The replication of Hop Latent Viroid, also known as HLVd, is wholly reliant on the metabolic processes of its host plant. HLVd is a single-stranded, circular form of infectious RNA. HLVd is found all over the globe in hops, as its name indicates; nevertheless, it may also infect cannabis, which is related to hops. It is one of the viruses to watch out for when growing cannabis.
Once this virus has infected the plant, an infectious organism smaller than a virus, very little can be done to cure it. At least, that was how things were interpreted in the past regarding Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd) and the damage it does to legally grown cannabis crops.
Hop Latent Viroid may represent the most significant risk to the legal cannabis market. Because of its latency, it is exceedingly difficult for growers to spot, and it may spread unnoticed across a plant, significantly reducing the amount of money it can make.
The elimination of commercial value, estimated to result in losses totaling billions of dollars, was demonstrated by testing conducted over three years among more than one hundred cannabis growers in California. More than a third of the tests from ninety percent of the cultivation sites returned positive for HLVd. If you extrapolate those farmer statistics from the West Coast to all the growers in the United States, the outlook is not good.
Dark Heart Industries, a cannabis genetics business based in California, conducted 200,000 tissue tests to identify the threat that finally led to dudding in cannabis. Dudding causes a drop in production and potency, stunting, loss of vigor, and alterations in morphology.
Geneticist Dr. Jeremy Warren, the director of plant science and the laboratory at Dark Heart, was the first researcher to blame HLVd for the loss. He was also the first scientist to devise a cleaning technique to remove HLVd from contaminated specimens.
What is meant by the term “hop latent viroid”?
Hop latent viroid, also known as HLVd, is a plant pathogen. When it infects cannabis, leads to a condition known as latent viroid infection. On the leaves of plants afflicted with this disease, you’ll notice a series of tiny, white dots. These spots will soon become yellow and brown, and they may eventually cause the damaged leaves to die. Cannabis cultivators have a substantial challenge in the form of latent viroid infection. This may severely diminish the productivity and the quality of their crop. If you are growing cannabis outdoors, always look for any signs that your plants could be infected.
HLVd in Cannabis
In 2017, several producers of Cannabis sativa in the state of California reported that different plants were stunted. On the other hand, no additional symptoms were found that could conclude what caused the plants’ development to be stunted. Much subsequent scientific research provided conclusive evidence that the plants in question had been infected with HLVd.
If the signs of HLVd are not very noticeable, how are you supposed to determine whether or not your plants are infected with it? Keep an eye out for the following signs in your plants, and then get them tested to see whether or not the viroid is present.
- plants with stunted growth
- Weakened vitality
- Weakened effectiveness
- Reduced trichome development and production
- Unnatural branching out
- Cannabinoid and terpene production may be reduced by up to 50 percent.
- Abnormalities in the leaves, such as chlorosis
- Brittle stems
- Loss in quality in addition to a decrease in yields
During the vegetative stage, you may see that the internodal spacing is closer and that the leaves are smaller. During the flowering stage, you may notice that the buds are smaller and less dense, with fewer trichomes developing.
What effects does the Hop Latent Viroid have on Cannabis and Hemp Plants?
HLVd will not harm the plant nor create evident indications of infection (such as the leaves curling or yellowing), but plants will display subtle symptoms often referred to as “dudding.”
During the vegetative phase, HLVd-infected plants have a lower height, smaller leaves, and closer spacing between the nodes. Flowering plants infected with HLVd have substantially less dense, smaller, and looser overall buds. The potency of cannabis plants infected with HLVd was calculated to be half that of healthy plants, and the total output was projected to be decreased by thirty percent.
How exactly does the Hop Latent Viroid get passed around?
Because HLVd is most often transmitted via contaminated tools and equipment, cultivators should always disinfect their instruments before beginning work on a fresh plant.
It is also possible for HLVd to be passed on during the cloning process if cuttings are obtained from an infected mother. Because the symptoms of HLVd are not always readily apparent in the vegetative stage, it might be challenging to identify mother plants infected with the virus. This is particularly true when the infection occurs later in the development of the plant when the plant’s growth will not be as noticeably stunted as a result of the disease.
What Steps You Can Take Lower Your Risk of HLVd
Isopropyl alcohol and other common disinfectants are ineffective against viroids; thus, a solution including a bleach is required to eliminate the threat. Because the viroid is systemic, it is essential to do routine laboratory testing on the mother plants at your facility before harvesting any cuttings.
It will help prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, before putting any newly acquired plants into production, they must first be placed in a quarantine area and subjected to a screening process if they came from an outside source such as a nursery. Even while HLVd will probably be there for a while, active preventive methods, comprehensive screening, and widespread reporting of newly discovered data within the cultivation community may help significantly lessen the harm done to the business.
How to control the Hop Latent Virus?
Although removing HLVd from a cannabis or hemp plant via tissue culture is possible, doing so is a time-consuming and tedious operation that should only be performed on cultivars that are essential to your company’s success.
Prevention is essential, as is the case with most plant infections. To a large extent, the transmission of any other plant pathogens may be avoided by adhering to appropriate sanitation procedures. If you want to control the spread of HLVd, always wear clean gloves when working with a new plant, and disinfect your instruments regularly. Before entering the growing area, guests and employees must wash their feet in footbaths and don gloves, coveralls, hairnets, and beard nets. Footbaths are also required.
Before taking any cuttings from mother plants, cultivators should first test the plants using qPCR assays to guarantee that the plants are clear of viruses. In addition, cultivators need to do qPCR tests on arriving clones and clones from outside sources to ensure that they are not bringing contaminated plants into their growing areas.
Treatment for Hop Latent Viroid
There is currently no cure or treatment that is specific to HLVd infection. However, like many other plant problems, the viroid can be contained by removing and destroying contaminated plants as quickly as they are identified. In addition, it is essential to maintain proper cleanliness and avoid contaminated plant material when propagating plants. With an overview of HLVd, you will always know what you need to do.
You can follow the following few simple management practices to manage and keep HLVd-infected plants under control:
- Remove and destroy all infected plants. This is the most crucial step in managing HLVd, as it will help prevent the virus’s spread to other plants.
- Avoid planting susceptible species in areas where HLVd is known to occur.
- Plant resistant species in areas where HLVd is known to occur.
- Monitor plants for symptoms of HLVd infection and remove and destroy any plants that show signs of infection.
- Practice good hygiene and sanitation in the garden or greenhouse. This includes cleaning up all plant debris and disinfecting all tools and equipment that come into contact with plants.
You should know that tissue culture plays a significant part in cultivating healthy plants free of HpLVD. However, the procedure will not be as simple as you may expect if you do not have any prior expertise with it. In addition, it will take a month to construct or develop your treatment, which will include combining various kinds and quantities of chemicals and trying them out on plants. This process will take place throughout the month. Imagine the effort and financial commitment you will need to complete it.
It would help if you realized early enough that no matter what you do, you won’t come up with a cure for HLVd. The best you can do is to look for a competent provider to help you test your plants and determine those at risk. By detecting HLVd early enough, you can get rid of the cannabis plants infected and ensure they don’t spread the disease to others.
Remember, the HLVd virus is a dangerous plant pathogen that threatens agricultural production considerably. However, keeping HLVd under control and minimizing its damage to cannabis plants can be accomplished by adhering to a few straightforward management strategies.