Trichoderma is a fantastic fungus ally for robust cannabis crop growth. This species of fungi stimulates root growth, protects plants from other damaging fungi, and strengthens their natural defense mechanisms all at once.
Not only does Trichoderma make an excellent biological tool for pest control, but it also increases the nutrient absorption capacity of your plants. As a result, your plants will be stronger and healthier, leading to a more abundant and higher-quality crop.
What is Trichoderma?
The Trichoderma fungi is one of the most widespread organisms on Earth, as it can thrive in many types of soil and climates.
There are 89 species of Trichoderma that take the form of emerald green mould. They can be found coating food, walls, and the trunks of decaying trees. The best known and most commercialised species are Trichoderma virens, Trichoderma atroviride, and Trichoderma harzianum (the latter being the most commonly used).
Furthermore, these fungi also have positive effects on several other types of plants beyond cannabis, like corn, cotton, tomatoes and cucumbers. Although, it’s important to note that the plant’s genetics play a role in how responsive it is to certain Trichoderma species.
Trichoderma needs a soil with at least 2% organic matter to proliferate and produce offspring. It can rapidly spread through the roots of plants, which it systematically colonizes whilst creating a symbiotic effect that is beneficial for both sides.
Trichoderma, in contrast to mycorrhizae, does not need roots to be present for sustenance and growth. It can feed off of other fungi found in the area around plant roots called the rhizosphere. These fungi might normally harm the plant, so Trichoderma’s presence before seed germination helps ensure root development.
In addition to mycoparasitism, some Trichoderma species can also trigger the plant’s defense mechanisms. This is one of the most effective fungicidal treatments that comes from a natural source. Unlike chemicals, it doesn’t pollute the soil or have any toxic effects on plants or humans.
Not only that, but some Trichoderma species are resistant to chemicals like herbicides and pesticides. They can even break down these contaminants, making the soil clean again.
Besides providing benefits to the plant itself, another significant outcome of the symbiotic effect between fungi and roots is that soils which have been colonized by Trichoderma can more capably absorb nutrients. This vitamins helps with root development and makes plants stronger overall, resulting in bigger harvests of better quality.
How to use Trichoderma in cannabis plants?
Trichoderma can be incorporated into cannabis growth, particularly with soil and organic fertilisers, but it is just as adaptable to coco coir or hydroponics. The use of Trichoderma helps fight diseases that could potentially harm cannabis plants, and also strengthens root development while assisting the absorption process of essential nutrients including Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.
How is Trichoderma used?
Trichoderma is mainly available as a powder or liquid that can be applied via irrigation. It can also scattered directly on the surface of the substrate, but this method is only effective when Trichoderma is being used as a biological pest control agent.
When to use Trichoderma?
Trichoderma can be applied a few days after transplantation to help with root development. You can also mix it with organic substances and fertilizers before transplanting, or during the early stages of plant life.
For the best results, Trichoderma should be applied every two weeks during plant growth and flowering phases. However, if used as a treatment for an existing problem, it may need to be applied more frequently at intervals of every two days.
Is it possible to reproduce Trichoderma at home?
Homegrown Trichoderma is easy as long as you have the proper materials and conditions. You can buy a Trichoderma-based product or harvest it from its natural environment. To successfully do this, you need to sterilize a knife and gather some airtight bags or glass jars for storage (this will prevent moisture loss).
Root ball technique to produce Trichoderma
- Sow a large number of seeds that grow quickly on a tray (pulses, for instance).
- Water your plants with a Trichoderma-based product to keep them healthy.
- Let the seeds germinate and allow the plants to grow until the roots become quite dense, forming a root ball.
- Cut the plants at ground level.
Trichoderma will reproduce asexually in moist, warm conditions with little light. The root ball can then be cut into small pieces and transferred to pots or a new Trichoderma reproduction tray.
Rice trap technique to reproduce Trichoderma
- Prepare some rice traps, i.e. containers filled with boiled rice that can be covered with sterile gauze or disinfected cotton wool.
- Put the Trichoderma inside the trap and cover.
- Store in a warm, semi-dark place.
Benefits of using Trichoderma in cannabis plants
The action mechanisms of Trichoderma provide several beneficial effects at the root level and also for the entire cannabis plant.
- Myco-parasitic and antibiotic effect: Trichodermadoesn’t allow other soil fungi, such as Fusarium and Pythium, to grow; mildew, smut, Thanatephorus cucumeris, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum , and Athelia rolfsii are also affected. This airborne fungus can fight off botrytis (a type of mold), or nematodes like Meloidogyne javanica and Meloidogyne incognita . Trichoderma produces mycotoxins that deactivates enzymes coming from the plant pathogens.
- Stimulation of the immune system: Some Trichoderma species can help plants ward off other diseases by indirectly triggering the plant’s defense mechanisms at a genetic level.
- Preventive effect: Trichoderma is a type of fungi that’s known to be very versatile and can develop rapidly. It typically colonizes the soil, which then prevents the growth of other harmful species.
- Root stimulation: It helps plants develop strong roots, especially lateral roots.
- Increase of nutrient availability: It not only helpssolubilise many compounds in the soil, but it also eliminatesinorganic and/or toxic substances – promoting the absorption of vital nutrients to plants like nitrogen, phosphorus, iron, copper, and zinc. Not to mention, it significantly increases then bioavailability of carbon and oxygen levels needed for plant growth.
- Enhancement of metabolic processes: The plant’s resistance and response to stress is improved, allowing it to function more efficiently and increase its capacity for photosynthesis. This is possible due to the production of phytohormones.
- Increase in yield: Use this to increase the production of leaves and buds for a healthier, fuller plant.
- Better crop quality: The plant’s natural defence mechanisms are stimulated by CBD, which leads to an increase in the production of both phytocannabinoids and terpenes. A 2021 study showed that hemp plants contained a significantly higher concentration of CBD than those without it.