Aspergillus is a group of mold species commonly found in many environments, including grow rooms of cannabis facilities. While some strains of Aspergillus are harmless, others can cause serious health problems when inhaled, particularly for people with weakened immune systems. Aspergillus is also notorious for its ability to contaminate cannabis crops, reducing yield, potency, and quality. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Aspergillus and its impact on cannabis, and share some best practices for preventing and managing Aspergillus contamination.
The Basics of Aspergillus
Aspergillus is a ubiquitous mold that thrives in warm, humid, and nutrient-rich environments. It can contaminate cannabis crops through various routes, such as contaminated soil, water, air, and equipment. Once Aspergillus spores settle on the cannabis plant, they can germinate and grow, producing mycelia and toxins that compromise the quality and safety of the plant. Some of the common strains of Aspergillus that affect cannabis are A. fumigatus, A. niger, and A. flavus, which produce mycotoxins such as ochratoxin A, aflatoxin B1, and cyclopiazonic acid. These toxins can cause respiratory, liver, and kidney damage, as well as cancer and death in severe cases.
Aspergillus and its Effects on Cannabis
One of the major challenges of Aspergillus control in cannabis is that it is not easy to detect with the naked eye. Aspergillus contamination may not manifest as visible mold growth, but rather as a musty or earthy odor, yellowing or browning of leaves, or reduced plant vigor and yield. Therefore, it is important for growers and facility managers to implement routine testing and monitoring of their crops, using methods such as swabbing, plating, and PCR-based assays. These tests can help detect Aspergillus contamination early on, and enable growers to take timely action. Our experts at Canna Klean offer extensive testing so you can detect mold before it ruins your crop.
How to Prevent Aspergillus Growth
Preventing Aspergillus contamination in cannabis starts with good sanitation and hygiene practices. Grow rooms should be cleaned and disinfected regularly, with attention paid to walls, floors, ceilings, and equipment. Tools and hands should be washed frequently, using soap and water or disinfectants. Growers should also avoid overwatering, which can create a favorable environment for mold growth, and maintain proper ventilation and air circulation to reduce humidity and temperature fluctuations. In addition, sourcing clean soil and water and testing all incoming materials can help prevent Aspergillus from entering the facility.
What to Do if Aspergillus is Detected
If Aspergillus contamination is detected in cannabis crops, the best course of action is to isolate the affected plants and dispose of them properly. Growers should also increase their cleaning and disinfection efforts in the affected area, and monitor any nearby plants for signs of contamination. Depending on the severity of the contamination and regulatory requirements, growers may need to conduct additional testing and treatment before resuming production. It is important to note that Aspergillus is a reportable contaminant in some jurisdictions, and failure to follow proper protocols can result in legal and reputation consequences. At Canna Klean & Remediation, our services include deep cleaning schedules and sanitation programs for your grow facility.
Aspergillus is an omnipresent mold that poses a real threat to the health and well-being of cannabis growers, workers, and consumers. Aspergillus contamination can also lead to significant economic and regulatory consequences. Therefore, it is crucial for cannabis growers and facility managers to take proactive measures to prevent and manage Aspergillus in their crops and facilities. By implementing good sanitation and hygiene practices, routine testing and monitoring, and proper disposal and treatment of contaminated plants, we can ensure that your cannabis products are safe, potent, and high-quality.