5 tips for mixing your own cannabis fertilizer

By creating cannabis fertilizers from scratch, commercial growers can reduce operating costs and enjoy the flexibility to customize their own nutrient recipes.

But growers switching from buying bottled hydroponic nutrients to mixing their own fertilizer should be aware of factors that could strongly influence the success of their feeding program.

Errors in the fertilizer mixing room could quickly translate into costly plant problems once these oversights show up in the crop.

Growers looking to ditch their ready-to-use cannabis fertilizers for internal nutrient programs should keep the following five tips in mind to maximize their chances of success:

start clean

Growers using raw water with high levels of unwanted minerals will need to treat their water before mixing it with fertilizer and sending it to the crop. High levels of bicarbonates, chlorides and sodium are among the most common reasons growers turn to reverse osmosis (RO) to purify their raw water.

In recirculating systems, these can build up to problematic levels, so the RO process removes all minerals from the water, providing the grower with a blank canvas from which to create their nutrient recipe.

But if the raw water does not contain alarming levels of certain minerals and the producer uses a discharge system, RO treatment may not be necessary. Many of the same minerals removed during the reverse osmosis process are then reintroduced through fertilizer.

If your raw water falls within these acceptable ranges, you may be able to avoid the expense of a reverse osmosis system:

  • pH: 5-8
  • Alkalinity: 3
  • EC:
  • Calcium:
  • Magnesium:
  • Sulfate/Sulfur:
  • Iron:
  • Manganese: <.50>
  • Boron: <.50>
  • Sodium:
  • Chloride:
  • Fluoride:
  • Heavy metals: not detectable

Use greenhouse grade minerals

Minerals that have not been sufficiently refined can contain high levels of heavy metals, which are undesirable in cannabis. As accumulator crops, cannabis and hemp will absorb and store heavy metals present in the soil or fertilizers.

Most regulatory programs requiring product testing have strict thresholds for acceptable levels of heavy metals in the final analysis of dried flower and extract products. A failed test can mean an unsaleable crop.

Cheap fertilizer ingredients can be insoluble or contain unwanted impurities that can put your crop at risk. Use only greenhouse-grade or technical-grade mineral fertilizers to avoid problems when it comes time to sell your crop.

Avoid excess phosphorus

A popular myth among cannabis growers is that growing requires high levels of phosphorus to start the flowering process and guarantee huge buds. It is simply not true.

While mineral ratios vary between vegetative growth and flowering, required phosphorus levels do not fluctuate greatly. Researchers who have looked into this topic agree that both cannabis and hemp will not benefit from more than 50ppm of phosphorus during flowering, with around 30ppm being optimal.

Higher phosphorus levels in your cannabis fertilizers probably won’t result in larger flowers, but it could cause micronutrient compatibility issues. In addition, the phosphorus that the plant does not store or consume goes straight down the drain, along with the grower’s money.

Algal blooms in lakes and streams are caused by excess phosphorus in runoff, which is another reason to tighten the cannabis industry’s love affair with phosphorus. .

Be careful with additives

Although there are only 17 essential nutrients for plant growth, there are just as many (or probably more) fertilizer additives on the market that claim to improve the health and productivity of cannabis crops.

Fulvic acid, humic acid, silica, organic supplements, biostimulants, resin boosters and carbo-loading fertilizers are just a few of the more popular products that can be added to a diet. homemade fertilizer. There is a growing body of research to confirm the effectiveness of these products, but much is still anecdotal.

Be aware of compatibility issues; at concentrated levels, some supplements could bind other elements and render them unavailable to the plant. Organic-based supplements could lead to the growth of biofilms inside irrigation lines and drip stakes. Both scenarios will cause headaches for growers on a commercial scale, so it’s best to test these products and their compatibility in an R&D setting before moving to the full greenhouse.

Monitor nutrient uptake using plant sap, not leaf tissue analysis

One of the most important benefits of mixing your own fertilizer is the ability to adjust individual elements as the grower deems necessary. The increase or decrease in a mineral should be based on the results of a plant sap analysis.

Plant sap is the mineral-rich fluid that flows through the xylem and phloem of the plant. By extracting and analyzing this sap in real time, growers can make fertilizer adjustments before a nutrient imbalance causes economic damage to their crops.

Plant sap analysis is more accurate than leaf tissue analysis; the former allows the grower to see what is happening today, while the latter shows what happened inside the plant weeks ago. Combining plant sap analysis with an in-house fertilization program is the best way to ensure a targeted and effective crop nutrition program.

Growers looking to reduce production costs and improve the accuracy of their feeding program are increasingly turning to homemade fertilizer recipes to grow their business. As long as the raw water is good, the fertilizer supplies are clean, and a nutrient monitoring program is in place, custom cannabis fertilizers can truly become a recipe for success for a grow business.


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