Strange infection threatens cannabis plants in the United States

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Hops latent viroid, HpLVD worries American growers. This phytovirus is particularly rampant in California, the world capital of plant cloning. Main symptom of an infected plant: there is none. As with covid-19, many cannabis plants can turn out to be asymptomatic, making it difficult to spot.

Then, overnight, the symptoms kick in. They are then manifested by a loss of vigor, a diseased appearance of the plant, a 30% slowing down of growth. And above all, a “Loss of general flowering production by 30% (reduction in flower size and weight, decrease in resin production, decrease in odor, flavor and potency intensity)”, tells us the Humboldt seed bank. In short: fewer flowers, less turnover.

This viroid (smaller than a virus) originates from hops, a plant not so far removed from cannabis. It was then spotted for the first time on a cannabis plant in 2017. A discovery that we owe to Dark Heart Nursery. Researchers from this Californian laboratory then tour the farms to detect HpLVD. The result is striking.

$ 44 million in losses each year

“Most farms had an infection rate of around 25-50%, causing an estimated loss of $ 44 million per year”, indicates the lab. If the losses are so high, it is because there is simply no way to cure a diseased plant. The best a cannabis grower can do is prevent the viroid from spreading even further throughout their farm.

There is only one rule for that: hygiene. If you cut an infected plant with pruning shears, then prune another plane with the same tool, it will be infected too. Humbolt Seeds therefore advises growers of “Thoroughly clean all of your tools intended for pruning the plant”. It will also be necessary to avoid “Touch an infected plant and then touch a healthy one, or leave these two types of plants in contact by friction”.

Some, like 2Fast4Buds still offer to treat infected plants. To do this, he recommends cutting a plan (take a piece of it), then soak it in a solution made up of fungicide and water. Then, you will have to let the cutting create a root, for a few days. Then, soak it again in a water-fungicide solution. But this technique must be tested on one or two plants before being deployed on a large scale.

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