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How Mycorrhiza Fungi Can Make Your Cannabis Plants Prosper

When fungi and plant roots work together, mycorrhizae is formed. This formation increases the nutrient and water uptake for plants, protects them from disease and creates an optimum growing environment

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Fungi are a fascinating life form, fundamental to all life on Earth. An interesting fact to many: Fungi are a totally independent kingdom of life, separate to that of animals and plants. However they are genetically closer to animals than plants. Fungi play a vital role in the ecosystem by decomposing and breaking down dead organisms and biological byproducts, liberating the nutrients from within these sources which are then utilised elsewhere in the web of life. Fungi form a symbiotic partnership with some plants and algae and are actually responsible for the very survival of numerous species. Fungi grow in threaded structures known as hyphae, which, due to their massive surface area, allow for maximum nutrient absorption.

The cannabis connection: how mycorrhizae can improve plant health

This function of fungi can be taken advantage of and used by growers to maximise the nutrient uptake of their plants. But how exactly does this relationship work? The key word here is “mycorrhizae”.

Mycorrhizae is a symbiotic alliance constructed of both a fungus and the roots of a plant. This mutualistic association is found throughout nature and is a fundamental part of soil life. By forming this relationship, the fungi and plants in question receive impressive benefits from one another, especially important when attempting to maximise the quality and quantity of marijuana yields.

The fungi receives constant access to the sweet bounty of carbohydrate sugars such as glucose and sucrose which are synthesised within the plant’s leaves, transported to the root system and across to its fungal sidekick. In exchange, the plant then reaps the benefit of the fungi’s superior abilities of absorbing water and nutrients from the soil in which they reside. This is due to the far larger surface area of the hyphae which are much finer than plant roots, making them much more effective at mineral extraction.

The fungi present can also make it easier for plants to access key building blocks such as phosphorous and nitrogen whichare paramount to optimal plant health, yieldsize and quality.

The formation of mycorrhizae also extends past nutrient uptake. This phenomena can also protect your plants against numerous threats that many growers face. Mycorrhizae plants show increased resistance to pathogenic microbial diseases that occur within soil. They are also better equipped at combating drought conditions that may occur, and are better at handling salt stress. They are also more resistant to certain toxicities that may occur in soils such as those with high metal concentrations.

Cultivating This Special Relationship

Growers have several methods at their disposal when it comes to introducing beneficial fungi into the soil. First, they can opt to attract mycorrhizal species found in their plants’ immediate environment. These species exist in most soils, so cultivators can easily attract them from nearby and boost their numbers by feeding them the right food.

Mycorrhizal fungi thrive on organic matter such as compost and other microorganisms, but also jump at the chance for some sugary sweetness. After all, sugars derived from photosynthesis are the main reason they hook up with plants in the first place.

To attract beneficial fungi from nearby, simply add carbohydrate sources such as fruit juice or maple syrup into the soil. Combine 10ml of sugars with one gallon of water and drench your beds and containers.

Alternatively, head out to a nearby forest and capture a fungal colony with your bare hands. Remove some soil from a woodland free of chemical contamination and pollution, and place it into a bucket. Once home, inoculate your growing medium with this microbe-rich goodness.

Finally, you can also use specially designed products to inoculate your soil. For example, Royal Queen Seeds Easy Roots contains a completely organic blend of Glomeromycota fungi that swiftly bind to roots and begin shuttling in nutrients in return for plant sugars.

Easy Roots – Mycorrhiza Mix

Bacteria Bring Brilliant Benefits

Fungi aren’t the only microbes to populate the soil. Healthy, living soil also features a food web abundant with bacteria. Although they usually have negative connotations, many species of bacteria actually team up with cannabis plants, helping them to remain healthy and strong.

Sure, plenty of bad bacteria also exist in the soil. However, healthy populations of good bacteria help to keep these detrimental types at bay.

Easily introduce good bacteria into your soil using Royal Queen Seeds Easy Roots Rhizobacter. The blend contains two species of bacteria—Bacillus subtilis and Pseudomonas flavescens—that form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. These minute life forms help to promote plant growth by fixing nitrogen, increasing nutrient solubilisation, and protecting against bad bacteria.

Easy Roots Rhizobacter also includes a special form of algae known as Lithothamium. This algae protects the bacteria from fertiliser and pH irritation, and also contains vital trace nutrients required for optimal plant health.

Easy Roots Rhizobacter

Mycorrhizae vs Rhizobacter: How Do They Compare?

Mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial bacteria both play a critical role in the soil food web. Species from both categories decompose organic matter and make locked-up nutrients available to plant roots.

Mycorrhizal fungi physically fuse to the root system and become an extension of the network, exuding enzymes into their immediate environments, breaking down complex molecules, and carrying free nutrients into the roots. In return, plants pay a currency of sugar created through photosynthesis.

Cannabis plants also thrive with beneficial bacteria close to their roots. They tempt these miniature critters with a cocktail of sugars; in return, Rhizobacter wages war against potentially harmful bacteria, and even helps plants uptake atmospheric nitrogen—one of the most important nutrients for plant health and development.

Fungi can form a beneficial alliance with your weed plants to maximise health and yield size.

Cannabis: Types of Fungi

Fungi are microorganisms that generally live on/off other organisms such as animals, food and many, many kinds of plants. Today we’re going to talk about different types of fungi that can infest cannabis plants and how to get rid of them; keep your plants healthy and stable without losing any of your quality flowers.

Types of Fungi

Oidium:

Oidium is a typical issue when it comes to growing cannabis; a simple excess of humidity in your grow room can cause oidium to rear its ugly head. It looks like a white powder that covers your plants’ leaves along the top in most cases, although in some cases it can be found on the underside of the leaves.

You can get rid of the powder by simply rubbing it off, although it’ll be right back on your plants after just a couple of days. Once it’s on your plants it gets into their cell wall, and it’s impossible to get rid of it fully. You’ll need to treat your plants with fungicide in order to stop the fungi from spreading – try to save as much of your plant as you can, and throw out the part that’s been infected.

Over the last few years this fungi has been found in increasing quantities in outdoor crops, especially in extremely humid areas which need to be sprayed with fungicide if you plan on growing there.

Botrytis:

Botrytis is a type of fungi that generally appears on plants that have been attacked by caterpillars which causes holes to appear in the buds. Once the hole has been made, various factors can increase the risk of this fungus such as caterpillar feces, rain water or relative humidity. Buds can easily rot from the inside out, turning quite an ugly brown color, as if it were still wet.

If your plants have become infested you can say goodbye to most of your plants – even if you get rid of all the fungi you can see, the spores have probably gotten to everything. It spreads incredibly fast, even in already-harvested flowers, so when it’s found in one bud the entire branch is usually removed to be safe.

Consuming this fungus is incredibly dangerous for your health – its spores will go straight to your lungs which can cause breathing issues.

Rust:

Rust is one of the fastest-spreading fungi, as it gets into your plants’ skin and is incredibly easy for your plant to absorb. It shows up as yellow/orange stains on your plants’ leaves, starting on the tops of the leaves which is why sometimes it’s confused with nutrient deficiencies. Once the fungi has taken over your plants, the underside of the leaves will also begin showing red and brown dots, and the rest of the plant will start becoming deformed.

Pythium:

Pythium is a kind of fungi that grows in your plants’ roots, impeding your plants from feeding properly. This fungus essentially weakens your plants’ roots until they eventually kill them completely. It can appear in plants of all ages and sizes, although younger plants are the weakest. Its spores are transported via contact and can even be brought to your plants via the soles of your shoes.

In order to detect this fungus you’ll need to keep a careful eye on your plant, as it’ll cause them to be super weak and show many deficiencies due to the deterioration of its roots. In systems where the roots are exposed such as hydroponics or aeroponics you’ll be able to see them change color to dark brown or even red on occasion.

The best way to fight Pythium is to reinforce Microlife in your plants’ substrate, introducing beneficial fungi that can work together with your roots to protect them and keep them healthy. This can help avoid Pythium rearing its ugly head.

Fusarium:

This fungi only ever shows up if your plants haven’t been able to survive Pythium, and it spells the absolute end of your plant. It essentially takes advantage of your plants roots in order to take over the rest of your plant, forming a sort of liquid that covers the roots which stops them from absorbing water and nutrients.

The symptoms are similar to Pythium, although it takes it even one step farther – your plants’ trunk will lose all strength and its leaves will begin drying up and falling off.

Once this fungus is in your plants it’s 100% impossible to get rid of – all you can do is take preventive measures during the growing process and try and keep your plants as healthy as possible, using the beneficial fungi we mentioned earlier.

How to Prevent Fungi

One of the most important factors is how healthy your plants are – the more stressed and unhealthy they are, the more likely they are to become infected by fungi. Healthier plants are a lot less likely to become infected.

Fertilizers rich in silicon reinforce your plants’ structure and cell walls, especially on the leaves, making it much easier for fungi to get to them.

Excessive water can also cause fungi to appear, especially if you haven’t used any clay in your substrate which helps to filter extra water. This tends to happen when people flush out their plants’ roots by watering way too much until the water comes out the bottom. This, plus the fact that it’s your plants’ last few days, makes for a sure-fire recipe for fungi in your plants, especially if their flowers are quite dense.

How to prevent fungi indoors:

You’ll need to use oscillating fans indoors in order to avoid stagnant air which can float in among your plants and easily cause rot and fungi.

During the flowering period you need to make sure that your relative humidity sits under 40%, especially during the few weeks before harvesting which is when your plants are at their most vulnerable and it’s also when it hurts the most to have a mishap. In order to control temperature and humidity, we recommend using a thermos-hygrometer, especially when growing in a grow tent. You can also use a dehumidifier in order to lower humidity.

If your plants do end up getting infected you’ll need to fully disinfect your growing area once you’ve harvested. The next few times you grow in this spot you’ll need to treat them with preventive products and fungicides such as propolis. Keep in mind that mildew spores can stick around for up to two full years before dying off, so you’ll need to protect your plants during that entire time.

How to prevent fungi outdoors:

Some strains are weaker and more susceptible for fungi than others, so you’ll need to plant a strain that’s fungi-resistant if you live somewhere humid. The denser the bud, the more likely it is to become infected. Picking the right strain for your climatic conditions can help you to avoid serious issues down the road.

You will absolutely need to use fungicides and preventive measures when grown outdoors – the last few weeks, outdoor plants generally coincide with low temperatures and high humidity, which is why it’s much more dangerous and it can end up ruining a lot of hard work.

In this article we're going to explain the types of fungi that can infect cannabis plants and the best way to get rid of them.