Using CO2 In Your Grow Room
There has been a lot of conversation in hydroponic circles lately regarding the question of boosting CO2 levels in the grow. Those who are utilizing the method largely swear by its effectiveness and would never consider growing any other way.
So, what does this all mean for hydroponic growers? Should we be defying nature by artificially boosting CO2 levels?
To settle this, we need to first, look at what CO2 does for a plant.
Many gardeners believe that sunshine and nutrients are the only factors in photosynthesis but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While the entire subject is a bit too complex to discuss with any length here, there are many elemental players to the process and one of them is CO2.
CO2 is beneficial to a grower through earlier harvest times and increasing the sugar level in fruit.
In simple terms, light and CO2 helps a plant convert nutrients into the sugars which a plant uses as food and stores in its seeds or fruit.
CO2 enrichment doesn’t just make for healthier plants, it speeds up the rate of growth and significantly boosts yields. Because CO2 works with light to produce sugars artificially booting its production is proven to produce more favorable and desirable fruit.
A study involving lettuce comparing ambient air vs. CO2 enriched produced some remarkable results. The lettuce grown with ambient air matured in 59 days while the same variety boosted by CO2 enrichment was harvest ready in just 48 days.
In addition, the CO2 boosted crop weighed 30% more.
Glen Babcock, owner of Garden City Fungi conducted a farm study involving tomatoes. The crop he boosted artificially with CO2 yielded 20% more and was 25% improved in total harvestable weight.
Additional testing by Mr. Babcock of strawberries by enriching with CO2 not only produced many more blooms than those grown in ambient air, they also contained a much higher sugar content.
How high should the CO2 level be in the grow room?
Ambient, natural environmental CO2 measures in at right around 400 PPM. Enriching that to levels of 1,000 to 1,200 will greatly reward you with much higher yields and improved quality.
Keep in mind that there are limitations to how high CO2 can be boosted, too much CO2 will prove detrimental to plants. CO2 increased to overtly high levels will inhibit the transpiration process in plants and in fact, reduce or restrict photosynthesis.
CO2 toxicity will result in necrosis spotting which will leave the plant wide open to bacteria or fungus to appear. They will begin to feed on the damaged portions of the leaves will further weaken the plants and eventually kill them if left untreated.
CO2 can be boosted to a high of between 1,200 – 1,500 PPM. Any higher than this will harm the plants and not help you at all.
Boosting CO2 will also help with cloning and rooting.
We can’t forget that a plant is only as good as the foundation of root stock its grown upon. Roots exposed to increased CO2 form new roots faster, grow thicker roots and better developed anchor and feeding roots.
When boosting CO2 while cloning plants root will appear 3 -5 days sooner.
Although, there has not yet been significant research conducted on the CO2 affect on roots, we do know as fact, that boosting it does have beneficial results.
On CO2 enrichment the jury is not out, it has a proven track record improved crops and yields time and time again.
The debate over CO2 enrichment isn’t about the results because every study so far has proven beyond any doubt that it does lead to higher yields and improved quality – by up to 25% higher.
There shouldn’t be any question that a CO2 enriched growing environment is beneficial in a big way and you shouldn’t have any reservations in developing the habit as a standard practice of hydroponic farming.