Overview of Manic Botanix Potash Products
Let’s face it, P and K boosters are to flowers what steak and eggs are to body builders. In other words, if you want to beef up your flowers, phosphorous and potassium are the nutrients required to put on girth and weight.
This said, many nutrient companies over recommend the use of P and K additives. As a result, this may result in deficiencies in other areas, resulting in less than optimal hydroponic yields. For this reason, ensuring the appropriate use (dilution rates and times) with the right PK Booster will provide the highest gains in flower size, quality, and weight.
The role in Potassium (K) and Phosphorous (P) in plant growth
Potassium is required by plants in amounts similar to or greater than nitrogen (N) (Daliparthy et al., 1994). Uptake of K by the plant is highly selective and closely coupled to metabolic activity. At all levels in plants, within individual cells, Potassium plays a crucial role in many essential processes. These being, enzyme activation, protein synthesis, photosynthesis, phloem transport, osmotic regulation, cation-anion balance, stomatal movement and light-driven nastic movements (Läuchli and Pflüger, 1978; Marschner,1995). Potassium has been described as the “quality element” for crop production (i.e. (movement or change in position of a plant or its parts, as in the opening and closing of flowers). Additionally, Potassium increases the protein content of plants, vitamin C and the solid solubles content in fruits, it improves fruit color and flavor, increases the size of fruits, and it reduces the incidence of pests and diseases.
The crucial importance of K in quality formation is associated to its role in promoting the production of photosynthates and their transport to storage organs like fruits, and to enhance their conversion into starch, protein, vitamins, oil, etc. (Mengel and Kirkby, 1987). With a shortage of K many metabolic processes are affected, like the rate of photosynthesis and the rate of translocation and enzyme systems (Marschner, 1995; Mengel, 1997).
As a component of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), phosphorus plays a crucial role in the conversion of light energy to chemical energy during photosynthesis. Since ATP can be used for the biosynthesis of many plant biomolecules, phosphorus plays an important role in plant growth, flower formation and essential oil production.
Growth factors that have been associated with phosphorus are:
- Stimulated root development
- Increased stalk and stem strength
- Improved flower formation
- Increased resistance to plant diseases
- Phosphorous plays an important role the formation of all oils, sugars, starches, etc leading to improvements in crop quality (i.e. resin/sugar/terpenoid production)
Phosphorous and its role in Resin/Terpenoid Production
In research conducted by C. B. Coffman et al (1977) it was shown:
Phosphorus and K from super-phosphate and KCI (potassium chloride), respectively, were applied at 0, 50, and 150 ppm. Forty-five-day-old Cannabis plants were harvested and combined leaf and flower tissues were analyzed for cannabidiol (CBD) and Δg-tetrahydrocanna-binol (Δ9THC). Nine essential elements were also measured in plant tissue. Plant growth, tissue yield, and concentration of CBD and Δ9THC were positively correlated with extractable P2O5 (p < 0.01). Phosphorus concentrations in tissue were similarly related to yield of dry matter and cannabinoid concentrations. Uptake of K was positively correlated with extractable K.2O across all treatment levels, but was negatively correlated with tissue yield (r=–0.36″*). Growth and tissue yields were negatively related to total plant N (p< 0.01). Levels of extractable P2O5, Mn, B, and Mg were associated with specific concentration ranges for several plant elements plus Δ9THC. Thus, it was possible to partially characterize a soil by tissue analysis. For example, all of the plants grown on soil with less than 100 ppm of extractable P2O5 (43.6ppm elemental P) contained less than 8,000 ppm Δ9THC.
The researchers further note:
“Mean total yields of THC ranged from 0.3 mg to 61.2 and were significantly different among treatments. The significance of these differences was largely due to growth responses to P. Total THC yield was significantly correlated with soil P205 and applied P. Concentrations of CBD and THC were both positively correlated with soil P205 ….
These relationships probably reflected the influence of P on cannabinoid concentrations…
… THC, and yield of THC were positively related to soil P levels in a greenhouse study employing 45-day-old plants. There were no significant growth or cannabinoid responses to varied rates of applied N and K, although maximum plant growth and THC yields were associated with soil P in conjunction with high N or moderate to high K levels in the soil.1
1. C. B. Coffman and W. A. Gentner (1977) Responses of Greenhouse-grown Cannabis sativa L. to Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium
The Problem with Excessive Phosphorous and/or Potassium in Solution
Okay, so PK additives are great stuff (increased girth and weight and increased quality) but let’s not go getting carried away. As mentioned previously many manufacturers over recommend the use of PK additives and/or recommend use at the wrong times. Other than this, many manufacturers have their PK profiles wrong, with too high P to K ratios. Yes phosphorous is great stuff, but research shows approximately 50 – 85 ppm is all that is required for optimal terpenoid production (P and K requirements are also influenced by the substrate you grow in and the plant genetics and due to this some careful experimentation is advised).
High levels of a particular nutrient can interfere with the availability and uptake of other nutrients. The nutrients which interfere with one another are referred to as antagonistic.
For instance, excessive phosphorus will reduce the availability of iron, calcium, potassium, nitrogen, copper, and zinc. This is particularly true of the microelements iron, and zinc. On the other hand, high levels of potassium reduce magnesium uptake and to a lesser extent calcium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc uptake.
What this means is that the overuse of phosphorous and potassium in solution will starve out other important nutrients that are required for healthy growth/optimal yields.
Other than this….
Burning phosphorus with sufficient oxygen results in the formation of phosphorus pentoxide (P4O10 but often simplified to P2O5 due to this being the simplest molecular breakdown of P pentoxide). The problem is that the overuse of phosphorous results in residual P remaining in the harvested produce – even with an adequate flush.
Phosphorus pentoxide is an irritant to the skin, mucous membranes, and respiratory tract/system (lungs etc) even at concentrations as low as 1 mg/m3. What this means in simple terms is that if phosphorous is present in a combustible crop (after drying and curing) the produce when ingested, via inhalation, will be harsh and chemically tasting and produce a black ash while phosphorous free produce will create a clean white ash.
Rules with PK boosters:
- Never begin application with PK boosters until the end of the stretch phase (first 1-2 weeks of 12/12). Boosting P levels during this period can result in increased stretch. Begin use when the flowers begin to form. I.e. The growing tips should be visibly changing into small flower clusters.
- Don’t get caught out with the misconception that if some PK adds flower density and weight, more PK will equate to more. It simply does not work this way.
- Some manufacturers recommend an aggressive PK regime where they advise to cut out all other nutrients and use heavy amounts of P&K for 1 week. Such advice is ill informed and ultimately will result in reduced yields due to the plant being starved of other critical key nutrition that is vital to achieve optimum yields.
- As a general rule always flush for at least 4- 5 days (ideally longer) to enable the plant to use up residual nutrients (convert them into sugars and carbohydrates for photosynthesis). Flushing results in a less chemically tasting end product.