To control mold on a big industrial hemp grow you will need to invest in mold prevention equipment. In an indoor grow it may not be as difficult to prevent mold, as all the internal conditions can be regulated. However, in an outdoor setting, vigilance needs to be exercised as the elements of weather may fluctuate haphazardly and predispose your crop to mold formation.
Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in places with high relative humidity. It’s usually black, white, or grey, but it can also be orange, green, or purple. Mold produces spores that are carried in the air and can easily move from one plant to the next. It can affect a whole canopy if it is not controlled quickly enough.
Mold filled industrial hemp will test positive for fungus even if the spores have not germinated. Such hemp is a waste because it cannot be used for industrial purposes. Industrial hemp seeds that have been contaminated with mold cannot be sold in health-food stores because they are considered unsafe for human consumption.
In Colorado, and in some other states, industrial hemp that is considered safe must have a total yeast and mold count (TYMC) that is less than 10,000 colony forming units per gram.
As previously mentioned, in a small indoor setup, humidity can be regulated to prevent the formation of molds. This includes setting up dehumidifiers to reduce relative humidity as well as fans to remove stagnant air from the room.
In a large scale outdoor setup, the following methods can be used to prevent mold:
Using Autoclave to Prevent Mold
An autoclave uses heat to destroy mold spores, and is also commonly used to sterilize medical equipment. This method is affordable and very effective in killing mold spores. At the same time, it is time-consuming and cannot be used in large-scale industrial hemp grows. It’s also worth noting that it may cause a change in the color, smell, and taste of the hemp.
Using Dry Heat to Prevent Mold
In this method, the industrial hemp is placed in dry heat to prevent the formation of mold. As much as this can be effective, too much heat may damage the hemp and reduce its quality.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide Sprays to Prevent Mold
This is one of the most effective ways to prevent mold in a large industrial hemp grow. A hydrogen peroxide mixture is sprayed on the parts of the plants that are most at risk for molds. Note that the hydrogen peroxide may cause extreme oxidation and burning of the plants, so it must be used in moderation.
Use of Radio frequency to Prevent Mold
This is a novel method that is becoming popular amongst organic industrial hemp farmers. It is a non-toxic, non-ionizing, and non-chemical based method that can be used on a large-scale farm. It destroys molds using radio frequency, which does not cause decarboxylation or the destruction of cannabinoids and terpenes. Note that it also reduces moisture, which can sometimes make the hemp too dry.
This method has been borrowed from the food industry where it has been used for many years to preserve foods.
Use of Supercritical Gasses
Gasses that have been pressurized to supercritical temperatures can be used to destroy molds from already harvested industrial hemp. This method is capital intensive and therefore makes economic sense when used in a large-scale grow.
Carbon dioxide is the most frequently used gas, but other gasses that may be used include butane, heptanes, and hexane. This method is effective and destroys all mold spores present in industrial hemp. It is also the only method that has been approved in the state of Colorado for remediation.
Is Mold In Industrial Hemp Harmful?
Molds start from the inner surface of the buds and spread outwards. By the time they are visible on the surface, they’ve spread too much. They can easily destroy a whole canopy of industrial hemp by attacking the fiber and seeds, rendering them useless.