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1. Diagnosing and Treating the Tobacco Mosaic Virus on Cannabis Plants

Tobacco mosaic virus on cannabis is rare, extremely rare. However, on the off chance you are to encounter this particular virus on cannabis plants, the results would be potentially catastrophic.

How to identify tobacco mosaic virus on cannabis plants

TMV is a virus found in tobacco crops that can spread to cannabis. While it does not cause harm to the grower, it can drastically distort plants and reduce output. There is no treatment. Since the virus is a microscopic entity, it is impossible to see it, but you will see the symptoms if your plant is infected. Although some of the indications may be misinterpreted, the mosaic pattern that your plant will develop is unmistakable and easy to detect.

TMV-infected plants have a characteristic appearance. The plant’s leaves will be twisted and bent in strange ways. Yellow stripes, dots, and a weird spotty mosaic pattern will also appear on the leaves. Symptoms can be seen on multiple leaves or just a few. Some plants are only carriers and never exhibit symptoms. The leaf mottling is also more visible if the damaged plant is partially shaded. The following visual indicators indicate that your plants have been infected with TMV:

  • Unusual leaf color: One indicator is brown leaves with “burned” edges, pale or yellow strips in old and new shoots, and bluish-purple or black dots. Stress is also indicated by the discoloration of the leaves between the veins. A spotty mosaic appearance distinguishes TMV.
  • Growth Stagnation: TMV can influence both old and fresh growth. If your cannabis plant does not appear to be developing as quickly as it should, TMV could be blamed. Wilting, as well as decreased root spread, is another symptom of TMV infection.
  • Leaves grow in a peculiar, twisted way, indicating abnormal growth. They also have a webbed appearance, curving under or upwards in strange ways.
  • Strange stems: The stems can be severely damaged or appear in unusual colors such as red or purple.
  • Anemic buds: Your buds will not grow large and fat but will remain little.

What causes tobacco mosaic virus on cannabis?

As the name implies, the tobacco mosaic virus is a virus that affects tobacco plants. TMV creates splotchy and twisted leaves, resulting in an irregular mottling or mosaic appearance. It can also stifle growth and lower yields. The first plant virus found was TMV. Sadly, it looks that TMV has spread to other plant species like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, spinach, and marigold. Cannabis seems to be sensitive to TMV as well. And, while TMV cannot harm the grower, it can impede your plants from flourishing.

3d illustration of tobacco mosaic virus.
A 3D illustration of tobacco mosaic virus.

TMV infiltrates the host plant via tiny passageways in the cell walls known as plasmodesmata. It then colonizes the leaves, reproducing its DNA and spreading throughout them. People are mainly responsible for spreading it to other plants: contaminated hands, gardening tools, and clothing. It’s also possible that an infected plant will leak sap due to an injury, whether intentional or unintentional. The virus-containing fluid can then be introduced to other plants by direct contact. Insects and pests commonly transmit TMV. For example, aphids on cannabis, leafhoppers on cannabis, grasshoppers, and caterpillars may contribute to the transmission of the illness to other plants. TMV can also persist in the soil, infecting young sprouts and seedlings and contaminating seeds..

How to get rid of the tobacco mosaic virus on cannabis?

Even if you have the best seeds in the universe and have been certified to be of the highest quality, TMV will still attack your plants. TMV cannot be stopped even with the best equipment and nourishment. Worse, the virus can remain dormant in dead tissues for years and continue to infect plants in the future. The best approach to prevent TMV transmission is to avoid contact with you and your grow space or the cannabis plants.

  • You can accomplish this by purchasing cuts (if growing from cuts) from a trustworthy source with a proven track record and high standards. Inspect each young plant for disease symptoms.
  • Act fast if you have even the slightest suspicion that a plant may be infected with TMV. Please remove it from the grow chamber as soon as possible and keep it away from the other plants. If it does not appear to be a severe infection, put it in quarantine and watch for indications of recovery.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and gardening tools with a 10% bleach solution to (hopefully) eradicate the virus before it expands and contaminates other plants.
  • TMV can be spread through your clothing; therefore, wash them as soon as possible.
  •  If the illness seems chronic, you should dispose of old equipment, vegetation, and soil.

Dealing with tobacco mosaic virus outdoors

Even though the tobacco mosaic virus does not harm your plants the same way as bugs do, it can create a vicious cycle, infecting all of your plants in the area. It’s critical to take care of toxic plants as soon as you see them, and if you don’t want to remove them, at least separate them. Always wash your hands and any equipment you use before touching other plants. If you suspect an infection, treat cannabis like you would any other plant that can be infected with the mosaic virus. Now for the awful news. However, there is no remedy for the mosaic virus. Even if a plant is not actively displaying symptoms, it is infected with TMV for life. If you suspect you have a TMV-infected cannabis plant, your primary priority should be safely removing the plant while preventing the virus from multiplying to other plants.

The principal strategy to deal with a mosaic virus in greenhouses and commercial operations is to discard all afflicted plants, including whatever soil they were growing in, and enforce a stringent hand-washing regimen between contacting plants. It’s important to stop TMV before it spreads when you’re growing cannabis outdoors.

Stop tobacco mosaic virus on cannabis before it becomes a problem

Nevertheless, there is no method to eradicate the virus once it has infected your plant or soil. You cannot regulate viruses once they have been spread; therefore, your best alternative is to avoid obtaining them. If your plants become infected, you should remove them from your garden. The TMV can infect all other plants in your garden, and once it has spread throughout your garden, you’ll have to get rid of all the plants.

Picture of Ed Rushford

Ed Rushford

Ed Rushford’s impact on cannabis growing is undeniable. Though he tends to focus primarily on 2 areas, plant training techniques and dealing with disease, pests, and other problems, he has offered many insights into how cannabis plants live and grow. That’s not to say that Ed is unfamiliar with the complete life cycle of cannabis, from seed to harvest, but he uses his widespread knowledge to hone in on the minutia and niche areas of growing cannabis. Ed’s goal is to spread knowledge and allow for everyone to become better growers. 𝕏

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