What Is Powdery Mildew?
This white fuzzy fungus is a persistent pest on farms and gardens around the world. It infects many different types of crops including flowers, legumes, fruit trees, berries, wheat and leafy plants. Although a powdery mildew infection doesn’t immediately spell doom for your crop, it can become quite severe and even kill your plants if left untreated. The mature fungus feeds on the outermost cells of a plant and sucks out the nutrients so detecting and removing any infected material immediately will help reduce any potential negative impacts on your crops.
Why Does Powdery Mildew Infect Cannabis and Hemp?
Most fungi like to live in warm and humid environments. When you’re growing cannabis or hemp, which require frequent watering and temperatures between 65°F – 80°F, the conditions can be perfect to foster mold and fungi growth like powdery mildew. Hemp and cannabis are also generally very nutrient rich and leafy plants, which are typically grown densely packed together to maximize yield per square foot of grow space. Tightly packed plants can limit air flow and lead to moisture build up which fosters powdery mildew growth, so maintaining good pruning practices and keeping adequate ventilation around all of your plants will help prevent any potential powdery mildew growth.
Why Does Powdery Mildew Infect Some Plants But Not Others?
There are several factors that can contribute to powdery mildew infections. We’ve already discussed the influence of environment in the previous section, but that’s only one half of the equation. As with any disease or health condition, a combination of environment and genetics determines the ultimate outcome. Different species of plants, and even different varieties of the same plant species, will have different genetic resistance to powdery mildew infection. Some breeders are often able to select different plant varieties that are more mold resistant, however, sometimes a grower will want to produce a specific flavor or variety that might not be as mold resistant as others. This is when creating an optimal growing environment as well as implementing early detection and treatment practices become even more crucial.
The Powdery Mildew Life Cycle
Infections of powdery mildew usually start off by the spores landing on the plant. Then, when there is enough warmth and the correct amount of moisture (some powdery mildews can actually prefer dry environments), the spore will germinate and begin to reproduce across the surface of the plant. As the fungus matures, it begins to feed on the outermost layer of cells of whatever plant tissue it’s growing on. All of this occurs before any visible signs of infection are present. Only after the fungus has grown a network of feeding structures and begins to expand significantly will you start seeing the fuzzy white stuff appearing on your plants. The mature fungus will then begin to produce more spores and release them into the air to be carried by the wind onto nearby plants. Spores can also travel between plants by hitching a ride on insects or even the clothes of someone in the garden, where the life cycle will begin all over again.
Powdery Mildew Mitigation
The first line of defense against powdery mildew infection is to maintain a clean growing environment. That means keeping your tools and equipment clean, removing all dead plant material, keeping the humidity relatively moderate (30-40%) and having adequate airflow around all your plants. If you powdery mildew still shows up no matter how meticulous you are, removing any infected plant material immediately and destroying it is the next step to take. Avoid composting any infected material you remove, as the spores can still live and re-infect your garden. Finally, you may be able to use fungicides to prevent the spread and growth of powdery mildew. Be careful which fungicides you choose and always follow the instructions carefully. Overuse or incorrect use of fungicides can lead to resistant molds and mildews that can only be eradicated by completely destroying your garden.
Detecting Powdery Mildew Using DNA Testing
Mold and fungus, particularly powdery mildew, can be a difficult problem to eradicate completely. This is often because spores and early infectious growth can be present without being visible to the naked eye. An early detection technique can be extremely useful to ensure your plants are free of infectious fungi before transferring them into the next stage of your grow. Some key use cases are when you’ve got a batch of clones in quarantine and need to ensure they aren’t carrying pests before moving them into your main garden, or when you have a batch of plants that will be moved into a flowering stage and want to ensure they aren’t carrying powdery mildew that will break out and infect the entire crop only a few weeks before harvest. If you want to get to the bottom of a recurring problem with powdery mildew, order your DNA Collection Kits tServicesoday to stop powdery mildew