Molasses is often overlooked among the many nutrients and additives available to cannabis growers, yet it is one of the best supplements. Molasses isn’t just rich in valuable nutrients, but it also has the ability to improve the soil, the very foundation of your grow. In addition to that, it provides many other benefits for healthy plant growth. It helps prevent common problems when growing cannabis, for example by minimising the risk for salt build up. It even doubles as an insect repellent. Let’s have a detailed look at molasses and its benefits for cannabis cultivation.

WHAT IS MOLASSES?

Molasses or black treacle, as it is called in the UK, is a highly viscous, dark substance that is made during refining of sugar. It is made by boiling down sugar cane or sugar beet juice into a thick syrup. Once sugar crystals are extracted, a syrup that remains is called molasses. Different types of molasses are available, they vary in sweetness and in the way they are extracted. Molasses made from sugar cane is often made into sweeteners or used as a flavouring for foods. Sugar beet molasses, on the other hand, has an unpleasant smell and is unpalatable, so it is normally used as an animal feed additive. Not all types of molasses are suitable for growing. Some molasses of low quality can contain undesired additives, such as preservatives and chemicals that you definitely don’t want in your garden. Make sure you look for organic molasses that is suitable for gardening.

SULPHURED AND UNSULPHURED MOLASSES

Although any type of molasses will normally contain some sulphur, some molasses made from sugar cane can have sulphur dioxide added, which is why it’s called sulphured. The sulphur dioxide acts as a preservative and an anti-microbial agent to keep the raw cane fresh until it is processed. Sulphur dioxide, however, has a side-effect that makes it unsuitable for our purpose, it also kills the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. So if you’re getting molasses for growing cannabis, make sure that it is both organic and unsulphured.

There are also different types, or “grades”, of molasses, from lighter coloured molasses that is pure sugarcane syrup, to darker molasses and then blackstrap molasses which is denser and thicker than the other types. Blackstrap molasses has undergone multiple boiling and extraction processes, so that it has the highest concentration of vitamins, micro and macro elements. It is very rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and other valuable elements.

Sulphured and Unsulphured Molasses

WHY MOLASSES IS EXCELLENT FOR HEALTHY PLANT GROWTH

The soil that you are using to grow your cannabis is arguably one of the most important factors for strong and healthy growth of your plants. Good soil contains nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, along with minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium, as well as many other compounds and nutrients. Each of these compounds is essential for healthy growth of your cannabis plants.

But the nutritional compounds in your soil, the chemicals, minerals and other inorganic substances are not all there is to make a good environment for your plants. Soil also contains beneficial microorganisms which live in it. These microorganisms are also playing a vital role in healthy growth of your plants.

Molasses is the perfect food for these microorganisms, as it gives them the ideal environment to thrive. When you supplement soil with molasses, what you’re doing is, therefore, not so much feeding your plants, but feeding the soil and the microorganisms in it. Along with providing the microorganisms with the carbohydrates and sugars that they love to feed on, molasses also has other benefits for the soil.

THE BENEFITS OF MOLASSES FOR YOUR CANNABIS GROW

  • Feeds the beneficial microorganisms in the soil
  • Improves structure and water retention of the soil
  • Enriches the soil with various essential minerals and vitamins
  • Helps to prevent the build-up of pathogens that could harm your plants
  • Helps minimise the risk for salt build-up in the soil, which could cause nutrient problems
  • Acts as a natural insecticide against common cannabis pests

Benefits Cannabis Grow

HOW TO USE MOLASSES WHEN GROWING CANNABIS

What makes molasses invaluable for growing cannabis isn’t just its benefits for healthy plant growth, but also the versatility in usage. You can use it like a regular nutrient that you add to your feeding schedule, you can make composts and compost teas, use it to prepare a particularly rich soil, or apply it as a foliar spray.

How much molasses you should use, normally depends on the particular strain that you’re growing and its nutrient requirements. The right dosage can also depend on your plant’s age and may be different depending on environmental factors, such as temperatures and light intensity.

When you’re starting out feeding molasses, it is recommended that you start with lower dosages at first. A good starting point can be 4–5ml of molasses per litre of water. Later, when your plants are flowering, you can increase the dosage a bit, since your cannabis plant will need more potassium. Although you can use molasses during all stages of growth, including the vegetative phase, you will likely notice the most benefits during flowering.

The risk for overfeeding with molasses is considerably lower than with mineral nutrients, but it is smart to observe your plants for any signs of stress or nutrient burn, in particular if you add molasses to an existing feeding regimen. If things look good, you can gradually increase your dosage if needed. You can add it to organic liquid fertilizers, such as compost teas. If you’re adding molasses to your existing feeding regimen, you should also keep an eye on your soil’s pH level, since any additional substance can affect it. Make sure you check your runoff pH frequently.

If you’re growing outdoors, you should know that molasses can attract wildlife, which is something you want to keep in mind.

USE DRY MOLASSES TO PREPARE AND IMPROVE YOUR SOIL

You can use liquid molasses as we described above, but you can also use dry molasses to enrich your soil before you start growing. Despite the name, dry molasses is actually not dried molasses, it’s made with organic bits (usually grain) that have been drenched with molasses. Dry molasses makes an excellent supplement that you can mix into your soil. You need about 500g of dry molasses to enrich about 4.5–6m² of soil.

MOLASSES AS A NATURAL INSECTICIDE

Although there are no scientific studies about using molasses as an insecticide, it has been shown effective against sucking insects, such as aphids, white flies and lace bugs, which are among the most common cannabis pests.

You can make an effective insecticidal foliar spray by mixing approximately 1.3ml of molasses (quarter of a teaspoon) into one litre of lukewarm water. Stir well, so that the molasses dissolves. Use a garden sprayer, and liberally sprinkle your plants with the mix.

MOLASSES TO PREVENT SALT BUILD-UP AND NUTRIENT DEFICIENES

A common problem with growing cannabis can be when salt from feeding mineral, non-organic nutrients builds up in the soil over time. The accumulated salt can at some point throw off the pH level in the soil, preventing the plants from taking in nutrients any longer—the dreaded nutrient lockout. Molasses works more indirectly, as compared to mineral nutrients where you simply add nutrients every time you feed your plants. This is why using molasses doesn’t come with the same risk of salt build-up.

Molasses to prevent salt build-up and nutrient deficienes

MOLASSES VERSUS COMMERCIAL CANNABIS SUPPLEMENTS

If you buy commercial cannabis supplements and nutrients, in particular those which are labelled organic, you will find that most of them do, in fact, contain molasses. Some “special” growth supplements may indeed be nothing more than molasses, just packed in a nice bottle.

This is not to say that these supplements wouldn’t get the job done. The advantage here is simply that molasses will cost a lot less than some fancy-brand cannabis supplements, yet will provide your plants with the same benefits. What’s more, it’s easy to buy molasses: you can get organic blackstrap molasses at most grocers and in many general stores. Also, some gardening stores stock molasses.

WHY MOLASSES IS EXCELLENT FOR HEALTHY PLANT GROWTH - BOTTOMLINE

If you want to grow good cannabis organically, you don’t need a host of expensive nutrients and supplements. All you need is some good quality soil and molasses. Turn your soil into a rich environment with the help of molasses and your plants will thrive and reward you with aromatic buds at harvest time!

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