Hop latent viroid (HLVD) in Cannabis

HLVD in Cannabis

What is HLVD (hop latent viroid) in Cannabis? That’s the question countless home and commercial growers are asking themselves as of recently. If your crop seems stunted and generally not well preforming it can be due to more than just its nutrient, water, and light levels.

A pathogen known as hop latent viroid has been around for many years and is destroying crops left and right.

What Is HLVD?

Originally identified in hops, HpLVd has made its way to cannabis cultivation sites. In hops, the viroid produces no symptoms. In Cannabis and hemp plants, symptoms are referred to as “dudding” and may include the following symptoms:

  • Stunted growth
  • Reduced vigor
  • Weak/Brittle stems
  • Smaller buds
  • Immature or lack of trichomes

HpLVd was first publicly discovered in California in 2019. However, it is speculated that the viroid has been ravaging the largest cannabis market since 2014.

Some believe that California was a major contributor to the drastic spread across the country. After the legalization wave, infected plants from California were unknowingly introduced to other major markets.

If untreated, Hop latent viroid can cause major damage. Based on growers estimations, HpLVd infections damaged between 25 to 50% of their crop, resulting in millions of dollars in losses. For home growers, an HpLVd infection may mean wasted time and effort resulting with no yield.

Transmission of HLVD in Cannabis plants

While HpLVd is a relatively new disease, it has been and is currently being studied to reduce its transmission in both Hops and Cannabis. Based on the current research, the disease is primarily spread through infected propagation material. At unsanitary cultivation sites, tools such as pruning shears or gloves can pass on the viroid infection through direct contact with wounds in plants. Researchers also note that seed production does not appear to have a high rate of transmission. Some research has shown that HpLVd can be transmitted via seed at about an 8% rate.

Disinfecting your growing supplies

A large portion of cannabis growers sanitize their equipment using 70% isopropyl/ethanol solution. However, research suggests that a 10% bleach solution is the most effective method to use for preventing virus and viroid infection in your grow.

Prevention is the most effective way to manage the spread of this elusive pathogen. Starting off with quality cannabis seeds and clones is the best way to reduce the spread. One of the best ways to make sure you start with a healthy seed or clone is to perform molecular testing.

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