By Mikal Jakubal
After yesterday’s tarantula in the trim scene photo, I thought I’d share these much more gruesome (to growers) images of pot-farm terror. Powdery mildew, mold and stretching buds are three end-of-season demons that rival thieves and law enforcement as the stuff of grower nightmares and B-grade slasher movie plots. Well, if anyone made B-grade slasher movies about growing weed.
The photo at right is Botrytis bud mold or stem mold. It kills the plant as it grows, feeding on the dead plant matter like the giant space amoeba in that old movie THE BLOB. I freakin’ loved that movie as a kid!
Mold first shows as brown leaves on the outside of the bud. This entire bud, including all the way to the bottom of the photo (above), is trashed. Compost. Once you cut into something like this, you find the stems rotten well beyond the surface indicators. If you catch it when you see one teeny, tiny brown leaflet, you can often save most of the bud. Within one or two more days at most, this entire bud would have been brown. It happens faster than the bite of a zombie leaves you undead.
Powdery mildew is caused by another, parasitic, fungus that feeds on the living plant juices like a vampire and spreads by wind-blown spores to infect other healthy leaves and plants. A wooden stake wouldn’t do much, but potassium bicarbonate or hydrogen peroxide foliar spray helps.
The plant pictured above was left untreated for far, far too long. Once it gets this bad, it is very hard to eliminate, especially this close to harvest.
This bud (right) was left on the plant well past optimal harvest time. Note how the tip has elongated into a central stalk circled by leaflets and calyxes. It’s the marijuana-plant equivalent of being put on the rack.
Growers call this “stretching” or “helicoptering” because of the way the leaflets protrude in alternating pairs like the blades of a helicopter. I’m a volunteer firefighter/EMT, so I usually consider helicopters a blessing, but they get a bad rap in this town.
Once this bud is harvested and dried, that tip will be cut off, leaving a little snipped off stump-end on the tip of the bud instead of a nice, round, groomed top. This sort of stretching takes place throughout the entire bud structure, decreasing the density and increasing difficulty in trimming. I’m told that leaving them on the plant this long also makes the smoke more “stoney” as opposed to giving a more “up” high had it been harvested earlier. (Opinions on this anyone?)
Leaving a bud on the plant this long also increases the risk of mold, as evidenced by the stretch-out tip on the moldy bud in the first photo.
Happy Day Of The Undead!