The last thing humans need is more sugar, but it’s a very different story for the cannabis plant.
Plants burn sugar for energy and they must make a constant supply during the growing phase. As one of the main products of photosynthesis, it’s essential to plant health. While the production of sugar is key, so too is the distribution and utilization. While Mother Nature has a handle on much of this, there are several interventions that the cannabis grower can perform to ensure maximum efficiency and ensure the development of those glistening dense buds that we all desire.
Sink Strength: Where Does All That Sugar Go?
Photosynthesis is a miracle pf chemistry where the unlikely transformation of sunlight into sugar occurs. All plants have this ability and the cannabis plant is no different.
When it comes to sugar, the secret to plant health lies in the distribution of the sweet substance throughout the plant. Some areas will require more sugar, while others require less – think underdeveloped parts of the plant versus the more mature parts.
The term sink strength describes the mobilization of sugar within a plant. In effect, sugar either sinks or flows to and from different areas within the plant. The speed at which this happens varies and is dependent on how necessary the sugar is to a particular part of the plant.
The parts of the cannabis plant that require more sugar will be the buds and the less developed foliage. While fully grown leaves require much less. The evolution of complex solutions in nature ensure that sugar is used as efficiently as possible. In plant parts where sugar isn’t an urgent requirement, it is quickly routed to areas of the plant where it can be utilized more effectively for new growth.
Brix Levels: Quantifying Sugar Levels in the Cannabis Plant
It is quite easy to quantify the products of photosynthesis and resultant efficiencies. By simply measuring the sugars present within the sap of the leaves, one can obtain an appreciation for how much sunlight successfully becomes sugar.
Brix levels are the metric by which sugar content is quantified. It works by measuring the angle at which light refracts when it passes through the sap in the leaves. The degree to which it refracts is proportional to the density of the sugar within the sap. To perform this measurement, we use a device known as a refractometer.
Using a Refractometer
A digital refractometer is an essential gadget for every cannabis grower. They provide a method of quantifying the products of photosynthesis and thankfully are very easy to use.
Calibrating the refractometer must happen prior to use. This is generally done by taking a reading from some distilled water at room temperature and verifying the resultant zero percent reading. Once calibrated, squeeze some sap from the leaves of your cannabis plant and take a reading.
Brix levels of twelve percent and over are sufficient. Higher Brix levels are more favorable and signal efficient conversion of sunlight to sugar. But what should you do if you get a low reading below twelve percent? How can one boost efficiency?
Trimming to Promote Sugar Production?
Like everything in nature, there’s an element of interconnectedness. And when the products of photosynthesis are lacking despite the presence of ample light, there’s usually something else going on underneath the hood.
When it comes to cannabis cultivation, start by looking at the water content. Then at carbon dioxide levels, and of course, the condition and “aliveness” of your soil. If any of these variables are lacking, then one can expect detrimental effects with regard to the health of your plant.
Although several commercial solutions exist to enhance the quantity of sugar and its uptake, there are also some manual interventions that can work a treat.
Trimming is one such technique that benefits plant health in more ways than one. And when it comes to directing limited sugar supplies, a well-trimmed plant makes it easy for the plant to direct its energy to where it’s most needed. This is best achieved by trimming fresh foliage as it begins to grow and helps ensure that sugar goes to the more mature and developed bud sites where it’s actually required.
When trimming, you’ll want to focus on removing those leaves which lie beneath the canopy. Those on top are responsible for catching and harnessing much of the light. By leaving them intact you make best use of the available light.
Avoid Treating Cannabis with Sugar Water
For years, people believed that watering plants with sugar water will help the plant bloom. This only turns out to be viable when you place an already cut flower into a jar of water. Doing so allows the roots to absorb the sugar and hence delay the wilting process.
If your plant is firmly rooted in the ground with no apparent disease or struggle, then trust that Mother Nature already has it under control. Via the process of photosynthesis, a plentiful supply of sugar should be readily available to a well-maintained plant. This 2002 study suggests a mind-boggling degree of communication within the plant through multiple signaling pathways. They suggest that the inner workings of a plant are insanely more complicated than the average person may realize at first.
With well-watered, biologically alive soil, and sufficient Co2, a well-trimmed plant won’t require you to take a trip to the supermarket for sugar!
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