Officers raided a rented terraced house in Victoria Grove and discovered more than 200 plants with a street value of more than £100,000.
It is believed that the farm — which police think is part of a much bigger organised operation in the borough — had a potential yield of about £500,000 per year.
PC Graeme Sharp of the Bolton Central Neighbourhood Policing team, said: “On this occasion we were not acting on reports from neighbours — it was our officers who noticed the smell while out and about in the area. We had to put a fair bit of work into the operation but are very happy to have found it.
“This farm would have had a potential yield of about half a million pounds and we appear to have hit it before any money has been made.”
Officers said the plants were at a stage of growing that meant it had not yet made any money.
A Vietnamese man was arrested at the scene after officers forced their way into the house and caught him trying to escape via a back exit.
Plants were found in two upstairs rooms at the property as well as in the loft with sophisticated equipment installed.
The electricity supply had been bypassed, which police said can be extremely dangerous as they can start fires which may spread to other houses.
PC Sharp said: “This is a row of terraced houses so by bypassing the electricity, whoever is behind this is putting the other residents at risk.”
Residents in Victoria Grove said they were “relieved” the farm had been found.
Neighbour Donna Geraghty, aged 37, added: “I have a 12-year-old daughter and you don’t want to be living next door to that.
“I did report suspicious behaviour next door because for months and months I haven’t seen any signs of life and there is a big air freshener in the window, which I thought was odd.
“It is a shame because I have lived here for six years and it used to be a nice street — I think landlords need to be more vigilant about what is going on in their properties.”
Another neighbour, Jessica Rhodes, aged 20, said: “It always smells of it in this street, so I am pleased they have been caught and hopefully the smell will go away.”
In a separate incident, another cannabis farm was uncovered at a privately rented home in Wigan Road, Westhoughton, at 8.45am.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis and production of cannabis.
The drugs had already been cropped when police arrived Bolton has seen a number of high-profile cannabis raids in recent months — in October a farm was found in Pansy Road, Farnworth, and officers located an operation worth more than £200,000 at a house in Vincent Street, Bolton, in November, where a Vitenamese man was also arrested.
PC Sharp said: “We believe this is just one part of a massive organised crime network in Bolton and we are pleased to have shut down another farm.”
Insp Andy Sidebotham, from Bolton Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, said they had carried out 80 raids in the past year for drugs, stolen goods and firearms.
He added that £1.5 million of cannabis has taken off Bolton central’s streets by police in the past year.
Insp Sidebotham said: “When we informed the wider community about the action we have taken people said they thought there was something suspicious going on.
“I would urge the public to inform us if they think something suspicious is happening in an area as we will look into it.
"If people think something dodgy is going on, phone us. Trust your instinct as it may be something, which today has proved.”