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Root Rot


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  #1  
Old 12-02-2010, 04:56 PM
Kleeem Kleeem is offline
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Default Root Rot

Has anyone experienced the dreaded root rot (pythia)?
My aeroponice system is outdoors. when I first set it up with plants they wilted a little. I was expecting this as the plants adjusted to the hydro system. then they took off like crazy. A heat wave came through and the hydro reservoir got around 90 degrees f, and the hydro solution got foamy. I changed the solution and the plants didn't seem to mind. then they started wilting badly. I checked the roots and they were all grey/brown and soft. they eventually all died.
I checked online and found that it was probably root rot. so I cleaned the system with bleach rinsed it out with reverse osmosis water. replanted and tried again. within 3 weeks I had root rot again. as I've been reading it is nearly impossible to get rid of once it gets into your system.
The only hope I have is that I read that some beneficial microbials will keep root rot at bay.
Has anyone encountered this scourge and had any luck getting past it? with or without microbials. If so, please save me!

Kleeem

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Old 12-02-2010, 07:15 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Kleeem
You mentioned that your reservoir reached the 90's, what is the normal temp of the reservoir? If the normal temp is to high then the roots may be suffering from prolonged heat. That will give you brown roots also. I attached some pictures of my first experience with high nutrient temps. Those roots were subject to prolonged 90 degree water temps, 68 to 72 degrees is optional for roots. Warm water temps will also provide better conditions for some pathogens to breed and multiply.

Cleaning the system thoroughly with bleach should work, but it needs to soak for a while first to do the job, at least 10 to 20 minutes or so, I like 30 and longer myself for sterilization. Also you need to be very thorough, sterilizing every nook and cranny of the entire system, not only the reservoir and growing chamber, but including all the tubing, baskets, growing medium, pumps etc.. I will wash everything thoroughly with soap and water first then sterilize after that. I also wash the pump with soap and water, as well as the main tubing and reservoir with every nutrient solution change, just to keep any pathogens from getting a foothold (it only takes me about 10-20 minutes).

A couple more things to consider is water and air quality. Pathogens can also be introduced into your system through water and air. I know you mentioned that you rinsed with RO water. RO water should be free of pathogens when it first comes out of the tap. But if it's stored in another container before it's used, that could be a source of a problem (if it's not regularly cleaned). It's imposable to keep pathogens out of the air in an outdoor setting, but if any debris like dead leaf parts, small twigs and even just dirt/dust is introduced into the system, that's also a source of a possible problem. That can be easily and cheaply remedied.

Another thing to consider is if you are using soil grown plants and washing off the soil to put them into the hydro/aero system, that could be a source of a possible problem as well. Soil born diseases/pathogens can be introduced to the roots at that time and don't wash off, then breed in the hydro system where they then can affect all the rest of the plants in the system. Some plants are more susceptible to soil born diseases/pathogens than others. Strawberry's are one plant that I know of that are very susceptible to them.

Lastly the use of air stones in the reservoir will also help keep some pathogens at bay. And H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) will help kill any pathogens as well. Just the regular 3% H2O2 you get at any pharmacy or in the first aid isle at the market. There is a whole debate as to weather there is stabilizers in H2O2, but all you need to do is read the label for both "active ingredients" and "inactive ingredients" to tell if there is anything else in it ( if that's a concern for you). I have yet to see one that has anything other than Hydrogen Peroxide and purified water used. If purified water is on the label anything else will be as well. I use 5mL (one teaspoon) per gallon of water a week in my systems. You can use more, but it isn't really recommended. I have used 10mL per gallon at times and didn't see any negative effects, but all I can say about that is use your own judgment. Small plants, and especially seedlings tend to be more sensitive to H2O2, thus would show negative effects first.
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  #3  
Old 12-03-2010, 02:33 PM
Kleeem Kleeem is offline
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Default root rot

Thanks for the info GPS. the roots of my plants don't look like yours. The plants that I tossed were more grey and very mushy, rotten. if you barely brushed them with your finger they'd fall apart. And there were no white roots at all.
As I mentioned, my aeroponics system is outdoors, subject to the temperature and conditions outside. I don't have a chiller for the reservoir, it's just too costly. I live in california, so the temperature is rather mild. right now the temperature ranges between the mid 70's during the day, and the mid 50's at night.
I actually have a few houseplants growing indoors that are doing well. I think the problem is that outside the wind and dust contaminates the system. I've thought about using compost tea to supply beneficial microbials, but then I'd probably be introducing as many bad pathogens as well.
I've been using .5 mls per gallon of 35% hydrogen peroxide with my weekly nutrient changes, which is close to your recommended 5 mls per gallon of 3% peroxide.
When I cleaned my system with bleach I filled the the reservoir with a bleach solution and ran it through the system for 2 hours. then used a toothbrush and scrubbed all of the components with the bleach solution. then ran the bleach solution through the system 2 more times. even after all that the root rot returned.
With my system being outdoors I don't think it will be possible to keep it contaminant free. which is why I am thinking that beneficial microbials might be best solution. but before spending the money I wanted to know if anyone else has had any experience with root rot, and if microbials helped, or if there is a better solution.

Thanks, Kleeem
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:56 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Kleeem
OK, going by what you first stated your problem seemed to begin after a heat snap. But now you have mild days and your water temp is not high at all. So the beginning of the problem may, or may not have just been coincidence, and what you describe is different than the damage from high nutrient temps. It sounds like you did a good job with trying to sterilize the system. I assume that along with running the bleach water solution through it, that you also scrubbed it out with soap and water first because you say you scrubbed the components.

But you say your getting airborne contaminants in the system. Do you have any pictures of the system, and/or how it's constructed (plants etc.)? I also forgot to mention that there may be a possibility of fungal diseases as well, especially from airborne contaminants. Spores are so small you cant see them and travel in air currents, all they need is water and the right temperature to begin to grow. An aeroponic system is a great place for them to thrive. There they have complete access to all the roots for food as well as nutrients in the solution, with nothing to herder it. And sanitizing the system won't keep them from being reintroduced through airborne contaminants.

P.S.
How often do you change the nutrient solution?
What type of nutrients and/or additives do you use? Concentration etc.?
What type of growing medium do you use if any?

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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 12-03-2010 at 07:30 PM.
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