Integrated Pest Management

Cannabis Bug Management
by Ellis Smith, Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer American Cannabis Company

 

What is Integrated Pest Management or what commercial cannabis growers refer to as IPM?

Per Growers Network, “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are justified economically and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agri-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.”

Everyone has a different approach to treating plants for pests and mold/mildew. The goal behind IPM is to consistently treat plants with a proactive approach versus waiting to treat plants until issues arise and in turn reactively scrambling to attempt to mitigate the outbreak.

Here are seven helpful plant management tips to ensure a strong IPM regiment.

1. Inspection

Immediately establish a routine scouting schedule for walking your grow and inspecting plants for signs of issues. It all starts with meaningful observation and careful inspection of your plants.  Many of the insects you will be scouting for are nearly microscopic so a “jeweler’s loupe” or magnifying glass will be needed to complete a thorough visual inspection.  The optimum time to scout is as soon as you arrive every day as this will give you time to address any issues that come to light.

2. Preventive Action

Preventative action in cannabis cultivation consists of a multi-faceted approach. Make certain your building envelope is tight with no leaks. Building leaks in a cannabis grow can account for the presence of pests and environmental differences/changes. Be sure to have anyone entering the grow area change clothing and shoes before entering. Failure to do this can result in an infestation as insects can be introduced by a clinging to a visitors’ clothing. Hair and beard nets are inexpensive and will help to ensure a cleaner growing environment. Cleanliness is key in a grow facility and you should treat your grow space like a constantly sanitized hospital operating room. The preventative action of maintaining a clean space can significantly reduce the need to use harmful pesticides.

3. Identification

Accurate pest identification is critical!  You will have a difficult time managing your IPM without a high degree of accuracy in identifying insects and the problems can quickly multiply until it is out of control. Be sure to understand that the plant damage being observed is being caused by the pest(s) you are identifying.

4. Analysis

If you identify a problem in your canopy you must determine what is the root cause? Are staff and/or visitors bringing in pests from their own personal grows? Are there holes or openings to the outside that are allowing pests to be introduced into the cultivation rooms? Do you have inadequate environmental controls? Take a step back and look closely at plants. Quite simply put, analyze for success.

5. Treatment Selection

IPM emphasizes the use of non-chemical control methods. Our team prefers to use bio-controls or other insects and safer approaches to remove unwanted pests, mold and mildew. If you do experience problems in the removal of unwanted pests with these alternative uses, then chemical treatments can be introduced to help mitigate the issues on hand. Once outbreaks are under control you can return to utilizing less toxic alternative measures.

6. Monitoring

It is important to keep a close eye on your crop. Monitoring the success of treatments will keep you on top of your IPM game. Remember the preventative process requires a consistent proactive approach, as you will have an uphill battle trying to exterminate the problems once they do occur.

7. Documentation

Regulations are a major factor in what drives the success of the cannabis industry. Keeping concise and accurate logs of your pesticide use and storage will help ensure that the operation is in good standing with the state and city ordinances and laws. Regulators will be looking to inspect your records, so documentation is extremely important.  Keep up to date with tracking and the documentation of how you treat the plants because Big Brother is always watching.

ConclusionThis is a very high level look at what IPM is and how to execute an effective plan. Be diligent with every process mentioned as this road map, when followed correctly, can help save you headaches as well as money. The key is to be proactive, not reactive, with your IPM program.

To learn more about IPM, checkout the following link to my Cannabis Tech webcast with our IPM business colleagues at urban-gro.

https://youtu.be/rCBYa1MSbVc 

– Hollister & Blacksmith, Inc. –

Cloning 101

Cloning Marijuana Plants
by Ellis Smith, Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer American Cannabis Company

 

Cloning, also known as propagation, is not as hard as some folks make it out to be. With healthy plants, good techniques and environmental controls you can easily create many clones with ease. There are many things that can cause clones not to root and by having a clear check list you can prevent clone loss and improve your technique for your business success. The information discussed below is not the actual steps to physically cutting a clone but things to think about when completing the task.

First you must start with healthy plant stock. Can I repeat, “You must start with healthy plant stock”! If you have mold or plants invested with pests then you will have a very hard time reproducing healthy roots and clones. If you have good Integrated Pest Management (IPM) protocol then you will see how much easier it is to reproduce healthy strong rooted clones. Dirty mother plants are the reason for perpetual pest problems, if you start with dirty mother plants then you can guarantee dirty infested clones. Stop the madness and don’t repeat the cycle…

Secondly, please be clean as possible. You don’t need to have vacuum hoods or take a physical shower to reduce contamination. What you do need to be cognizant of is using clean tools during the work flow process. Scissors, razor blades, or whatever you use for cutting should always be wiped down to clean the surface and disinfect. This simple task gets overlooked so many times and is usually one of the relevant issues for roots not popping on a clone. Dull scissors and razors are easy to replace also so don’t be cheap and spend the few dollars to guarantee you are working with the proper tools that are sharp.

Lastly your environmental control settings with proper temperature and humidity needs to be precise when cloning. This is where many who attempt to clone fail. Too much humidity in your clone dome can cause water droplets to fall into the center of your clone and collect water to rot out the meristem. You will see yellowing from the center outward once this happens. In contrast, not enough humidity can reduce your success rate of root development since the plant has no other way of water uptake except through its leaves. Running higher temps in the 80 to 90s is great for root production but be cautious of cooler temps as this will slow down roots from growing.

Other cloning tricks…
-Use a heating pad for higher success rate.
-Turkey basters work great to help water your clones while in clone domes.
-Don’t be afraid to cut the leaf tips to allow for more area for water uptake while roots are forming.

How to Properly Cure Cannabis

Curing Marijuana in Jars
by Ellis Smith, Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer American Cannabis Company

 

From the moment your crop is harvested it begins to degrade as enzymes and aerobic bacteria break down excess sugars and starches.  Curing cannabis essentially forces the plant to use up those sugars, starches and excessive nutrients before they have had the chance to dry out and get stuck inside the plant.

Curing is my favorite part of growing cannabis. This is the last mile of the race and you can practically smell the finish line.  Curing provides preservation to your harvested and dried cannabis.  Proper curing stops the degradation process before terpenes and cannabinoids evaporate or transform into less favorable compounds.

Curing can enhance and finish your flowers for the perfect consistency to be burned for your smoking pleasure. This is the final step to finish what you started but do not grow complacent as this is just as important as any of the other cultivation or finishing processes. The goal of the curing process is to slowly remove and evenly distribute the remaining moisture that is in the center of the plant.

My personal preference is glass jars while others use plastic containers, rubber containers, ceramic, etc. Whatever your choice be sure to follow these easy steps to ensure you achieve your desired finished product.

1. Ideally, I like the flower to be about 90% dry with about 10% moisture left to slowly remove. Fill the curing container 50% full of flower so you have plenty of air and space to allow for proper burping/off gassing.

2. Open container and burp the air built up 3 to 5 times per day depending on your access to the curing room. A good schedule to follow is: first thing in the morning, lunchtime, dinner time and just before bed. Let the container sit open for a few minutes or longer depending on moisture content. Repeat this process daily for 7 to 14 days however some growers will cure for 4 weeks. Try a few different durations and find out what works best for you.

3. Allow your senses to help play a role in knowing the cure is properly taking place as the terpenes are being accentuated. If you start to smell sour mold then try and speed up your cure process by leaving the container open to allow for more breathability for the flower. Don’t slow the cure down too much as you will develop mold resulting in foul smelling cannabis.

4. At peak cure enjoy with friends and family. You worked hard and deserve it.

Drying Your Cannabis Plants

Drying Cannabis
by Ellis Smith, Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer – American Cannabis Company

 

After spending over 100 days nurturing and growing your plants it is now harvest time! Drying your crop is an art form, as many people will tell you it is. The final steps of drying and curing cannabis are crucial to make certain your buds are rich with flavor and retain strong cannabinoid profiles. Although it may seem simple, drying is a stage where you can ruin your crop if not dried properly. You are poised to benefit from the fruits of your labor, so don’t mess it up!

When growing at home ensure you have a few things in place to guarantee success when drying your plants. Your drying space will need to have plenty of air flow; however, you do not want too much air movement as it can dry out your buds too quickly, but not enough air flow could allow for development of mold and mildew. There is a fine line but through trial and error you will find the sweet spot that works best for air flow in your drying room. Your drying room should also be dark during the process, so light does not degrade the THC. The ideal room temperature range is 68 to 75 degrees however you can run higher and lower temps but be sure to check moisture levels by touch to see how slow or fast the process is finishing.

Next take your harvested plants and break them down into smaller branches to hang on clothes hangers. I like to leave the fan leaves on to help cover and protect the flowers as well as help control the drying process. Place the hangers on a wire or rope where they can remain hanging in the darkened dry room for the next 7 to 10 days. As the flowers approach their optimal moisture level, touch them to feel how dry the outside of the flowers are and then squeeze the flower to see how that exterior dryness consistency compares to that of the interior.

Between day 7 to day 10, expect to have about 90% of the moisture content removed so you can trim and begin the all-important curing process….for more information on curing, see article entitled How to Properly Cure Cannabis by Ellis Smith. Once dried you are now ready to pull your flowers off the hangers so you can set up for hand trimming or machine dry trimming which is purely grower preference.

I prefer curing in glass jars and although that is my personal preference, I have used plastic containers before which worked great as well. Regardless of the type of container used, once the flowers are placed in your curing container, continue to keep in a dark place at the same 68 to 75 degree temperature range. Open the container multiple times a day to “burp” any remaining moisture out while monitoring how fast or slow the remaining moisture is being removed. For growers with a busy schedule, you can check once a day as well however you should do this for about 7 to 10 days or until you have reached the desired dryness. You can keep it jarred up and cure longer but that is all personal preference. Once cured, it is time to fully enjoy all of the work you put in.

Insider Tip:

Always check for smell to see if there is a foul odor or mold developing throughout the drying
process.

SoHum Living Soils®: “Not Just for Cannabis Anymore!”

living soil used in a vegetable garden

There is a reason SoHum has chosen to focus on living soil. It is one of the most versatile solutions for growers of any skill level. However, while the majority of individuals using SoHum Living Soils® are exclusive to the cannabis industry, our products can be used to organically grow many other plants including vegetables as well. If you are considering growing organically in any horticultural or agricultural application, SoHum Living Soil will provide the level of quality  required to achieve the best possible results in your garden.

Cannabis Applications for SoHum Living Soils®

SoHum Living Soils® is a microbial-based super soil that has been scientifically developed to provide the easiest and most cost-efficient means to cultivate premiere cannabis flower. SoHum’s proprietary blend of macro and micronutrients are created to provide plants with the optimal blend of beneficial bacteria and fungi necessary to successfully complete  their entire lifecycle.

In addition, our soil contains a blend of 100% all natural and OMRI Certified Inputs with no added synthetics or salt-based nutrients. It is ideally suited to the needs of any organically grown cannabis application, including:

  • Commercial indoor and greenhouse cultivation operations
  • Commercial outdoor cultivation using grow bags or containers
  • Small scale boutique style craft cannabis grows
  • Home growing for medical market caregiver model or personal adult use

You will experience the following benefits when you use SoHum Living Soils with your cannabis grow operation:

  • Versatile medium ideally suited for commercial organic growers, no-till gardeners and home growers
  • Ultra high quality yields with enhanced cannabinoid and terpene profiles
  • Just Add Water = No additional inputs & NO FLUSHING REQUIRED!
  • Less Labor = Reduced operational expenses for better profit margins
  • Ideal for Clean Green Certified operations

A Great Soil for Your Vegetable Garden

SoHum Living Soils is not just for growing cannabis. This living soil is packed with a dense ecosystem of microbes and inoculated with carefully selected microorganisms to further boost its microbial life. It contains a blend of 100% all natural and OMRI Certified Inputs and as a result, it provides the easiest and most cost-efficient means to cultivate premium vegetables for your dinner table or for sale at the Farmer’s Market.  Growing vegetables in SoHum will give you confidence you are producing the best quality yields, strictly using organic methods. Commercial growers can use this organic living soil growing method as a way to create market segmentation, resulting in a higher price point over vegetables grown using conventional fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

SoHum Delivers the Premium Grow Results You Need

Besides genetics, the soil medium chosen is one of the most important decisions both commercial and home growers face today.  Regardless of the size of your operation, you need quality soil for your plants.  SoHum Living Soils delivers the quality you need for both cannabis and other more traditional non-cannabis crops.

Our team is focused on helping commercial growers make more money and expand their business. We provide the insights, marketing and product support necessary to establish yourself as an industry leader.

We have partnered with a wide range of retailers across the country to make it easy for you to get the living soil  you need. You can use our store locator to find a retailer near you.

Contact us today to learn more about how SoHum Living Soils® can elevate your grow operation.

Why Should I Use Living Soil in My Cannabis Grow?

living soil for cannabis plants

There are many elements that go into producing exceptional quality cannabis plants. Quality genetics is the first “must have” of any top shelf commercial cultivation operation, but one of the most important, yet often overlooked of those factors is the soil medium selected to grow the genetics chosen.  In recent years, the cannabis industry has seen an increased emphasis in producing greener, more sustainable, eco-friendlier products, all of which can be done when growing in living soil.

What is Living Soil?

According to the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the definition of living soil is the community of microbes working together breaking down organic matter which, in turn, provides valuable nutrition to the plants.

Soil microbes are essential for decomposing organic matter and recycling old plant material. Microorganisms are the unseen majority in soil and make up a huge part of soil’s genetic diversity. This means easier absorption of nutrients by plant roots, reduced need for watering, limited erosion, and improved aeration. A combination of organic materials such as compost, coco coir, peat moss, aged tree bark, manure, worm castings, and more can be used to make a base for living soil. Like all living things, soil needs water, and flows water along the path of least resistance to bring hydration and nutrients to plant roots. Water remains in the soil by storing itself in porous minerals for later use.

Living soil embodies a holistic approach to the cultivation of your plants. It contains billions of microorganisms that mimic an outdoor ecosystem and improve the soil’s ability to provide the nutrients each plant needs.

In order to deliver the proper nutrients, living soil contains a curated blend of:

  • Bacteria
  • Protozoa
  • Arthropods
  • Nematodes
  • Fungi

These microorganisms, along with earthworms, beetles and other insects present in the soil, work to decompose dead organic matter supplied by compost, topsoil, peat moss and leaf mold. In addition, the earthworms, arthropods and nematodes help to till the soil as they move through it, ensuring the nutrients produced by the decomposed dead organic matter are more evenly dispersed throughout the soil, allowing the best possible nutrient absorption by each plant’s roots.

While soil alternatives used in hydroponic grow operations are typically discarded  after each harvest, living soil can be supplemented with compost and other natural additives so that it can be reused for additional grows. This gives you the ability to get multiple harvests out of the same soil, making it a more efficient, affordable and sustainable solution.

Benefits of Living Soil

If you are looking to achieve healthy, high quality cannabis plants while using a truly natural organic growing process (also known as TLO or True Living Organics), living soil will deliver the results you desire. You’ll experience the following benefits when you use living soil:

  • Just Add Water: Eliminates the need for additional inputs fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals during the cultivation process
  • Promotes exceptional tap and feeder root growth throughout veg and bloom cycles
  • Elimination of additional inputs reduces labor costs which improves profit margins
  • Improves each plant’s ability to fight off pests and pathogens
  • Improves the quality of your harvest with enhanced cannabinoid and terpene profiles
  • Market segmentation by creating new top shelf “organically grown” cannabis category
  • NO FLUSHING IS REQUIRED – With no harmful synthetic based nutrients added, none have to be flushed out, saving growers time and money while providing peace of mind they grew organically.

SoHum Living Soils® Provides the Nutrients Your Plants Need to Thrive

At SoHum Living Soils®, our team of growers, horticulturalists and soil scientists have invested an enormous amount of time refining the cannabis cultivation process in order to ensure our soil delivers the nutrient-rich environment your plants need to thrive in a true living organic method. Our living soil formula was created specifically for use in cannabis cultivation, and it provides an ideal blend of organic nutrients during the vegetative stage and reproductive/flowering stage of the plant.

Get Started Today

SoHum Living Soils® makes it easy to grow the highest quality cannabis plants. You can use our store locator tool to find a retailer near you.  For a deeper dive into cannabis cultivation using living soil, check out “True Living Organics” 2nd Edition by The Rev.