Water Treatment in the Growing Cannabis Industry

September 26, 2018
Water Treatment in the Growing Cannabis Industry

Water treatment is a key component of any agricultural endeavor, as proper filtration is needed to ensure that cultivated plant yields for human consumption are optimized and meet regulatory standards. This is especially true for the cannabis industry. Given its rapid growth in the United States—with medical marijuana now legal in 33 states and recreational marijuana in 10 states—the booming industry is showing no signs of slowing down.

For those looking to join the industry as a grower, it’s important that care is taken at each step in order to produce a crop that outshines the competition. For the cannabis industry, where growers aim to produce a refined, boutique-quality product, water quality and other growing practices are especially significant.

According to Marijuana Venture: The Journal of Professional Cannabis Growers and Retailers, “large-scale, traditional agriculture water treatment practices do not always apply to specialized, high-value crop production.” Especially as the industry grows, marijuana crop quality is highly important if growers want to succeed.

Water Quality for Improved Product Quality

While marijuana grows without treated water in many places, those looking to cultivate high-quality, thriving crop for commercial purposes may want to use treated water. Untreated water can contain chemicals and minerals that can stunt plant growth at the wrong concentrations.

For example, calcium and magnesium—commonly found in hard tap water—can benefit plants as nutrients at the correct levels, but too much can be detrimental to plant growth. Other chemicals like chlorine and bacteria can have adverse effects. Cannabis growers also have to take into consideration the pH and temperature of the water.

Untreated water can also have overabundant salts that can hinder the growth of the plant. To remove these chemicals and salts and get water to the right composition for proper cannabis growth, reverse osmosis (RO) is a popular process used in the industry. Growers can use RO-treated water as a base before adding in the right nutrients for their crop. Calcium and magnesium at the correct levels and broken down to the right size for plant uptake are often added, along with other nutrients like nitrogen and potassium. 

Ultimately, water quality is a key concern for marijuana growers using soil and hydroponic methods alike. With consistent water quality, cultivators can get the most out of their crop and produce a high-quality, commercially available product. Without treating their water appropriately, growers may see variations in their yield and find they need to take time and effort to diagnose the cause. Proper treatment means growers can eliminate water as a factor when harvest issues arise.

As the marijuana industry continues to grow in the U.S., successful cannabis producers are paying close attention to controlling conditions including lighting, humidity, soil quality, and air circulation—and water treatment is just one piece of the puzzle.

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