Any serious grower should really try to start their own mothers from seed. Using clones your friend has no home for could well cost you in the long run.
Marijuana is an annual plant; it completes its life cycle in less than a year. Nature?s way of keeping diseases and viruses at bay is to start fresh from seed each year, as few of these organisms can survive on the seed. Starting with seed also helps prevent loss of vigour and other pitfalls associated with keeping clone lines around for a long time.
When purchasing seed you get what you pay for. Small independent breeders are great for specialty items, but simply do not have the large grow-out space that gives the consistent results of seed giants like Sensi Seeds. One factor often overlooked in the search for a perfect mother is that even the most stable seedlines show variance, and therefore the larger number of plants you grow from seed to select from, the better your chances of finding that really special mother.
The selection you will get from your pack of 10 seeds cannot compare to a huge greenhouse operation. So always grow out as many plants from seed as possible ensuring that you are off to the best start.
Viruses are a threat that many growers remain unaware of. They are usually spread by insect feeding, amd can wreak devastation in a clone garden. Viruses often sit latent until ideal conditions present themselves, at which point they can produce symptoms ranging from slight streaking to induced nutrient deficiency or full plant collapse.
In North America the main vector of viruses are thrips. If your mothers have ever had thrips problems in the past they will likely be carrying a virus which will be passed down to any clonal generations. Thrips will usually be found hiding in the growing tip of the plant; they are long and slender and can be seen with the naked eye if you look close enough.
If you have any flowering male plants in the vicinity this is where you will find the majority of the thrips, as they enjoy feeding on pollen. Thrips produce a sticky honeydew on the leaf surface which often turns black from a mold that grows on it, as well as leaving feeding marks on the leaves.
Light and cuttings
Strong lighting and short plant height are necessary to produce strong cuttings. Cutting maturity and stem diameter play a large role in producing quality, high yielding finished plants. Spindly cuttings taken from the bottom of a plant are a waste of valuable production space.
Mother plants should have the main growing shoot pinched, forcing the plant to branch out and create more cutting sites. Keep the plant trimmed to maintain no more than a two foot deep canopy, this will allow maximum light pentration, resulting in strong cuttings.
When taking cuttings, only take from strong lead branches, being careful to sterilize the knife between plants.
PH and nutrients
A common problem when growing mother plants in soilless mix is a gradual lowering of the PH in the medium. This is primarily caused by constant use of veg-cycle fertilizers, in which the ammonium nitrate, urea and posphorous acidify the soil over time. A quick check may be done by mixing some of the soil with a similar amount of distilled water, letting it sit for 20 minutes, then checking with a test strip. PH should be no lower than than 5.8, if it slips below this point either use PH up, hydrated lime or potassium nitrate at an EC of no more than 1.8.
Extra additions of magnesium may also be needed periodically in order to keep optimum quantities in the plant. One feeding of magnesium sulphate (epsom salts) at 1.8 EC every three or so weeks is sufficient.
Non-hydroponic fertilizers such as 20-20-20 are especially problematic because they contain little or no calcium or magnesium, as these react with phosphorous when concentrated. A and B type formulas eliminate this problem.
A Happy Mom
Take good care of your mothers and they will pay you back with resin-laden children of bountiful proportions. The more serious a grower you are the more important these steps are for you to take. With a happy and healthy mother, your cuttings will thrive and bear bountiful buds!
A well orchestrated insect control program must be implemented from many angles. Unwanted insects may be controlled by insecticides, exclusion screening and beneficial insects. Careful monitoring for insects and starting with clean plants cannot be over-emphasized. Your mothers must be completely insect-free to produce successful cuttings.
In order to prevent insects from entering your grow show, any intake openings should be screened. The maximum hole size to exclude thrips is 192 microns, and they are the smallest pest we need to worry about.
Mesh of this size will seriously restrict airlflow, so this should be compensated for by creating a larger surface area of screen to pull air through. Properly sized silk or other printing screen works well for this application.
Monitoring should be carried out both by visible inspection and sticky cards placed throughout both the mother and flower rooms. In the veg room no tolerance for insects is acceptable, at first sign the entire room should be sprayed with the appropriate insecticide.
Successive sprays are usually necessary. At normal grow room temperatures, thrips must be sprayed three times, once every five days, in order to eliminate them. This allows young thrip to develop into adults and be killed before they can reproduce. Spider mite sprays should be spaced a little further apart, approximately 7 days.
Whenevever possible use earth and people friendly insecticides such as neem and cinnamon based products (which work well for spider mites). At times it may be necessary to use harsher synthetic pesticides – be careful! Most of these products are highly toxic and can cause serious harm to you and consumers of your product if used improperly.
I must speak out against the use of Avid in any form on marijuana crops. This miticide is labeled “for ornamentals only” and is highly toxic. Avid is translaminar in action – meaning that it penetrates from the top of the leaf surface to the bottom as well as into the stem surface. Unscrupulous hydroponic stores which sell this under the table should be boycotted, as should growers who use it!
Predator insects simply do not provide the level of control needed in the mother room. However, they do work well in a flowering room, where absolutely no spraying should take place.
There are several things to take note of when using beneficial insects. Many insecticide residues left on plant surface can adversely affect or kill beneficial insects. Also many predators need a full light sprctrum, natural sunsets and long days (over 12 hours) none of which are likely to occur in your average flower room. If your supplier cannot supply you with this information, give the source company a call, they will have all of this info.
Predators are best used only in the flower room, as no spraying should be taking place there, and higher insect thresholds are tolerable.