Cannabis Irrigation: Understanding underwatering Part 2

Best Cannabis irrigation schedules
What is the physiological impact of underwatering?
Cannabis plants, like all living organisms, rely on water for crucial physiological processes. Water is a primary component in photosynthesis, nutrient absorption and transpiration, each of which contributes to overall plant health and development. When a cannabis plant is underwatered in cannabis irrigation management, it experiences a range of stress responses that can compromise its ability to thrive. Let’s name the most important first.
1. Reduced Photosynthesis

Cannabis, like any other plant, utilizes the magical process of photosynthesis to generate energy in the form of glucose. It does so by absorbing light through the diverse chlorophyll’s in basically every green spot on the plant and majorly in the leaf area. Think of a cannabis leaf as an incredibly efficient solar panel! Next to photons of light, the plant absorbs carbon dioxide through its stomata in exchange for oxygen. The opening and closing of these tiny pores, scattered all over the underside of the leaves, is caused by a principle called turgor pressure. This principle relies on the available water in the plant.  

That is where it gets interesting in terms of cannabis irrigation, because for stomata’s to open and close, a decent amount of water is necessary. You surely understand, underwatering leads to problems. Firstly because the turgor pressure is affected and the stomata can’t open and close as effectively. This reduction in stomatal conductance limits the plant’s ability to intake carbon dioxide, essential for photosynthesis. As a result, the process of photosynthesis is not as effective as it should and there is a decrease in energy production. If underwatering happens of a period of time, due to poor decisions, not using substrate sensors like Growficient, or unfit cannabis irrigation schedules, the overall growth of the plant is negatively affected.

2. Transpiration stress

We already talked about the process of photosynthesis in a nutshell. One of the key functions of healthy plants is optimal transpiration, which is the process of releasing water from stomata in the leaf area into the nearby air. Interestly, this is an exchange. The stomata releases water and in return takes up carbon dioxide which drives photosynthesis. 

Under normal conditions, transpiration helps deliver nutrients and maintain cell turgor. It also is a major process that helps regulate plant temperature. Simply put, just as we humans sweat to cool ourselves, the plant does so too. 

Underwatering, due to improper cannabis irrigation decisions or lack of monitoring by sensors, disrupts these processes. This causes the plant to conserve water by closing stomata. The plant goes into survival mode, desperately trying to safeguard that minimal amount of water it still has access too. Unfortunately, prolonged closure of stomata can lead to overheating, reduced nutrient transport, and decreased overall resilience to environmental stressors. That is why proper cannabis irrigation schedules are important.

Heat stress due to bad irrigation management
3. Nutrient uptake impairment

Adequate cannabis irrigation is essential for the absorption of nutrients from the substrate by the root system. Think of the root zone as an exchange, between elements inside the roots and elements moving around the roots. A plant cannot uptake a small portion of nitrogen directly. It needs water to help make this exchange, since only water can penetrate the microscopically tiny pores of the root system. Then it also matters in which molecular form the element is offered, but that is a different topic. 

Underwatered cannabis plants struggle to transport essential elements, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You understand this leads to nutrient deficiencies in the plant itself, since it cannot uptake essential building blocks for new biomass. It goes even further, since the plant utilizes water to transport elements inside the plant itself too.

This is also one of the reasons that a common symptom of under watering is hanging leaves. Interestingly, a overwatered cannabis plant also shows hanging, droopy leaves. The big difference is the thickness of leaf fingers, because when a plant is decently watered, the leaves are filled with water and therefore thicker. A underwatered plant displays a thin leaf structure and, most of the time, a brighter green towards yellowing tendency. It is all about an imbalance between uptake and transpiration, which is impacted by cannabis irrigation management.

The end result of a frequent underwatered plant is a different chemical composition of the final product. It’s hard to state that frequent underwatering leads to a decrease % of cannabinoids or terpenes, we simply cannot say so. When talking about cannabis irrigation, growers apply techniques that implement a drier substrate and underwatering principles. These crop steering techniques which include heavy dry back between shots and large dry backs overnight that seem to be successful in ramping up chemo content (= all cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids etc). Still, successfully implementing these cannabis irrigation techniques also has to do with adjusting environmental settings and other parameters accordingly. 

Curious to learn more about underwatering? We’ll publish part 3 and part 4 very soon! 

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 Irrigation: Understanding underwatering Part 2

Best Cannabis irrigation schedules
What is the physiological impact of underwatering?
Cannabis plants, like all living organisms, rely on water for crucial physiological processes. Water is a primary component in photosynthesis, nutrient absorption and transpiration, each of which contributes to overall plant health and development. When a cannabis plant is underwatered in cannabis irrigation management, it experiences a range of stress responses that can compromise its ability to thrive. Let’s name the most important first.
1. Reduced Photosynthesis

Cannabis, like any other plant, utilizes the magical process of photosynthesis to generate energy in the form of glucose. It does so by absorbing light through the diverse chlorophyll’s in basically every green spot on the plant and majorly in the leaf area. Think of a cannabis leaf as an incredibly efficient solar panel! Next to photons of light, the plant absorbs carbon dioxide through its stomata in exchange for oxygen. The opening and closing of these tiny pores, scattered all over the underside of the leaves, is caused by a principle called turgor pressure. This principle relies on the available water in the plant.  

That is where it gets interesting in terms of cannabis irrigation, because for stomata’s to open and close, a decent amount of water is necessary. You surely understand, underwatering leads to problems. Firstly because the turgor pressure is affected and the stomata can’t open and close as effectively. This reduction in stomatal conductance limits the plant’s ability to intake carbon dioxide, essential for photosynthesis. As a result, the process of photosynthesis is not as effective as it should and there is a decrease in energy production. If underwatering happens of a period of time, due to poor decisions, not using substrate sensors like Growficient, or unfit cannabis irrigation schedules, the overall growth of the plant is negatively affected.

2. Transpiration stress

We already talked about the process of photosynthesis in a nutshell. One of the key functions of healthy plants is optimal transpiration, which is the process of releasing water from stomata in the leaf area into the nearby air. Interestly, this is an exchange. The stomata releases water and in return takes up carbon dioxide which drives photosynthesis. 

Under normal conditions, transpiration helps deliver nutrients and maintain cell turgor. It also is a major process that helps regulate plant temperature. Simply put, just as we humans sweat to cool ourselves, the plant does so too. 

Underwatering, due to improper cannabis irrigation decisions or lack of monitoring by sensors, disrupts these processes. This causes the plant to conserve water by closing stomata. The plant goes into survival mode, desperately trying to safeguard that minimal amount of water it still has access too. Unfortunately, prolonged closure of stomata can lead to overheating, reduced nutrient transport, and decreased overall resilience to environmental stressors. That is why proper cannabis irrigation schedules are important.

Heat stress due to bad irrigation management
3. Nutrient uptake impairment

Adequate cannabis irrigation is essential for the absorption of nutrients from the substrate by the root system. Think of the root zone as an exchange, between elements inside the roots and elements moving around the roots. A plant cannot uptake a small portion of nitrogen directly. It needs water to help make this exchange, since only water can penetrate the microscopically tiny pores of the root system. Then it also matters in which molecular form the element is offered, but that is a different topic. 

Underwatered cannabis plants struggle to transport essential elements, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You understand this leads to nutrient deficiencies in the plant itself, since it cannot uptake essential building blocks for new biomass. It goes even further, since the plant utilizes water to transport elements inside the plant itself too.

This is also one of the reasons that a common symptom of under watering is hanging leaves. Interestingly, a overwatered cannabis plant also shows hanging, droopy leaves. The big difference is the thickness of leaf fingers, because when a plant is decently watered, the leaves are filled with water and therefore thicker. A underwatered plant displays a thin leaf structure and, most of the time, a brighter green towards yellowing tendency. It is all about an imbalance between uptake and transpiration, which is impacted by cannabis irrigation management.

The end result of a frequent underwatered plant is a different chemical composition of the final product. It’s hard to state that frequent underwatering leads to a decrease % of cannabinoids or terpenes, we simply cannot say so. When talking about cannabis irrigation, growers apply techniques that implement a drier substrate and underwatering principles. These crop steering techniques which include heavy dry back between shots and large dry backs overnight that seem to be successful in ramping up chemo content (= all cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids etc). Still, successfully implementing these cannabis irrigation techniques also has to do with adjusting environmental settings and other parameters accordingly. 

Curious to learn more about underwatering? We’ll publish part 3 and part 4 very soon! 

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.