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Flushing and Harvest-Timing Your Hydroponics Crops

Hydroponics Harvesting Puts Fun In Your Life! Hydroponics Harvesting Puts Fun In Your Life!

Harvesting is the payoff moment of your hydroponics gardening season, and we’ve been giving you harvesting tips that are timely and timeless.

Be sure to check out Rosebud Magazine (the print version) for harvest information we don’t have room for here.

Now let’s take a moment to understand why most hydroponics growers need to flush their crops. The reason you need to flush before harvest is that your plants take in and store salts, nutrients, and fertilizers that you don’t need in your crops when you harvest them.

If you’re using water that’s not cleansed by reverse osmosis or other effective methods, your crops may be taking in heavy metals or other pollutants. All this affects the taste, safety and value of your harvested material.

The complicating factor is you have to wisely  “read” your flowers ahead of time so you know when to start flushing so it lands you the exactly right time for your plants to be harvested. If you flush too early, you could lose valuable bloom time or floral development.

Flushing is easy. To cleanse your crops, wait until you’re 5-10 days away from your total cut, and then start feeding your crops a flushing solution like Final Phase which is uniquely designed to leach excess nutrient salts out of your plants and root zone while still providing what your plants need so they add size and value while being flushed.

Just discontinue all nutrients, add the Final Phase into pure water in your nutrients reservoir, and then feed your plants only water and Final Phase beginning 5-10 days before harvest time.

After flushing, you’re ready to harvest, but maybe you’ve heard heated arguments about whether to harvest at the end of your grow room’s dark cycle, or its lights-on cycle…

The argument is centered on whether your plants are manufacturing valuable essential oils, volatiles and other glandular compounds at night, or in the day, and whether light and heat during daytime cycle break down these valuable compounds.

Scientific evidence suggests that harvesting at the end of your lights-OFF cycle is the way to go.

Now, on to the topic of exactly how to harvest. There’s always the “chop the entire plant down by cutting the main stem just above the root zone and hanging the plant upside down to dry” approach.

As the plant dries (slowly, because it has a lot of moisture in the stem material that gravitates into the flowers), some growers prune off the larger leaves and otherwise manicure their flowers.

Another approach is to dismantle the plant by cutting all the branches away from the main stem. This means you have individual branches to place for drying, instead of just cutting the entire plant all at once.

You need to trim large leaves and other unwanted material away from your flowers. This is called “manicuring” your flowers. Note that a lot of growers gather up their trimmed “waste” material and use water-processing or other methods to get value from it. Don’t throw money away! Use all of what you grow.

Growers hang their cut plants on clotheslines, lay them on oven racks or otherwise handle them after cutting, but the best method we’ve seen are portable drying racks like the “Quick Cure.”

Properly-made drying racks circulate maximum air around your cut flowers so they dry evenly and quickly. Many traditional drying methods do not provide proper drying aeration, which means mold, fungi or other problems might hurt your crops.

Harvest Moon with Neil Young, perhaps a hydroponic harvest?

By all means avoid the unfortunate tactic of drying your flowers in an oven or microwave. It destroys your crops freshness and value!

In a future article, we’ll talk about manicuring, drying, curing and storing your hydroponics crops so they hold their maximum value. Until next time, happy harvesting…savor the fruits of your hydroponics labor!

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Last modified on Monday, 01 November 2010 18:33

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