How to Implement CO2 to your Grow

Carbon Dioxide Supplementation in Cultivation Facilities

How To Implement CO2 To Your Grow Space

A Partnered Article: Editor Alex Neil of Dr.Cannabis.Io 

It is every cannabis grower's dream to harvest big, sticky buds.

However, when it comes to increasing the yield of their plants, many indoor growers pay particular attention to nutrients and light. While fewer growers are conscious of the actual air quality in their grow space. 

This is ultimately to their detriment, because one of the easiest ways to enhance their yield is by adding carbon dioxide (CO2) to the space.

When most people think of the gas which is found naturally in the earth’s atmosphere it is usually in the extreme case of CO2 poisoning. While CO2 concentrations greater than 30,000 parts per million (ppm) are dangerous to human health, that amount is more than 10x the level that your cannabis plants need.

To put it in perspective, the gas, which is two oxygen atoms bonded to one carbon atom, makes up approximately 406 ppm of the earth’s atmosphere. Too much of the gas will be harmful to you and your plants. The right amount will help your plants thrive.

For example, those growers’ workers in and around stored or produced carbon dioxide without proper monitoring can immediately experience fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and even fatality.

Now that you understand the negative health concerns, let us take a closer look at the positive impact of CO2 on cannabis plants and how to implement the gas in your grow space.

Why do Cannabis Plants Need CO2?

Like all other green plants, cannabis transforms light energy into chemical energy through a process called photosynthesis. The process sees chlorophyll-containing organelles known as chloroplasts convert CO2, water, and minerals into organic compounds that are rich in chemical energy.

Oxygen is a by-product of the process and it is released by the plants during the day, which is when they absorb CO2. The gases are released and absorbed via the plants’ stomata, which are minute openings surrounded by guard cells on the undersides of their leaves. Stomata are also capable of absorbing water and other gases.

If your cannabis plants do not get enough CO2 (200ppm or less), they will continue to grow for a while, at least until their stored sugars are depleted. Once that happens, their metabolism decreases, and they show little to no signs of growth. If your plants get too much CO2 they will slow down or even stop photosynthesis. If you get the gas levels right for your grow space, your plants will speed up photosynthesis which will lead to abundant growth and boosted yields of lovely big buds.

How Much CO2 Is Enough?

The optimal amount of CO2 required to boost the yield of your cannabis plants depends on several factors, such as the intensity of the light they get and the size of your grow space. If your indoor space has average ventilation, the concentrations of CO2 should be around 390ppm, which leads to growth rates like what you would typically find if you were growing your plants outdoors.

Growers have achieved the best success with CO2 levels between 1200 and 1500ppm. However, you cannot simply increase the amount of gas unless the space can support your plants’ use of it.

CO2 And Light

If you are growing your cannabis plants under low light (around 12,330 lux/1150 fc), you can increase their photosynthesis by increasing the CO2 level to 400ppm. Anything beyond that, and you will need to increase the intensity of your grow lights.

Increasing the light intensity to somewhere around 49,310 lux/4600 fc allows you to increase the CO2 level. The photosynthesis rate will speed up until the levels reach 600ppm. Beyond that, the rate will increase slowly. You can increase the level to as much as 1200 ppm under that lighting, although photosynthesis will be even slower.

If you can increase the light intensity to 59,201 lux/5500 fc, your cannabis plants can use CO2 levels of between 1200 and 1300 ppm. You could increase the level to 1500 ppm if your light intensity increases to 80,400 lux/7500 fc. Growers who have taken it to that level recorded a 100% increase in their plants’ growth rate.

Calculating the Amount of CO2 Required

As tempting as it may be to rush out, purchase a tank of CO2, and then empty it in your cannabis grow space, that would probably be the worst thing you could do for yourself and your plants. First, you should always use a simple calculation to work out how much CO2 your space needs.

Let us say you want to increase the level of the gas to 1,000ppm. To work out how much you need, multiply the room’s cubic area (length x width x height) by 0.001. The result is the number of square meters of CO2 you need.

For example, a room that is 4m long, 4m wide, and 3m high has a cubic area of 48 cubic meters (4 x 4 x 3 = 48). Multiply 48 by 0.001, and the result is 0.048 cubic meters.

Increase CO2 Levels the Easy Way

There are various ways in which you can increase the CO2 level in your cannabis grow space. You can do it the impractical way by asking a few friends to join you in sitting in the grow room and breathing deeply, or by buying a large chunk of dry ice and letting it do its thing. Another way would be to use a generator that uses natural gas or propane to produce CO2.

CM-501 Carbon Dioxide Handheld Detector

The easier, more effective alternative is to purchase professional measuring equipment and to install a set-up that will supply the right amount of CO2. The basic equipment you need is a meter such as the Carbon Dioxide Handheld Gas Detector or the Day Night CO2 Monitor & Controller for Greenhouses, a CO2 tank regulator with solenoid valve, and a tank of CO2. You also should consider purchasing a personal safety monitor.

Assuming you get the basics, you would measure the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, release CO2 from the tank using the regulator and valve, and then take another measurement. If you have the funds, you can purchase the equipment for a more elaborate set-up that can streamline the process, and that can help make it safer for you and your cannabis plants.

Using CO2 safely and correctly in your grow space may be the final step you need to take for a healthy crop. If you are not achieving the right levels of CO2, you may well be missing out on the best possible yield.

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