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Premature Crop Rotation: When Transplants Won't Wait For Your Current Crop to Ripen Featured

What happens when you need to move your transplants before your current crop is ready to go? What happens when you need to move your transplants before your current crop is ready to go?

 

Q: My indoor crop isn’t quite done yet, but I need it to ripen because my transplants are getting too big to keep in my clone box any longer. What can I do? I don’t want my future crop to suffer from lack of light and space, but I also don’t want to hurt the yield in my main garden. The clone box is in a spare closet, and my crop is in a grow tent in a spare room.

A: That’s a great question, because for growers sometimes the greatest challenge comes down to how we balance all the variables that affect our harvests. Look at the big picture. If you are a year-round grower (and it sounds like you are), examine your yearly output rather than your per-crop output. For example, if harvesting 10 or 15 days earlier means that you can squeeze four crops out of the year rather than three, it might be worth a small decrease in yield on a per-crop basis to reap the benefits of producing more annually. 

Think of the Young Ones

Yes, the health of your transplants will play a strong role in your potential for cropping success in your next grow cycle. If they are compromised by poor conditions because your new transplants have outgrown the source of light and space, you invite problems such as lower yields and inferior quality in the crop-to-be. 

Try adding more blue light and keep it on 24/7 for your rooted clones; high-Kelvin ratings and longer days keep growth tighter, conserving space. If necessary, take your clones out of the box and transplant them into a bigger container.

Many growers also leave their crop in uninterrupted darkness for 48 hours or longer prior to harvesting, remarking that the stress created by total darkness triggers plants to finish more evenly and completely.

Use the rest of the closet space to add some temporary high-output fluorescent lights. This will give them the space and light they need without creating too much extra work or expense. You may need an additional charcoal scrubber to keep the air stirred and fresh in the closet. An open door should be fine to regulate any extra heat from the fluorescent lamps you add. If you can, lower the temperature and cut back on feeding and watering without starving your plants. This can help slow them down for an extra week or so. A portable air conditioner or an open window that doesn’t expose bright light might do the trick.

Ready, Set, Ripen!

In the main garden, the ripening process can be accelerated a little without hurting crop quality. Lower the lights-on temperature to 70¬∞F, cut back on CO2 and dim (or raise) the lights while increasing the dark cycle by an hour or two. A heavy flush with a rinsing solution or plain water will also help to trigger the plant to finish ripening. Watch out that humidity levels don’t get too high and create problems.

Adding more fertilizers or additives at this point is not recommended and will likely prolong ripening (although doing so could possibly create heavier yields per crop). Opting for straight water at the end also helps to recondition the growing medium for reuse on the next crop. 

Some growers, especially those growing in recycling hydroponic systems, have found that shock-ripening their plants with very cold nutrient solution irrigations (55F) can also help to speed up harvests, and in some instances enhance crop qualities like coloration and aroma. Many growers also leave their crop in uninterrupted darkness for 48 hours or longer prior to harvesting, remarking that the stress created by total darkness triggers plants to finish more evenly and completely.

Be advised that there is no magic bullet for ripening. It’s best not to take any chances with your crop once you have applied all your regular ripening formulas and are in the final couple of weeks before harvest. Imagine all your soon-to-be-harvested beautiful flowers scorched and without fragrance because you applied some chemical-based additive in an attempt to bypass this important natural process. Think of the months wasted and dollars lost.

Experiencing Premature Crop Rotation?

If you do have to harvest a little early, try prolonging the drying and curing process. The extra time you spend here can help to make up for the faster takedown, allowing aromas and flavors to be the best they can be.

Cheers, Erik Biksa

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You probably already know how to transplant your favorite plant. How different is it from transplanting lettuce?
Last modified on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 03:40

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