Water Borne Diseases in Hydroponics

Watering your Cannabis plants the proper amount is crucial to the health of your garden. Too much or too little water can cause dehydration or mold and other water borne diseases that can, in severe cases, kill your plants. Today we will discuss some popular infections that can spread in greenhouses or outdoor gardens, focusing on Marijuana and Hemp plants.

“Although using a hydroponics system may eliminate soil borne pests, there are pests and fungi that spread through water, which means cleaning equipment and using an additional filtration system can drastically help reduce the occurrence of disease spreading” (Growspan, p.1, 2017).

Types of Infections

Diseases caused by Fungi:

  • Fusarium Wilt– A harmful disease that infects vascular tissue. Pathogens can be passed from mother plants to cuttings when passed through water in the soil in a systematic manner. Signs and symptoms include deprived growth, an unresponsive attitude to added nutrients or fertilization and can suffer visible wilt even with dampened soil and can cause death of your plant. The lower stem most commonly shows vascular browning. This Fungi live in soil and dead plant tissue and the best way to avoid this disease is through prevention. Mother plants should be maintained in a healthy environment free from infected areas (which should be destroyed and disinfected with a bleach treatment to prevent further spread.
  • Powdery Mildew– A common fungal pathogen that affects many different plants across a wide range of environmental conditions. Cannabis grown indoors are prone to this disease which can be tough to control because there are limited products approved for Cannabis care. This mildew is easily found on plants as it produces areas of a gray-white powder-like substance on leaves. It is recommended to remove infected plants as soon as this disease is noticed as well as sanitizing the infected area with a bleach treatment to help stop early infection and the spread to other plants.

Diseases caused by Bacteria:

  • Phytoplasma Witches’ Broom– Hemp is prone to this disease and once infected, plants show severe symptoms that look like “crowded leaf growth on single branches or a dense cluster of abnormal growth” (Wang, p.1, 2019). Young infected plants can have stunted growth or even die off while older plants may not die during the growing season when infected, yet are not useful during harvest. Since Phytoplasma diseases are not treatable, prevention is your best bet through removing sick plants with signs of disease and planting seeds that come from healthy plants. In addition, monitor potential insect intruders like leafhoppers, planthoppers and psyllids that can carry phytoplasma from infected plants and transmit diseases to healthy grow sites.

How Do I prevent Water Borne Disease in my Grow Site?

Using an additional filtration system can help reduce the occurrence and spread of disease throughout your grow site. In an untreated irrigation system, heat and moisture will provide the ideal environment for bacteria and molds to live and grow which in turn can be brought into contact with plants. Dirty plant trays and plugs can also transfer these molds or bacteria’s and “Within 20 hours of planting infected plants, bacteria can be traced throughout a system” (Growspan, p.1, 2017).  

Where Can I get a UV Unit for my Irrigation system?

Aqua Ultraviolet Carries a variety of units for small to commercial grows!

Our Classic series is our most popular unit and can be used for irrigation systems from 5 Gallons of fresh water all the way up to 17,000 Gallons of fresh water with our 240 Watt Unit. Take a look here! https://aquaultraviolet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/UV-Charts-Salt-and-Fresh-Water-Web.pdf

If you have a larger growing system, Our Viper series works with 30,000 to 90,000 Gallons of Fresh water. View our large Professional series here! https://aquaultraviolet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Viper-SL_Flyer_Web.pdf

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Sources and further readings:
Wang, Common Marijuana & Hemp Diseases, 2019

Vorenberg, Watering Techniques, 2017

How To Minimize Water Borne Disease in Hydroponics, 2017

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