Albino grass, the main reasons for its existence
Albinism in plants is indeed a strange phenomenon, but not so unheard of. However, there are different theories and reasons why certain plants express albinism. We will not talk about the "New York White", an urban legend of an overpowered weed that would have grown in the sewers of New York... But the real scoop on albino weed, it exists. Here are the main reasons why a plant becomes albino
Albinism in plants
Plants generate energy from the sun. The green color of the leaves and other parts of the plant comes from a special pigment called chlorophyll. But, chlorophyll does much more than provide coloring for the plant. This pigment is vital for its survival, chlorophyll absorbs specific wavelengths of light (ultraviolet blue and red). And what it doesn't absorb just bounces back. When chlorophyll absorbs the right kind of light, it converts light energy into usable sugar through the process of photosynthesis.
However, albino plants do not have chlorophyll… This means that there is no pigment available to absorb energy from the sun. Basically, these plants have lost their ability to respond appropriately to light. So as if they were constantly in the dark (the sewers?). This is why most albino plants die at an early stage before they reach maturity.
As at humans, albinism in plants is a rare genetic defect. Albinism is a recessive genetic trait that makes plants weaker. Plants may show signs of albinism at the seedling stage. The plant does not have to be completely white to be considered albino. Some plants can lose chlorophyll only on certain leaves or other parts of plants. Which can be triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Interestingly, some species of albino plants are able to survive on their own. The albino redwood, found in northern California, for example, does not photosynthesize at all. Rather, confusing botanists, the albino redwood has taken on a parasitic character. The albino redwood taps into the roots of a parent tree, feeding on its nutrients.
While the albino redwood can survive this way, it is significantly smaller, less hardy, and characteristic needle characteristics different from its relative health. Research on other albino plants may shed some light on possible ways to help albino cannabis plants survive, if only out of curiosity.
The hybridization process can also highlight albino traits in a strain. To hybridize a plant, breeders often backcross strains to highlight certain recessive traits. In some cases, it is possible that hybridization may allow albino characteristics to be expressed more often.
2. The apical chlorosis
Too much light is another major cause of bleaching. Perhaps some strains have more genetic predisposition for this bleaching. But under certain lighting circumstances, especially with (strong) LED lighting systems, apical chlorosis occurs. The phenomenon is comparable to a so-called mild burn of photosynthetic cells.
However, it often happens that the plants turn white in the areas closest to the lights. Occasionally, the upper buds and leaves of a plant will turn white with too much light. It is a major source of stress for the plant, because the bud bleaches and then loses its photosynthetic capacity….
Is white cannabis good?
As you may have guessed, the answer to this question is a simple "no". White cannabis cannot harness the energy of the sun in the same way that a colored cannabis plant (green, purple or red). Light bounces off white objects, which is why the walls in a grow room are often painted a flat white.
The coloring in the leaves and buds helps the plant to capture sunlight and convert it into energy. Without the chlorophyll needed to convert light into sugars, the plant cannot survive. Although providing additional nutrients can help, the overall quality of the crop will suffer. As for the genetic value of typically albino marijuana, the plant is more aesthetic than cannabis ...
What should I do if I have albinism?
Whether due to a lighting error or an unexpected breeding issue, there may be a few ways to save a plant that has started showing white coloring. Very early on research found that feeding plants sugars in the absence of light will help them grow and increase in volume. However, plant growth may be abnormal and gains slight.
Experiments in 1919 found that adding additional sugars and nutrients to albino maize samples helped them grow. However, without these extra sugars, albino plants die ...
However, if a cannabis plant starts to turn white or shows signs of albinism, additional foods can help save your harvest. But the plant still has to have that green coloring present somewhere to be enhanced.
Another recommended option is lighting settings. Maybe consider switching to a lower wattage LED installation. Adjusting the height of the light can also be beneficial. They should be close enough to provide adequate lumens. But be careful, the light should not be too close to plants that show signs of heat stress.
If a plant is white from the seedling stage, it is probably a genetic fact. But some suggest that white cannabis plants will produce less THC and CBD than a green plant. Indeed, this is an exact guess! As a white plant therefore has less energy (photosynthesis) that it needs, it will therefore have even more difficulty producing cannabinoids, therefore not effective in medical or recreational terms ...