which translates to an even canopy of uniform buds down the line. 

Another benefit of using clones for your Sea of Green is the reduced time they will take to finish. Bear in mind that with clones, you have around 2 weeks from when you take to cutting, to it having a healthy root system. 

Germinating seeds, and taking clone cuttings on the same day will both produce similar sized plants in 2 weeks, but be aware that seeds will germinate at different rates, even seeds from the same plant will have different characteristics whereas clones are exact genetic copies of its mother and will grow in unison with one another.

Germinated cannabis seed. Hovering Hemp. Sale of cannabis seeds. Macro photo cultivation seeds. Details Root on a white background. Marijuana seeds. Many sprouting cannabis seeds. close-up macro.

To germinate seeds for the sea of green method, growers typically soak them in water for a few hours, then transfer them to a damp paper towel or germination tray. This allows the seeds to absorb water and activate the enzymes necessary for growth. Within a few days, the seeds will develop a taproot, indicating successful germination.

Step 2: Transplanting

Once your seed has developed a healthy taproot around an inch long, you are ready to transplant. Gently remove the seedling from the paper towel, and place them in your preferred growing medium.

 If growing in soil or coco, create a 1.5 cm hole in the center of your medium, gently place the seedling in the hole, and cover with medium. Avoid directly watering at this stage, using a plant mister will ensure the surrounding soil/coco is moist but not wet. 

Step 3: Vegging plants

Once your seedling has sprouted from your medium, it will begin to grow its true leaves. If growing indoors, your lighting schedule should be 18 hours on, and 6 hours of complete darkness. Autoflowers are tolerant to more lighting hours, and are far more tolerant to light leaks.

During the veg phase in a Sea of Green, the focus is on encouraging rapid growth and development of multiple small plants, rather than allowing them to grow large individually. Reducing the veg time from 4–8 weeks (typical veg time) to 2–4 weeks means each plant will only have time to grow up, not out.

 

By reducing veg time, growers can bring their plants to the flowering stage more quickly, leading to faster harvest cycles. This allows for a higher number of harvests per year and increases overall productivity. This level of efficiency may not seem important to the hobbyist, but to a commercial operation, it is essential. 

If choosing to grow Autoflowers, the veg time is set by the genetics of each individual strain, and can not be altered by changing light cycles. Some Autoflower growers choose to leave the lights on anywhere from 18–24 hours a day to incentivize more growth.

Step 4: Positioning pots

Pots can, and should, be small. 5L is ideal for Sea of Green style Cannabis. This small size ensures the plants don’t get too tall, and instead focus their energy on producing a fat central cola. As the goal is to keep the plants small, there is no need to allow space for a large root system that will never appear. 

16 plants per square meter of floor space is a good amount, this equates to 20 cm of separation between each plant. Placing plants any closer than this runs the risk of insufficient air flow between the plants. Any further apart and you start to lose the main benefit of SoG, which is high yield per square meter. 

Step 5: Trimming, pruning and topping

After the canopy forms, you can trim the branches underneath it, so no energy is wasted developing side branch growth. You can propagate these trimmings and use them for clones in the future. Note that autoflowers can not be cloned.

As the plants develop, continue pruning off any additional foliage that inhibits light penetration. Focus on removing large fan leaves that shade lower branches and buds. Be careful not to over-prune, as leaves are essential for photosynthesis. Only remove what is absolutely necessary to maintain adequate airflow and light distribution. A net to support the colas is highly recommended for Sea of Green, as it is one of the highest yielding methods per SQM, it will be very top-heavy. Any unsupported colas will cause stress to the plant and degrade quality. Plants in the center of the SoG can somewhat support themselves, but those on the perimeter will have no support from neighboring plants, therefore a net over everything makes the most sense.

Finally, there is topping. There are differing opinions on how to best create a SoG, but many growers top their seedlings by removing the tips of seedlings when they have about 4–6 pairs of leaves. Topping can increase the number of bud sites, but if you have enough plants, you will have enough bud sites. It’s often easier to grow fewer plants, so for a grower without time concerns, you can get a lot of the benefits of Sea of Green with fewer plants by simply topping your seedlings and giving them an extra few days or a week in the vegetative stage.

Step 6: Harvesting

In the final weeks/days of your grow, use a jewelers loupe or USB microscope to inspect the trichomes on your buds. Depending on the strain you have selected, there will be an optimum ratio of white/cloudy/amber trichomes that should be reached before making the decision to harvest. 

To begin harvesting, first (carefully) remove the support net at one end and start removing plants. Avoid any unnecessary tugging of the net or plants in the process, as this can damage the buds and remove precious trichomes.

Once all the plants have been removed, you can start the drying, and curing process.

When to put plants in a Sea of Green

You should place your seedlings/clones in position as soon as possible. Having the plants close together from the beginning is beneficial, as it incentivizes upward growth. It is suggested to install netting at the beginning of your grow, since it becomes difficult to access the centrally located plants as they grow bigger and are so close together.

Sea of Green yields

Sea of Green yields will generally be larger than traditional growing techniques per square meter, this alone is a great reason to try it, but the main benefit is the vastly shorter growing cycle which means you can harvest more times per year. 

Best strains for Sea of Green

Some types of weed are not suitable for the Sea of Green method. For instance, sativas are a bit more leggy, and have a longer flowering time, which goes against what you are trying to achieve.

Always choose indica clones or seeds for your Sea of Green, as they are shorter, and have a faster flowering time.

It goes without saying, but ALWAYS buy feminized seeds (if using seeds) for a SoG, as looking for, and removing male plants is hard at the best of times, and extremely difficult in a densely packed SoG setup. You may find out too late that a male plant has been hiding in the middle. If this occurs, and you don’t remove the male in time, it will pollinate the females, which results in them focusing their energy into producing seeds, not buds. Not good.

Strain selection becomes particularly important when it comes to this growing configuration, as any pest or climate related issues can become exacerbated by the close proximity of the plants.

Below, we will cover our 4 best cultivars for use in a Sea of Green method.

Lemon Cherry Gelato

Lemon Cherry Gelato is a Cannatique Farms product cultivated in Oakland, where Sunset Sherbert, GSC, and an unknown strain were used to create the exquisite buds. Sunset Sherbert is an Indica-dominant mix between GSC and Pink Panties.

Easy to grow and maintain in a sea of Green. Grow Lemon Cherry Gelato seeds in a warm, humid environment for the most outstanding results.

First Class Funk

First Class Funk is an Indica-dominant hybrid strain (60% Indica/40% Sativa) made by crossing GMO and Jet Fuel Gelato.

First Class Funk strain is relatively easy to cultivate, with a high tolerance for diseases, pests, bugs, powdery mildew, and mold. These characteristics combine to make First Class Funk strain one of the finest alternatives for a SoG setup.

Pink Certz

Pink Certz is a hybrid cannabis strain that was created by crossing Grape Gasoline and The Menthol. Best grown in a hydroponic Sea of Green. Whether it be coco in pots, or mediumless. Can be grown indoors or outdoors.

Not the easiest strain to grow, best suited for growers that have a few good harvests under their belt already.

Jealousy

Jealousy strain seeds were bred initially by Seeds Junky genetics and are a product of crossing Gelato 41 with Sherbert B×1.

Jealousy seeds are an ideal starter for beginners since the strain readily adapts to most environments and requires little maintenance. It can be grown successfully indoors or outdoors and will produce fantastic, vibrant green buds. 

This high yielding cultivar has a strong but beautiful aroma while growing, consider odor control measures if this is a concern.

SOG FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions about Sea of Green

Does SOG give better yields?

Per square meter, yes. Per plant, no. 

You can never expect a single Sea of Green plant to ever come close to something that has had a far longer veg period (ScrOG for example), and more intensive training. The Sea of Green growing method is so successful due to its strength in numbers. 10 SoG plants will outperform a single plant of the same size, in terms of yield. It’s also worth noting that an indoor Sea of Green setup, with optimal lighting etc., will outperform its outdoor SoG counterpart. 

How many plants should be put in a Sea of Green?

As many as you can (legally) get your hands on. 16 per square meter is a good rule of thumb, but there is no reason to stop at just 1 square meter, if you have the right facilities. 

Adequate ventilation, air flow, even lighting, access and climate control all play a huge role in the success or failure of growing cannabis in any setting. You can find examples of commercial growers having hundreds of plants in a SoG layout, but again, you need the facilities and equipment otherwise it’s likely to wind up suffering from disease or climate related issues.

Can you use Sea of Green for Autoflower plants?

Yes, you can. And to get the most from Autoflowers, you should.

In smaller pots, these strains will grow a dominant central bloom, with little side growth. This is exactly what you’re looking for in a SoG setup. 

Autoflowers in general will flower quicker than their photoperiod counterparts, this is great for the SoG technique because, as mentioned earlier, we aren’t looking for big plants that take forever. Sea of Green Autoflowers are a perfect fit and tick every box when it comes to a successful grow. Quick veg stage, short stature, single central bloom and now a huge strain selection make Autoflowers a clear winner when it comes to selecting your plants for a SoG.

One downside of Autoflowers in a SoG is that you will need an abundance of seeds at the start of each grow, as you cannot clone from an Auto.

Can you SOG in hydroponics?

Yes. Should you? Depends. 

Sea of Green hydroponics has its pros and cons.

Growing a Sea of Green hydroponic crop can speed up the growth process, but it can come with challenges. The easiest way to grow a hydroponic SoG is to substitute your pots of soil for pots of coco and use a good quality nutrient solution. Due to the massive amount of plants compared to other techniques, rigging up dozens of automated fully hydroponic systems may not be the best fit for this growing technique. Leaks, technical issues, inconsistent flow rates and other common issues are compounded by the sheer amount of plants.

SoG is a brilliant technique for many reasons, but most growers appreciate it for its simplicity and low maintenance. Making it FULLY hydroponic can take away from that.

Are there downsides to a Sea of Green?

Ok. Let’s get into the downsides and limitations of SoG weed.

Number of seeds/clones to get started

Growers will need at least 5x the amount of seeds/clones to get started (compared to ScrOG or similar). 

This is not a major financial issue if you clone (photoperiod only) as you go. There is the associated labor hours and clone equipment cost, but this is usually balanced out by getting your next round of seedlings for “free”, in house.

Autoflowers need to come from seeds only

Although Autos are the best candidate for a SoG, you will need a constant supply of seeds as you can’t take clones of them. If you don’t have a readily available supply of Autoflower seeds for each run, then you will have to opt for a photoperiod cannabis Sea of Green.

Legal restrictions on plant numbers

Just about every state, territory, or country will have a limit on how many cannabis plants you can grow without some sort of commercial license. Ensure you do not exceed this number. If your state only allows 4 plants, then SoG is not a good idea, unless you are working with a tiny grow space. You can not Sea of Green one plant, that’s essentially just a small plant.

Limited training of plants

This one may not seem like a downside to many, but one of the best ways to learn about growing is to train, manipulate and otherwise experiment on your plants as they grow (HST + LST). SoG cannabis requires just a little defoliation and inspection of plants for pests/disease. This hands off method is appealing to commercial growers and others looking for a big yield quickly, but it’s far from the best method if you’re looking to educate yourself on how cannabis reacts to different scenarios. 

Constant monitoring

This is true with ANY method of growing cannabis, if you don’t monitor, you risk everything.

Plants grown this close together will require constant monitoring, as the risk of disease spreading is increased the closer plants are placed.

Good airflow is essential, as the density of plants will increase the chance of mold and bud rot. Pests can also be hard to spot and eradicate due to the condensed nature of the SoG grow.

More plants to water

The amount of water given will be similar to that of a traditional grow, but the larger amount of pots to water can be a pain to do by hand, expensive to automate and time-consuming to initially set up.

Limited to growing just one strain

As a Sea of Green requires an even, level canopy, different strains are not suitable together as they will grow at different heights/rates. This lack of genetic diversity can also increase the risk of pests and diseases.

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Sam North

Sam North is a content writer with a passion for everything cannabis. After working multiple seasons on weed farms absorbing the ins and outs of cannabis cultivation and culture, he decided to transition into a role that would allow him to work from anywhere, anytime. Sam now writes for multiple weed publications. He has extensive experience with a wide range of canna-agriculture styles, from smaller artisanal farms to large-scale commercial operations, and is here to share his knowledge to give you all the best chance of cultivation success. About this Author

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