RDWC Hydroponics Growers Guide

RDWC Hydroponics Growers Guide

1. PLANNING, SIZING & SETUP

PLANNING

1. Setting Up Your System

    1. Choosing a Location
      1. Make sure the surface is capable of supporting SUBSTANTIAL weight and is water-proof, and that all electrical components are install so that they will not get wet.
      2. Choose a level surface. An un-even surface will affect the water level from growth module to growth module.
    2. Assembly
      1. Use the included Instruction Manual.
    3. Lighting Your System
      1. Horizontal
        1. Horizontal reflectors can cover a variety of system layouts. Our most popular configuration is 4 plants per light but can be as few as 1 or as many as 24. A 1000w lamp can cover 1, 2, 4, or 6 modules. A 600w lamp can cover 1, 2, or 4 modules.
      2. Vertical
        1. Vertical bulbs are typically hung between every set of 4 plants and around the system perimeter. Our XXL spacing of 40” plant centers is recommended for 600w vertical lighting.   Larger 50-60” centers (not available from CCH2O) are recommended for 1000w vertical bulbs.
    4. Air Pump Placement
      1. Air pumps should be elevated above the system water level and can be placed on either the inside or outside of the grow space.
      2. If using high concentrations of CO2, it may be beneficial to place air pumps on the outside of the grow space. Use a large diameter hose (such as your ¾” RETURN HOSE) to go from the AIR PUMP to the AIR MANIFOLD.
    5. Power Requirements for the System
      1. All Under Current systems use very little power due to the efficient water and air pumps included with each system. These pumps will require standard 120v outlets. When operating the Under Current, both the air and water pumps will run 24/7.

 

2. Recommended Nutrients

  1. Cultured Solutions™ Premium Plant Nutrients
    1. Cultured Solutions™ by Current Culture H2O are made in California and were designed and tested specifically for water culture applications.
    2. Cultured Solutions™ UC Roots is a multi-purpose root zone optimizer that uses proprietary chemistry to aid in mineral descaling and removal of potentially harmful biofilms in nutrient reservoirs. By reducing the potential habitat for plant pathogens, UC Roots encourages a healthy, well balanced nutrient solution, perfect for explosive root growth! UC Roots is formulated for optimum performance in water culture and can also be used as a nutrient leaching agent or for cleaning between cycles. Cultured Solutions UC Roots is the most effective and simple to use root zone optimizer on the planet!
  • Cultured Solutions Veg A & B is a full spectrum, mineral salt based nutrient which contains all the elements necessary to produce lush, vegetative growth. Cultured Solutions Veg combines all the macro and micro nutrients in their proper proportions, in a pH stable, chelated form which is ideal for high performance water culture applications. Cultured Solutions Veg provides the optimal Nitrate to Ammoniacal Nitrogen ratio. This ensures healthy growth without promoting brittle stalk and stem formation, or the unwanted pest outbreaks often associated with ammonium in excess. It’s this attention to detail and quality control that sets Cultured Solutions Veg apart from other commercially available fertilizers.
  1. Cultured Solutions Bloom A & B is a full spectrum, mineral salt based nutrient which contains all the elements necessary to produce prolific blooms and fruit. Cultured Solutions Bloom combines all the macro and micro nutrients in their proper proportions, in a pH stable, chelated form which is ideal for high performance water culture applications.  Cultured Solutions Bloom provides the optimal Nitrate to Ammoniacal Nitrogen ratio.  This ensures healthy growth without promoting excessive vegetative growth which can hinder and in many cases deter bud set and maturation in flowering plants.
  2. Cultured Solutions™ Bud Booster (Early, Mid and Late) is a high potency fruit and flower simulator, formulated to trigger and aid in the formation of prolific, fully developed reproductive growth in all flowering plant species. Cultured Solutions Bud Booster combines high levels of Phosphorous and Potassium in solution to provide your plants with the mineral precursors necessary during early and prime flower production periods.  Our bud boosters also supply mineral elements such as Sulfur and Magnesium to assist in the synthesis of essential amino acids and other naturally occurring plant compounds, crucial for optimum plant production and quality. Cultured Solutions Bud Booster is not a PGR (Plant Growth Regulator), but rather a uniquely balanced blend of minerals.  Our formula is perfectly suited for maximum plant uptake with no negative effects on fruit and flower quality or healthfulness.       By providing your plants with the elemental minerals available in Cultured Solutions Bud Booster, you will unlock your plants inherent traits and encourage the production of complex sugars, starches and essential oils.

3. Recommended Accessories

    1. Water Chiller
      1. A water chiller is recommended in most all cases to maintain cool water temperatures essential for high levels of dissolved oxygen.
      2. A recommended chiller is listed for each standard Under Current® system in our product catalog as well as the website. Before purchasing a water chiller confirm it can chill the total system volume at least 10-15° or whatever the differential is between your desired room temp and desired water temp. For instance if you have a system that holds 100 gallons total and your desired room temp is 78° and the desired water temp is 68°. Make sure the chiller can chill 100 gallons at least 10°.
      3. Refer to the Instruction Manual for chiller installation instructions.
      4. Multiple Under Current® Systems can be cooled by one large chiller (we recommend Chill King™ by Hydro Innovations) by using the Cool Coil™ from Hydro Innovations. Chilled solution is pumped from an auxiliary reservoir into a manifold (usually PVC) and out to each Cool Coil placed in the Epicenter of each system. Consult Hydro Innovations for proper chiller sizing and setup.
    2. Water Filtration
      1. To learn more about your source water perform a detailed water analysis before purchasing any filtration equipment.
      2. Water quality is of the utmost importance when growing in water culture. A reverse osmosis water filter is recommended for source water with mineral levels exceeding 100ppm.
      3. Filters should be sized to produce the entire system volume within 24hrs.
      4. UV Sterilization may be necessary to kill off any inherent pathogens present in source water.
    3. pH/EC/Temp Meter
      1. A high quality pH/EC/Temp meter is important to relay vital stats to you the grower. Running the Under Current® without these tools may prove to be difficult. Purchase a combined unit or multiple individual units from a reputable company (we recommend BlueLab™) to ensure problem free operation. .
      2. Clean and calibrate meters per manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure accurate readings.
    4. Reservoir (Fresh Water/Top-Off)
      1. A Fresh Water Reservoir equal to the entire system volume is recommended to perform full system nutrient change-outs. This can also serve as your Top-Off Reservoir.
      2. A Top-Off Reservoir is recommended to maintain consistent water levels as plants feed. The Top-Off Reservoir can be used to introduce a slightly stronger nutrient solution or counterbalance pH swings.
      3. Each Under Current® system includes a Reservoir Adapter Kit which includes everything you need to attach a reservoir to the float valve in the Epicenter. Refer to Instruction Manual for installation instructions.
    5. Module Cages
      1. Module Cages made by Current Culture® are specifically designed to fit both the 8 and 13 gallon Growth Modules. Module Cages can be applied to the growth modules at any stage of growth as they wrap around and clip together. Made from high quality galvanized metal, Module Cages can be reused with every cycle.
    6. UC Hoodie & UC Parka
      1. UC Hoodie: Made by Smart Pots™ from their geo-textile fabric, UC Hoodies are used to cover the Growth Module and keep it clean and protected when using the system in adverse conditions such as greenhouses. Available for both 8 and 13 gallon growth modules.
      2. UC Parka: Made by Smart Pots™ from an insulated reflective material, UC Parkas are used to cover the Growth Module, provide insulation and reflectivity to help cooling systems work more efficiently. Available for both 8 and 13 gallon growth modules.
    7. Cultured Solutions® Premium Plant Nutrients
      1. Cultured Solutions® by are made in California and were designed and tested specifically for water culture applications.
      2. Cultured Solutions® Veg A & B is a full spectrum, mineral salt based nutrient which contains all the elements necessary to produce lush, vegetative growth. Cultured Solutions® Veg combines all the macro and micro nutrients in their proper proportions, in a pH stable, chelated form which is ideal for high performance water culture applications. Cultured Solutions® Veg provides the optimal Nitrate to Ammoniacal Nitrogen ratio. This ensures healthy growth without promoting brittle stalk and stem formation, or the unwanted pest outbreaks often associated with ammonium in excess. It\’s this attention to detail and quality control that sets Cultured Solutions® Veg apart from other commercially available fertilizers.
      3. Cultured Solutions® Bloom A & B is a full spectrum, mineral salt based nutrient which contains all the elements necessary to produce prolific blooms and fruit. Cultured Solutions® Bloom combines all the macro and micro nutrients in their proper proportions, in a pH stable, chelated form which is ideal for high performance water culture applications. Cultured Solutions® Bloom provides the optimal Nitrate to Ammoniacal Nitrogen ratio. This ensures healthy growth without promoting excessive vegetal growth which can hinder and in many cases deter bud set and maturation in flowering plants.
      4. Cultured Solutions® UC Roots is a multi-purpose root zone optimizer that uses proprietary chemistry to aid in mineral descaling and removal of potentially harmful biofilms in nutrient reservoirs. By reducing the potential habitat for plant pathogens, UC Roots encourages a healthy, well balanced nutrient solution, perfect for explosive root growth! UC Roots is formulated for optimum performance in water culture and can also be used as a nutrient leaching agent or for cleaning between cycles. Cultured Solutions® UC Roots is the most effective and simple to use root zone optimizer on the planet!
      5. Cultured Solutions® Bud Booster is a high potency fruit and flower simulator, formulated to trigger and aid in the formation of prolific, fully developed reproductive growth in all flowering plant species. Cultured Solutions® Bud Booster combines high levels of Phosphorous and Potassium in solution to provide your plants with the mineral precursors necessary during early and prime flower production periods. Our zero Nitrogen bloom booster also supplies mineral elements such as Sulfur and Magnesium to assist in the synthesis of essential amino acids and other naturally occurring plant compounds, crucial for optimum plant production and quality. Cultured Solutions® Bud Booster is not a PGR (Plant Growth Regulator), but rather a uniquely balanced blend of minerals. Our formula is perfectly suited for maximum plant uptake with no negative effects on fruit and flower quality or healthfulness. By providing your plants with the elemental minerals available in Cultured Solutions Bud Booster, you will unlock your plants inherent traits and encourage the production of complex sugars, starches and essential oils.

4. High Performance System in a High Performance Room

    1. Temperature Considerations
      1. Air Temperature
        1. Room temperatures should be maintained between 78-84° for Veg and 76-82° for Flowering.
        2. When supplementing with CO2 maintain slightly warmer room temperatures to take full advantage of CO2 supplementation.
        3. Reduce room temperature by 10-15% in the last week of flowering.
      2. Water Temperature
      3. Always us a water chiller to get the most out of your Under Current® system. Crop failure can occur when proper water temperatures are not maintained!
        1. The highest levels of dissolved oxygen are maintained at cooler water temperatures between 65-68°. If water temps fall below this range growth may slow. If water temps rise above this range it could potentially create a suitable environment for pathogens and/or bad bacteria.
    2. Humidity Considerations
      1. Veg: Maintain humidity levels between 50-60% during vegetative stage.
      2. Bloom: Reduce humidity levels to 30-40% during flowering stage.
    3. CO2 Considerations
      1. Increase room temps by 5-10% if using CO2.
      2. Increase nutrient strength by 5-10% if using CO2.

5. Expanding the System

    1. Systems can easily be expanded to larger areas by adding Growth Modules or reconfiguring Manifolds.
    2. All systems come with specifically sized air and water pumps for the overall system volume.
    3. When increasing the size of your system we recommend upsizing both your Air and Water Pumps.

SYSTEM SETUP

6. Attaching Top-Off Reservoir

  1. Attach a top-off reservoir to the FLOAT VALVE using the RESERVOIR ADAPTER KIT as outlined on Page 7 of the Assembly Instructions.
    1. Drill 1-1/4” hole near base of desired reservoir, install UNISEAL and RESERVOIR ADAPTER. Connect RESERVOIR ADAPTER to FLOAT VALVE QUICK CONNECT with RESERVOIR HOSE.
    2. Reservoir should be elevated above EPICENTER.
    3. RESERVOIR HOSE can be lengthened to place reservoir further away from EPICENTER.

7. Attaching Water Chiller

    1. The Under Current® can easily be adapted to a water chiller in one of the following ways as outlined on Page 7 of the Assembly Instructions:
      1. Remove the tee from the RETURN PUMP DIFFUSER inside the EPICENTER, attach the included CHILLER ADAPTER fitting, attach 3/4” hose (not included) from the CHILLER ADAPTER fitting to the chiller inlet. Attach 3/4” hose (not included) from the chiller outlet back to the EPICENTER.
      2. Remove the center section of the RETURN PUMP MANIFOLD, attach 3/4” hose (not included) from the output barb on the RETURN PUMP to the chiller inlet. Attach 3/4” hose (not included) from the chiller outlet back to the inlet barb on the RETURN PUMP DIFFUSER.
      3. For cooling multiple Under Currents®, insert Cool Coil® into each EPICENTER.
    2. When initially attaching a water chiller allow up to 48 hrs. for system water temps to stabilize.

8. Attaching a pH/TDS/EC/Temp meter or Nutrient Dosing System

    1. Place pH/TDS/EC/Temp probes or dosing hoses directly into the Epicenter Module through the port hole in the Epicenter lid.
    2. If using an auto doser like the Intellidose™ from American Hydroponics/Autogrow or Dosatronic™ from Bluelab connect the Float Valve directly to a fresh water source. This will allow the system to stay at a specific water level while the doser maintains the specific nutrient level.

2. USING THE UNDER CURRENT

SYSTEM OPERATION

9. Filling the System

    1. Total system volume is listed for each system in the Product Catalog and online on each systems info page.
    2. To calculate total system volume use the following formula:
      1. 8 gallon Growth Module = 6 gallons water (when filled to the inner lip)
      2. 13 gallon Growth Module = 10 gallons (when filled to 1” above inner lip)
      3. 35 gallon Growth Module = 30 gallons (when filled to 30 gallon water level mark)
      4. Depending on the size of the system the PVC manifold will hold an additional 5-10% of the total volume.
    3. To be more exact, a small water meter can be used.
    4. Adjust FLOAT VALVE to desired water level.
    5. Be sure to use only the purest water possible, Reverse Osmosis/ UV Sterilized is best.
    6. Begin filling the system to recommended level.
      1. For all 8, 13 and 35 gallon systems: Maintain water level 2” up the NET POT or at the top of the Planting Deck (raised cone in base of Net Pot).
    7. Once filled, plug in AIR PUMP(S) and RETURN PUMP.
    8. Add desired nutrient to EPICENTER.
    9. Depending on the size of transplants and quality of roots adjust your nutrient strength to between 0.2 EC or100-150ppm. Follow the Cultured Solutions® feeding schedule for week 1.
    10. If using another nutrient besides Cultured Solutions®, start at ¼ to ½ strength of manufacturers recommendations and consider switching to Cultured Solutions®, you won’t be unhappy.

10. Adjusting the Water Level

    1. Water level adjustments are done by releasing the thumbscrew on the Float Valve and adjusting it either upward or downward.
    2. Adjust system water level to just below top of root crown with bare root cuttings/seedlings.
    3. If using rockwool cutting adjust water level to just below rockwool cube or top of standardized planting deck (approx. 2″ up Net Pot or 1/4 to 1/2″ below the bottom of the rockwool cube). Keeping the RW cube saturated could stifle growth or cause damping off.
    4. Maintaining a higher water level during the vegetative stage and most of the bloom stage will encourage dense lateral root growth. After roots grow laterally out the sides of the net pot into solution, drop the water level to just below the base of the Net Pot.
    5. If your growth cycle has been relatively stress free, starting in week 5 of Bloom you can incrementally drop the water level by 1/2″ per week in 8 gallon systems and 1″ per week in 13 gallon systems. During the last part of the bloom stage or 1-2 weeks before harvest, drop the operating level to around 4 gallons per module (for 8 gallon systems) or around 6 gallons per module (for 13 gallon systems). This helps by allowing atmospheric oxygen uptake by the non-submerged roots within the module. This oxygen exposure aids in proper fruit set and essential oil production as the plants mature.
    6. This technique can also mimic “drought conditions” which triggers the plant to produce more oils as a means of reducing transpiration rates.

11. Using a Top-Off Reservoir to Maintain Nutrient Stability

    1. If you are using a Top-off Reservoir, you can maintain desired pH and EC/TDS levels by properly adjusting the top-off mix.
      1. pH Example: System started at pH of 6.0 and drifts to 6.5 over a 5 day period, this can easily be offset by making the top off res slightly more acidic (lower) so when top off solution enters system it gradually maintains proper pH levels as the plants access the nutrients.
        1. Gradual pH adjustments made from the top-off reservoir will help avoid any potential nutrient lock outs caused by adjusting the pH with concentrated acid or bases.
      2. EC/TDS Example: System started at 500ppm but has crept to 625ppm as the solution level has decreased. That’s a 25% increase, which can be easily offset by a top off res balanced @ 25% below the initial 500ppmor about 375ppm to compensate.
    2. When operated properly, top off EC/TDS should be balanced the same or slightly stronger as the solution in the system.
    3. Ideally the solution in the system should stay balanced even as the plants use the nutrient and water. This is a good indicator that minerals & water are being used at equal proportions.
    4. Any upward or downward fluctuations in EC/PPM can have an effect on pH. By avoiding excess TDS, the solution is easier to keep stable.
      1. As a rule of thumb if the nutrient EC/TDS rises as the solution is depleted you are likely running your levels too high to begin with. Conversely, if your EC/TDS drops it indicates you’ve started to low.
    5. This EC/TDS stability will translate into improved plant health and greater pH stability.
    6. Observations and slight adjustments are the best way to dial your system, once you have found the “sweet spot” operation of the system becomes quite simple.

12. Maintaining Optimum Nutrient Temperatures

    1. Although the system can operate with nutrient temperatures exceeding 68 degrees F, maintaining a cooler water temperature between 65-68 degrees F is ideal.
    2. At these cooler temperatures you will get the highest levels of dissolved oxygen without slowing plants metabolism.
    3. After attaching your water chiller in one of the several ways listed on Page 7 of the Assembly Instructions, adjust the thermostat to the desired temperature.

NUTRIENT CONSIDERATIONS

13. Nutrient Usage in the Under Current

    1. If you have questions about your specific nutrient line call your nutrient manufacturer, the tech staff at CCH2O can provide insight on what products you should.
    2. By incorporating Sub-Current Culture® and high levels of dissolved oxygen, the Under Current® uses nutrients much more efficiently than traditional hydroponics systems.
    3. In our experience nutrients such as Cultured Solutions® that are mineral salt based, clean, sterile and highly chelated tend to be more pH stable and consistently provide good results in the system.
    4. By using a high quality nutrient line you will experience less frequent nutrient change outs, lower usage rates, less pH fluctuations (less pH adjusters needed) and the conservation of precious H2O.

14. General Nutrient Info

  1. Zyme Products: Typically used in soil/soilless mixes to help breakdown dead/decaying roots and organic matter. These products are unnecessary in the system as there are no decaying roots, they can also cause films and buildups on air stones.
  2. Beneficials/Bacteria: High levels of aeration in the Under Current® amplify the spread or beneficial organisms. In the brewing process this is never bad but once introduced into the system microbes can multiply so fast they could become a problem by creating biofilms and nutrient /pH destabilization.
  3. High Ammonia Content: Use sparingly as ammonia based nitrogen is quickly absorbed by plants in water.
  4. Organics: Nutrients with heavy organic inputs tend to de-stabilize quicker causing more frequent nutrient change-outs and an overall dirtier system. Using these products as a foliar spray is a good way to introduce and take advantage of their benefits without fouling the solution in the system.
  5. Sweeteners: Most sugar based sweetener products need to be broken down to be fully absorbed by the roots. A water-culture environment is not suitable for this breakdown to occur leaving the sugars in solution to potentially feed harmful pathogens.
  6. Root Enhancers: Sterile root enhancers like Culture Solutions®, UC Roots™, Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) and Dutch Master™ Zone™ work well by keeping the nutrient solution clean and free of potentially harmful pathogens.
  7. Bloom Enhancers: Most P/K style bloom enhancers work very well in the system. These can even be used to offset base bloom fertilizers in the last part of bloom to help further reduce nitrogen levels.

15. Nutrient Strength

    1. If you’re using Cultured Solutions® follow our standard feeding schedule. If using an off- brand nutrient other than Cultured Solutions® we recommend ¼ to ½ strength of the normal rate recommended on the nutrient/additive bottle.
    2. Depending on environment, genetics and nutrient quality, your plants nutritional requirements will vary.
    3. EC/TDS levels should start around 0.2 EC or 100-150 ppm for rooted cuttings/seedlings and rise around 10-20% per week.
    4. When nutrient levels start falling at a rapid pace this is an indication the plants want more.
    5. If levels stagnate or start to rise, this is a good indication they should be lowered or watered down.
    6. Keeping overall EC/PPM levels low with very few inputs is a proven strategy for success in the Under Current®. Keep it simple, less is definitely more!
    7. When infusing high levels of aeration above our standard 0.75 lpm of air per gallon, nutrient levels should be reduced by 25-50%.

16. Balancing pH and EC/TDS in the Nutrient Solution

  1. In general if the pH is between 5.5-6.5 let it be, between this range there is a full spectrum of available nutrients.
  2. EC/TDS levels should start around 0.2 EC or 100-150 ppm for rooted cuttings/seedlings and rise around 10-20% per week.
  3. If there are NO plants in the system, concentrated pH adjusters or nutrients may be added directly to the Epicenter. Allow 15mins to completely mix before adding more.
  4. If there are plants in the system, always dilute concentrated pH adjusters or nutrients before adding directly to the Epicenter and be careful. This action can easily shock plants roots.
    1. When operating the system without a top-off reservoir, concentrated pH adjuster and nutrients should be diluted with fresh water or system water and added slowly to the Epicenter. Allow 15mins to completely mix before adding more. If plants are in the system not following this recommendation may cause root trauma via mineral burns.
  5. Be patient; remember that in water culture, water chemistry is everything.

17. Using Conventional Nutrient Schedules

    1. Weekly nutrient schedules can easily be followed in the Under Current® without the typical weekly dump out common in other hydro methods.
    2. If using a top-off reservoir mix Week #1 nutrients in the system and Week#2 nutrients in the top-off, as the plants feed the solution will be replaced by the slightly stronger solution.
    3. As each week progresses more top-off solution will need to be mixed to keep up with plants feeding needs.
    4. Repeat for each consecutive with a full system flush every three weeks or at trimesters throughout out the bloom phase.

18. Nutrient Change Outs

  1. The Under Current® is designed to increase nutrient availability and viability. Because of the increased dissolved oxygen levels the Under Current® keeps nutrients usable longer. This enables growers to use less fertilizer while also decreasing the high volume of tail-water or spent nutrient typically associated with contemporary hydroponics techniques.
  2. Generally, it is recommended to perform an entire system change-out every 14-21 Days. An intermittent flush is unnecessary if the solution is not compromised.
  3. In the event your nutrient solution becomes compromised (ie. over dosing nutrients or over adjusting pH) drain the systems and flush. To flush: fill with fresh water, add UC Roots at 2-10mL per gallon, run for 1-3 days. After the flush, replenish the nutrient solution at 50% of previous strength.
  4. It is possible to run the Under Current® with zero nutrient change outs for an entire growth cycle. Maintaining a low EC or using a doser is the best strategy if this is desired.
    1. Doser: The Under Current® is best suited for Auto Dosing with complete water changes necessary only once a month or between key growth stages (veg/ bloom). In these situations it is more crucial that Reverse Osmosis water is used.
  5. When draining, dilute the solution that is left at the bottom of each module by filling with fresh water while still draining.
  6. Premix and balance nutrient solution in an auxiliary reservoir for easy introduction once system is drained.

19. Using Beneficials, Inoculants and Organics

    1. Introducing beneficials, inoculants and organics into the Under Current® can be done, but usually results in unpredictable outcomes including: biofilms and pH swings.
    2. Given the increased levels of dissolved oxygen, nutrients with heavy organic inputs or beneficials are difficult for plants to uptake fully and tend to destabilize and breakdown quickly in the system.
    3. Unlike a tea brewer, the solution in the UC is intended to be recirculated for prolonged periods of time. Most tea brewing cycles should conclude between 24-72 hours. Because the air pumps are on constantly, teas in the Under Current® can build up harmful bio films resulting in potential pathogen outbreaks.
    4. If teas and inoculates are used we recommend more frequent nutrient change outs.
    5. There’s a bit of a fork in the road philosophically when it comes to “bennies” or no “bennies”. In our experiences both tend to work but we lean towards more of a sterile root zone. It is possible to use a more carbon-based substrate for a plant’s root crown with our NET POT INSERTS. It’s this beneficial habitat that could harbor and allow colonization of a plant’s mutualistic organisms. The solution itself has little potential for colonization of anything other than bacteria, which while useful, don’t offer the benefits of fungi’s, which share a more direct relationship with the roots themselves.

3. GROWING IN THE UNDER CURRENT

Pre-Transplant & Transplanting

20. Choosing a Grow Medium

  1. Any non-wicking inert grow medium tends to work best. Most commonly used are expanded clay pellets, growstones, silica stones, and lava rock.
  2. Rinse rocks thoroughly before use. Fill net pot to a 1- 2” depth with rocks. Rest seedling/cutting on rock bed and gently fill remaining space up to about 1” from the top lip of 8” pot.
  3. When using a wicking medium such as rockwool be sure to adjust solution level to just below the rockwool cube. If the media stays too moist it could impede potential root growth.
  4. If using a soilless medium line net pot with Net Pot Insert™ (not included). Fill net pot to a 2” depth with media. Rest seedling/cutting on media and gently fill remaining space up to about 1” from the top lip of 8” pot. Be sure to adjust water level to below the net pot.

21. Transplanting into the System

  1. Rinse grow rocks/stones thoroughly before use.
  2. Fill NET POT to a 2” depth with rocks/stones.
  3. Rest bare root seedling/cutting on rock/stones and gently fill remaining space up to about 1” from the top lip of NET POT.
  4. Adjust system water level to top of root crown.
  5. If using rockwool cutting adjust water level to just below rockwool cube.
  6. Place NET POT into the LID on top of each GROWTH MODULE.

22. System to use for Veg


  1. Under Current®
    1. Plants can be transferred from smaller 8 gallon systems to larger 13 gallon systems as simply as moving the lids from one system to another.
    2. An Under Current® retrofitted with Dual or Quad lids can get several smaller plants off to a quick start. Using multiple 5.5” Heavy Duty Net Pots per module allows growers to pack in plants which can be later spread out to single 5.5” Lids for bloom. Vegging longer than 1-2 weeks in multi lids could produce robust plants that may necessitate root pruning.
  2. UC Solo / Solo PRO
    1. UC Solo: Available in both 8 and 13 gallon sizes with Single, Dual or Quad Lids, the UC Solo gives plants a great start and makes for an easy transition.
    2. UC Solo PRO: Our newly re-designed 35 gallon Solo PRO system features a durable 35 gallon growth module and multiple lid configurations. PRO lids can accommodate 1,4,6, 8 or 11 plant sites. The PRO growth module includes an easy drain bottom with drain valve and water level indicators.  Each Solo PRO system includes an Aqua-Pore XL air diffuser and 30 lpm linear air pump.
  3. DWC Buckets
    1. Our heavy duty Net Pots as well as Lids can be placed over traditional 5 gallon DWC buckets.
  4. Ebb-N-Flow Tables
    1. Place heavy duty Net Pots directly in trays. Raise the water level up to the root crown and run a constant ebb cycle. Place air stones directly into the tray to encourage water culture style root growth.
  5. Aero and Other Hydro Styles:
    1. Aero style systems work well at producing quick, vegetative growth with a dense root system. Be careful not to allow root masses to become so large they no longer fit in the net pot. Root pruning may be necessary when transplanting. Reduce overall ppm’s in the Under Current® by 30-50% when transplanting from aero.

Care – Veg

23. Vegetative Growth for the Under Current

  1. Vegging plants prior to introducing them into the Under Current® can be done in several ways listed below, keep in mind that when transferring from one style of hydroponics into the Under Current® it is advised to reduce your nutrient strength by 25-30% (even if it is a DWC system).
  2. Veg Times
    1. Veg times and relative plant sizes are as follows for each Under Current® System listed by size of growth module:
    2. 8 Gallon Systems
      1. Standard Spacing: 1-2 Weeks or 12”-18” Plant
      2. XL Spacing: 2-3 Weeks or 18”-24” Plant
    3. 13 Gallon Systems
      1. XL Spacing: 3-5 Weeks or 24”-36” Plant
      2. XXL Spacing: 4-6 Weeks or 36”- 48” Plant
    4. 35 Gallon Systems
      1. Variable Plant Centers (Usually 50”-60”): 6-8 Weeks or 48”-60” Plant

24. Root Pruning

    1. When growing in any water culture system, its important to keep your root system as healthy and well maintained as possible. Aside from the typical means of promoting root health such as solution aeration, balanced water chemistry and proper water temps, there are other things to keep in mind.
    2. One important element in keeping a functional, yet maintained root system is root pruning. As your plants proliferate it’s fairly common for the root systems to begin heavily populating the growth module and in some cases the circulation conduit. Here are a few simple tips to help avoid this from becoming an issue and hindering the circulatory function of the system.
    3. Once plants are introduced into the system, monitor root growth to be certain roots are developing well. While examining keep an eye out for roots that tend to be growing longer than the rest of the root mass. Simply prune these “runner” roots with a clean pair of scissors to help maintain a more compact and uniform root mass. This pruning will also promote the proliferation of more lateral root growth which will aid in your plants developing a healthy root mass.
    4. Occasionally repeat the examination process to ensure roots are developing well. Root prune as need be applying the same method as above. If necessary, reach down into module (thru port hole in lid) and pull out any runner roots that may be growing into the return manifolds. Keeping this return manifold clear with provide for better function of your UC.
    5. Avoid the use of supplements that aid in root proliferation beyond the vegative cycle. Plants will continue producing roots throughout the bloom cycle naturally. Use of these supplements into bloom can cause unnecessary energy to be put into root growth and focused away from flowering.
    6. Root pruning rule of thumb:   Be certain to not ever prune more than 15-20% of your root mass at any one time to maintain optimum plant health. Always prune the most anterior (outer) points of the root mass and use sterilized tools to avoid infecting plants with pathogens.

Care – Bloom

System Cleaning, Maintenance & Breakdown

26. Draining the System

    1. Draining the system can be done in two ways:
      1. Turn off RETURN PUMP. Attach GARDEN HOSE DRAIN ADAPTER to the female side of a garden hose. Remove the tee from the RETURN PUMP DIFFUSER inside the EPICENTER and attach the GARDEN HOSE DRAIN ADAPTER. Turn RETURN PUMP on. Monitor water level as system drains to not let RETURN PUMP run dry.
        1. This will drain system to within 1”. Top off system with fresh water while draining to dilute remaining solution.
      2. Remove cap from DRAIN VALVE. Attach female side of garden hose to DRAIN VALVE. Run garden hose to desired location (Preferably a lower elevation than the DRAIN VALVE). Open DRAIN VALVE.
        1. This will drain system to within 1”. Top off system with fresh water while draining to dilute remaining solution.
    1. If desired, remaining solution can be removed with either a sump pump or wet/dry vacuum. It can also be left in the system to be diluted by the following batch of nutrient solution.

27. Cleaning the System

  1. It is best to clean the system immediately after each cycle/harvest.
  2. Pull out root mass and discard air stones.
  3. Remove debris from the system with a shop vac.
  4. Wipe down air hose, net pots and lids with sterilizing solution on a green pad or wash cloth.
  5. Fill the system with tap water and sterilizing solution to the top of the buckets, run for minimum 4-6 hrs.
  6. Scrub inside of modules with green pad and inside joints with bottle brush.
  7. Rinse out the system with a hose while draining till drain water is clear.
  8. Drain remaining solution down as far down as possible.
  9. Remove remaining water with shop vac or sump pump.
  10. Wipe dry with a towel.
  11. Let dry fully under HID lights to aid in sterilizing.

28. Disassembling the System

  1. Disassembly is not necessary for cleaning. Especially when using clean synthetic nutrients like Cultured Solutions®.
  2. If disassembly is required for moving, etc., simply unscrew the bulkhead fittings with the Bulkhead Wrench and stack modules for storage.
  3. Store system components out of direct sunlight

4. TROUBLESHOOTING

Root Trouble

29. Troubleshooting

Issue Causes Solutions
pH Instability  Nutrient quality or incompatibility.Root exudate from unhealthy plants.Over adjusting pH. Switch to a high quality synthetic nutrient line like Cultured Solutions®.Remove dead/decaying roots from plants and re-introduce into system.
Plants are showing signs of:

  • Wilt
Possible root problems caused by disease or chemical burn.Excess nutrient toxicity. Rebalance nutrient solution at 50% strength.
  • Claw/ Canoeing

 

General toxicity, excess or prolonged pH imbalance. Rebalance nutrient solution at 50% strength.
  • Yellowing
Nitrogen deficiency.**May be normal in the late bloom stage. Increase VEG A/B strength if low for plant size.Foliar spay with VEG A/B.
  • Dull/ Dehydrated

 

Excess nutrient toxicity. Reduce nutrient strength by 25-50%.
  • Necrotic or Chlorotic Spotting
Excess nutrient toxicity.Imbalance in nutrient solution.Calcium Magnesium Ratio Imbalance. Rebalance nutrient solution at 50% strength.
  • Roots Browning
Dead or decaying roots.Stained due to nutrient solution.Nutrient quality. Flush with UC Roots at 2-10mL per gallon. Rebalance nutrient solution at 50% strength.
  • Roots Slimy
Possible pathogen or bio film developing.Nutrient quality. Flush with UC Roots at 2-10mL per gallon. Rebalance nutrient solution at 50% strength.
System Has a Leak   Miss assembled or lack of Teflon tape.Poor part connection.Broken part.Crack may have developed. Locate the leak. Use the included Teflon Tape or Emergency Repair Kit included with your system to repair the leak. Call CCH2O for a Return Authorization (559)266-4769.
Water Pump Stopped Working  Outlet power failure.Pump failure.Debris clogging pump.Dirty or broken Impeller. Disconnect the pump from the system. Remove the screws from the front inlet cover.   Remove the Impeller and inspect for visual damage. Clean and replace. If the pump still fails to work properly call CCH2O for a Return Authorization (559)266-4769.
Air Pump Stopped Working  Outlet power failure.Pump failure.Diaphragm damaged. If pump turns on but has weak or no air flow
Flow has Slowed Common in the last part of bloom due to large root masses.Roots have grown into the Return Manifold.The In-Line Filter is dirty.Return Hose is clogged. Root pruning may be necessary in last row of modules.Clean In-Line filter, remove green piece.Disconnect and force air/water through to dislodge blockage.
Plants are Slow Growing Transplant shock.Excess nutrient toxicity. Lumen shock. Reduce nutrient strength by 25-50%.Check temperature and humidity level in environment.
Plants are NOT Growing Water level to low.Nutrient levels too high. Flush with UC Roots at 2-10mL per gallon.Rebalance nutrient solution at 50% strength.
Flowers not forming properly. Humidity levels too high.Nutrient levels too high. Check temperature and humidity level in environment.Flush with UC Roots at 2-10mL per gallon.Rebalance nutrient solution at 50% strength.Reduce BLOOM A/B levels and increase BUD BOOSTER levels.

30. Avoiding & Treating Root Issues

  1. Maintaining a cool, “clean” and balanced nutrient solution free of organics, beneficials, enzymes and sugars is the best strategy for avoiding potential root issues.
  2. Using products such as UC Roots will act as preventative maintenance by keeping minerals soluble and breaking down organics and bio-films.
  3. Do a water test! Especially when using well or other un-treated water sources. Make sure to test for pathogens and biologicals. Pythium or other pathogens may be inherent in your source water.
  4. Root diseases like Pythium, Fusarium, etc. are most evident in water culture given the roots high profile, but are also typically found in most hydro methods currently practiced. In our experiences we’ve observed that once the variable causing the problem is removed (warm water, too high an EC, sludging inputs, etc.), it’s completely likely the plants will recover. In other words, root disease is not a death sentence, but a symptom of a problem needing to be addressed
  5. Common Root issues:
    1. Pythium
      1. Pythium species are fungal-like organisms, commonly referred to as water molds, which naturally exist in water as saprophytes, feeding on organic matter. Some Pythium species can cause serious diseases on crops resulting in significant crop losses. Pythium infection leads to damping off in seedlings and crown and root rot in older plants. Over watering, poor root aeration, root injury and improper root zone temperatures can weaken the crop and, thus, trigger Pythium outbreaks. Saturated growing media that are either too cold or too warm can be conducive to Pythium build up and spread in water and recirculating nutrient solution. Plants grown under optimal environmental conditions are less susceptible to Pythium than plants grown under poor conditions.
      2. Symptoms:
        1. In older plants, Pythium causes crown and root rot, where mature plants suddenly wilt when weather turns warm and sunny and when plants have their first heavy fruit load. Often, upper leaves of infected plants wilt in the day and recover overnight but plants eventually die.
        2. In the root system, initial symptoms appear as brown to dark-brown lesions on root tips and feeder roots and, as the disease progresses, symptoms of soft, brown stubby roots, lacking feeder roots, become visible. In larger roots, the outer root tissue or cortex peels away leaving the string-like vascular bundles underneath. Pythium rot also occurs in the crown tissue at the stem base.
      3. Treatment:
        1. Since Pythium and other pathogens can build up in nutrient solution, periodically disinfect or flush recirculating nutrient solution using physical, biological or chemical treatments.
        2. To flush: fill with fresh water, add UC Roots at 2-10mL per gallon, run for 1-3 days. After the flush, replenish the nutrient solution at 50% of previous strength.
    2. Fusarium
    3. Root Aphids
      1. Root Aphids are small light green or off-white oval-like creatures with or without wings, which live on the roots of plants. Just like their counterparts above ground, they feed by sucking sap, but from roots instead of stems or leaves.
      2. There are several species of Phemphigus (root aphids), and unfortunately, when they are feeding in the soil there are few, if any, winged adults around to warn you. Many times root aphids will appear with or without wings, but in either case will not fly.
      3. Once a problem has been identified with the plants, the first thing growers will notice on the infected root system is the white wax that looks like snow-flocking covering the infected spot. The affected roots often split.
      4. Root aphids tend to build up populations at the edge of rootballs. Female aphids give live birth to nymphs, and a clustering of aphids builds up on concentrated areas of the root system.
      5. Root aphids are voracious eaters, and are known to be persistent, so it requires some discipline to eliminate them. Root aphids colonize and suck juices from roots.
      6. If plants appear wilted, have stunted growth, or have unhealthily colored foliage and lose leaves prematurely, and the normal problems (pH, over-watering, nutrient levels, etc.) are not responsible, then suspect root aphids.
      7. Small populations are not a problem; however, when populations become high, the plants are reduced in vigor.
      8. Some experts suggest treatment every other day, for a minimum of six treatments.

31. Treating Algae Issues

    1. Maintaining a cool, “clean” and balanced nutrient solution free of organics, beneficials, enzymes and sugars is the best strategy for avoiding potential algae issues.
    2. Using products such as UC Roots will act as preventative maintenance by keeping minerals soluble and breaking down algae spores.
    3. If algae is spotted it can be removed by hand or with a flush. An inline UV sterilizer can also be implemented for persistent algae problems.
    4. To flush: fill with fresh water, add UC Roots at 2-10mL per gallon, run for 1-3 days. After the flush, replenish the nutrient solution at 50% of previous strength.
    5. Common algae types:
      1. Green Algae
        1. Usually from light inclusion.
      2. Brown Algae
        1. Biofilm from incompatible nutrient usage.

5. EXTRAS

Tips & Tricks

32. Supercharging your Under Current

    1. Upgraded Air Pump
      1. Under Current® systems come standard with pre-sized air pumps based on the total system volume. Pumps are sized to provide approximately .75 lpm (liters per minute) of air per gallon of water.
      2. More air is not necessarily better in the Under Current®. Too much air can destabilize nutrient solutions causing imbalances and pH swings. A maximum of 1.5 lpm (liters per minute) of air per gallon of water is recommended for supercharging your aeration system.
        1. Note: When Supercharging your aeration system you will need to reduce your nutrient levels by another 50%. This may seem extremely low but the added O2 will help the plants uptake the minerals much more efficiently reducing the need for high levels of fertilizers.
      3. Regenerative Blowers can be used to power multiple Under Current® systems eliminating the need for several smaller air pumps.  They are typically rated in cfm’s (cubic feet per minute) as opposed to lpm (liters per minute), there are approximately 30 lpm in every 1 cfm. Regenerative Blowers do not work as well with back pressure and depending on the brand can be quite loud. Always consult CCH2O Tech support before investing in a regenerative blower.
    2. Upgraded Air Stones
      1. Our Aqua-Pore PRO air diffusers are made out a recycled rubber polymer and are designed for years of operation with minimal maintenance. Each Aqua-Pore PRO air diffuses air at around 3000 microns or 3 millimeters in diameter. The Aqua-Pore PRO – UC fits perfectly in the base of our 8 or 13 gallon Growth Module. The Aqua-Pore PRO – XL fits perfectly in the base of our 35 gallon PRO Growth Module.
    3. Upgraded Return Pump
      1. Each Under Current® system has a specifically sized water pump to achieve a flow ratio that is above 5 times per hour. This means the entire system volume circulates completely about every 12 minutes or less.
      2. Oversizing the water pump to circulate the water quicker is not necessarily an advantage and can actually cause problems by pulling roots into the manifolds.
      3. Chiller Considerations: When using the Return Pump to cycle nutrient solution through your chiller it may be necessary to upsize your Return Pump one to two sizes. This increase will be based on the distance from your system to the chiller and the required flow necessary for your chiller to operate properly.
      4. Danner Mag Drive pumps are available with and optional Venturi Kit and Fractionating Impeller to provide higher levels of aeration. If using the Venturi Kit it is recommended to upsize your return pump by at least two sizes as this option will significantly reduce the flow rate.
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