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PGRs vs. PGRs - It’s Not All Bad

Diving into Australia's cannabis cultivation, "Plant Growth Regulators" (PGRs) have stirred debates for decades. While PGRs, both synthetic and natural, influence plant growth patterns, their impact varies. Synthetic PGRs, with the allure of boosted yields, have sparked health and quality concerns, while nature’s own PGRs maintain the plant's essence and medicinal integrity. The Australian cannabis scene has evolved over time, from a surge of PGR usage in the early 2000s, often compromising quality, to a more recent decline driven by informed consumer choices. Navigating this terrain requires an understanding of the nuances, as the world of PGRs isn't strictly black and white.

In the diverse realm of cannabis cultivation, the term "PGR" frequently emerges, often eliciting a mix of concern and intrigue. Plant Growth Regulators, or PGRs, are compounds designed to influence the growth trajectory and development dynamics of plants. But as with many things in life, there's a spectrum, and not all PGRs are the same. Let's embark on a journey to distinguish the nuances between synthetic and natural PGRs and discern why understanding the differences is paramount for the modern cannabis enthusiast.

 

Chemical (Synthetic) PGRs

These are artificial chemicals painstakingly developed to tweak and manipulate the innate growth patterns of plants. Among the popular ones that have found their way into cannabis cultivation are Paclobutrazol (PBZ), Daminozide, and Chlormequat chloride. Their allure often lies in their ability to enhance yield and modify the visual aesthetics of plants. However, beneath the surface, there are noteworthy implications:

Health Concerns: PBZ has raised eyebrows due to its potential toxicity when ingested, inhaled, or even merely handled. Daminozide made headlines in the '80s for the shadows it cast regarding carcinogenic properties. Chlormequat chloride, though on the lower end of the toxicity spectrum, isn't without its share of concerns, particularly about its residual presence.

Quality of Bud: Delving deeper, synthetic PGRs have a sneaky way of compromising the intrinsic medicinal calibre of cannabis. By interfering with its natural growth, they can dilute its cannabinoid and terpene profiles, essential for therapeutic efficacy.

 

Natural PGRs

Nature, in its infinite wisdom, has its proprietary toolkit of growth regulators. These naturally spawned compounds are the unsung heroes ensuring the rhythmic dance of plant life cycles.

Types: The roster includes stalwarts like Auxins, pivotal for root formation and bud magnification; Cytokinins, the champions of cell division; Gibberellins, the maestros of stem elongation and floral choreography; Ethylene, the subtle influencer of fruit ripening; and Abscisic Acid, the guardian angel during droughts.

Health & Quality: Venturing the natural PGR route is akin to embracing the plant's innate essence. There are no lurking health shadows, and the integrity of the plant's medicinal profile remains unblemished.

 

NO-to-PGR.jpeg

 

Spotting PGR-Treated Buds

Within the Australian cannabis culture and horticultural scene, we've witnessed significant evolutions over the past 30 years. One constant, though, has been the discourse around the use of synthetic PGRs in cannabis cultivation. The digital age has amplified these conversations, with numerous images and discussions circulating online, often positioning a PGR bud right next to a “non-PGR” bud. However, based on our extensive experience down under, it's crucial to emphasise that the reality isn't that black and white.

  1. Appearance: While PGR buds, when treated with higher concentrations, are typically rounded, rock-hard, and often light brown, their appearance can vary based on the PGR concentration used.
  2. Aroma: High concentration PGR buds, when broken or "mulled up," give off little to no scent.
  3. Trichomes: A glaring absence indicates inhibited resin production.
  4. Flavour: Expect anything from bland to downright putrid.
  5. Health Concerns: Be wary of headaches and chest issues post-consumption.
  6. Value: From our vantage, high concentration PGR-treated buds offer little to no medical or recreational value.

However, when PGRs are applied at extremely diluted rates, their impact becomes a murkier territory. Such buds often retain a quality that's almost indistinguishable from non-PGR treated ones. A subtle sign might be a slight twist in the leaves' growth, but even this can be elusive. And crucially, at these diluted rates, it's arguable that the PGRs might not even be present in the plant at the time of harvest, further complicating the identification process.

 

IMG_1738.JPG

 

The PGR Surge of the Early 2000s

Turn the clock back to the early 2000s, and the Australian cannabis scene was abuzz with discussions on PGRs. Forums like OZ Stoners became hotbeds of debate, with topic after topic diving into the prolific use of these growth regulators. Initially, the allure of PGRs lay in their ability to force plants into immediate flowering and halt any further growth—a godsend for many keen on rapid cultivation cycles. However, what began as a strategic tool in the grower's arsenal soon spiralled out of control. The 2000s saw an alarming trend of abuse and overuse. Some commercial growers, in their pursuit of maximising yield and quick turnovers, began using a cocktail of various PGR products. It wasn't uncommon to hear of these products being administered like weekly additives, and often at levels far beyond recommended doses. This era marked a significant shift in cultivation practices, with consequences still reverberating in today's cannabis culture.

 

The Decline of PGRs in Recent Times

Fast forward to the last few years, and there's a silver lining. We've borne witness to a significant decrease in the usage and, more importantly, the abuse of PGRs in cannabis cultivation. Like many trends in the market, the popularity of PGR-infused bud was largely consumer-driven. If there's a demand, there will always be a supply. Regrettably, an entire generation came of age with predominantly PGR-laden cannabis as their primary access point. For many, the awakening came with the realisation of what they'd been consuming, leading them to shun such products. Yet, intriguingly, there remains a subset who claim a preference for PGR-treated buds. While it might be tempting to write this off as mere nostalgia or habit, it's plausible that these individuals gravitate towards milder strains rather than the heavy-hitters celebrated by many enthusiasts.

Understanding this shift is crucial. As the cannabis market evolves, reflecting on past trends and their ramifications helps guide more informed choices in the present and future.

 

References:

  1. Wikipedia. [Paclobutrazol] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paclobutrazol
  2. Wikipedia. [Daminozide] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daminozide
  3. Wikipedia. [Chlormequat] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlormequat
  4. Wikipedia. [Auxin] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auxin
  5. Wikipedia. [Cytokinin] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytokinin 
  6. Wikipedia. [Gibberellin] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibberellin
  7. Wikipedia. [Ethylene] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene
  8. Wikipedia. [Abscisic Acid] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abscisic_acid
  9. OZ Stoners Cannabis Community. [Bad weed blues] https://cannabis.community.forums.ozstoners.com/topic/75919-bad-weed-blues/?do=findComment&comment=473661
  10. OZ Stoners Cannabis Community. [Rock Flower Juice any Good?] https://cannabis.community.forums.ozstoners.com/topic/12101-rock-flower-juice-any-good/?do=findComment&comment=669656
  11. OZ Stoners Cannabis Community. [Colchacine] https://cannabis.community.forums.ozstoners.com/topic/64903-colchacine/ 
  12. OZ Stoners Cannabis Community. [Advice needed on strange reaction to weed] https://cannabis.community.forums.ozstoners.com/topic/64084-advice-needed-on-strange-reaction-to-weed/
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