Cannabis Cultivation: Understanding underwatering Part 1

How to use water content sensors in cannabis cultivation

Cannabis cultivation is a delicate art that demands attention to detail. Among the many factors influencing the health and productivity of cannabis plants, proper irrigation strategies stand out as a fundamental practice and a major focus for every successful cultivator. 

Most growers seek to irrigate according to the needs of the cultivar (also known as “variety” or “strain”) and in doing so, desiring to positively influence yield, architecture and/or the total sum of cannabinoids and terpenes. Other growers base their irrigation strategy on specific crop steering goals, most of the time applying some kind of stressor to influence plant behavior. And again, hoping to positively influence the same variables. And of course, to know the needs of the cultivar or have insight in the watercontent of the substrate essential for crop steering, a monitoring system like Growficient is necessary. 

Which irrigation strategy for cannabis cultivation?

People ask, what is the right strategy? Is there a ‘golden rule’? An irrigation strategy that always works? The answer is no. Why? Because it is important to realize that one cultivar could have a different watering need then another cultivar, mostly due to their genetic make-up. This implies that “one size doesn’t fit all” when talking about irrigation schedules in cannabis cultivation. It is always essential to start looking closely at your irrigation strategy, especially when you want to optimize and unlock the maximum potential of a cultivar. 

All growers try to find the perfect watering strategy, perfectly tailored for every cultivar in their care. Unfortunately for most, there are limitations to that desire, since the perfect facility design doesn’t exist. The dream is to have dedicated rooms, where only one cultivar is in production and all parameters from light to environment to fertigation can be adjusted to the specific needs of that one cultivar. In most facilities that is not the case, and multiple cultivars are run together in the same flowering room. In cannabis cultivation, growers always have to compromise. 

This compromise becomes clear when there are, for example, five cultivars in one irrigation zone. This means there are potentially five different watering needs on the table but only one schedule can be programmed. What to do? Or when there are differences in environment throughout the room and microclimates significantly influence transpiration of a cluster of plants only in the back corner of the room. How to choose? A grower always has to take these things into account, especially when we’re looking at bigger production facilities. 

Understanding the cannabis plant

To determine the best irrigation strategy, knowledge is key. In cannabis cultivation, a grower needs to know what happens when cannabis plants are, for example, given too little water and the substrates dries down too much. 

Underwatering is something which could happen easily, especially knowing that adult plants in small containers can potentially uptake all the moisture in the substrate in a day’s time. Depending on the substrate type and size of course. Or when rooms are running higher temperatures with increased CO2 and high light intensity, plants do need extra water to keep up with transpiration and photosynthesis. In that scenario, they can dry out way quicker and need to be thoroughly monitored, preferably with substrate sensors with threshold alarms.

 Another example that could and is happening in cannabis cultivation, when talking about underwatering, is mechanical failure or clogged emitters. If the pumps are not working like programmed, if the emitter is clogged or the drip line filled with emulsion, precious water can’t reach plants and could cause serious underwatering issues.

Irrigation sensors in cannabis growing
The critical effects of underwatering

Make no mistake, the consequences of underwatering can be severe, impacting both yield and quality of the final product. You surely understand that when a plant is frequently underwatered, this will impact the total harvest. Underwatering also affects the chemical content in the harvested flower. Volatile components determining the flavor and smell are lost easily. Cannabinoids content, like the percentage of THC, can be seriously affected and lower than expected…

Therefore this series of four articles will focus on the intricacies of underwatering in cannabis cultivation. After reading, you’ll know the physiological responses of the plant and potential risks of underwatering. Plus, which successful strategies lead to mitigate these challenges and decrease the risk of underwatering. As a final note, please understand that monitoring what happens in the substrate is always the first step to decrease the chance of underwatering. 

Click here to read part 2 to learn more about the physiological impact of underwatering in cannabis cultivation. 

Care to share?

Tom de Vreugd

Curious to learn more?

Meet Tom de Vreugd, our Grower Succes Manager for Cannabis. Active in (medical) cultivation for over 10+ years. Get in touch today and learn more about the value of Growficient for your licensed facility. 

Cannabis Cultivation: Understanding underwatering Part 1

How to use water content sensors in cannabis cultivation

Cannabis cultivation is a delicate art that demands attention to detail. Among the many factors influencing the health and productivity of cannabis plants, proper irrigation strategies stand out as a fundamental practice and a major focus for every successful cultivator. 

Most growers seek to irrigate according to the needs of the cultivar (also known as “variety” or “strain”) and in doing so, desiring to positively influence yield, architecture and/or the total sum of cannabinoids and terpenes. Other growers base their irrigation strategy on specific crop steering goals, most of the time applying some kind of stressor to influence plant behavior. And again, hoping to positively influence the same variables. And of course, to know the needs of the cultivar or have insight in the watercontent of the substrate essential for crop steering, a monitoring system like Growficient is necessary. 

Which irrigation strategy for cannabis cultivation?

People ask, what is the right strategy? Is there a ‘golden rule’? An irrigation strategy that always works? The answer is no. Why? Because it is important to realize that one cultivar could have a different watering need then another cultivar, mostly due to their genetic make-up. This implies that “one size doesn’t fit all” when talking about irrigation schedules in cannabis cultivation. It is always essential to start looking closely at your irrigation strategy, especially when you want to optimize and unlock the maximum potential of a cultivar. 

All growers try to find the perfect watering strategy, perfectly tailored for every cultivar in their care. Unfortunately for most, there are limitations to that desire, since the perfect facility design doesn’t exist. The dream is to have dedicated rooms, where only one cultivar is in production and all parameters from light to environment to fertigation can be adjusted to the specific needs of that one cultivar. In most facilities that is not the case, and multiple cultivars are run together in the same flowering room. In cannabis cultivation, growers always have to compromise. 

This compromise becomes clear when there are, for example, five cultivars in one irrigation zone. This means there are potentially five different watering needs on the table but only one schedule can be programmed. What to do? Or when there are differences in environment throughout the room and microclimates significantly influence transpiration of a cluster of plants only in the back corner of the room. How to choose? A grower always has to take these things into account, especially when we’re looking at bigger production facilities. 

Understanding the cannabis plant

To determine the best irrigation strategy, knowledge is key. In cannabis cultivation, a grower needs to know what happens when cannabis plants are, for example, given too little water and the substrates dries down too much. 

Underwatering is something which could happen easily, especially knowing that adult plants in small containers can potentially uptake all the moisture in the substrate in a day’s time. Depending on the substrate type and size of course. Or when rooms are running higher temperatures with increased CO2 and high light intensity, plants do need extra water to keep up with transpiration and photosynthesis. In that scenario, they can dry out way quicker and need to be thoroughly monitored, preferably with substrate sensors with threshold alarms.

 Another example that could and is happening in cannabis cultivation, when talking about underwatering, is mechanical failure or clogged emitters. If the pumps are not working like programmed, if the emitter is clogged or the drip line filled with emulsion, precious water can’t reach plants and could cause serious underwatering issues.

Irrigation sensors in cannabis growing
The critical effects of underwatering

Make no mistake, the consequences of underwatering can be severe, impacting both yield and quality of the final product. You surely understand that when a plant is frequently underwatered, this will impact the total harvest. Underwatering also affects the chemical content in the harvested flower. Volatile components determining the flavor and smell are lost easily. Cannabinoids content, like the percentage of THC, can be seriously affected and lower than expected…

Therefore this series of four articles will focus on the intricacies of underwatering in cannabis cultivation. After reading, you’ll know the physiological responses of the plant and potential risks of underwatering. Plus, which successful strategies lead to mitigate these challenges and decrease the risk of underwatering. As a final note, please understand that monitoring what happens in the substrate is always the first step to decrease the chance of underwatering. 

Click here to read part 2 to learn more about the physiological impact of underwatering in cannabis cultivation. 

Care to share?

Tom de Vreugd

Curious to learn more?

Meet Tom de Vreugd, our Grower Succes Manager for Cannabis. Active in (medical) cultivation for over 10+ years. Get in touch today and learn more about the value of Growficient for your licensed facility.