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  • Karel Ancona - Best Cali Hemp

Getting To The Root Of It

Getting to the Root of it When growing hemp or any cannabis for that matter, it’s important to understand root systems and the role they play in the plant’s overall health and ability to produce.

In the world of roots, there are nine types, but as relates to hemp, we’re looking at two systems - the tap root and fibrous or adventitious (sometimes called cluster) roots. To begin, tap roots are only found on plants started from seed. Clones will present with fibrous root structures. Look at both plants in early stages of development and the difference is evident. A tap root is the singular system that grows from a seedling. Once a clone begins to develop, roots of similar size spring from its stem and when well established, looks like a ball of roots.

So what do these differences mean or matter? Tap roots are typically found in most shrubs, flowering plants and trees. Carrots are a fine example of a tap root. One we happen to eat. This is the primary and strongest root that tends to grow deeper than ancillary roots that grow off the tap root during later plant development. Its ability to grow deep into the ground makes it masterful at anchoring the plant in the ground as well as finding needed water and minerals found deep in the ground. Tap roots can also be used as a food storage facility to be drawn from as needed.

Hemp is a flowering plant and its tap root, which as noted occurs when plants start from seed, can grow as deep as 6 1/2-feet. Growth will continue until plants reach the flowering stage, at which point root growth slows or stops. Fibrous roots grow from the clones’ stem in a cluster. They are generally thin, and moderately branching and have no primary root. As the root system develops, it grows laterally, spreading in all directions, growing closer to the surface. Since 95 percent of the root is found within the top 2-inches of the soil, they are classed as top feeders, making them efficient at absorbing water and nutrients delivered from above-ground sources as would typically occur in agriculture. Hemp plants require two to three gallons of water daily and require amended soil, a solid feeding schedule or a combination of both.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to whether to start a hemp crop from seed, clones or both. Using clones ensures as has been explored in other blogs, that plants are of consistent quality and are all female, since clones are a genetic replica of the mother plant. Typically, growers can expect clones to flower a bit earlier than seed-sourced plants as they are genetically “older”. It is important to take all these factors into consideration when making planting decisions. Just know the root systems are going to access needed water and nutrients in two very different ways and make any necessary adjustments.

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