Tips on protecting your crop from Aspergillus
As the cannabis industry continues to expand, ensuring products are safe to market is essential. Many states that allow recreational or medical cannabis require testing on cannabis and hemp products. These tests often include analysis of heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins, potency, residual solvents, and microbial. Accredited cannabis testing is key for the legitimization of the cannabis industry and brand success. Accredited testing, such as ISO 17025 accreditation, on cannabis plants for environmental contaminants like Aspergillus helps protect the crop, cannabis businesses, and the health of consumers.
A Little About Aspergillus
Aspergillus is a type of mold commonly found in the Earth’s soil.
While most may view mold in any form as a nuisance or an irritant to allergies, Aspergillus actually has a purpose. It thrives off natural debris in the soil which includes dead grass and leaves, and it clears the Earth’s atmosphere of carbon and nitrogen. Even though it thrives and grows in the Earth’s soil, Aspergillus multiplies easily during transit through the air.
Aspergillus finds its way inside structures through air duct systems and open doors, and therefore can be found in cannabis facilities. Its ease of air transit coupled with how quickly it multiplies makes Aspergillus one of the most common and commonly overlooked contaminants that indoor cannabis cultivators face. Temperature and humidity are driving factors of its indoor multiplication, two general factors that are at play in indoor cannabis cultivation facilities.
What Aspergillus Does to Cannabis
When Aspergillus spores find their way inside an indoor cannabis cultivation facility, the building’s HVAC systems recirculate these contaminants in the air, spreading them haphazardly onto all surface areas including the soil of the cannabis plants. Aspergillus spores can impact plants in multiple ways. Their growth can be stunted, which decreases plant yields impacting revenue. The plant may also experience other physical ailments aside from stunted growth that impacts the efficacy of the plant.
Brand reputations are critical to protect in this ever-changing and evolving industry. If a crop of cannabis plants is affected by Aspergillus it can result in lackluster cannabis products, which can tarnish the reputation of the cultivator, the manufacturer, and the distributor.
More important than brand reputation, are the negative consequences that can result when Aspergillus adversely impacts the health and wellbeing of the consumer, which can vary depending on how they consume products derived from an Aspergillus-contaminated cannabis plant.
Managing the Risk of Contamination
Aspergillus contamination is not to be taken lightly. Cultivators can heed these four steps to help prevent the indoor spread of Aspergillus.
- Get Familiar with the Facility – Auditing the facility on a regular basis and gaining an understanding of where contamination can find its way in is a huge step in preventing Aspergillus and other mold spores from spreading to the plants. While it is difficult to restrict all airborne contaminants from entering the facility, preventable measures can be taken such as checking the HVAC system’s quality. When opening a new facility or performing regular audits, reach out to Green Leaf Lab. We perform onsite testing to assist with contamination prevention audits.
- Develop Routine Sanitation Procedures– Getting familiar with the facility allows one to then develop routine sanitation procedures. Implementing basic cleaning into cultivation routines should be as vital as watering the plants. Sanitation procedures help to control disease, mold, and other contaminants from affecting the plants by methods that include fogging, UV light disinfection, and sanitizing surfaces with safe substances.
- Strategize and Plan – Strive for complete control of the temperature and humidity in the facility. Plan buildouts with safety in mind, and make sure sanitation processes are routinely followed. There is much that can be controlled within an indoor cultivation facility; however, there are situations that can prove unavoidable. Having proper planning and audit protocols in place can help mitigate. Therefore, strategize, plan, and implement preventative measures and create a backup plan for when something may go wrong.
- Continuously Test the Environment – Green Leaf Lab’s onsite testing can show where improvements need to be made in the operation. Routine audits of the facility can provide the information needed to mitigate any potential outbreaks and future loss.
- Test Soil Mediums – To prevent invasive predatory bugs and other contaminants that can spread Aspergillus, continuously testing soil mediums for any changes is imperative to the crop’s health and success. Frequent soil tests should be conducted, especially if new systems or items have been recently implemented in the process.
Green Leaf Lab takes measures to ensure no cross-contamination occurs during the testing process. If a client fails for Aspergillus, we immediately reach out to discuss the issue and offer an onsite visit to evaluate the issue in the facility. Aspergillus can damage a business through recalls or loss of buyers due to failed Certificate of Analysis. While a failed test result is not ideal, it protects the business and their consumers by avoiding recalls and more. Green Leaf Lab will help find the source.
Green Leaf Lab is the first woman-owned, fully accredited analytical testing laboratory in the Nation. Operating for over 11 years, our highly qualified team and state of the art laboratory are well equipped to handle all cannabis testing needs.
Please call 916.633.3246 for more information