To grow weed successfully, any grower worth their salt should manage three key problems: chemical contamination, pests, and mold.You can keep pests from appearing in your garden by checking everything you bring into the growing room and filtering the air. You can avoid pesticide contamination by ensuring that nutrients do not contain harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, you cannot control mold as easy as the other problems.
Those who live in a dry climate may not be familiar with this problem, but growers living in a more humid climate might know how fast and easy it is to let mold get into your garden and how difficult it is to get rid of it.
Molds can spoil your plants and prevent flowering; what’s more, molds may be dangerous for human health as well. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to spot mold on the buds, and if you later consume contaminated weed, it may result with a number of symptoms, such as allergies, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, heart palpitations, trouble breathing, coughing, and even asthma. In some cases (it depends on the type of mold and the way of exposure), mold can cause even more serious consequences: pulmonitis (an inflammation of the alveoli in the lungs) and mycetoma (or aspergilloma), a condition when fungi grow inside the lungs.
Luckily, mold contamination can be easily detected on time, so you can deal with the problem and avoid spoiling your cannabis garden.
First, let us have a look at the kinds of mold that can attack your plants.
Some types of mold are easy to spot: they reveal themselves by their moist, gray, black, or brown appearance. Others are almost invisible to the naked eye, so you need to use a magnifying glass or inspect the plants under a black light. There are five types of mold that you can expect to detect: Aspergillus, Botrytis, Mucor, Penicillium, and Rhizopus.
Aspergillus: This is not one mold but a family of a few hundred molds; these molds can be found worldwide regardless of the type of climate. Aspergillus has a very distinctive unpleasant smell which you could compare to rotten food or stinky shoes. This kind of mold can cause serious diseases not only in plants but also in humans and animals. These are mostly pulmonary infections and allergies, though if the immune system works fine, it can handle the danger.
Botrytis affects mostly edible plants, such as grapes, strawberries, or tomatoes. Cannabis is also one of its favorite “victims.” This kind of mold appear in hot and humid conditions and prefers to attack the plants that have cuts or that have lost some branches. Botrytis looks like dusty-gray spots that quickly grow in size and literally suck the life from the plants. In most cases, this mold is not dangerous to humans, though a rare form of it may cause a respiratory allergic reaction (so-called “winegrower’s lung”) in predisposed individuals.
Mucor is generally not dangerous to humans, it is mostly found in soil, on plants, or in rotten leaves or vegetables. Mucor is white, sometimes a bit grayish or beige. Its colonies grow very fast, so once they trap on your cannabis plant, you need to react immediately.
Penicillium is best known for producing penicillin that is used as an antibiotic, but only some members of the genus are can be used as a raw material for pharmaceutical drugs. Other species can infect your garden and significantly damage it. More than this, Penicillium can be highly toxic. These fungi prefer cool and moderate climates. They often have green or grayish green color and a fuzzy texture.
Rhizopus can be found on a wide variety of organic substrates. It can make your cannabis rot regardless of the climate conditions, and some of Rhizopus species can be also extremely dangerous to humans; infection can sometimes even lead to death.
Now, when we have scared you enough to make you take mold seriously, the time has come to discuss how to spot this little enemy without undue delay. There is no need to check your plants every hour, but once in a while you had better go through your garden and look carefully at the areas that usually hide from the view, like undersides of leaves and stem near the ground. Be especially attentive if you have recently pinched some leaves or branches: at this moment plants are very vulnerable.
You should look for any spots that look different. It can be white, yellow, gray or black fuzz; it can also reveal itself as a weblike material, or simply as black spots.
Sometimes, the spores of fungi are so small that you cannot see them. You can still detect some of these invisible molds by their characteristic unpleasant smell. In this case, it is better if you know how your weed is supposed to smell like, because, let us be honest, not all the strains smell like roses.
If you suspect that mold might have appeared somewhere in your garden, you can use black light to find out for sure: look for bright yellow or greenish glow, and do not forget to check the plants, the pots, and the walls as well.
If your garden is infested with mold, it is better to get rid of the contaminated plants or parts of the plants. Make certain there is not a single spot of mold left on the plants or anywhere in the growing room.
If the soil is infected, just scoop it away and let the soil in the pot dry before watering it again. You can also add some natural anti-fungal remedies to the surface of the soil. For instance, you can use apple cider vinegar, baking soda, or a bit of cinnamon. Try not to use heavy chemicals as it will spoil the yield.
Unfortunately, there is no remedy to restore your cannabis to a pristine condition, if the plant is damaged, it is damaged forever.
If throwing away the plants is not an option for you, you may try to get the best from the infected crop. Instead of smoking weed, try to use it for baking, so that it will stay for at least ten minutes in the oven at 200°F. Another option is extracting cannabinoids via alcohol or butane extraction. In this case, you had better use high temperatures, at least 200°F. Though, we must admit, none of these options is 100% risk-free.
First of all, control the humidity in the growing room. Most types of mold prefer conditions of tropic-like climate, so you had better invest in a hygrometer; regularly check whether you are watering your plants way too much.
Another thing is circulating air. Even a basic fan can help you save your marijuana from pests and mold. If you can filter the incoming air, it would be perfect.
Drying weed is also vulnerable to mold, especially while it is still fresh. Some growers like to add citrus peels or other fruit to add flavor or some moisture to dry weed. If you want to try this, you should be doubly careful not to let any mold appear. Do not store drying weed in small rooms with no fresh air, or at least use fans and turn weed from time to time to avoid moisture concentration.