Unpacking Photobleaching With Dr. David Hawley

Unpacking Photobleaching With Dr. David Hawley

<![CDATA[It’s no secret that higher light intensities equate to higher yields. But for many indoor growers, bud-boosting light intensity and unwelcome photobleaching go hand in hand. David Hawley, Ph.D., principal scientist for Fluence, explains that doesn’t have to be the case. By understanding the mechanism behind photobleaching and how light intensity and light quality relate, you can avoid photobleaching—even under high-intensity lighting.What Is Photobleaching?Hawley explains that photobleaching is simply what it seems: the literal bleaching of floral bud. “When you look at the top of the cannabis canopy, you’ll see that all of the upper inflorescences or colas or floral bud—whatever you like to call it—will be bleached white. They won’t look green like you might expect them to,” he says.The cause of that superficial bleaching lies underneath, where chlorophyll and other plant pigments have broken down. Hawley compares it to cell-damaging reactive oxygen species in humans—the reason behind urgings to consume antioxidants for health. “It’s actually a very similar mechanism as to what’s happening with these chlorophylls in the plants,” he says.With photobleaching, through several very specific steps, reactive oxygen species generated in the cannabis plant pull electrons off chlorophyll. “When that happens, chlorophyll no longer has the means to hold itself together, so it basically disintegrates.” Hawley says. “Chlorophyll is what makes plants look green, so if it goes away, you’re just left with white floral bud tissue.”What Clues Reveal Photobleaching Has Started?Hawley explains that photobleaching doesn’t announce itself with early morphological cues in the leaves. Instead, you may go into your grow and notice the upper inflorescences look a bit pale, or you may discover the very tips of plants are totally white. “Those are signs of things to come,” he says.Although an inexperienced grower could possibly misdiagnose photobleaching as a nutrient deficiency, Hawley says the two…

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