Updated: Nov 6
Microbes, Micronutrients & Secondary Metabolites
The relationship between the microbes, micronutrients, additional trace elements and carbohydrates make the best flower, and that goes for organic soil down to organics in hydro. In all cases, the better the relationship and the more organic matter, the better the quality. And though this post relates to our amendments, it’s actually for all growers that are trying to obtain the highest quality out of their plants, but for that to happen there are some basics that new growers should understand. This is about shifting the focus on what you are growing. This concerns all plants, not just hemp and cannabis, and if you focus on these same principles for your garden, you will get that higher quality and yield you are looking for.
So what should growers focus on when growing for medicine? Some say feed the soil, some say feed the plant with certain nutrients lines, technically you are growing secondary metabolites. Terpenes, trichomes and flavonoids are the most well known benefits in hemp and cannabis that make up the medicinal or recreational value. There are many more that we don't speak too. Many growers don't have a basic understanding so they just accept what they are told by fertilizer companies...and that includes us. That goes for organics as well as the salt based companies. Don't get fooled by some companies marketing departments, If you look to make the highest quality secondary metabolites, you will have created one of the highest quality largest yielding plants. Again, if growing corn, you are still trying to get the highest quality secondary metabolites on that corn to get the healthiest biggest yields. So to create the end product you are looking for you need to understand what it takes to get there.
Before we get started, we need to define a few terms. What do we mean with regards to micronutrients and secondary metabolites? This post is about the relationship of the microbiome or microorganism community, and micronutrients as cofactors that help to create secondary metabolites. We will not speak about plant cell and microbial interaction and relationships as they are deeper than we need to go for this post.
There is another article on the benefits to Brix57 carbohydrates, but to keep it short we will say if the food source for your biology is immediate, instead of needing to be broken down first, and we find BRix57 makes larger sustained communities, creating a more efficient symbiotic nature between the plant with the microbial community. We have created higher output levels than feeding with molasses.
Micronutrients - When we speak of micronutrients we are lumping in the following for the purpose of this post. Minor nutrients (S, Ca, Mg), micronutrients (B, Zn, Mn, Fe, Cu, Mo, CL, Ni) and trace minerals & elements, which we define as other elements with less than 50 parts per million and their importance within secondary metabolite production outside of the micronutrients above. The less than 50 ppm is arbitrary to our company and products as once we pull out the salts, we have a higher rate of availability on any element in all our products so this cannot be used as a standard for non GLB products. These trace minerals add additional benefits and can be cofactors in enzymes that create different secondary metabolites as well.
Primary Metabolites – Supports the plant’s ability to live with regards to basic functions including nutrition and reproduction.
Secondary Metabolites – Secondary metabolites are not created to help with the growing of the plant but in the survivability of the plant. They are what make up pest and disease protection as well as creating potential viral dormancy, and any environment related protection from biotic stresses (animals, pests, bacteria, fungi, or anything living affecting the plant), and abiotic stresses (sun, weather, nutrients, physical injury, or any nonliving input effecting the plant). There are tens of thousands of secondary metabolites including naturally forming plant hormones that GLB drills down into four major classifications including phenolic compounds, terpenoids, alkaloids and sulfur-containing compounds. We are only mentioning the three most well known in cannabis plants that most growers know, which include plant created terpenes, flavonoids and trichomes.
The only elements a plant requires for life and growth are Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), Oxygen (O2), N, P, K, S Ca, Mg, and the micronutrients above. Those 17 inputs can grow any plant, and the minor & micronutrients can also create a major percentage of secondary metabolites that have been categorized. Part of the issues deal with having those micronutrients as well as trace minerals at large enough available levels to create the highest forms of secondary metabolites.
All nutrient companies have their minimum requirement of nutrients, but does anyone know how much of their salt-based nutrients are available? What is the proper amount of each micronutrient necessary for the highest quality secondary metabolites? How do organic growers know the proper amount of volcanic ash or other products to use to obtain the proper available proportion of micronutrients? Not to keep a plant alive as a primary function, but to increase the secondary metabolites to their highest level. What we do know is that most other companies do not contain the proper amounts of micronutrients for an entire cycle to create not average or good, but the highest levels, as our Micro DS would not have such an immediate impact on the plant in the amendment form if that was true.
We throw out a test of 1 mL of our Micro DS, 1 time, 1 week. If you take a picture of the front and back of a leaf and use 1 mL per gallon of water of Micro DS, 1 time and check back 1 week later, you will see a more defined, healthier leaf structure. If you keep using you will see more structure form on the backs of the leaves. We don’t require that much on a weekly basis but in a one-time test, and if you see a difference, we guarantee a higher level of secondary metabolites by the end of flower. If it changed your leaf structure, then it has micronutrients that were not currently in your plant at high enough available doses. Those micronutrients are cofactors in enzymes that help to create the secondary metabolites. We give the possibility it must exist, but we have not come across any line of nutrients that are on the market that gives the proper amount of available nutrients to the plant as of this posting.
The proper biology is a piece to this as well, reducing the energy load on the plant cells, making nutrients available, or dealing with diseases, toxicities, plant stresses and much more. They can breakdown plant residue and dead fiber so diseases don't start to grow in anaerobic settings. Our Enhance MC has a number of functions including nitrogen fixing and phosphate solubilizing as well as breaking down cellulose, as well as Kelp and 6% fulvic acid in it. If you want to learn about what Enhance MC does check out the product page but for this post it about how does biology affect secondary metabolites.
Secondary Metabolites are for the survival of the plant but that entails everything except growth and reproduction. Stresses are the largest cause for reduced quality even including spraying oxidizing pest management chemicals as a preventative. Proper biology is on the leaf structure as well as in the soil and working within the plant. It all has an affect. The biology is just another group of workers that can help ease the process and let the plant do what it is suppose to do. Microbes don't convert the micronutrients buit can make them available, there are other processes for that, but when combining with the proper available micronutrients and a clean carbohydrate that ramps up the reproduction of biology, its raises the plant to the next level. It's like adding an army, feeding them with as much food as they need and arming them with the right tools and weapons to do the job. At the end of the day the plant is stronger and the processes are easier to compelte.
Let’s talk about micronutrients for a second, many growers don’t know that many of the “organic” OMRI listed micronutrients are mineral based, so synthetic based. We could go get an OMRI listing for our micronutrient, but we are not going to get a listing to basically false advertise. A lot of products that are approved to be used as organic are not technically organic at all. Our Micro DS is mineral based and has 0.01% salts and will pull out the heavy metals to below reporting standards creating a higher bioavailability. Our concentrated version is 1 mL to 200 gallons of water, where our diluted solution is 1 mL to 10 gallons on a daily feed. For all the organic growers we recommend you look at every product you use and see how much heavy metals are in your products. Many have lead and/or arsenic in them even at small reportable amounts. Those that are trying to be completely organic and use volcanic ash in many cases are putting in higher amounts of heavy metals, so check what’s in your products.
But back to the salts, we are not saying other companies are not doing their best with their salt-based nutrients, and don’t create very high-quality medicine, but there is a difference between growing a healthy plant or even a very high-quality plant and raising the quality of the end flower to another level that is closer to the genetic potential.
Once we started testing our products that have had their salts removed, plants reacted differently, faster, healthier. and in many cases could uptake more available micronutrients, allowing for more and higher quality secondary metabolites. The 1-, 2-, or 3-part dry or liquid products on the market are giving you a general base nutrition to make a happy looking plant. However, you can see when you incorporate GLB amendments into a program that the leaves look sharper, more defined, trichomes can be seen from node to node on sugar and fan leaves, more resin, or even the protective wax builds up on fan leaves in veg can be more noticeable. It does not just work on the 3-part lines, but every powdered and liquid nutrient line, even those really expensive ones.
Now we must also qualify our statements as two growers can have the same nutrients and genetics, but the environment is what allows the genetics and nutrients to do what there are supposed to do. The environment is solely on the grower and is where most stresses come from, outside of salts and or lack of proper nutrition. Also, with regards to secondary metabolites, one of the biggest differences in final fruit or flower can be a grower’s IPM program. A grower’s Integrated Pest Management program can have one of the largest impacts on product quality, but more on that in a future post.
With regards to secondary metabolites (SM), as we mentioned, these are not needed to grow the plant, but they are exactly what cannabis growers are looking for and at the highest quality. Many compounds within SM have anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties and much more. The tens of thousands of compounds within secondary metabolites are why any plant has medicinal value at all.
All those secondary metabolites are the true end product that cannabis growers are looking for and the highest levels cannot be found without the proper available biology, micronutrients and carbohydrates. This is not about throwing out big statements, but we have not found a line of nutrients that our GreasePacks have not raised the end quality on. We understand that another company at some point will make the perfect line, but as of now, there is not another carbohydrate that exists that can raise the quality to the same level and when incorporated with our microbes and micronutrients, we have not found anything close but are always looking for it. This post is not about our Brix57, but in combination with our microbes and micronutrients we have created more terpenes and trichomes on the most high-profile lines at a fraction of the cost of other high-quality products.
GLB only really speaks to Flavonoids, Terpenes and Trichomes on our site but there is so much more that has an effect. Brix levels, when at higher levels, perform as a secondary metabolites as it can affect pest defense. Aphids and mites both have a point where they cannot process the level of sugars in the plant. In some cases, we do not speak about aspects intentionally as we don’t like to do our competitors’ homework, they have more resources, time, and money.
Different companies and people categorize secondary metabolites in a number of categories, we see them as 4 separate components: Terpenoids, Phenolic compounds, Alkaloids (Nitrogen containing compounds), and Sulfur containing compounds, but for the sake cannabis Carbohydrates are a subset classification as well. Carbohydrates are a primary metabolite but there is a point where it is no longer needed at higher levels to survive and once past that point work in line with secondary metabolites for the survivability of the plant and have linkages to many secondary metabolites.
The 4 categories were explained to make a quick point on how large of a group sulfur containing compounds is and that growers have an understanding that sulfur has a large effect, but it is much more important than many growers realize. As well sulfur in the SO4 form is a food source for microbes, so even when some products out there contain it, are they compensating for the additional loss of sulfur due to it being a microbial food source?
Down the road there will be a separate post dedicated to some of the affects specific micronutrients have with regards to cofactors in numerous secondary metabolites, but not today, except to say we treat sulfur as the fourth major nutrient in our own inhouse line N,P,K S.
So, to the heart of it, beneficial microorganisms work in a symbiotic relationship with the plant. Even in hydroponics the level of SM when introducing proper microbes and carbohydrates make a considerable difference. It’s a myth that biology and sugar can’t be used in hydroponics, it's relative to what you are trying to grow and for what reason, but our application rates are so small and clean we do not cause the same issues as everyone else. GreenLife Biotics sees your microbes as workers that don’t take breaks. The moment a seed or clone is propagated, it has a potential quality and yield that the plant can obtain. Every limiting factor on the plant reduces the greatest potential on a second-by-second basis. Limiting factors are all inputs including genetics, individual nutrients and elements, and all aspects to environment, even plant pH and Eh, not just nutrient solution and water pH. It is every factor imaginable, and each factor is a potential stress. How many stresses, 10, 15, 20 or more where your plant is in a constant battle. The more that GLB products can provide proper available nutrition and strip away stresses and lost energy, the more time for the workers to work on supporting the plant to the highest levels.
As an example, salt is a major stress that many growers don’t understand is an actual stress. We see growers talk about how greats salt is???? If it wasn’t a stress why do growers have to worry about ppms or salt build up on pots? There is a difference between nutrient burn due to over fertilization and due to salts causing additional issues. A lot of nutrients are salt based, and they work great under specific controls. But the facts remain, they also do not give the highest quality Secondary Metabolites. We are not saying they can't, but GLB GreasePacks have shown to raise the quality even in all hydroponic settings up through super soils.
Now there are microbes as well as humate based products that will help to mitigate salt stress, but it is still a stress and the energy the plant cells and biology must use to combat the salt stress could once again be used for supporting other functions within the plant, including SM. However, just because it is a stress, we are not saying that the plants still won’t grow to a very high level of quality, but it’s a stress all the same that the plant and the microbes deal with. When they don’t have that stress, they can deal with other aspects to the plant, which all lead to the higher levels secondary metabolites.
End Result, the less stress, and more available nutrients & trace minerals, the closer to the optimum plant’s genetic potential they can get.
Technically we believe a lot of advertising is very subjective as they say their products make plants grow bigger or better. Better than what? If there are 25 stresses and we remove some of them and give the plant the proper available nutrients to deal with others stresses, the plant can get closer to its potential, but the product didn’t make the plant magically grow. The plant was being limited and the product gave it something it needed that was limiting its growth. We all want to say it’s magic in a bottle, but reality is, does the input give the proper microbes, humates, nutrients, micronutrients, or trace minerals, and what is the environment and genetics of the plant?
GLB testing to date has found secondary metabolite formation outside the necessary base micronutrients for a plant. As sulfur and each micronutrient are cofactors in enzymes that create secondary metabolites, smaller lesser-known trace elements also play a part in secondary metabolite production. We are very comfortable in the belief that a proper available humate makes a marked upgrade to field and indoor plants specifically for secondary metabolites, like our Liquid Organic Matter.
Liquid Organic Matter comes from a mined ore and makes a quality difference in plants. Yes, humic and fulvic acids are a piece to this but not always the most important part. In addition, each mine has a different set of mineral and trace element deposits that are within the mined ore. So, it is not only the humates, but also the mine that it comes from, as well as the fact once we pull the salts, heavy metals and other impurities out of our product, all components within that product are more available. Yes, we are being rather cryptic to the product itself, but we have tested it in many environments specific to secondary metabolites and against other humate based products and ours does not work the same as the rest of the industry.
Anyone can say they make the same type of product, but it is not. We do not see the same response from reducing abiotic and biotic stresses from our Liquid Organic Matter, as well as look, taste, and smell differences on the final flower.
To recap, sulfur and base micronutrients are cofactors in enzymes that create a majority of secondary metabolites. There are those that would say over 40 elements outside of the 17 essential elements have a contributing factor, and GLB has found that certain trace elements do play a factor as well as true humic substances from higher quality mined ore.
Humic substances, like Liquid Organic Matter include humic and fulvic acid as well as humin, which is in essence hydrophobic and insoluble, but we have found a way to suspend it properly and ours makes a difference. More than just trace elements that may be in the humic substances it’s the abiotic and biotic stress reducing qualities that are in part the definition of secondary metabolites. The basis for any program should find a way to incorporate the above for the next level of secondary metabolites.
We only spoke to the microbes and micronutrients, which are important ingredients in raising the quality of your grow, but if you were to try 1 product from any company that will change your grow, it is Brix57, the next level of carbohydrates made from a proprietary plant extract with a proprietary extraction process.
We know we write bible size blogs for those nerds out there, so we appreciate your time,