As medical cannabis legalization spreads, the cannabis plant has been exiting the shadows and entering scientific laboratories. With the recent publication of North America’s first scientific paper on advancing medical cannabis production, researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario have entered the brave new science of organic cannabis production.
“Growing marijuana has been illegal for so many years that there has been hardly any scientific research up until this point on how to produce this crop,” said Prof. Youbin Zheng, in a press release. “There has been no science guiding this industry.”
For the study, “Optimal Rate of Organic Fertilizer during the Vegetative-stage for Cannabis Grown in Two Coir-based Substrates,” Zheng, Prof. Mike Dixon and PhD student Deron Caplan applied five different rates of organic fertilizer to container-grown cannabis plants in two coir-based substrates during the vegetative stage.
According to the study, “The highest yield, cannabinoid content, and plant growth were achieved around an organic fertilizer rate that supplied 389 mg N/L [of liquid organic fertilizer] during the vegetative growth stage when using the two coir-based organic substrates.”
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and a licensed medical cannabis producer funded the study, and Zheng’s team wasn’t shy about accepting funding from a licensed producer.
“I’m shamelessly taking advantage of the cannabis industry sector’s investment,” Dixon told the CBC. “The bottom line is we’re developing technologies that will allow Canadians to exploit production systems in harsh environments.”
This first study is one in a series that the University of Guelph is undertaking to advance horticultural cannabis cultivation. Publication of the team’s second study, also appearing in HortScience, will cover the optimal rate of organic cannabis fertilizer for cannabis plants in the flowering stage.
According to Zheng, “We have the cutting-edge technology and the expertise to lead this area of research, and are well-positioned to train horticulturalists for the rapidly growing cannabis industry.”