Is Hop Latent Viroid Everywhere?

Is Hop Latent Viroid Everywhere?

Hop latent viroid (HLVd) is one of the most devastating to ever affect cannabis, and researchers believe this virus may be causing the most damage to the industry. It is estimated that Economic losses of $4 billion per year. But are the streets any safer than the huge recreational farms that have been decimated by the move to legalization? We reached out to several actors from both sides of the fence to see if HLVd is having the same impact on the underground cannabis market as it has on the recreational market.

For those who aren't familiar, HLVd is one of the worst things to happen to cannabis since the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Viroids are currently considered one of the biggest threats to both the global cannabis and hops industries. Viroids are the smallest known infectious agents that can cause disease in plants.The first viroid Discovered in potatoes in 1971And finally HLVd is In 1987, two of the three hop varieties were reported in Spain..

Many plants affected by this disease are also asymptomatic. This means that there are no symptoms or signs of infection in the early stages. The viroid is then fully expressed and ruins the yield and vigor of the plant. In the case of cannabis, this prevents the plant from reaching its full potential in producing cannabinoids and all the other good stuff. The cost of HLVd to the cannabis industry is currently in the billions of dollars, and it is reasonable to believe that losses on the trap side of the market could even exceed $1 billion.

High Times Magazine, April 2024

HLVd takes off

Last year, researchers canada and japan We combined all known data about HLVd to get the clearest picture yet.Research published in scientific journals virus, It cited a 2021 survey conducted by Dark Heart Nursery School.

Dark Heart founder Dan Grace was quick to buy into the idea that HLVd needed to get out of the trap.

“All the genes we have now come from the illegal market, and that's no surprise,” Grace said. high times. “It's just a matter of historical fact. This virus was all over the place long before 2017. I mean, we learned about it at her Emerald conference. Maybe you like it. [in] In 2013, people were calling it PCIA, which stands for “putative cannabis infectious agent.” ”

Grace said that at the time, when no one knew what HLVd was, people at the Emerald Conference, a cannabis science and psychedelic science event hosted by MJBiz Science, were presenting qualitative data. Dark Heart's 2021 study “showed that the virus has been increasing at an exponential rate over the years, as you would expect from a virus,” Grace said, adding that HLVd He pointed out that it is now everywhere. “But to the question of illegal market or regulated market, all I can say is that when we were all operating in the illegal market, no one knew what it was and the I think it's just that we didn't have the resources or anything like that to figure out what that was. Only through transparency and very transparent and honest communication can we begin to resolve the issue. ”

Dark Heart was one of them. First organization to identify HLVd in 2019. Two years ago, the nursery began collaborating with Dr. Jeremy Warren, who oversaw a study in which healthy plants were intentionally infected with HLVd and analyzed symptoms in diseased and healthy control plants. Warren confirmed that HLVd is responsible for “dudding” symptoms such as yellowing of leaves and stunted growth.

The Dark Heart study included a survey of 100 cannabis cultivation operations in California from August 2018 to July 2021, and found that in 90% of them, one-third of the plants were infected with HLVd. It turned out that

Further research will be needed to truly understand the extent of HLVd among California's thousands of licensed cannabis growers. Still, it has become clear that it was, and continues to be, a serious problem.

Although there have been many attempts to cull HLVd-infected plants, in reality, a grower's best bet is to create clean clones from scratch. To do this, companies contact specialized nurseries to purchase cuttings that have been started from very clean, disease-free tissue cultures. One of his popular providers of these cuttings is node lab In Petaluma, California.

Given their expertise on this issue, we asked Dan Adler-Golden, co-founder and chief business officer of Node Labs, to make trap sites safer from hop-hidden viroids by separating them from the legal market. I asked him if he thought it would be. He claimed the opposite.

“The trap scene is where latent hops first flourished and unwittingly proliferated with legendary strains over the years,” Adler-Golden said. high times. “Infected plants can be asymptomatic, so the lack of information about viroids combined with minimal screening practices has led to widespread contamination among the true elite cuts.”

As California nurseries move into the legal era, it's not crazy to think that infected mother plants brought into the emerging remarket come from an unregulated market. Not everyone hunted new genetic strains for legalization in late 2017. Adler-Golden explained that Sour Diesel was a well-known stump that was widely distributed after the outbreak.

“Pathogen testing has only become widely available in the last few years, making it easier to screen inventories,” he said.

We also asked Adler-Golden whether he thought the small selection of clones available when the market repopulated had the biggest impact on its spread to so many cultivated areas. Ta.

“When the market first recovered, there was a brief period when many nurseries were operating and even supplying clones in retail stores, so there were a lot of great options for consumers,” he said. I answered. “However, pathogen screening was not common, so growers could accidentally introduce viroids into their plants by purchasing clones from other nurseries.”

Adler Golden concluded by noting that while general pathogen screening services have improved, fewer services are being performed today than they were a few years ago. It is no longer very difficult for professional surgeons to continue providing dirty cuts.

Information and prevention

Popular NorCal Cultivators paki grower He believes the chances of a small, isolated, unauthorized carrier like himself becoming infected are slim.

“[In] “In an isolated environment, such as a home or a small private garden, you would think it would be less likely if you were harvesting your own clones and growing them from seed,” Paki Grower said. high times. “It's very circumstantial because it can so easily jump from room to room and producer to producer. It depends on who's messing with whose cut.”

Paki Grower said much of the genetics he studies is sourced directly from Wyeast Farm. Wyeast tests all cuts every few months. In recent years, researchers have discovered that crossing an infected parent with a healthy parent can spread her HLVd within the seeds. Testing revealed the presence of the viroid in the outer shell of seeds produced from infected parents and in the seeds themselves.

“Wyeast is testing everything he brings into quarantine. That's even more important to him because a player like him has a huge collection of heirloom cuts that may never be replaced,” Paki said.・Grower said.

He also noted that although he believes he is in a more protected situation, the recreational market is starting to take better action. Given how easily HLVd spreads, things like bleaching tools are an important step. Imagine that the first clone taken with a new razor is infected. How heartbreaking would a tray of these cuts be?

And part of the problem is knowing what you're looking at. HLVd is difficult to identify until it's too late. Testing is cheaper than ever, but still requires a sophisticated eye.

“So from a grower's perspective, I think you have to pay close attention to the details inside the room,” says Paki Grower. “Yes, things can slip by. They can go undetected. Maybe they pass a test and are hidden and come out later. The thing is to make sure all the plants you have are healthy, and if something looks unhealthy, make sure it's not health related. We need to analyze that virus.”

Just assuming everything is related to HLVd makes your room susceptible to many other problems. Before assuming that a weak crop is infected with viroids, you need to ensure that all other boxes are checked regularly. But if all of these boxes are checked and you think your room is free of pests and stress, it may be time to get it tested. At least it's more affordable than ever.

We asked Paki Grower if she feels there is the same level of fear in the underground economy when it comes to HLVd as there is in the recreational market.

“It's funny to say that because I've been worrying about it all these years. And every time I see some kind of unhealthy plant, it could be user error, or it could be environmental. It could be a disadvantage. I'm always stressed about that, dude. It could be a viroid,” he replied.

But it's clearly not an inherent sense of threat given his practice, but an underlying concern that emerges.

“I don't feel threatened yet, because I'm dealing with a small percentage of cuts. And I haven't seen it here in my area, but we're talking about It's, you know, a smaller space,” Paki Grower said. . “We're not talking about large facilities with profits.”

Paki Grower went on to make another interesting point about famous stocks that are no longer seen in the market. He believes that much of the genetics that has worn away over time is a casualty of HLVd.

Rather, it is clear that HLVd transcends all types of cannabis cultivation operations, regardless of legality or size. At the end of the day, it's important to source the genetics for your closet, greenhouse, or warehouse from a trusted source and implement best practices to protect them from viroids.

At least these days it's expensive enough to have newly brought cuttings quarantined and tested. All you need is a small tent and an LED panel to keep it away from other kids. Now I just hope that the test result is negative for HLVd.

As growers continue to learn more about this disease, we hope that even more cost-effective solutions will be discovered.

This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of High Times Magazine.

Chris M.

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