The Cannabis industry is experiencing rapid growth, but not all growers are using the same practices. There are many growing methods and tools used for the cultivation of cannabis, from organic hydroponics to soil-based grow processes, but each of these methods has its own unique benefits and drawbacks.
Although organic cannabis cultivation has been around for decades there is a wide range of practices and techniques used by growers to adapt to the changing industry. The intention of this article is to provide the reader with some insight into the best practices that the author has observed to be relevant from a commercial perspective in the context of commercial cannabis cultivation.
This whitepaper will be an attempt to discuss what techniques have worked for the propagation of Cannabis and what have not. The focus will be on the commercial side of the industry and will include the basic principles of soil husbandry, plant nutrition, and water management. By the end of this document, we hope to provide the commercial grower with a set of “best practices” for commercial propagation of cannabis.
Creating optimal cannabis plant material allows for continuous plant development from propagation to harvest. Although in some cases it can be advantageous for growers to outsource propagation to specialist nurseries, many commercial companies prefer to keep essential propagation processes in-house. Fortunately, cannabis can be easily propagated by seed germination or asexually through cloning or online reproduction. Cannabis is a dioecious plant, which means that in most populations the pistil and the stamens (female and male) are reproductive organs in different individuals. This reproductive trait leads to genetic recombination at each generation and to greater phenotypic diversity compared to self-pollinated plant species. Dioecia further complicates the propagation of cannabis seeds on a commercial scale, as only weedy plants are desirable for cannabinoid production.
Best practices for cuttings
Most commercial cannabis varieties for the wilted flower market are now propagated by clonal propagation or cuttings. Totipotency, the cellular plasticity of plants, allows the asexual reproduction of multiple genetically identical clones of the parent plant. This method of propagation produces plants that meet all the characteristics, including the synthesis of cannabinoids and terpenes, viability and resistance to pests. Cannabis cuttings should be taken from strong shoots of healthy plants. After the cuttings are removed from the dispenser, they are cut and then immediately immersed in water or rooting solution to maintain water transport through the shoot. Rooting solutions typically contain plant tonics such as vitamin B1, growth factors from algae and other botanicals, and bioprotectants to limit the development of fungal pathogens. Cuttings can be successfully rooted in a variety of media as long as proper growing conditions are maintained. A small format (plug, disk or cube) is usually used for rooting. The air/water ratio in the medium is crucial for the successful rooting of cuttings. Initially, high saturation levels are required to transport water through the cuttings, and the gradual drying of the medium promotes oxygen access and rooting of the appendages. The medium is prepared with a chub to receive the clones. When removing each cutting from the mortar, the lower part of the stem is cut with clean, sharp scissors at 3 to 4 cm from the top of the growth. This cut is made at an acute angle to promote water absorption by the xylem and to expose undifferentiated cells of the phloem tissue for root initiation. Soaking cuttings in rooting formulas containing synthetic auxins before planting can shorten the time required to form root primordia. After rooting in the medium, the trays containing the clones are placed under conditions that allow the cuttings to remain swollen until rooting. Such a climate typically includes a relative humidity of 75% to 90% at a temperature of 72°F to 80°F. Light intensity should be low (150-250 µmol) to limit photosynthesis and the associated need for water transport. These climate parameters can be maintained in the distribution rooms by humidifiers, energy curtains and other climate modifiers. For most varieties, it takes 6 to 12 days for the shoots to take root.
Be careful when germinating
Although phenotypic variability will continue to limit seed multiplication for floriculture, seedling multiplication will remain attractive to growers targeting the commercial cannabinoid market. To take advantage of labor efficiency in germinating seed for production crops, an affordable source of feminized seed that phenotypically matches important horticultural traits is needed. Given the specific costs associated with purchasing high quality cannabis seeds compared to seeds from more advanced plants, additional concerns about germination are often warranted. Hemp seed germination is highly variable and is affected by ratio, stratification, storage and cultural conditions. Cannabis seeds should be stored in a dark, dry and cool place. To do this, pack them in opaque glass jars sealed with bags of desiccant and store in the refrigerator. Cold stratification can effectively break the dormancy of cannabis seeds. Scarifying the seed coat increases the success and regularity of germination. This is done by soaking the cannabis seeds in a hydrogen peroxide solution for 16 to 20 hours. This treatment not only softens the seed coat, but also increases the oxygen supply and eliminates any fungal pathogens present. If the seeds are soaked for a long time, seed tails form, which can be damaged during sowing. The appropriate scarifying solution for this procedure can be prepared from one part 3% H2O2 household solution and six parts water. The result is a solution containing approximately 0.5% H2O2. When sowing by hand, the seeds should be well planted, fully in contact with the medium and have the ideal air-to-water ratio. The seeds should be covered with a loose medium not more than twice the diameter of the seeds, and watered. In climate zones conducive to germination, maintain a relative humidity of 60-70% with active air circulation. After the appearance of the first true set of leaves, most seedlings receive a relatively high amount of light (more than 250 μmol) to reduce leaf loss or elongation. Under proper germination conditions, cotyledons or leaves should appear within three to six days of sowing. The growing climate also encourages fungal pathogens. These areas should be regularly inspected for signs of disease pressure and proactive use of integrated pest management methods should be used. Bioprotectants are widely used to control diseases such as wilt, and resistant populations of beneficial predators can be established early in the plant life cycle. Each crop rotation offers the possibility of an exceptional production cycle. The selection and cultivation of superior plants is the first step in this pursuit of perfection.Commercial cannabis cultivation and production is a burgeoning industry. It is estimated that this will be the largest cannabis industry in the world by 2020, with an estimated $21.5 billion in annual sales. Much of this growth is due to the numerous advantages of the legal and commercial cannabis industry compared to the illegal recreational and medical cannabis industries.. Read more about greenhouse management pdf and let us know what you think.
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