How to properly oxygenate and not fry your roots
The majority of growers starting out tend to cultivate in soil or coconut husk. Because of this sometimes certain cannabis cultivation knowledge that should be reserved for soil and coconut husk growers begins to become “mainstream”, such as the dry back methods they use.
These methods are not applicable for all growing styles, and should be talked about, even for soil growers.
High oxygen levels do equate to bigger yields
While it’s true that higher oxygen levels in the root zone will increase growth and decrease potential problems. Things like starving the plants of water to promote the roots to stretch are actually very harmful in certain growing systems such as rockwool, deep water culture, aeroponics or any growing system other than soil and coconut husk. However, still harmful in soil or coconut husk growing methods. This is because the roots have fine hairs surrounding them, otherwise known absorption hairs.
These hairs will die off when the roots dry up, and never return once died unless a new root grows. In soil and coconut husk growing its important to ride the line between not getting root rot and not drying your plants out so much they die.
So, what’s the best alternative to starving them?
If starving the plants of water and nutrients is not the best option, then what is, and why do I notice growth when they are being starved? The answer to this question lies in the increased DO levels of your medium. Soil and coconut husk has the lowest oxygen absorption aside from straight water like in deep water culture. Meaning you always want to add things like perlite, or sand to the soils or coconut husk to help aerate it amongst other amendments. These things aerate the medium allowing higher DO levels, but these mediums still tend to become stagnant and require added boosts of oxygen to the rootzones. This is where the dry back periods come into effect and do help, but there is a better way to do this.
Try this instead: by always keeping the rootzone moist, not soaked and aerating the nutrient solution that is being fed to the plants you get the best of both worlds and allow for optimum plant health. Roots will still go in search of water and nutrients.
Whats "DO" mean?
DO (dissolved oxygen) levels are crucial for the optimum growth of cannabis because they affect the health and productivity of the plant in several ways. Many growers are not taking DO levels seriously and either assume that the splash from pouring it out of the tap or their small air pumps are enough.
Firstly, cannabis roots require lots of oxygen to respire and absorb nutrients properly. Without adequate levels of dissolved oxygen in the water or medium, the roots can become oxygen-starved and begin to die off, leading to stunted growth and nutrient deficiencies.
Tip: you can test DO levels with DO testers; however, they are unfortunately hard to find.
Secondly, dissolved oxygen helps to maintain the proper pH levels in the root zone. When oxygen levels are low, the pH can become acidic, which can inhibit nutrient uptake and lead to other problems like root rot.
Thirdly, high levels of dissolved oxygen in the water help to promote beneficial microbial activity in the root zone, which can help protect the plant from harmful pathogens and increase nutrient availability.
Finally, dissolved oxygen can also help to regulate the temperature of the water in the root zone. Warmer water can hold less dissolved oxygen, so a high level of dissolved oxygen can help to keep the water temperature in the optimal range for cannabis growth.
Overall, maintaining high levels of dissolved oxygen in the water is critical for ensuring healthy cannabis growth and maximizing plant productivity.
If Soil Isn’t the Best, Why Do Soil Grown Flowers Taste So Good?
I wouldn’t go as far as to call this a myth because its true that soil grown flower does taste nice, but, the reason why might surprise you.
Soil and coconut husk provide an inexpensive easy way to start growing cannabis but may not be the most ideal choice for a grow medium for reasons explained previously. But, if this is the case, then why does soil grown cannabis taste good still? This is directly related to the added stress on the plants throughout their life due to the rootzone issues or changes that occur in soil growing conditions.
To understand why rootzone stress can cause increased terpenes and THC lets discuss it a bit.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant that is known for its ability to get you “high”. While THC is often associated with recreational use, it also plays a critical role in the plant’s defense mechanisms and is attributed to increased environmental or root stresses.
One of the primary ways that THC acts as a defense mechanism is by deterring herbivores and insects from eating the plant, which didn’t work too good for this herbivore! THC and other cannabinoids are produced in specialized structures called glandular trichomes, which are located on the surface of the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant. These trichomes produce a sticky resin that generally contains high concentrations of THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids, which gives the plant its distinct odor and flavor.
When an insect or herbivore tries to consume the plant, they may be deterred by the bitter taste and unpleasant psychoactive effects of the THC-rich resin. This can help to protect the plant from being eaten and ensure its survival in the wild.
THC and certain terpenes act as a defense mechanism against pathogens and other environmental stressors. Some research suggests that THC has antimicrobial properties, which may help to protect the plant from bacterial and fungal infections. Additionally, THC may help the plant to better tolerate environmental stressors like high temperatures and drought by reducing water loss and oxidative damage.
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While soil grown flowers can taste good, properly grown recirculating hydroponics methods can offer far greater terpene and THC production. This is because when you have full control of your plants you can add these certain rootzone stresses, environmental stress or certain strains geographical needs at certain times and stay in control, opposed to battling them. By having complete control over your growing systems you can not only produce the most craft quality product, but also do it with less labor.
Soil or coconut husk growing offers a certain level of hands on interaction that you can’t deny is one of the best ways to start growing cannabis. Regardless of how your growing, one thing remains the same and that’s the need for higher oxygen levels in your feed water or growing system. Cannabis is one of the most light and oxygen hungry plants on the planet that we know of and requires lots of oxygen to the root-zone.
Learn how to properly oxygenate your cannabis roots, instead of frying them with amateur dry back methods!