The Official Organic Debate Thread

Discussion in 'Advanced Growing Techniques' started by chronictoker, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. OK...i feel like i need to begin this post by saying im here to learn not to show off lol i want to hear from some of the more experienced growers on gc ideally. What are your thoughts on organically grown buds versus non organic from a grower's and smoker's perspective. I have always been a bit on the skeptical side forgive me, but am I missing something here. I know there are growers that only grow organic, but I believe that to be a small percentage most likely and I know great buds have come from organic and non organic methods. Your thoughts please....Also I tried searching for a thread about this and couldnt find one so if this gets enough quality replies id like to ask for it to be stickied as i believe this to be a sticky worthy topic.
  2. I was going to answer this question myself but I'm going to be writing full time for the next several weeks and won't have the time, but who better to begin to answer this question than Jorge Cervantes.

    Its been real, peace out GC!

    <CENTER>Interview with Jorge Cervantes

    </CENTER>Interview with Jorge Cervantes
    Author of
    Indoor Marijuana Horticulture.
    Interviewer: Skip Stone

    Interviewed during the 2002 Cannabis Cup, in Amsterdam.
    Skip: Do you get stoned when you write?
    Jorge: Yeah I get stoned sometimes, but not always. If you have 10 people to call for an article and you need to check facts and cross reference stuff, it's hard as hell to stay stoned or be stoned. If you're just writing and you don't have any outside influences, you can get stoned. Not super stoned. I like to do that because I have more insights sometimes. My thoughts are more precise, more focused at times. It also depends how you feel. A lot of times I'll write for hours sometimes without even thinking about getting stoned.
    Skip: You get into it and get focused and don't want to be distracted when you're on a roll. I work about half speed when I'm stoned. It's not very productive. It may be insightful, you make connections between things you might not ordinarily make. But on the other hand you're working a lot slower, so sometimes it's better to just stay straight when you're working.
    Skip: Of the growers you visited, what percentage would you say are trying to grow organically or even concerned about the organic nature of the cannabis being grown?
    Jorge: Organic and non-organic growing is usually dominated by geography and sometimes age. Here in Holland for example, organic growing isn't really a big thing because there's so many greenhouses and they have so many wonderful fertilizers and what not. So it's a smaller thing here. But if you go to Northern California, Vermont, Central California, places in Colorado and Wisconsin, usually University towns or towns with high concentrations of organic-livers or free-spirits whatever you'd like to call them, organics is a lot bigger. It's usually a function of geography and politics.
    Skip: So you're saying Americans are more concerned about smoking organic pot, while Europeans are less concerned about growing it and smoking it?
    Jorge: No. I used examples in America cause I think a lot of people reading this would know those areas. Spain has a huge organic movement. France does too and so does Germany. It's not so big here in the Netherlands because it's never been. Britain also has a pretty big movement.
    Skip: So that would explain why in the Dutch coffeeshops there isn't so much organic pot being sold, because it's not being grown here. It seems like the smaller growers are the ones supplying what little organic weed comes to market here. So if you're growing organically it would be by definition a smaller operation?
    Jorge: In general they're going to be smaller, but not necessarily.
    Skip: So what would be the main difference between someone growing organic and someone growing non-organically?
    Jorge: That's a good question. It depends on who's defining organic. Here in Holland they call it Bio, or Biological (biologisch), or not biological. To some people here that means you don't put any insecticide on it. So that's one definition of organic, no organophosphate or chemical pesticides. There's lots of pesticides and lots of fungicides. Non-Organic usually means it's just been heated or processed. Organic technically means it contains a carbon molecule that hasn't been altered. But that doesn't leave a space for rock powders for example. Rock powders don't have a carbon molecule so technically it's not organic. So people confuse this organic and non-organic and tend to label things according to their needs. Just like people who read the bible have it fit their needs first and foremost. To me organic is all natural products, nothing has been heated or combined to alter the structure of the molecule.
    Skip: So you're talking about soil, fertilizer and pesticides...
    Jorge: I haven't touched on the soil, or growing medium much. The growing medium is supposed to be inert. That just means it doesn't react with other chemicals. At the same time you have expanded clay which is considered a hydroponic medium. So is cocopeat is considered a hydroponic medium because it doesn't react with other chemicals, but still it's full of carbon molecules. So it is a little confusing. The main thing to look for is non-reaction and the inert quality of the growing medium.
    Skip: Have they ever come up with a test for whether something has been grown organically or not? For instance the USDA now has a organic labeling certification. There's different classifications for that too. There's 100% organic, 90% organic, under 90% organic. These allow you to have certain products within your product that are not 100% organic and still issue you a label to show that you took extra care with your growing, processing or packaging. I find it very confusing here in Holland because they will label pot "bio" simply because it was grown in soil. Yet it may not even have had organic pesticides, it might've had chemical pesticides or whatever. Yet just because it was grown in soil it will still get this label "bio", right?
    Jorge: If I'm king I make all the rules. What we have here in Holland is a situation where we have about 100 kings, and everybody makes their own rules to suit their own needs. All they have to do is be louder and stronger than somebody else and then their rules become truth. It's impossible to police, impossible to control.
    Skip: I'm hoping that eventually if cannabis laws are eased a bit in the E.U. that they would eventually apply their labeling laws in the E.U. to cannabis. Which would prevent "bio" from being used as a word to describe cannabis unless it was indeed grown organically. That's something for the future, I don't expect you to answer on that. What new methods are being used by growers and what improvements have you noticed as a result?
    Jorge: There's a lot more seed varieties out there. A lot more access to seeds. It's easier for growers to get a hold of genetic material, which is real exciting. There's lots of changes within those. Some are more potent, different flavors, different tastes, different abilities. A lot of varieties have increased in quality. Some are more mold resistant, or easier to grow, or more fertilizer tolerant.
    Skip: So are these changes in genetics coming about by cross-breeding or are they doing genetic engineering on these?
    Jorge: They can only cross one variety with another to come up with an F-1 hybrid. But the problem is people have talked about pulling out the THC cannabinoid gene and putting it in another plant. But that hasn't happened yet.
    Skip: Haven't you heard about the THC tomatoes?
    Jorge: That's all bullshit. I ran it down and talked to the person that "made it up", but I haven't seen that it's true that there's a THC containing tomato. There's quite a few things that are different in the last five years. Lighting's changed. They've added several new lamps. There's 1100 watt lamps. There's different spectrums. There's warm-white, cool-white. From Venture lighting. Those lights seem to work real well, especially the warm-blue one. A lot of people seem to like that one.
    They now have one part nutrients. They're mixing the chemicals better. They're a little easier to use. There's a whole range of new instruments out. It's cheaper and easier to measure things now than it was a few years ago.
    Skip: You mean like humidity or gases in the air?
    Jorge: Everything. CO2 in the air, temperature, humidity. They've got electronic measuring devices. Now there's one program that you can hook right into Windows, get all your calculations right on screen. Line graphs show you your temperature for the last 48 hours, or 48 days, or 4.8 years. As long as you had it on, you can record that. That's a huge thing! You have a lot more information to make your decisions with. There's a ton of new plastics that have made hydroponic gardening easier. Gullies and what not. More technology enables you to measure the turbidity of the water. New sensors. More control over the environment.
    Skip: Have growers changed emphasis over the past few years? For example concentrating on taste and quality over yield and potency. When I say quality, I mean not necessarily how strong it is, but say in the curing process, when it's getting ready for market, handling it correctly.
    Jorge: It kind of depends on who you are and what you're growing for. A lot of people aren't as good a grower as they think they are. They're substandard, yet they still manage to sell all their dope and make a lot of money. That gives them the illusion of success. I've seen a lot of rooms that are producing about half of what they should be able to. It's very, very common. I've seen a lot of bad growers! Over half the growers out there are just not very good at it! They need to become better growers before they can worry about making their dope any better. They still need to get up to the benchmark of a half a gram per watt of light. I talked to a guy yesterday who was making .3 grams per watt of light every month, and he has a great lifestyle, traveling all over the world,incredibly successful and he's just not that great a grower. People are looking at him as sort of a hero. But to me he's not. He needs to learn more. These people love to talk about varieties and like to be snobs about stuff, but they just don't have the skills to be a snob!
    Skip: So there are grower snobs, then?
    Jorge: Definitely. Then again, some people are excellent growers. More than half are! I think there's a lot of production going on out there. That's what most people are concerned with. As far as drying and curing. Most people, espcially indoor growers have very little concern with that. Just dry it and smoke it.

  3. [​IMG]

    More info on organics versus chemically grown marijuana from Overgrow:

    The Soil Food Web

    Contributed by: paraniodpete
    Submitted: 02-27-2003

    Unseen beneath our feet, there dwells a teeming microscopic universe of complex living organisms that few humans ever consider. In one teaspoon of soil alone, there may he over 600 million bacterial cells. These bacterial cells exist in complex predator-prey relationships with countless other diverse organisms. This topsoil food web forms the foundation for healthy soil, healthy plants, and ultimately, a healthy planet.

    The soil food web is the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil. The food web has a basic set of expected organisms groups, but the numbers of organisms and different species in each group can vary significantly by plant and soil type. Photosynthesizing living plant material provides the initial energy to the soil food system through their roots. Living plant roots exude many types of complex high-energy nutrient molecules into the surrounding soil. Dead plant material is decomposed by bacteria and fungi, building up even greater numbers of these organisms and their metabolic products. As a plant grows, photosynthesis supplies much more than the individual plant's carbohydrate requirements. It has been documented that plant roots can exude over 50 percent of the carbon fixed through photosynthesis in the form of simple sugars, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and other complex carbohydrates.

    pho•to•syn•the•size - synthesis of chemical compounds with the aid of radiant energy and especially light; : formation of carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and a source of hydrogen (as water) in the chlorophyll-containing tissues of plants exposed to light

    Around plant roots, bacteria form a slimy layer. They produce waste products that glue soil particles and organic matter together in small, loose clumps called aggregates. Threading between these aggregates and binding them together are fine ribbon-like strands of fungal hyphae, which further define and stabilize the soil into macro aggregates. It is this aggregated soil structure, which looks a bit like spongy chocolate cake that effectively resists compaction and erosion and promotes optimal plant and microbial growth. Water and air are also stored in the aggregate pores until needed.

    Mycorrhizal fungi are especially effective in providing nutrients to plant roots. These are certain types of fungi that actually colonize the outer cells of plant roots, but also extend long fungal threads, or hyphae, far out into the rhizosphere, forming a critical link between the plant roots and the soil. Mycorrhizae produce enzymes that decompose organic matter, solubilize phosphorus and other nutrients from inorganic rock, and convert nitrogen into plant available forms. They also greatly expand the soil area from which the plant can absorb water. In return for this activity, mycorrhizae obtain valuable carbon and other nutrients from the plant roots. This is a win-win mutualism between both partners, with the plant providing food for the fungus and the fungus providing both nutrients and water to the plant. The importance of mycorrhizae in plant productivity and health has often been overlooked. EXAMPLE Pines are not native to Puerto Rico and therefore the appropriate mycorrhizal fungi were absent in the soil. For years, people unsuccessfully tried to establish pines on the island. The pine seeds would germinate well and grow to heights of 8 to 10 cm but then would rapidly decline. In 1955, soil was taken from North Carolina pine forests, and the Puerto Rico plantings were inoculated. Within one year, all inoculated seedlings were thriving, while the un-inoculated control plants were dead. Microscopic analysis showed that the healthy seedlings were well colonized by a vigorous mycorrhizal population. While the benefits of mycorrhizae is not always as dramatic, it has been well documented that mycorrhizal plants are often more competitive and better able to tolerate environmental stress.

    The symbiotic association of the mycelium of a fungus with the roots of a seed plant.

    hyphae (plural of hypha)
    The microscopic, non-photosynthetic branching filaments that collectively form the feeding structure of a fungus called the mycelium.

    The soil surrounding and directly influenced by plant roots and micro-organisms.

    Compost in particular can improve soil nutritional availability and soil tilth because of its complex microbial population. Composts bring with them a wide array of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and micro arthropods, along with the food resources needed to feed these organisms. However, not all composts have the same beneficial effects. There are many different types of composts, as determined by their original ingredients and their degree of maturity. The greater the diversity of food resources in the original composted material, the greater the diversity of microorganisms that can grow in that compost. Soil from potted plants may be composted in the fall and used again the following year. It is advantageous to leave the roots in the soil rather than removing them, fostering the presence of beneficial rhizoshperic organisms.

    In general, the largest soil organisms are the first damaged by soil compaction and disturbance. These include earthworms and small insects, which are at the top of the soil food web and are essential to keeping microbial populations in balance. When these organisms are lost, an otherwise undisturbed soil will have the tendency to shift from being fungal dominated to being more bacterially dominated. This will alter nutrient availability and soil structure, effectively limiting the types of plants that can grow. Some species of anaerobic bacteria thrive in a soil deprived of oxygen and can produce chemical metabolites, such as alcohols, aldehydes, phenols and ethylene, that are toxic to plant roots and to other microorganisms. As compaction continues to eliminate pore space, plant roots have difficulty obtaining sufficient water, air and nutrients, placing them under considerable stress. This stress, added to the shift in beneficial organisms, will create a situation where plant pathogens may increase rapidly and cause serious problems. No-till gardening methods can be very useful in minimizing soil disturbance. When re-potting plants of any kind, minimal disturbance to the root structure and soil is essential.

    Dr. Ingham and others in her field have found that plant roots, well colonized by a mixture of different bacterial and fungal species, are far more resistant to pathogenic attack. Mycorrhizal fungi form an impenetrable physical barrier on the surface of plant roots, varying in thickness, density and fungal species, according to the plant species, plant health and soil conditions.

    This layer of beneficial fungi plays a powerful role in disease suppression, both through simple physical interference as well as through the production of inhibitory products. Some species of fungi that parasitize other fungi, such as Trichoderma, have been observed physically attacking and destroying pathogenic fungi. Dr. William Albrecht reported that Fusarium, a fungal species often maligned in its role in many plant diseases, could actually be one of the most common beneficial saprophytes in a healthy soil. He stated that the dividing line between beneficial symbiosis and parasitism could be very narrow. When Fusarium encounters a root that is poorly nourished or is under stress, it can become rapidly pathogenic.

    In healthy soil, unaltered by the application of lethal agricultural chemicals, “microherds” groups of microbes colonize the root zone or the rhizosphere of the plant. Most are beneficial bacteria and fungi; they do not damage living plant tissue and are critical to making essential minerals available to the plant. These microbes retain large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, calcium, iron and many micronutrients in their bodies, preventing these nutrients from being leached or removed by water runoff. Ideally, they out-compete pathogenic species and form a protective layer on the surface of living plant roots. It is usually only when the beneficial species of bacteria and fungi are killed by continuous soil disturbance and toxic chemicals that pathogenic species have an advantage.

    As part of her research, Dr. Ingham has shown that herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers have many non-target effects. The most common pesticides are fairly broad spectrum; that is, they kill much more than the target species. Residual pesticides that accumulate in soil over many years may recombine and form new, unintentional chemicals that have additional and often synergistic negative effects. Out of the 650 active ingredients used to formulate most common agricultural pesticides, only about 75 have been studied to deter mine their effects on soil organisms. The remaining ingredients have never been studied for their effects on the whole system or on any non-target group.

    Scientists don't fully understand the effect of any in individual ingredient on soil life, much less the synergistic effects of the ingredients, or combinational effects with inert or soil materials. It is hardly surprising that a soil treated with numerous agricultural chemicals lacks a healthy food web. When inorganic ammonium nitrate fertilizer is applied to agricultural soil, ammonium and nitrate ions are rapidly released into the soil solution. Nitrate ions are negatively charged and can be quite mobile. The result is that a large percentage of these nitrogen-containing ions may move rapidly out of the plant root zone (rhizosphere) and into the groundwater. This produces not only reduced plant growth but also environmental pollution. Plants growing in unhealthy soil require additional fertilizers and pesticides, furthering the deadly spiral.

    In return for the release of nutritional substances from plant roots, microbes themselves produce chemicals that stimulate plant growth or protect the plant from attack. These substances include auxins, enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, indoles and antibiotics. These complex molecules are able to pass from the soil into plant cells and be transported to other parts of the plant, with minimal change to chemical structure, where they can stimulate plant growth and enhance plant reproduction. They may also play a role in enhancing the nutritional composition of the plant. The types of molecules released are specific for a variety of plants grown under certain conditions, forming in effect a unique chemical signature. As these molecules are released into the rhizosphere, they serve as food and growth stimulants for a certain mix of microbes. Dr. Joyce Loper, of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and other scientists have shown that for each plant species, this characteristic chemical soup stimulates the development of a select, beneficial company of root-dwelling microbes. This microbial population colonizes the root zone, producing certain chemicals that inhibit the growth of pathogenic species. These organisms are also instrumental in supplying the plant's unique nutritional needs.

    Plants require many different mineral ions for optimal growth. These must be obtained from the soil. Many nutrient ions are solubilized from the parent rock material in a process known as mineralization. Bacteria and fungi produce enzymes and acids necessary to break down inorganic minerals and to convert them into stable organic forms. Other nutrients are released through the decomposition of organic matter. In all cases, a healthy, diverse microbial population will develop with rapid decomposition of organic material and will facilitate the recycling of nutrients. Organic matter is also electrically charged and therefore critical to its ability to attract and hold many different nutrient ions. The higher the organic matter in the soil, the greater the ion holding capacity, resulting in reduced leaching of either an ions or cations from the soil.

    There is much competition for nitrogen among soil organisms. Those organisms that have the best enzymes for grabbing nitrogen are usually the winners. Bacteria possess the most effective nitrogen-grabbing enzyme system, closely followed by many species of fungi. Plant enzyme systems do not produce enzymes that operate outside the plant and cannot compete well when there is strong competition for limited nitrogen resources. In a healthy soil, this does not mean that the plant will be deprived of adequate nitrogen. Bacteria require one nitrogen atom to balance every five carbon atoms, and fungi require 10 carbons for each nitrogen. Therefore, the predator organisms that eat bacteria and fungi get too much nitrogen for the carbon they require. Since excess nitrogen is toxic, is excreted as a body waste product back into the soil in a form that can be absorbed by plant roots. Nitrogen is not the only nutrient effectively stored and recycled by soil microbes. Carbon is the major constituent of all cells. When soils are depleted of organic matter and healthy microbial populations, the ability of a soil to hold carbon is destroyed and it enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, now recognized as one of the greenhouse gases that are responsible for breaking down the ozone layer.

    There is little scientific evidence that bacteria and fungi simply die and decompose. If another bacteria or fungus uses the dead cells for a food source, there is no release of nitrogen. It is only when a predator consumes excessive amounts of nitrogen in the dead cells that it is released into the soil solution. It is this system of nitrogen cycling that has worked brilliantly for the past million years.

    Mycorrhizal fungi will colonize the rhizosphere
    of any plant, given the right conditions. These fungi are as diverse as the stars in the sky, and many fungi are plant specific, some are not. We have had great success with MJ inoculated with SC-27, developed by Dr. Frank McKenna of Australia. We have also witnessed mycelium from fungi on MJ roots, visible to the naked eye, develop over time with no inoculation.

    The problem with MJ, and so many plants, is that they are being grown outside of their native soil environment, much like the southern pines in Puerto Rico. Some plants adapt more readily to foreign environments than others and are less dependent on the symbiotic relationship that exists between plant and fungi. In nature, plants grow in the same soil season after season, developing a "relationship" so to speak with soil and its microscopic inhabitants.

    It should be noted, that the regeneration of soil is beneficial to the cultivation of fungi and bacteria. (Composting old soil from pots) The benefits of organic cultivation simply cannot be measured. Try as we might, there is no improving on Mother Nature.


    Stay green.

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