The Pro Grows: Critical by Royal Queen Seeds

Why should you grow Critical

Royal Queen Seeds states on the product page of Critical that it is “the ultimate cash crop”. And only there you will find that expression! On top of that it has decent values on the datasheet and a whooping 600 reviews from other growers.

So as with Justin Bieber – can’t be bad if it has such a great fanbase, eh?

I just built my new light earlier in 2018 and wanted to test the limits of my setup back then. I was not up for taste or bagappeal (two things this strain has great values in nontheless), i wanted a massive yield!

cannabis plant in flower
The ultimate cash crop – Royal Queen Seeds Critical – Picture taken on the day it was harvested

Items and Tools that I used for that grow

TL;DR – Critical

  • Strain: RQS Critical feminized
  • From seed to weed: 97 days (veg 39 days, flower 58 days)
  • Wet harvest weight (wet trimmed): 1264 gr
  • Final dry yield: 309 gr
  • Effect: Strong / Couch / Body
  • Taste: Oldschool / Pungy / earthyGrow it…
    …if you want big buds and an nothing to do for the rest of the day.

    …if you look for compact plants.
    …if you like to use LST on your plants.
    …if you are looking for a good starter strain.
    Don’t grow it…
    …if you want fruity flavours.

    …if you are looking a plant high in size.
    …if you are a haze advocate

The Grow

Germination and seedling stage : Week 0-2 veg

Royal Queen Seeds rarely disappoints with the quality of their products. The germination rate was 4/4 (100%) and the plants looked healthy and ready to go from the start. I used my IKEA greenhouse and my 72 W fluorescent lights for the start. My tent was still in use, so the little ones had to start outside of it. They were transplanted very early: about 7 days after first green. In this time of the grow theres not much happening. The Critical didnt like the hot BioBizz all mix very much, but got used to it after a few days in the big pot.
In this stage you just keep watering every other day.

Pro Tip about watering seedlings: Don’t water too much. Seedlings can not hold their own weight very well. So just water the surface of the soil around it to prevent the seedling from falling to the side. Once the stem has established a proper thickness, you can start the Pros Way of watering, i will describe further down.

young cannabis plants in a greenhouse
Seedlings under the fluorescent light. The plant to the left is a clone. Just ignore her 🙂

Vegetative Growth: Week 3-5 veg

After two weeks in the medium the seedling enters its vegetative stage. It is now much stronger and can also hold its own weight after you flood the medium.

Pro Tip about watering in general: Im using a technique called flooding to water my plants. I use about 1/4 to 1/3 of the pot volume in water and give it to my plants. Watering has to be gently! If you spill to much into the pot you will create a channel in the soil where the water just will funnel through. Using this tech will give the plants roots more oxygen: Water closes gaps in the soil. If you water too often the plants just drowns from oxygen deprivation, watering less can result in underwatering. Both will give you a stressed plant and a stressed grower. If you use this tech you can expect to water them only every 5-3 days, since the whole pot will be soaked.


So my watering can of 5 l will be enough for two of the plants to get water. So after mixing in the nutrition you can start watering. I usually dont give nutes right away. Most specialized cannabis soil is premixed with nutrition which is more than enough for the start and even further in.

Pro Tip about nutrition: Water when they need it, nute when they crave for it.” are words to live by. You can treat your plant to get used to nutrition tho. Just follow the nutrition chart of the brand closely. If you use BioBizz soil and nutes you will get a detailed chart that you can follow. Buy a syringe of a cup to measure the amounts of nutes needed for the particular stage and you are fine. If you are new: Don’t give them nutes by good measure! This is one of the most common reasons plants die early – overnuting. Overfeeding a plant is not necesarry lethal, but it takes an uncessary amount of work to help the plants get back on track.

Critical is very nice to spread. It answers exceptional well to techs like LST, which i started about three weeks in. If you can see a good amount of the second node, you can start bending the stems to encourage the side nodes to get more energy. In the end you want to big branches bend down while the smaller ones catch up on them. This process goes by in days and you can soon bend over the newer branches as well.
In the end you want even developed budsite all over the plant to have a nice uniform grow. Critical is also not a massive stretcher, so dont expect plants that are high in size. LST really brings out the bonsai structure in Critical.

Learn all about Low Stress Training like a Pro!

Low stress training of a young cannabis plant
LST with metal hooks. Bend the stems to the side to encourage uniform development. The plant will thank you later!

After week 4 I added defoliation to the training program. This means that i cut away the fanleafs that steal light from lower budsites. I do this very selectively in the vegstate and extensively in flowering. The extreme version of defoliation is called schwazzing. But im not a big fan of this.

Pro Tip – Maximize yield with high potential flowers: In some books or even the BioBizz feeding chart you can read about a vegtime of about “two weeks”. This is totally bullshit if you start from seed in big containers. Theres a technique called Sea Of Green where this is a decent amount of time to get the plants started. But in 3 gal pots or more the roots need much more time to fill up. My tip is: Take a photo from directly above canopy. If you cannot see the ground anymore because its all green with budsites its go time!

Transition to flowering: Week 1-3 flower

To “flip” a plant you just change the timer of the light to 12hrs of light a day. This will initiate flowering and bud production. The end of the branches are called budsites. The transition is a key stage in growing. There is actually happening so much you cant lose track! The stretch and growth are the to main problems to fight with. You will find new big fan leafs everyday to cut away. Defoliation is key in this stage as well as bringing the stretch under control.

Pro Tip: The transition to flowering is technically still connected to vegetative grow. So you can still train your plants, since the stems are still somewhat bendy. Its important to get a hold of some branches that want to grow to high.

If done right you will enter week four with as many buds of the same height as possible.

cannabis plants in early flower process of defoliation
Defoliation. Cut away the leafs that casts shadows on the buds. Helping them to get more of the sweet energy they crave.

The race: Week 4-8 flower

The datasheet says she will make the run in 7 to 8 weeks of flowering. This is a good ballpark number, but its almost necessery to go to the upper end of these to make sure shes ripe. In the end i wont go for this measure anyways. The last weeks are really boring. You just watch the plants fatten up and try to keep your patience. Feed her according to the schedule and you will have a great harvest! The anticipation and blindness for change will become really problematic for some new growers. Learn to go through it til the end. you can do it! The Critical never had problems with deficiencies, toxicities or pests. She was a breeze to grow up until day 58 of flower when i took all of them down at once.

Cannabis plant in the middle of flower
Critical in mid flower. So many buds! They will just fatten up

Pro Tip about training in flower: Leave her alone. Seriously you did everything you could in preparation. Now its on her. Let her go. If you find single fan leafs over a bud, remove them. But dont bend, break or top anymore. Just leave her in peace and you will earn it later.

Cannabis plant towards the end of flower
Pistils are still white and pointing upwards. These plants need a bit more time.

Pro Tip about the harvest: This is one of the most asked questions from new growers! “Does she look ready? I think she is ready.” There is a subreddit with a nice meme for that. It says: “two more weeks.” If you think shes ready, just give her two more weeks. It wont hurt, trust me. New growers tend to harvest too early and are rewarded with rough smokes, low THC numbers and the awful haytaste. Let her build up the trichomes, watch them closely and just do not be stupid.

pre harvest picture of bonsai cannabis
These are about to be ready. The trichomes on the buds are opaque or amber now, the pistils are layed down on the bud. Mouthwatering view.

Harvest

Get some scissors, beers, a friend or two, your camera to make nice budshots for your kids, some stoner movie on Netflix and go. At this time i still did wet trimming. You did not wait 97 days to fuck it up here! At first you remove all fanleafs that have no trichomes on them. You see trichomes? You keep the leaf! Its trim at the least to make extracts like hash or dab from it. Cut down a bud, take your time with it and cut away as much leafs as you can find, to leave only bud behind. The less green matter in the end, the smoother your smoke will be. Critical was okay to harvest. Weed can be a total bitch if it comes to harvesting.

Pro Tip about wet trimming: I do not endorse wet trimming anymore. The difference is definetly there. Wet trim leads to a shorter drying period and you can start curing faster. But this leads also to less taste in the end. My Tip: Drying and curing is a slow process, and leafs on the buds slow it down by a good margin. Hanging the whole plant upside down for 1-2 weeks is a better way to do it. So if you can wait for nicer weed, keep the leafs and trim dry. Dry trimming is also a total bitch, but in all seriousness, more rewarding.

cannabis flowers in a drying net
Buds in a dry rack. This is controversial: The buds lay flat there, that means they can get out of shape and loose bag appeal. They also tend to dry a bit too fast. They will be in here for four days in darkness.

Drying and Curing

After we were done we put the buds on the hanging nets in the dark and just four days later the buds are trimmed a bit further and put into glass jars, with the lid open. The buds felt very crispy on the nets, but will remoist very fast if packed tightly. So you keep the lid open to let go of the moisture. The packing slows down drying and starts the curing process. You want your weed to be fermented before it reaches its final state. After a few days (2-3) the lid can be closed for some hours (6-12). check them regulary. If they still feel very moist when you open the lid, keep it open and shuffle the buds around. Repeat until you can keep the jar closed for 24hrs. After this your plant is pretty much dried and will now ferment. This process open ended. You could smoke the buds as soon as you get them from the drying rack. But they will taste best if smoked right now.

dried cannabis flowers
One last thing after bringing her to life, care for her and killing her: cherish her existence. <3

Consuming Critical

Criticals effect is just strong. I mean RQS tells you the THC content is just about 18% (which is still significantly higher than most streetweed) but not on the level of some more modern stuff. It’s still a strain I can’t really smoke alone. This Indica dominant hybrid hits you like a truck, so be sure you have someone to pass it after you puff it. 😤
Smell and taste is very old school: earthy, skunky. The prototype smell of what’s in your moms head when she tells you that she smells weed.
I can also recommend this strain to new growers: You can’t really overnute her, she is a fast one and yields a ton after all. Perfect microgrow / homegrow strain!

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