Pot Farms Face Threat From Widely Spreading Pathogen

Nearly every growing operation in California has it, scientists say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2023 4:55 PM CDT
Pathogen Puts Crops at Pot Farms in Danger
A mature marijuana plant flowers under artificial lights prior to harvest at Loving Kindness Farms in Los Angeles in May 2020.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

California's marijuana industry is facing a major threat in the form of an infectious pathogen that scientists say has reached almost every pot farm in the state. The damage could run in the billions of dollars, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Hop-latent viroid grows unseen for months in cannabas plants, often wiping out a crop just as it would normally be ready to be harvested. A scientific review published this spring decrees the pathogen, which probably has been spreading for more than a decade, the greatest concern for cannabis growers around the world.

HLVd was found in 2018 at a Santa Barbara County pot farm, in both symptomatic and non-symptomatic plants, per the Cal Coast News. It causes cannabis plants to shrivel, decreasing the value by reducing the amount of THC—the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. Scientists estimate it's present in at least 90% of California's pot farms. Growers can try to identify infected plants early through testing. Until now, that has required farmers to mail in samples and wait days, at least, for the results. But an HLVd test released this year provides results in hours, per the Chronicle. (Read more marijuana farm stories.)

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