By Chris Van Hook, cleangreencert.com
Late rains disrupted the early season this year with most of the crops stabilizing by mid-season. Powdery mildew and slow plant growth were problems until mid-season in many cases. Farmers are concerned with market disruption due to the ongoing federal crackdown. Pressure on legal dispensaries has made the connection between grower and non-growing collective members more difficult.
Despite all this, the cannabis industry is exploding with scientific innovation.
Energy efficiency for indoor farming still needs improvement. Inda-gro is a manufacturer with a proven technology for lamps that uses up to 70% less energy and produces less heat (cutting air conditioning costs) with bulbs that are warranted for 10 years. They have reports and data online at inda-gro.com. Best part — they are built right here in the USA.
Spider mites have long been a problem for indoor farmers, and more outdoor farmers across the West are seeing outbreaks in their crops. Synthetic insecticides and fungicides are not registered for cannabis and many are dangerous for the worker as well as the consumer. Northern California research lab/collective Dr. Green Thumb has been testing a safer alternative to chemical sprays by adding citronella oil to OMRI-listed Safer Grow Mildew Cure, a plant wash to combat mites. He uses it on indoor, outdoor and greenhouse plants. Add 150 drops of citronella oil to a quart container of ‘mildew cure,’ mix it up and use as directed on the bottle. This appears to increase the effectiveness of the wash and to work on powdery mildew, spider mites and leaf hoppers. Spray in early morning or just before the lamps go off, as direct sun and lights may burn wet leaves. The mix can be used preventively every three days until the early buds set to disrupt the pests’ egg/life cycle.
I recently watched a trial of three different well known brands of potting soils that shed light on the problem of soil variability. Using six established clones each in three different soils, by week six it was clear that the subsets varied quite a bit in growth within each brand of soil. There are differences among potting soil brands and within shipments of soil from the same brand. Even soils mixed from ingredients at the farm can vary quite a bit in the composition of each batch. A solution? Mix the soils thoroughly. If using ten bags of soil, mix them together to get the most uniform blend. If using different types of soil, thoroughly mix them before filling any containers. Adding amendments can compensate for deficiencies from purchased soil, but be certain that the entire combination is mixed well so as to reduce variation between soils and get more uniform plant growth.
To produce more bud from the same plant, give the top of a young bud a pinch and a twist to deform it a bit. The result will be a triple headed bud that might not be as long but is much wider, thereby increasing bud canopy. Try it and see.
The increased pressure on established dispensaries has caused many farmers to rethink their plans. Rather than relying on facilities that may be shut down, small to mid-sized growers are creating their own collectives to serve groups of cannabis patients just large enough to consume the supply the grower produces. It’s an adaptation of CSA (community supported agriculture), used extensively in small scale standard agriculture. It takes work to develop your own ‘direct access to patients’ and it is important that the legal framework is sound. Once it’s up and running, patient lists grow and the medicine is properly contained within a small collective they can control. Many see this as a way to move forward.
More energy-efficient grow rooms, safer methods for pest control, better soil testing and smaller grower/patient collectives are ways in which the community continues to move ahead and adapt to the ever-changing landscape.