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Why Are My Cannabis Buds Dying?

Added 14 March 2022

Watching your buds die after spending months growing your plant is scary. Even looking at a wholly compromised yield can bring down your spirits. But it's not the end of the world.

You can do many things to save your plant and its bushy buds. The first step is to prevent such things from happening. However, even if you can't, you can still salvage some of your buds in most cases. 

In this article, we show you the most common reasons behind your buds dying and how you can save them. 

Bud Rot

moldy cannabis

Perhaps the most common reason for your buds dying is bud rot, also known as botrytis.

Bud rot is a common fungus that grows in cannabis; many growers face this, especially novice ones still learning how to control humidity and air circulation in their grow room.

Bud rot begins in the core of cannabis buds, spreading outwards. Due to this, it can be challenging to detect the problem in its infancy. 

While growing on the buds, it also starts developing white spores that can travel easily via air. During this stage, your grow room will smell of mold. Unfortunately, the same spores can quickly infect other plants closeby. 

Soon after, it degrades the buds and covers them with white fungus. Eventually, the buds will die.

Another way bud rot affects your buds is that they cause poor nutrient and water delivery to the flowers, further damaging your yield.

Bud rot is common in indoor environments where the air circulation and humidity levels are not proper. For outdoor plants, it usually occurs due to rainfall at the end of the growing season.

Bud rot is dangerous for your plant for another reason — it spreads quickly! Your plants may be covered in bud rot within a few days, which can be challenging to address.

Symptoms of Bud Rot

fungus on cannabis

While bud rot is difficult to detect in its early days, there are still various ways it shows itself on your plant. Below are some of the common symptoms of bud rot on cannabis:

  • The rotting core of buds — you can check this by looking through the cracks and crevices on the buds.
  • The leaves appear to wilt and burn and turn yellowish.
  • Buds may also develop gray webbing or dusty white spores.
  • The buds may be covered in fluffy white fungus.
  • The buds may even look rotten brown.
  • The buds may smell sour, musty, and wet.

If you notice these signs on your plant, you need to act quickly because bud rot can be bad for your yield.

Causes of Bud Rot

Before proceeding with the solutions, you should understand what causes bud rot. It can help you fix the issue at its core.

Bud rot is caused by excess moisture trapped within the buds because mold thrives in wet conditions without enough airflow. The most common causes for this are:

  • Excessive humidity and heat which is the perfect environment for mold to thrive.
  • Poor ventilation that locks moisture within the buds.
  • Dense buds or foliage, leading to lack of airflow and increase in moisture content.
  • Weak resistance against mold and mildew (depends on growth conditions and genetics).

The Solution For Bud Rot

Bud rot is a quick-spreading, dangerous condition for your plant. So, you must act as soon as you see any sign of it on your buds.

However, there is not much you can do to save the buds already infected. Infected buds are no longer safe to use, so you must discard them and other infected areas on the plant. 

But if only a few buds are infected, and you catch bud rot early on, you can try the following things to recover your plants:

  • Stick to a strict watering schedule to reduce overall moisture content in the plant.
  • Keep the grow room temperature at 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C) during the veggie stage and 75 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit during the flowering stage.
  • Maintain the humidity between 45% to 65% — the lower, the better.
  • Space out the plants to encourage better air circulation
  • If possible, increase air circulation and ventilation within the grow room.
  • For outdoor plants experiencing rainfall, use a waterproof tarp to keep the plants dry.

In severe cases, we recommend harvesting immediately because it could affect other plants if you wait. So, protect what you can and save your other plants from bud rot by premature harvest.

If you are harvesting your plant early due to bud rot, be extra careful with drying. Try quicker drying methods that use movement and airflow to bring the buds' humidity down to safer levels.

Also, when you are handling infected buds or plants, always wear disposable gloves and be super careful in handling the buds. Mold spores can travel easily to other plants and start growing there. Use sealable trash bags to dispose of the plant, too.

Preventing Bud Rot

If you manage to save your plant from bud rot — congratulations! — you need to start working on preventing it. To prevent bud rot, environmental control is your best bet. Here are some of the techniques you can try:

  • Improve air circulation within the grow room — the air should flow continuously. 
  • Use HEPA filter air scrubbers to clean the air of any harmful spores and diseases.
  • Use dehumidifiers to bring down the humidity in your grow room.
  • Ensure your plants are spaced out and not touching each other.
  • Remove any standing water or unnecessary plant material from your grow room that may increase humidity or spread diseases.
  • Use leaf blowers to dry your plant from dew or raindrops for outdoor plants.
  • Use trellising techniques to spread out your plant's foliage, further improving the airflow around it.
  • And most importantly, inspect your buds daily.

Re-Vegging

revegging

Image Credit - Coughy

Bud rot is common, but in some cases, your plant may experience re-vegging, which can cause your precious buds to die.

Re-vegging, or re-vegetation, is an occurrence where your flowering plant reenters the vegetative phase of the growth cycle. For example, this occurs in photoperiod plants that rely on longer dark hours (or nights) to grow buds. 

It can also occur if there's too much nitrogen in the nutrient solution. Nitrogen is essential for the plant's growth during the vegetative stage as it aids photosynthesis. However, too much nitrogen can confuse the plant, making it re-veg.

During re-vegging, the plant starts to grow new leaves and stems, ignoring the newly sprouted buds. So, it can eventually kill your buds if you don't fix it.

So, if the plant's dark cycle is interrupted by light leaks, the plant may get confused and reenter the vegetative state. Sometimes, even a tiny blinking LED light on your air conditioner can trigger re-vegging.

Symptoms of Re-Vegging

cannabis revegging

Image Credit - Coughy

Re-vegging is quite simple to notice, so you will know your plant has gone into re-vegging early on. Here are some of the most common symptoms of re-vegging:

  • The leaves' edges turn smooth.
  • Buds stop growing.
  • Leaves and new branches may start growing out of the bud sites.
  • The main stem sprouts 1-point, long leaves.
  • Older leaves start curling up — akin to heat stress.
  • New leaves may grow wrinkled and twisted.

Causes of Re-Vegging

Many growers intentionally push their plants into re-vegging, but if you are expecting big buds and your plant is re-vegging — it has happened accidentally. This can happen due to several reasons, such as the following:

  • Light leaks — the most common reason for accidental re-vegging in cannabis. 
  • High nitrogen during the flowering stage — nitrogen is essential for the veggie stage, but an excess of it during bloom can confuse the plant.
  • Poor strain genetics.

The Solution to Accidental Re-Vegging

Fortunately, accidental re-vegging is easy to fix. There are two ways you can go from here. First, you can let your plant re-veg completely. Second, you can correct the environmental conditions to reverse re-vegging in your plant.

We will focus on the second one. Here's how you can do that:

  • Correct the plant's light cycle to give it 12 hours (or even 14 hours) of uninterrupted darkness, so the plant goes back into the flowering stage. Note that the farther the plant is into re-vegging, the longer it will take to get back to bloom.
  • Ensure there are no light leaks in the grow room — even small LED lights can cause re-vegging, so fix any light leaks and cover any lights within the grow room.
  • Change the reservoir water and add bloom-specific nutrients with lower nitrogen amounts.
  • Cut off all the new veggie growth like the new stems, long leaves, etc.

You only need to give your plant little care and time, and your plant will be back to blooming. 

To prevent it from occurring again, ensure the light cycle is ideal for the plant to bloom, there are no light leaks in the grow room, and the nutrient solution contains less nitrogen.

Follow these steps to fix the re-vegging of your cannabis plant.

Broad Mites

broad mites

In some cases, your biggest problem that kills buds can be pests — broad mites, in particular. These tiny buds weren't common once, but many cannabis growers have been struggling with broad mites in recent years. So let's learn more about them.

Broad Mites

Broadmites on cannabis

Broad mites are tiny bugs that mainly occur in temperate climates, and they are notorious for attacking all kinds of plants, including cannabis. They affect your plant in two ways — they suck the vital nutrients out of the plant and leave their saliva behind, which is toxic for the plants.

What makes them so notorious is that they are super tiny — you cannot see them with your naked eyes until it's too late, and they are challenging to deal with.

Biology of Broad Mites

Broad mites, like other mites, have two legs on each side, a medium-sized mandible covered in white hair and a yellowish color. The male broad mites are 0.1 mm, and the female ones are 0.2 mm in size. 

Usually, they live on the underside of the branches and leaves near the veins. And they lay their eggs on new leaves and stems.

Once they are hatched, they start sucking the vital nutrients from the plant, which affects the photosynthesis process and causes a nutrient deficiency in those parts, leading to stunted growth. In severe cases, they affect the buds' development, eventually killing them.

And their saliva is toxic, too, which can cause various diseases.

Symptoms of Broad Mites

Broad mites affect your plant in various ways. So, your plant also shows multiple symptoms, such as the following:

  • The top tier of the plant looks wet and shiny.
  • Newer leaves start curling up or twisting.
  • Buds start dying.
  • Yellow spots on the higher leaves.
  • Egg clusters under the leaves or branches (in severe cases).

If you notice these symptoms, you need to get yourself a 60x magnifying glass and start investigating your plant. 

You must identify the symptoms thoroughly to ensure you're dealing with broad mites, not anything else. These symptoms can also be confused for heat stress, overwatering, pH or root problems, or other nutrient deficiencies.

Dealing With Broad Mites

Broad mites reproduce quickly. Within a few days, they can swarm your cannabis plant and kill it. So, it would be best if you acted fast.

The first thing you must do is remove all the infected parts from the plant to reduce their population and keep them from spreading to other plant parts.

Next, you need to start treatment for your plant. Here are some of the best pesticides you can use to deal with broad mites.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is the best way to get rid of broad mites (and it works for other pests, too). You can buy neem oil from your nearest gardening store, and it is cheap.

To use neem oil, mix the oil into water, as instructed by the manufacturer. Then, use a spray mister to apply to your plant. 

While neem oil is entirely natural, it can still be harsh for your plant. In addition, just because something is organic doesn't necessarily mean it's safe. Many growers have lost their plants by spraying them with neem oil. Perhaps they didn't mix the soap and oil in properly, or used a potent solution — whatever the case, test a small part of the plant to see if it's working. Use neem oil only when the lights are off and avoid spraying on the buds — it can leave a sour taste and flavor.

Essentria IC3

If neem oil does not work, you can even try Essentria IC3. It is a mixture of various effective horticultural oils that can help you eliminate multiple pests.

Again, use a mister to apply Essentria IC3 to your plant. Spray this every 8 to 12 hours until all the broad mites are eradicated.

Spinosad

Spinosad is another effective way to eradicate pests. It is an organic insecticide made by soil bacteria that's highly toxic for broad mites and kills them on contact. To see the best results, apply spinosad to your plant once a day until all the mites are gone.

Other Horticultural Oils

You can even use other horticultural oils — they are growing in popularity for growers looking for less harsh chemicals. These oils contain extracts from rosemary, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, etc., so they are relatively less harsh on your plant.

Mix the oil with water, as directed, and spray it over your plant. 

Note that these oils have a strong aroma, so they may affect your buds' flavor and aroma. But, again, remember not to go crazy with the sprays — they can kill the plants if you don't do it right. 

Whichever pesticide you use, it's best to spray them when the lights are off to avoid burning your plant. 

Preventing Broad Mites

Broad mites are notorious because they keep coming back. So, to avoid them in the future, keep spraying the pesticide for 3 to 4 weeks.

They usually enter your grow room on the backs of your pets, wind, or infected clones. So, keep your plants isolated and ventilated. Also, isolate new plants before introducing them to older plants.

Hemp Russet Mites

Hemp russet mites

Image Credit - Aromagurl

Another pest that can bug your plant is hemp russet mites. They are an eriophyid mite, tiny in size but challenging to detect and deal with. Plus, they reproduce very quickly.

Biology of Hemp Russet Mites

Like broad mites, even hemp russet mites are incredibly tiny. They have an elongated body of around 0.2 mm and a pale shell with two pairs of legs.

They can grow from an egg to an adult within 30 days, and each female can lay 10 to 50 eggs when they are mature.

The little ones tend to crawl around their egg clusters, but they are tiny enough to be carried away by the wind. Once they get carried away, they can infect other plants in the grow room.

These mites like to feed on new leaves, petioles, buds, and meristematic tissues. They usually begin at the base of the plant and continue upwards, eventually feeding on the bushy buds. 

Symptoms of Hemp Russet Mites

Hemp russet mites on cannabis

Image Credit - Aromagurl

The symptoms of hemp russet mites are easy to detect, but the mites are not. Look for the following signs first:

  • New leaves curling up.
  • Leaves appear stringy
  • Leaves turning bronze or yellow.
  • Necrotic spots on the leaves.
  • Petioles turning brittle or leaves falling off.
  • Plant drooping. 
  • Stunted or rough leaf growth.

These mites affect the buds too. They can stunt the buds' development, leading to smaller buds than expected. They do this by influencing the phytochemicals in the plant. They also make the pistils turn darker on the buds. Of course, dead buds are another symptom of hemp russet mite infestation.

Getting Rid of Hemp Russet Mites

Dealing with hemp russet mites is similar to dealing with broad mites. So, if you have neem oil or Essentria IC3 lying around in your grow room, you can use those to eliminate them. But you can also try other methods, such as the following.

Micronized Sulfur

Perhaps the most effective way to eliminate hemp russet mites on cannabis is using micronized sulfur. 

To apply this, you have to dilute it in water, as directed by the manufacturer, and spray it with a mister. Unless advised otherwise, spray this on the plant thrice a week until the mites are eradicated.

Also, avoid using this with other oil-based products. The oils can encapsulate sulfur, causing a sulfur burn on your plant. If you want to use other oil-based products, rinse the plant with water and wait for three days before spraying them.

Insecticidal Soaps

Insecticidal soaps, also known as fatty acid salts, are another effective way to remove hemp russet mites. They are not harsh for your plant and don't leave many residues but kill the bugs on contact.

While using these soaps, ensure you cover the plant adequately because they do not stay on the plant for long. 

Predatory Pests

You can even bring other insects to help you out with hemp russet mites. 

The best bugs for killing hemp russet mites are lady bugs, Amblyseius cucumeris, A. swirskii, or Amblyseius anersoni. These bugs can feast on hemp russet mites 24/7!

Heat

Hemp russet mites aren't the biggest fans of heat. So, you can use heat to kill them. To kill them, many growers choose to dunk their cannabis plants in hot water (105°F or 40°C) for ten minutes.

Another way is to overheat your grow room to 115°F or 46.111°C for one hour.

However, be very cautious — these are extreme steps and should only be chosen if the infestation is severe. Also, take safety precautions as heat can stress out your plant.

Throw Away the Plant

As bad as it sounds, sometimes, the best way to get rid of mites in your grow room is to toss the infected plant. This is only recommended for severe cases where the mites have overtaken the plant. Doing so will protect your other plants from a similar fate.

Preventing Hemp Russet Mites

There are various ways you can prevent these mites from getting into your grow room. Here are some of them:

  • Germinate seeds instead of cloning because they cannot survive on seeds.
  • Quarantine new plants before introducing them to your grow room.
  • Avoid overfertilizing your plants.

Summary: Why Are My Cannabis Buds Dying?

There you have it — four reasons why your cannabis buds may be dying. First, learn more about them and investigate your plant quickly. Then, use the best methods to reverse the damage and save your buds.

In any case, if the damage is too severe, don't be afraid to harvest your plant immediately and cut your losses. It's the right thing to do rather than letting the problem completely kill your plants before you even cut one bud.

 

 






Comments

Ezzjaybruh
Ezzjaybruh

Would love some source information / citations on these articles. Not that I’m personally going to use any of this, but it would go a long way in credibility. Also, still curious/waiting on info of the authors credentials?

Show all replies (2)
Ezzjaybruh
Ezzjaybruh

@CannaScience,
Sooo are you writing these or joshuaholt? Why are you addressing this as if it’s your content? So confused

CannaScience
CannaScience

@Ezzjaybruh, @PaWLi, noted. Will provide more information henceforth

PaWLi
PaWLi

RPlezzJaybruh, mainly in relation to the source information, nobody likes to read but unfortunately the danger is there.

m0use
m0use

I've never heard of to much nitrogen causing revegging in cannabis. If this was a thing you could just shock autos into veg again.

CannaScience
CannaScience

@m0use, it does. Excess nitrogen combined with other factors can cause revegging.