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CheeseMouse

Waterfarm / DWC Hybrid issues with plants yellowing & not rooting

Well, what a poor year I've had in terms of harvesting. Since around April I haven't had a single grow due to issues with my hydro system so I've had to make do with costly street weed for months but now I finally think I've cracked the problem- fingers crossed. Anyhoo, I thought I would post my trouble for future reference seeing as I can't find any one specific post covering these amalgamated issues I've been having so it may help someone trying this some day.

I had been previously growing quite well in a modified wilma with a strain I no longer have but due to the way a friend was growing and having more success with less plants, I was persuaded to switch to his method and his strain (which I happen to be fond of). The idea being he would come in for the early days and show me what he was doing precisely so I could mimic it and what he basically does is this:-

He only works from clones (same as me) and he roots into the smaller 1inch rockwool cubes first before transplanting to a larger 4 inch blocks when roots appear. He then allows the plants to root into the big rockwool blocks before transplating to a regular waterfarm where they are fed 24/7 by the waterfarm drip. He veges his plants out under a 125 CFL for 4 weeks before taking the pot the plant is in, leaving behind the original waterfarm res and transplants it to a larger res ( custom built - around 90 litres ) where he will allow them a week to settle in before flipping to flower. The waterfarm pots sit suspended in the res from the pot rim but the water level only comes up to just below the bottom of the pot so there's maybe 25 liters of soup in the res. He also runs his drippers 24/7 so it's like a recirc system with water constantly flowing. Oh he also runs air stones in the res but his air pump is about half as powerful as mine. All in all a simple process which works well for him and he pulls around 25 - 30 oz off two - three plants. Plenty to keep him happy for a few months.

Unfortunately since trying his strain and method all my plants just kept turning yellow from the center of the plant outwards (like iron deficiency) before crisping up and dying. I've been trying for months but as soon as I transplant my girls into veg from well rooted clones, they all do the same thing. The plants sit in a stalled state before slowly starting yellow from the growing tip outwards and die and I've tried everything I've read over the past few months trying to solve the issue and nothing has worked. Finally last night after doing some extensive research I began to realise that my plants were drowning due to a catch 22 situation this system creates.

What I can't work out is why it works so well for him but not for me. Every attempt we've both tried in my room has failed and yet we do exactly here what he does at his grow even down to temps and humidity.

Anyway, basically what I think I've figured out is happneing in my room is this.....

If I run a 24 hour drip, the rockwool holds far too much water and the roots drown and refuse to develop beyond the roots that were originally emerging from the rockwool when transplanted and even then they start to deteriorate and go brittle and die once put into the modded waterfarm. On the other hand, due to the plants being sat in around 8 litres of clay balls, If I don't water often enough it's the clay balls which dry out quicker than the rockwool which stops all root growth in it's path since they get so far and dry out. Basically with this method, for some reason I can't find a balance between enough water to keep the clay balls wet without soaking the rockwool (even when bypassing the use of the larger rockwool cubes and using only 1 inch cubes) they still stay soaked and appear to drown the roots before they can grow out sufficinetly into the clay balls.)

I've tried lean watering schedules where I only water for a few minutes every 4 hours to even leaner schedules where I only water once before lights on and once when lights are off but the rockwool being a sponge just wicks it up and holds it to the point where the plants just don't like it and refuse to develop.

When I've removed these failed attempts from the hydroton in the past, it's always the same scene... Soggy rockwool and badly developed brittle roots which often show signs of air pruning where the clay has dried but the rockwool has remained soaking.

In a last ditch attempt what I've now done with my current grow attempt is to raise the water level in the res up so that around two thirds of the pot with the clay balls in is submerged so that the water level is now maybe 1 - 2 inches below where the small rockwool cube is. Hopefully this will wick up just enough water without soaking the rockwool while being far enough away (but not too far so the clay between the water level and the rockwool dry out) to encourage root growth down and away from the cube. With the water level previously being below the bottom of the waterfarm pot, the clone would have to grow down 6 or more dry inches of clay balls to get to the water.

At the minute the pots the plants are in sound like a couple of bowls of crispy rice bubbling and popping - it sounds good so I hope it does the job!

With my current grow the plants have been in the system for about a week and a half and still haven't sent any roots down BUT they aren't yellowing but at the same time they've not really grown any either. With these plants I've tried various watering times etc and after all my reading about individual similar symptoms and issue across the various hybrid techniques I appear to be using last night, I'm hoping this idea will work as a compromise.
I think next time I'm going to go with an aero cloner and do away with rockwool altogether as I'm absolutely convinced they are drowning before they can take off.

To prove this to myself I did an experiment where I put a couple of clones into some small pots with clay balls and hand watered them sparingly and they are all green and lush but as soon as I put one in this system they go yellow and die so I figure I'm on the right lines now. It's only taken me over half a year lol

Anyway, if anyone has an trouble using a system like this and it sounds similar, it might be something to do with the balance between the moisture level of the rockwool and the clay balls being out of sync.
Again why it works for my friend (I've seen his grows and they're all green and healthy and around 4 - 5 ft after the stretch) I don't know and probably never will. I'm just hoping I have hit the nail on the head. Only time will tell. I only raised the level today and I may need to lower it a little if the rockwool is still wicking up too much water. Ideally I want the stuff to be damp but not ringing wet like it's always been in the past when it's failed.

Sorry for the long essae and thanks for reading!

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Hi,

I read your post with interest, I'm running a 60L DWC but I used rockwool in clay pebbles and a drip feeder to start off, like you.

I did a few things, that I'm sure you do anyway, but I soaked the rockwool and the pebbles for a week in pH5.6 RO water before planting. Rockwool is aparently inherently alkaline.

I ran my top feeder for 15 mins every 3 hours, and also had my DWC bubbler going constantly about 1inch away from the bottom of the pot, so the splashing bubbles kept the pebbles moist. I used Vitalink Plantstart to feed from seed for the 1st 2 weeks then weak nutes with Cal Mag to buffer the RO water.

Have a look at my grow and see if any of the beginning stuff is of any use to you and good luck... best of growing karma to you!

:oldtoker:

Edited by Teetee

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