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Growing and Harvesting Bigger Marijuana Buds



Are you ready to unleash the full potential of your cannabis harvest?

Get ready to maximize your yield and grow the biggest, most potent buds. With our expert tips and insider knowledge, you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving cannabis garden.

Let’s dive in and unlock the secret to growing massive, trichome-rich buds every time.

Steps to Take For Growing and Harvesting Bigger Marijuana Buds

Choose High-Yield Cannabis Strains

growing and harvesting bigger cannabis buds

Starting with high-yield genetics is the best way to grow big buds.

While indicas tend to grow shorter and bushier than sativas, this isn’t always the case. Research strain growing information (height, yield size, etc.) of indica, sativa, and hybrid varieties before committing to a strain.

Research reputable seed vendors and consider the following factors to choose the right genetics:

  • Availability of seeds or clones: Seeds are obtained from the pollination of a female plant by a male pant and are used to grow new plants. On the other hand, clones are cuttings taken from a mature “mother” plant and used to grow new plants with identical genetics.
  • Desired effects of the flowers: Different cannabis strains affect the human body differently. Some strains are known for their relaxing properties, while others are known for their energetic and uplifting effects.
  • Desired length of time from planting to harvest: The length of time from planting to harvest can vary between strains. Some strains have a shorter flowering period and are ready for harvest in as little as 8-9 weeks, while others may take longer.
  • Desired yield: Yield is a measure of the amount of buds produced by a cannabis plant. High-yield strains are known for producing large amounts of buds, but it’s important to keep in mind that yield also depends on growing conditions and the care given to the plants.
  • Growing environment: The growing environment can have a significant impact on the yield and quality of cannabis plants. Choose a strain that is well-suited to your growing conditions, including temperature, light, and humidity.
  • Space requirements: Some strains are more compact and better suited for small grow spaces, while others are larger and need more room to grow.

Pro tip: For new growers, we recommend starting with 1-2 indica clones, since indicas are usually easier and faster to grow than sativas. Autoflowering strains are also a good option but aren’t as high-yielding as traditional photoperiod strains.

High-yielding strains include:

  • Bid Bud
  • Northern Lights
  • White Widow
  • Blue Dream
  • Cheese Quake
  • Purple Trainwreck
  • Critical Kush
  • Original Glue
  • Thai Stick
  • Super Silver Haze
  • Amnesia Haze

Further Reading: Learn more about these high-yielding strains with our blog post.

Grow Hydroponic Weed

Hydroponic cannabis grows can produce bigger yields than traditional grow systems. Many commercial growers rely on hydroponic systems like deep water culture (DWC), ebb and flow, and nutrient film technique (NFT), to grow bigger and better plants.

  • Deep Water Culture (DWC) System: The DWC system involves suspending the roots of the plants directly into a nutrient-rich solution. This system provides plants with a consistent water supply and nutrients, leading to rapid growth and high yields.
  • Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) System: The NFT system involves circulating a thin film of nutrient-rich water over the roots of the plants. This system requires careful monitoring to ensure the correct balance of water and nutrients but can result in fast growth and high yields.
  • Ebb and Flow System: The ebb and flow system involves periodically flooding the grow tray with nutrient-rich water, allowing the roots to soak up the nutrients and draining the water back into a reservoir. This system is easy to set up and maintain, making it a popular choice for home growers.
  • Aeroponic System: The aeroponic system involves misting the roots of the plants with a nutrient-rich solution. This system provides an oxygen-rich environment for the roots, leading to rapid growth and high yields.
  • Drip Irrigation System: The drip Irrigation system involves dripping a controlled amount of nutrient-rich water directly onto the roots of the plants. This system is efficient and can result in high yields, but requires careful monitoring to avoid over- or under-watering.

Generally, the idea of hydroponic systems is to provide plant roots with a nutrient-rich solution in a highly-oxygenated environment. Plant roots are supported by an inert medium like Rockwool or hydroton clay pebbles instead of soil. In this environment, plants can absorb nutrients and minerals more effectively.

Growing plants hydroponically can be difficult for first-time growers. However, as long you understand how to manage pH and provide plants with the right nutrient solution mix, you can grow big buds with minimal issues.

A major aspect of having a successful hydroponic garden is the cleanliness of the environment to reduce the risk of disease.

Give Plants Plenty of Light

Cannabis plants thrive in a well-lit environment, which promotes photosynthesis. Choosing the best grow lights for your cannabis garden depends on various factors, including your budget, the grow space, the stage of life of the plant, and your desired yield. The size of your harvest will depend on the amount of light your plants receive.

One of the main types of lighting used in cannabis cultivation is HID (High-Intensity Discharge) lighting. HID lighting comes in two forms, Metal Halide (MH) and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS), and provides a strong, full-spectrum light that is ideal for the flowering stage of growth.

However, HID lighting is energy-intensive and can produce a significant amount of heat, making it important to choose the right size for your grow space and provide proper ventilation.

For HPS lights, consider these recommendations for HPS wattage and distance between lights and plants:

  • 150 watts: 8-12 inches
  • 250 watts: 10-14 inches
  • 400 watts: 12-19 inches
  • 600 watts: 14-25 inches
  • 1000 watts: 16-31 inches

Another type of lighting that is becoming increasingly popular among cannabis growers is LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lighting. LED lighting is energy-efficient and generates very little heat, making it ideal for small grow spaces. LED lights come in various spectrum options and can be customized to provide light specific to the stage of growth.

When choosing lighting for your cannabis grow, it’s important to consider the lights’ wattage, spectrum, and coverage. You’ll want to provide enough light to cover your entire grow area, with a higher wattage being necessary for larger grow spaces. The light spectrum should match the growth stage, with different spectrums used during the vegetative and flowering stages.

Maintain Optimal Temperature and Humidity

Getting the temperature and humidity just right for your plants can make a big difference in yield, bud size, and trichome density. We recommend avoiding going over 80º F during the flowering phase.

For seedlings, the temperature should be around 77º F during the day and 70º at night with a 65-80% humidity. During the vegetative stage, temperatures can range between 71-82º F in the day and 64-75º F at night with a 55-70% humidity.

In the early flowering stage, the plant thrives in temperatures between 68-78º F in the day and 61-72º F at night with 40-50% humidity. In the late flowering stage, keep the temperatures between 64-I’m 75º F in the day and 61-68º F at night with 30-40% humidity.

The excess humidity and heat can increase the risk of bud rot and evaporate the heat-sensitive, aromatic terpenes. Extra chilly temperatures can slow down bud growth and create wispy nugs.


Learn How To Grow Cannabis!

To maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels, it is important to invest in a temperature and humidity control system. This can be as simple as a thermometer and hygrometer to monitor the temperature and humidity levels or as complex as a climate control system with automatic adjustment capabilities.

Remove Male Plants

Before growing marijuana buds to get them bigger, you need to understand that buds developduring the flowering stage. Because the buds have a higher level of THC content, it is essential to get them as big as you can. However, there are some differences between the male and female plants, which you need to know too.

Female marijuana plants produce buds with a higher level of THC than male plants. Male marijuana plants do not produce cannabis buds but can produce leaves and stems with minimal trichomes, although you can still smoke them.

Because the male buds have so much pollen, you have to be careful not to allow female plant pollination. If the female plant gets pollinated, then the marijuana plant will begin to produce seeds instead of buds and have a lower level of THC.

The marijuana buds of the female plant will start to show within two weeks after the buds of the male plant show up. You should focus your attention on the female buds as they are superior tomale pollen sacs.

Further Reading: How to Determine Male vs. Female Marijuana.

Prune Cannabis Plant Leaves

Pruning cannabis plant leaves is an important part of growing and harvesting bigger marijuana buds. By removing yellow, damaged, or infected leaves, you can increase the overall health and vigor of your plants, leading to better yields and more potent buds.

Pruning cannabis plant leaves has several benefits. By removing damaged or yellow leaves, you can reduce the risk of mold and mildew and prevent the spread of disease or pests. Additionally, pruning can increase the amount of light and air reaching your plants’ lower parts, promoting better growth and leading to bigger buds.

Pruning can help your marijuana plant eliminate unnecessary foliage and focus on growing its most critical components.Start by getting rid of the dry leaves. Look for discoloration of the leaves so you know which ones to remove.

To properly prune your cannabis plants, you’ll need a sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors. Cut the leaves close to the stem, being careful not to damage the plant or leave any stubs. After pruning, dispose of the removed leaves and sanitize your pruning tools to prevent spreading disease or pests.

Even though you will remove those leaves, you don’t have to discard them, but you can keep the leaves for curing because the discolored leaves still have a sufficient level of THC content. You use them for recreational smoking while you wait for your bigger marijuana buds.

Train Your Marijuana Plants

Plant training allows you to manipulate how your cannabis plant grows. Plant training techniques range from low-stress training (LST) to high-stress techniques (HST). Plant training usually does not require expensive equipment or extensive training. Consider using LST and HST on your plant, including:

  • Super cropping
  • Screen of green (SCROG)
  • Topping
  • FIMing
  • Manifolding
  • Defoliation

For example, topping your female marijuana plants involves removing the top of the main stem of your vegetative plant. Topping a plant causes additional branches to grow and produce more buds. It also saves the plant energy and helps with pruning.

Further Reading: 7 Methods of Training Cannabis Plants.

Use the Right Ratio of Nutrients

Another thing to consider is using the best nutrients for your marijuana plant throughout its vegetative and flowering stage. Nutrients should be chosen for each phase, the flowering phase. Be careful what nutrients you use during the flowering stage.

To get bigger marijuana buds, make sure the plant receives enough phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. Phosphorus is usually most of what your marijuana plant craves during this stage. To get enough phosphorus for your plant, you could mix water and wood ash and apply them to your plant.

Harvest During Peak Maturity of Trichomes

Harvesting your cannabis plants at the right time is crucial for getting the best yield and potency. One of the most important factors to consider is the maturity of the trichomes on the buds. Trichomes are the small, sticky, glandular structures that cover the buds and contain most of the plant’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds.

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To determine the best time to harvest, you’ll need to examine the trichomes under a magnifying glass. When the trichomes are clear, the buds are not yet fully mature, and you’ll get a more energetic, uplifting high.

As the trichomes start to turn cloudy, the buds are reaching peak maturity, and you’ll get a more relaxing, sedative effect. When the trichomes turn amber, the buds are starting to degrade, and you’ll get a more couch-locking, sleep-inducing high.

It’s important to note that the desired effects will vary depending on personal preferences, so you’ll need to experiment to determine what works best for you. In general, most growers harvest when most trichomes are cloudy, providing a good balance between potency and taste.

When harvesting, handle the buds gently, as they’re delicate and can easily be damaged. You should also dry and cure the buds properly, as this will help to preserve the potency and improve the flavor of the buds.

Learn More About Growing and Harvesting Bigger Marijuana Buds at Cannabis Training University

If you want to learn more about growing and harvesting your plant for bigger marijuana buds visit the Cannabis Training University today. Since 2009, CTU has been the leading cannabis training institute for those who want to start a career or business in the industry.

Whether you are a new or experienced cannabis grower, our complete education guides you through every step of the cultivation process. It provides a wealth of resources, such as additional reading and HD videos, to teach you the latest techniques for growing big buds.

Enroll in Cannabis Training University’s online marijuana college today!

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Expert interview: The science of saving those terps at harvest




Tis the season for murder—terp murder, that is.

Yes, terpenes—those aromatic molecules that make cannabis so special run an annual harvest gauntlet. More than half the terps the plant produces will never make it to the bag. Even more will be smoked without a proper cure.

Growers chop plants too early, they burn terpenes in the dry room, or they rot terpenes in containers that were sealed too soon. Also, sellers sell and consumers smoke flower before it’s fully cured and in its prime.

Leafly has tons of resources to get you through your first harvest season. But we also wanted to recap the basics with an expert. Watch the video above as Leafly Senior Editor David Downs—author of “Marijuana Harvest“—runs down the top tips to save those terps with Bay Area-based expert Post-Harvest Manager Danielle Boudreaux. Tips include:

How to Prevent Mold on Marijuana Plants While Curing
  • Chop plants when trichomes are ripe
  • Hang-dry branches whole in a cool, blacked-out room with a fan gently circulating
  • Keep the drying room at 60F, and the relative humidity at 55RH. Monitor remotely with WiFi sensors from Govee.
  • Hang dry for 10 to 14 days until the thickest bud stems crack, but do not fully break. Don’t rush the dry.
  • Remove branches from the line and finish drying in bins for at least a week until the terpene smell overtakes the water and plant smell
  • Do not seal wet bud in jars—the water and lack of oxygen promotes rotting

If only it all went so smoothly. Watch the video for troubleshooting tips as well.

David Downs

David Downs

Leafly Senior Editor David Downs is the former Cannabis Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’s appeared on The Today Show, and written for Scientific American, The New York Times, WIRED, Rolling Stone, The Onion A/V Club, High Times, and many more outlets. He is a 2023 judge for The Emerald Cup, and has covered weed since 2009.

View David Downs‘s articles

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7 Best Spicy Strains – High in Caryophyllene




Within the cannabis industry, terpenes are highly regarded for their ability to shape the flavours, aromas, and effects of various strains. Of all these terpenes, caryophyllene stands out for its spicy and peppery profile. Interested in the best spicy weed strains? Let’s discuss the 7 best strains with a peppery punch.

Which terpenes are responsible for the aromas in spicy strains?

Terpenes work synergetically with other cannabinoids, creating what is commonly referred to as the entourage effect. This unique collaboration plays a crucial role in shaping the overall sensory experience of cannabis strains and their effects. While a strain’s terpene profile can vary based on factors like genetics and cultivation practices, here are some terpenes commonly associated with spicy weed strains!


Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene found naturally within various plants, most commonly black pepper, cloves and oregano. It is also one of the most prevalent terpenes in cannabis varieties. This compound carries a distinctive spicy and peppery aroma which directly contributes to the unique aroma and flavour profiles. 


Myrcene is a naturally occurring sesquiterpene found in various plant species, such as cannabis, hops, and even some fruits like mangoes. This terpene is known for its distinctive musky and earthy scent and is frequently responsible for the overall aroma and flavour of many different cannabis hybrids.

The top 7 strains high in caryophyllene

Now that we understand that specific terpenes contribute to a strain’s scent. Let’s take a look at seven weed strains that are high in caryophyllene!

1. Jack Herer

Jack Herer was created in the early 1990s by meticulously crossbreeding Haze with Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk. It was named in honour of the cannabis activist and Ben Dronker’s close friend, Jack Herer. This weed strain has gained worldwide popularity within the cannabis community and was even the first hybrid to be prescribed by Dutch pharmacies. It has also won numerous cannabis cups, further solidifying its status as an outstanding hybrid.

This cultivar thrives in a Mediterranean climate and can produce some impressive yields with ideal growing conditions. Jack Herer has four phenotypes, three of which are sativas and one of which is an indica. This strain is particularly well-suited for producing concentrates because of its high resin production. Growers can use training techniques like SOG or SCROG to increase yields even further!

The terpene profile of Jack Herer is known for being extraordinarily spicy and contains abundant levels of the pepper-scented terpene, beta-caryophyllene. The aromatic notes are complex and intense, featuring a blend of sharp, savoury, and earthy flavours that escalate after the harvest. Jack Herer is known for its uplifting and cerebral effects when consumed, providing users with a soaring high accompanied by a slight body buzz.

2. White Diesel Haze

White Diesel Haze was meticulously crafted by crossing Haze and Ruderalis with NYC Diesel. It is a sativa-dominant hybrid with an exquisitely spicy profile and is an excellent choice for those seeking an energy boost throughout the day.

This particular weed strain stands out among other sativas due to its distinctive qualities. Its compact and stocky structure allows it to thrive even in colder climates, making it an ideal choice for growers in Northern Europe. Its autoflowering traits make it an easy-to-grow cultivar with a pungent terpene profile and frosty dense buds.

With high levels of beta-caryophyllene and myrcene, White Diesel Haze has a remarkable terpene profile featuring an unmistakable aroma of pungent diesel fuel, complemented by subtle undertones of tangy grapefruit, sweet pineapple, and refreshing citrus notes. This weed strain is ideal for daytime use, as it delivers an invigorating and uplifting high that enhances creativity and mental clarity.

3. White Widow

A prevalent cultivar in the Dutch coffeeshop scene since the early 1990s is White Widow. Our dedicated team of breeders carefully developed this revolutionary hybrid by crossing a Brazillian sativa with a South Indian indica. This weed strain has triumphed in numerous cannabis cups and remains a favourite among enthusiasts to this day.

As the name suggests, White Widow has dense, dark green, resinous buds covered with sticky white trichomes and deep orange pistils. Its dense structure, tight internodal spacing, and robust, resilient characteristics make it a popular choice for commercial growers.

White Widow has a distinctly peppery aroma, accompanied by subtle hints of tangy citrus that perfectly complement undertones of moist earth, sandalwood, and spicy charas. It offers a well-balanced blend of cerebral stimulation and physical relaxation, increasing creativity and mental clarity before transitioning into a calming body high. Its spicy flavour and uplifting effects make it an excellent choice for those seeking a well-rounded cannabis experience.

4. Chemdawg

According to popular belief, a cultivator from the United States named Chemdog acquired a top-quality ounce of cannabis at a Grateful Dead concert in 1991, containing a handful of seeds. After germinating them, he selected the finest phenotypes and shared them with fellow cannabis in the community. It has since been utilised to create unique hybrids with distinct terpene profiles and has become a representation of ingenuity and originality within the cannabis community.

The buds of Chemdawg tend to be dense and resinous, often covered in a thick blanket of trichomes. Densely packed calyxes help contribute to its high resin production. During flowering, Chemdawg exhibits a range of colours visible throughout the foliage and bud structure, including deep shades of purple and vibrant orange or red pistils.

Chemdawg has a highly distinctive aroma, renowned for its spicy profile that is high in beta-caryophyllene and myrcene with low concentrations of limonene. It has an exceptionally gassy flavour reminiscent of gasoline, with subtle hints of zesty citrus and fresh sandalwood that accompany pungent notes of hashish. According to many cannabis enthusiasts, it provides a stimulating and uplifting cerebral boost that transitions into a soothing body buzz.

5. Durban

The breeders at Sensi Seeds developed Durban by taking the best characteristics of the original landrace, Durban Poison, native to Durban in South Africa. It is considered one of the purest sativas in our collection and was bred to thrive in temperate climates.

Shorter than most sativas, Durban has a compact structure, tight internodal spacing, and elongated lateral branches that support dense bud formations. As it enters the flowering stage, the calyxes swell, and pistils change into vibrant deep red and pink hues. This short-flowering cultivar has impressive resistance to mould and can be grown outdoors in most climates. Its resilience and robust properties make it a standout option for novice growers.

Durban is known for its unique peppery aroma, featuring loud notes of tangy citrus, pungent aniseed, damp earth, and subtle undertones of coffee, sandalwood, and cacao. This weed strain is highly regarded among the cannabis community for its potent cerebral effects that boost creativity and mental clarity. Despite its powerful effects, Durban is also known for its incredibly calming and relaxing properties.

6. OG Kush

OG Kush was developed in California during the 1990s and has gained worldwide recognition as an indica-dominant powerhouse! There has been much discussion within the cannabis community about whether the “OG” in OG Kush stands for Ocean Grown or Original Gangster. However, given its origins in a coastal region with fertile soil, many tend to lean towards the former. Nevertheless, we would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

This powerhouse displays its indica characteristics through its short stature, abundant lateral branches, and thick foliage. The buds are large, compact, and covered in a sticky resin with a beautiful lime-green hue. For optimal growth, it is recommended to cultivate these plants indoors with lighting or in a Mediterranean climate.

OG Kush has a rather pungent and complex aroma profile, with noticeable levels of caryophyllene, limonene and myrcene. It emits a pungent odour reminiscent of diesel fuel among earthy and piney notes, with subtle hints of tangy citrus and skunk. 

Well-balanced high that induces a sense of uplifting euphoria and increases creativity before dissipating into a full-body high which relaxes the muscles. Its effects are well-balanced, starting with a joyful and creative high that eventually transitions into a full-body relaxation which relaxes the muscles. However, be warned: it can be pretty sedative in larger doses.

7. Silver Fire

Initially introduced as part of our Sensi Seeds Research project, it was added to our catalogue permanently in 2019. Silver Fire is an indica-dominant hybrid developed by interbreeding our award-winning Silver Haze with the ever-popular Fire OG.

This cultivar is known to flourish in a warm, Mediterranean climate. It has a classic sativa morphology with a tall, elegant structure, thick apical mainstem, elongated lateral branches, and sufficient internodal spacing. Those growing Silver Fire can anticipate clusters of dense, sizeable buds with extremely swollen calyxes coated in a sparkling blanket of trichomes.

The high concentration of myrcene and caryophyllene is responsible for its piquant allure. Silver Fire’s flavour profile includes a delightful combination of sweet and spicy scents with hints of mouth-watering citrus, fresh sandalwood and spicy hashish. Many connoisseurs have praised its balanced effects and reported feeling an uplifted, creative high that induces mental and physical relaxation.

The fascinating world of spicy weed

In conclusion, the world of cannabis provides a diverse range of experiences. These spicy weed strains provide unforgettable experiences due to the interplay between terpenes and cannabinoids. Spicy strains entice users with vibrant flavours and effects, but personal preferences can be crucial in choosing your favourite. In comparison, some enthusiasts might prefer the subtle pepperiness of Durban, and others might enjoy the citrus undertones of White Widow. What are your favourites?

  • Disclaimer:

    Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.

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Weed disease hop latent viroid is coming for your plants




Across North America, something called Hop Latent Viroid (HLV) is wreaking havoc. This virus-like infection can make plants sickly and destroy harvests. It’s highly contagious. Studies have estimated that perhaps 40% of cannabis flower sold legally in Canada carries HLV. As much as 90% of cannabis in California might be infected, costing billions of dollars in lost yields. 
What exactly is Hop Latent Viroid (HLV), how does it work, and what can growers do to protect their precious Cannabis plants?

Cannabis plants can catch HLV when they come into physical contact with infected plants.

Hop Latent Viroid: What are viroids & How are they different than viruses?

Plants with hop latent viroid infection look stunted and mal-developed. (Shuttersotck)
Hop latent viroid infection causes seedling death and stunted growth—and it’s spreading. (Shutterstock)

Viruses are tiny infectious agents. They can infect animals, plants, or single-celled organisms. They are much smaller than even a bacteria cell, consisting of a small piece of genetic material (DNA or RNA) protected by a protein shell. These protective shells help preserve the genetic material of the virus and contain various proteins enabling them to infect specific host cells. 

Viroids are similar to viruses, but different in key ways. Viroids do not have a protective protein shell. Instead, they are small circular strands of RNA. They seem to specialize in infecting flowering plants. In other words, they are tiny, “naked” pieces of genetic material that infect certain plant species, causing disease. When they infect valuable crops grown by humans, such as Cannabis, this can have a devastating economic impact. 

The “goal” of viruses and viroids is the same: replication. They cannot reproduce on their own. They must come into direct contact with the right host cell, smuggle their genetic material inside, and hijack the cell’s replication machinery. Eventually, the host cell fills up with viral particles and bursts open. When you get sick with a viral infection–such as COVID or the common cold–it’s because your immune system is responding to a large number of these viral particles circulating throughout the body.


Marijuana seedling and plant care

Hop latent viroid: What does it do to cannabis plants?

Hop Latent Viroid is a viroid that infects hop plants, which are used to brew beer. Cannabis is a relative of hops. In recent years, HLV jumped from hops to Cannabis. Infected plants show various defects, ranging from stunted growth and reduced foliage to uneven trichome coverage and decreased cannabinoid production–symptoms of what’s been called “duds disease.” This is a huge problem for cannabis growers, whose livelihoods depend on reliably growing healthy, cannabinoid-rich plants with bountiful harvests.

Cannabis plants infected with HLV show obvious outward defects: smaller overall sizes, reduced root development, and discoloration. Here are some pictures. They have smaller flowers (the part of the plant meant for human consumption), and can produce up to 50% fewer cannabinoids, like THC.

How does hop latent viroid (HLV) spread in cannabis

Similar to viruses, viroids like HLV need to come into direct contact with their hosts to infect them. Cannabis plants can catch HLV when they come into physical contact with infected plants. Although HLV doesn’t infect humans, we can spread it between plants through contact with body surfaces, tools, or equipment. Contaminated water supplies are also a major source of infection, as HLV tends to concentrate in the roots. 

All of these potential points of infection enable the rapid spread of HLV, as Cannabis plants are often grown in high density, require human contact at multiple points of the production process, and can be connected to common water supplies (e.g. in hydroponic systems).

Hop latent viroid can also spread from mother plants to offspring, both through clones generated by taking cuttings and through seeds. All offspring can potentially carry HLV if their parent is infected. This makes it essential to identify infected plants, even if there are no obvious outward signs of infection or you’re working with tissue culture systems with physically isolated samples.

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Because HLV is so contagious, it has already spread widely and caused mass losses for Cannabis growers. It is likely to continue spreading. Growers must be prepared.

How can growers protect against hop latent viroid (HLV)?

Whether or not growers are already battling HLV, they need to have processes in place to test and remove infected plants. It is obviously important to learn how to visually identify potentially infected plants, but it’s always possible to miss subtle signs.

As far as I can tell, the only reliable way to be sure whether plants are infected is to conduct genetic testing, similar to what would be done to detect something like COVID infection in yourself. A sample must be taken from a potentially infected individual and subjected to a laboratory test capable of detecting the presence of genetic material from a particular pathogen. 

For Cannabis growers, this means either developing in-house capabilities and purchasing test kits, or sending samples out for testing elsewhere. Any plants known or suspected to be infected with HLV need to be immediately removed to prevent the spread of infection. Plants in close proximity, even if they show no signs of infection, should be quarantined or monitored closely.

Being diligent could mean the difference from a few infected plants vs. the loss of an entire harvest. 

Dr. Zamir Punja’s research team has conducted studies looking at how well HLV infections can be managed using a test-and-remove approach. They were able to reduce the percentage of infected plants from 35% to 7% over a period of seven months. In other words, handling a HLV outbreak is likely to be costly in terms of time, labor, and money. For commercial Cannabis growers, it is advisable to have a robust detection process in place, before isolated infections turn into full-blown outbreaks. Being diligent could mean the difference from a few infected plants vs. the loss of an entire harvest. 

Other preventative measures should also be taken. HLV is surprisingly stable on surfaces, with the ability to survive for days or even weeks on equipment or plant material. This viroid is also apparently capable of withstanding high heat, UV radiation, and disinfectants to some extent. For these reasons, growers need to be proactive and conscientious about hygiene. Are tools and equipment being fully sterilized between uses? Are supplies and staff traveling between rooms with different plants? How often are disposable items being reused and thrown out?


Identifying bud rot, mold, and root rot on marijuana plants

Any large-scale growers with high-density grow operations should be prepared, especially if their plants share common water supplies, nutrient sources, and soil. Given the rapid spread of HLV, Cannabis cultivators everywhere should be prepared. As I’m sure we all know by now, viral outbreaks are difficult to manage and can be highly disruptive. Growing Cannabis is hard. It’s a science and an art form. In an already competitive market with slim profit margins and the inability to deduct normal business expenses due to the schedule I legal status of marijuana, every harvest counts.

Be prepared.

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