Growing in Coco Coir
Coco Coir is the growing medium of choice for an increasing number of professional cannabis cultivators. If you’re one of those growers, our primer will help ensure you make the most of this exceptional cultivation tool.
Commercial cannabis growers are under constant pressure to produce a robust crop quickly. For many indoor growers, turning five crops per year is the gold standard.
That’s why it’s essential to choose the correct lights, nutrients, and growing medium to push your crop along and grow big buds and biomass for the recreational, medical, and CBD markets.
For commercial growers, coco coir is the best choice for producing a quality cannabis crop quickly.
But cannabis cultivators exploring coco coir for the first time should learn all they can before committing to using it as their favored medium.
Coco Coir Advantages
Besides expediting the crop cycle, there are many advantages of growing in coco coir, including:
It feels like growing in soil.
Growers who have historically developed their cannabis plants in soil should feel right at home with coco coir. You can grow plants in pots and bags and irrigate and fertilize them like you would with soil or a peat-based growing medium.
Fewer insects and disease.
Coco coir doesn’t provide a suitable home for insects and disease, so expect fewer problems when growing with the medium. With that said, you must be vigilant in warding off insects and diseases. Offense is the best defense, and many growers spray their crops with an approved pesticide before outbreaks can occur.
Good aeration to the root zone.
When mixed with perlite or other amendments, coco coir holds water well while allowing the root zone to breathe. The result? A healthy root zone is a foundation for good plant growth, whether growing cannabis or cucumbers!
It’s a sustainable product.
Unlike peat moss harvested from bogs in northern Canada and Europe, manufacturers produce coco coir from the discarded husks of the coconut, a renewable resource.
Pre-mixed vs. Custom Blends
Blending a custom coco coir mix involves purchasing bricks, hydrating them, and mixing the coir with perlite and other amendments. It’s a labor-intensive process that will put additional demands on your staff.
Pre-mixed coco coir blends, like RIOCOCO’s PCM Line, provides the grower with a ready-to-grow option that will save time and money. Like other coco coir blocks, this one needs hydration before using it as a planting medium. However, you won’t need to add amendments to the product, such as perlite, like some growers have to do when using a straight coco coir block.
Growing with Coco Coir
Whether you choose a pre-mix coco coir substrate or mix your own, you should know its properties. Coco coir, derived from the discarded coconut husks, is an inert substrate and devoid of nutrients. Coco Coir pH is neutral. Being an inert substance allows the grower to control these variables more accurately. Therefore, commercial growers just starting with coco coir can avoid trial and error by doing their homework before planting.
“Do lots of research about nutrient solution E.C., pH, and saturation rates, dry downs, and runoff monitoring before growing in coco coir,” advises Marcus Westerlund, Cultivation Manager at High Life Farms in central Michigan. Highlife grows their plants in 6 in. by 6 in. cubes of pure coco coir.
Westerlund says that coco coir has a significant air to water ratio and can hold many charged ions from the nutrient solution.
“Beginners should know that coco coir can hold a lot of salts in the medium and that proper runoff is required during watering to keep E.C. levels in the target zone for the plant.”
Choose nutrients specially formulated for growing with coco coir, such as pH Perfect Sensi Grow from Advanced Nutrients or Canna’s COGr Vega. You should also monitor your plants carefully to see if you’ll need to add a calcium and magnesium supplement; these nutrients become unavailable to the plant due to coco coir’s higher than average cation exchange capacity. Botanicare and CaliMagic from General Hydroponics are two nutrient supplements used by professional growers.
What to Watch for When Growing with Coco Coir
Carefully monitor your plants during the vegetative and flowering stages, paying particular attention to pH and E.C. levels. Also, watch out for signs of deficiencies in these areas:
Nitrogen or iron deficiency:
While not unique to cannabis plants, nitrogen and iron deficiencies will manifest as yellowing leaves. You can correct the issue quickly by increasing nitrogen or iron levels. Be sure to identify which nutrient is in short supply before doing supplemental feeding or increasing nutrient levels.
If the root tips begin to wither as the lower leaves curl and develop brown edges and yellowish-brown spots, it’s probably from a lack of calcium.
If a plant is deficient in magnesium, the area between the veins of older leaves will yellow, and the leaves will develop rust-colored spots. Unfortunately, these signs won’t show up until the deficiency has persisted for three to six weeks.
The Go-to Growing Medium
Growing with coco coir has become the go-to method for professional growers looking to increase yields and crop cycles while growing a quality crop of cannabis. When growing with coco coir purchased from Riococo, you’ll see why we’re an award-winning company and a favorite for growers around the globe.
Are you ready to start cultivating with coco coir? We’re ready too.