Top end growth may well be your ultimate goal, but don’t neglect the foundations that your plants are built on. Concentrate on adeveloping a healthy root system and you’ll achieve healthier growth and bigger yields.
First off let’s all agree on one thing; the roots are the most important part of your plant. The roots are responsible for delivering water and minerals. The amount of water and nutrient a plant uptakes is directly related to its rate of growth and ultimately the size of the fruits it produces. Without a well developed root zone, you are not going to achieve well developed buds.
But roots just take care of themselves right? Well in most cases yes, to an extent. But when roots are not given what they need, they can become damaged and this is where the problems can start. A damaged root zone is vulnerable and nature will step in and attack! Diseases (or pathogens) will invade a root zone and at best slow down growth, at worst ruin an entire crop.
So, how do you prevent attack? Firstly, provide roots with what they need. A well draining, aerated root zone that is clean and kept at the right temperature – as close to 22°C as you can – will keep roots healthy and happy.
One important fact that should motivate you to take care of the roots is that, when stressed, the roots will emit a hormone called ethylene; this hormone is recognized by some plant pathogens as a sign of weakness and a motivation to attack!
The Invaders: The Bad Guys
Root problems develop when pathogens attack the roots. Put simply, a pathogen is an organism that induces sickness in a plant. They live all around us (and in some cases on us!) and remain harmless as long as the plants are in good health. But as soon as your plants become damaged or stressed, they attack.
Know your enemy; here is a quick explanation of two of the most common root zone pathogens;
This soil borne fungus causes root rot and collar rot in seedlings and young plants. When a plant is infected, small white threads may be visible in the soil and reddish brown spots may appear on the leaves and stem.
When Rhizoctonia causes collar rot, a ring of fungus will develop on the stem; cutting off the supply of nutrients to the rest of the plant. When it infects the main stem of a seedling,