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Get a Grip: Stressed Plants Cost You Money Featured

  • Written by  M.K.
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Stress can have a negative effect on you and your plants. Stress can have a negative effect on you and your plants.

 

After almost every crop cycle, there will be one or two things you’ll wish you had done differently, often at the beginning of the grow. Many problems that arise in a growing environment can be handled with minimal effort if they’re caught and attended to early on. However, in some cases a problem goes unseen or misdiagnosed and spirals out of control. One small problem can cost a grower a lot of money, but that loss isn’t a certainty. A little foresight can go a long way.

Like any successful businessperson, a good commercial grower understands how small details affect the bottom line. Even a 10% increase in yield or a noticeable improvement in the quality of your fruit can mean serious extra dollars for an entrepreneur in a competitive marketplace. On the other hand, stressed plants can hinder your business. Over the years, I’ve discovered some plant stresses that occur regularly. These are common problems that hurt the plants’ yield potential. Fortunately, most are straightforward to deal with if you’re properly informed and act quickly after identifying the cause.

Let’s begin by looking at how stressed plants become stunted, thus affecting your yield. Using containers that are too small during your plants’ growth can lead to plants becoming root-bound. In this condition, the roots spiral around at the bottom of the container trying to spread out, but are unable to. The side effects of this condition include stunted height and thickening of the stalk’s membrane, which can lead to the plants having a woodier feel in the main stem. This condition also slows nutrient uptake, lessening yield and quality. Root-bound plants can be easily avoided by training your plants. Start off in small pots, and transplant to larger sizes at appropriate intervals in the plants’ development. Just be aware that it’s a bad idea to transplant within two weeks of the bloom phase because this creates additional stress on the crop.

It might be tempting to rev up your plants with larger doses, but when it comes to CO2 and your crop, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. 


Maintaining the right temperature in the grow room is another facet of the growing process in which the small details count. If your grow room is too hot or CO2 levels are too high during the ripening phase, your fruits can end up with poor flavor and aroma, which means your product becomes less desirable and another grower with superior quality can lure away your customers. When it comes to temperature, I personally run my rooms at 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the light cycle and 74 to 76 degrees during the night cycle. I have found that my plants like those conditions best and respond by growing strong and healthy, and by yielding robust fruits.

When it comes to CO2, I continue to encounter growers who think you should match the parts per million of your nutrient solution to your CO2. This is not a scientific method, but merely an old wives’ tale, and it’s certainly no way to operate a large-scale commercial grow. Most plants are best enriched with a CO2 level of 1250 ppm or less. It might be tempting to rev up your plants with larger doses, but when it comes to CO2 and your crop, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Overwatering can also be a problem for beginning growers. If you have trouble gauging a plant’s moisture levels, purchase an inexpensive moisture meter. This meat thermometer-looking device will give you a somewhat accurate gauge of the level of moisture in the soil, and you can water accordingly. Most commercial growers have watering down to a strict method, which is easy since a controlled environment keeps most conditions constant. However, just because you have a process in place doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be aware of the needs of your plants.

Probably the most common misstep I’ve seen over the years is growers or their employees not taking the time to inspect their plants thoroughly for signs of stress. This is a recipe for disaster. I’ve employed and interacted with a wide range of workers throughout my career, and I realize that sometimes employees can be overworked or stressed out. During these times, they’ll rush through their duties, which means they don’t properly check every individual plant’s rate of growth or inspect the leaves and soil for signs of insects or disease. That kind of negligence can lead to an all-out infestation in mere days, but can be easily prevented if proper attention is given to the plants.
You wouldn’t use the same fertilizer program to grow coconuts as you would a cactus because every plant species is different and utilizes unique nutrient components.


It seems as though all the old clichés apply to the growing business: Haste really does make waste. When a worker goes into the grow room and feeds the plants as quickly as possible, he is not taking the time to do the job correctly. The old splash-and-dash just won’t cut it. Be mindful of employees who are inclined to take shortcuts with the care of your crop.

One of the more creative measures I use to help keep my employees on the path to optimally develop our crops is actually quite easy: Pick up one of those large 2-foot-by-3-foot calendars. On each day of the grow cycle, mark a column labeled A, B, C and D, and leave room to write a few notes below. Each letter will correspond to a particular plant in a different area of your growing environment. For every day the grow room is tended to, record the height of the plant. Also, mark down any useful information such as room temperature, humidity level, CO2 level, and the ppm/EC of your nutrient solution. This will allow you to look back step-by-step at the entire cycle and see what worked and what didn’t. It’s simple and informative, and it only takes a few minutes each visit to check the plants and jot down the relevant info. This way, if you have a problem, you can look back and see what you did or didn’t do to cause the issue. With correct record keeping, you can make help to sure the problem doesn’t arise again.

 Growing with a crop-specific nutrient program is a surefire way to ensure optimal crop health, helping you to avoid common problems that could cost you profits. You wouldn’t use the same fertilizer program to grow coconuts as you would a cactus because every plant species is different and utilizes unique nutrient components.

All of these things we’ve discussed today will help you have a better growing experience. Additionally, here are a few more tips to help you stay happy with your grow room:

-  Containers that are too small during your plants’ growth can lead to the plants being root-bound.

-  Maintaining the right grow room temperature is another facet of the growing process. Aim for 78-80 degrees in the light cycle and 74-76 degrees during the night cycle. Most plants are best enriched with a CO2 level of 1250 ppm or less.

-  Overwatering can also be a problem for beginning growers. If you have trouble gauging a plant’s moisture levels, purchase an inexpensive moisture meter.

-  B-52 alleviates the yield-diminishing effects of environmental stresses. Remember, stressed plants are far more easily infected by diseases or overcome by pests.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 18:54

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