How to increase sugars in cannabis plants
Carbohydrates or sugars in the cultivation of cannabis
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are a group of compounds that include sugars, starches and cellulose among many other substances. These are formed by carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
They are vitally important compounds for both plant and animal life. They perform vital functions so that plants can develop healthily and problem-free in all stages of their life and also serve as a source of food for the animals that feed on plants.
There are two major types of carbohydrates, the so-called structural and the non-structural. The structural carbohydrates are known to make up part of the cellulose that forms plants cell walls, giving rigidity to the stem, branches and roots, etc., all parts of the plant that keep it standing upright, and without them plants would fall over.
Non-structural carbohydrates are stored in many parts of the plant, for example the stem, roots, rhizomes, stolons, as well as the aerial part of the plants where they play a vital role as the source of energy that the plant relies upon in order to carry out its metabolic functions. They are the fuel the plant needs to keep growing.
But exactly what functions do they perform in plants, and in particular, how do they affect cannabis plants?
- They contribute energy
- They are necessary for the growth of the structural wall of plants, fibrous tissues, branches, stems, leaves, flowers, etc.
- They act as an energy store, for when they it is needed.
How can plants absorb, store and synthesise carbohydrates?
Plants are the only living beings that we know to be capable of synthesising carbohydrates from the raw ingredients of carbon dioxide, water and the energy derived from photosynthesis.
How do carbohydrates influence cannabis cultivation?
The sugars or carbohydrates are essential during the flowering period to enable the plants to create large, dense buds and maximise resin and terpene production.
The carbohydrate levels that cannabis plants require will vary throughout their life cycle, and while they are necessary in all stages of their life, it's worth remembering that carbohydrates can have more influence during flowering, particularly at the bud-fattening stage, halfway through bloom.
Any products that work to improve the absorption of nutrients or that directly encourage the production of chlorophyll are highly suitable and to naturally increase the quantity of sugars in the plants metabolism.
The contribution of sugars or carbohydrates can be made using a variety of different products that we stock in Alchimia Grow Shop.
Let's have a look at some products which are recommended to increase the flavour, potency and vitality of plants.
Sugar Royal from Plagron
Sugar Royal is based on amino acids that favour the formation of chlorophyll, which in turn increases the plants capacity to synthesise a greater amount of the sugars present in its metabolism.
It contains a wide range of amino acids, among which we can find: alanine, arginine, asparagine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, valine.
Sugar Royal can be used at any time from two weeks before starting bloom, right up until the week before harvest, watered into the substrate at a rate of 2ml per litre.
Its use improves flavour, increases the quantity of trichomes and essential oils, it's a very interesting product for growers who value high quality flowers and want to get the most from their plants.
Terralba Blackstrap Molasses
Produced by the French organic fertiliser manufacturer Terralba, these natural black sugar cane molasses are an organic product resulting from sugar refinement.
Adding this natural source of extra sugar to the substrate means that the microbial life in the root zone, including beneficial fungi like trichoderma, is well nourished so the microbes can work to the maximum for a faster and more efficient assimilation of nutrients by the plants.
A more active microbial life in the substrate around the roots means that plants more efficiently uptake and cycle the nutrients they require for healthy growth and flowering and creating in this case bigger, denser and heavier buds, more resinous and with better flavour.
Being a totally natural product sourced from sugar cane, Terralba's Blackstrap Molasses also contains a range of micronutrients that will help to feed the plants and keep them healthy.
Total Explosion from Agrobacteria
In this case we have a product designed for foliar application that serves to revitalise plants after they've suffered insect attacks, and also does a great job at removing the sticky residue left by insect infestations such as aphids or scale insects.
The amino acids are absorbed by the stomata in the leaves of plants, making it an ideal nutrient supplement, boosting plant health and improving vitality at the same time as washing away the sugary substances left by the insects, leaving plants clean and happy.
Total Explosion has a neutral pH of 7.0 so that it can easily be absorbed by the leaves of the plants. All that's needed is two applications, about 7 days apart.
Vitamino by Botanicare
This more efficient uptake of nourishment means that plants can easily synthesise more of the sugars in their metabolism without causing stress. As a result, the grower is rewarded with larger, denser buds, covered in trichomes and with a superior flavour, by increasing the capacity of the plant to create terpenes.
The high concentrated dose of B vitamins that the plant receives allows it to produce more hormones and vitamins. It should be used throughout cultivation, in all stages, to ensure the plants always have maximum vigour in both growth and flowering.
Super Vit by Hesi
By using Super Vit growers can ensure vigour in all phases of cultivation, both in vegetative growth and flowering, helping the plant to create its own hormones and thereby grow more vigorously and bloom more heavily during the flowering phase.
Super Vit is highly concentrated, so you'll only need to add 1 drop for 4.5L of water, or 1ml in 65L of water.
Vitalink Turbo is a product containing plant hormones and amino acids, encouraging plants to uptake and absorb nutrients at a higher rate during all phases of their cultivation, from just a few weeks after germination right up until the penultimate week of flowering.
This product, manufactured by Vitalink, also contains brassinosteroids, which act to maintain the plants' metabolism at maximum power so all the metabolic functions are faster and more efficient. In this way, plants will have a more vigorous growth period and a heavier flowering, with larger, more resinous buds and a higher terpene content, meaning more flavour and aroma.
Elycitor by Bio Technology
Elycitor, made by Bio Technology is a comprehensive microbial product composed of mycorrhizae, Bacillus and trichidermas. It also contains humic and fulvic acids, as well as micronutrients: Fe, Cu, Cr, Mn, Zn, Mo and Mg.
This mix of ingredients results in a high quality cocktail that increases root mass to allow maximum genetic expression, giving plants a greater capacity to absorb and process food and then go on to create larger, denser and tastier buds.
The dose ranges from 0.3g per litre of water, up to 1g per litre in the most difficult situations. And it's worth noting that Elycitor also increases plants resistance to high temperatures (up to 38ºC), so that for growing during the hot summer months, it's an indispensable help.
As we've seen, plants don't absorb added sugars, because it is only the plant itself that can create them through a combination of internal metabolic processes.
What we can do, however, is to stimulate and potentiate the plants metabolism so that they can synthesise more sugars than normal, making them stronger, more resistant to diseases and pathogens and, in turn, offer greater production, potency and flavour.
With a refractometer we can test the level of sugars found in the plant's sap, so that by using this precision instrument we can check to see if the plant is well fed or if its feeding can be improved upon by using one the mentioned products to improve the capacity of the plant to synthesise sugars.
To summarise all this in a few words, we'd say that for the plant to have more sugars and the resulting higher yields as well as a superior taste and improved aroma, it's necessary not only to feed the growing medium, but as well as feed the bacteria and microbial life of the substrate to promote a better nutrient absorption for the subsequent synthesis of sugar into sap.
Happy growing and sweet harvests!