There are plenty of good reasons marijuana seed growers may want to switch over to hydroponic systems. They are perfect for indoor grows of all sizes, can produce crops year-round, and allow growers an unprecedented amount of control over every aspect of crop management. Hydroponic growing is a lot more complicated than growing cannabis seeds outdoors, though, so it is important for novice growers and those who are switching over from soil to know what to expect.
Hydroponic growers who want to maximize their yields and improve the quality of their finished products need to manage nutrients, light, temperature, humidity, pH, and more. This article will offer a week-by-week breakdown of what hydroponic plants need to grow and thrive.
Hydroponically grown plants only need to spend an average of two weeks in the vegetative stage. These two weeks are essential, though, so growers should pay careful attention to their setups.
Growers should set up their hydroponic systems and run them for at least 24 hours before even thinking about moving their plants. The water temperature should be around 70 degrees with a pH of 5.8 and a TDS of 650 ppm and an EC of 1.3. Growers who are having a hard time keeping their water warm can install fish tank heaters, while those who need to cool off their setups can simply add extra water.
Since the plants being installed in hydroponic systems are already entering the vegetative phase, they will need 18 hours per day of light. A 400W MH lamp should be perfect for this early growth stage since it will give off more blue light than HPS lights. Place the lamp around 40 inches from the tops of the plants to avoid burning them.
The daytime temperature, which should be maintained whenever the lights are on, should be around 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower the temperature to around 64 degrees when the lights are off but maintain a relative humidity level of around 80% day and night. Growers can keep the humidity levels high by misting their plants daily or installing waterproof flooring and spraying the floors.
Whether they are using seedlings or clones, growers should keep a careful eye on their plants during the first week of growth. Check on the plants every day, if possible, and make sure the roots are developing well. They should be as long as the plants are tall within the first week and should be white or off-white.
The plants will need high nitrogen fertilizer or plant food during this early growth stage. Keep in mind that as they uptake nutrients, the TDS and EC values in the water will drop, which will raise its pH. Make adjustments as needed and check the levels no less often than once every two days.
The plants should be establishing themselves and becoming accustomed to the hydroponic system. Move the lights to around 20 inches from the tops of the plants and stick to the same lighting schedule. The relative humidity should still be around 80% and the temperature should be around 75 during the day and 64 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
The plants should still be getting plenty of nutrients, especially nitrogen. It is OK to let the TDS rise to around 750 ppm and the EC to hit 1.5, but make sure to continue monitoring the water pH.
The second week of the vegetative stage is the best time to implement pruning techniques like topping and fimming. It is also a good idea to set up fans over the plants and leave them on throughout the second week of growth. The constant breeze will help them develop stronger, healthier stems.
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