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Ask Erik: Battling Plant & Pest Disease in your Grow Room Featured

  • Written by  Erik Biksa
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Don’t let disease ruin your crop – follow Erik Biksa’s advice. Don’t let disease ruin your crop – follow Erik Biksa’s advice.

 

Q:  I have noticed when it comes to common foliar diseases like powdery mildew, the incident is never the same twice. Using the same strains in the same grow room each time, the powdery mildew will come on differently.

The last time it happened, most of the dreaded fungus occurred on the plants in one corner of the room, closest to the big fan I use for air circulation. These also happened to be the plants I may have overfed slightly.

Another time, the powdery mildew was spread throughout the entire room, with the exception of one particular strain, which accidentally got planted in different parts of the garden.

I am starting to think the powdery mildew isn’t as random as it seemed when I first started growing. What’s your take on my observations, and what do you think is the best way to prevent and treat powdery mildew in my indoor garden?

High quality air filters will trap the spores that cause the disease before they can settle onto the foliage and infect your crop. This will also help to improve plant growth rates because plants like to breathe clean air.

A:  It sounds like you have been spending some “quality time” in your grow room, as you have been observing some of the subtleties that often turn out to be significant factors in growing successes and failures. It pays to keep a close eye on all the little details every time you enter your grow room. It really does come back in dollars and cents sometimes.

Like most aspects of growing, disease prevention and control is a combination of several variables. When these factors are in harmony, there are no problems, but when even one facet becomes skewed, issues can manifest. Plant pathologists call this “The Triangle.” Like all triangles, there are three sides to this equation, and they are 1)Host, 2)Pathogen and 3)Environment.

The host here is the plant, however, plant debris from your last crop can also be the “host,” so keep an open mind when considering these terms. In the case where the overfed plants closest to the fan were infected, you likely had increased air circulation, stressing the plant through faster dehydration. This would be an #3, “environmental,” effect. On top of that, the host was in a weakened state due to the overfeeding. An abundance of nitrogen weakens plant tissue, making it more susceptible to infection. Add the third side of the triangle (the “pathogen”) and there’s your result.

The triangle can also work in your favor. Consider the mystery strain that was resistant. For whatever the reason, the pathogen was present, and the environment allowed the other plants to get infected. Your mystery strain, however, had some natural resistance. It could be genetic, or it could have simply been that the mystery strain happens to thrive in the exact growing environment you created in terms of humidity, temperature, light, etc.

The best thing you can do is to not create a triangle at all by eliminating one side (we suggest removing the presence of the pathogen). However, this is much easier said than done. At the least, you can minimize the influence that the pathogen may have in your triangle by lowering the spore count. One way to do that is by installing HEPA filters and carbon scrubbers. High quality air filters will trap the spores that cause the disease before they can settle onto the foliage and infect your crop. This will also help to improve plant growth rates because plants like to breathe clean air.

Keeping your host as healthy as possible is the best way to tilt the tables in your favour because vibrant plants are less susceptible to infections. Your plants have evolved with a natural resistance to a variety of problems—because they can’t turn and run; they must fight. Supplying your plants with bio-active nutrient ingredients through crop feedings will help to supply the building blocks they need to resist problems and yield larger and better quality harvests.

Cheers,
Erik Biksa

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Last modified on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 22:20

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