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NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT IN CANNABIS

Author: Mr. Arik Kaparovsky, Head Agronomist at SMART! Fertilizer Management software, and an international expert in farm fertilizer management.

 

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Cannabis originates in Southeast Asia and includes three species: C. indica, C. sativa and C. reduralis. It is a dioecious, annual plant.

GROWING CONDITIONS

 

SOIL

Cannabis can be grown in soil or soilless media. The optimal pH for healthy growth ranges between 5.9 and 6.5. The pH level should be controlled during cultivation.

 

CLIMATE

The optimal temperature during the day is 75°F to 86°F (24°C to 30°C). Higher or lower temperatures will reduce flowering rates and will have a negative effect on yield and quality.

 

LIGHT CONTROL

When growing hydroponically indoors, the duration of the growth stages can be controlled by changing the exposure of the crop to varying light intensities. When daylight time is between 16-24 hours per day, cannabis plants will undergo rapid vegetative growth. When daylight hours begin to shorten, the plants will go more quickly to an indication of flowering.

 

When using artificial light, the light intensity will have an effect on the total growth, growth duration, water management, and nutritional demand of the cannabis plants.

 

NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS - LOW LIGHT TREATMENT

N (ppm) P (ppm) K (ppm) Zn (ppm) Mg (ppm) B (ppm)
Stage Name
First 2 weeks 80 40 140 0.3 50 0.3
Growth 300 60 215 0.3 60 0.3
Flowering 100 70 200 0.3 60 0.3

 *The full list of nutrients is given in the software. Try it free, click here

 

NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS - INTENSE LIGHT TREATMENT

N (ppm) P (ppm) K (ppm) Zn (ppm) Mg (ppm) B (ppm)
Stage Name
First 2 weeks 100 40 140 0.3 50 0.3
Growth 350 60 215 0.3 60 0.3
Flowering 110 70 200 0.3 60 0.3

 *The full list of nutrients is given in the software. Try it free, click here

 

GROWTH CYCLE

 

ESTABLISHMENT

 

The final cannabis product is usually female-only without female pollination. To prevent male differentiation or crop variation, cannabis is usually planted as rooted cuttings. After a short time for establishment (about 14 days from planting), the vegetative phase will start.

 

GROWTH (VEGETATIVE) PHASE

 

The vegetative phase lasts about 45 days, during which time the plant requires a significant amount of light strength. Nutrient requirements are high, especially nitrogen, potassium and micronutrients.

 

No more guesswork!

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FLOWERING PHASE

 

The duration of the flowering stage varies among different species and can range from 50 to 140 days. This growth stage will start when the darkness photoperiod exceeds 10 hours. During the flowering stage, the nutrient requirements of cannabis change as well; the plant will require larger amounts of potassium and less nitrogen (which encourages vegetative growth).

 

NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT

 

When growing hydroponically, optimal conditions can be maintained, so as to achieve maximum yield potential at the best quality.

In hydroponic systems, fertilizers are provided to cannabis by applying a nutrient solution, prepared according to its current nutrient requirements, growing conditions and nutrient content of the source water. We recommend to test the source water periodically, in order to obtain the exact fertilizer formula that will meet the crop demand.

 

The main objective of crop nutrient management is to apply the right rates of nutrients at the right time, based on the dynamic conditions. Best results can be achieved by adjusting the applied nutrient solution, based on the variations in the growing conditions, such as temperature, humidity, source water quality, pH, salinity (EC/TDS), the composition of the nutrient solution (especially if recycled). These parameters are easy to monitor, and should be measure frequently.

 


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Measuring the dynamic parameters is crucial and easy to do. The main challenge in nutrient management, is to translate the information into actionable actions, that will improve the yields and quality.

For this, growers need a specific recommendation system, a decision support tool that will help them make the right decisions, based on all factors that affect cannabis growth.