Most marijuana growers have heard that ultraviolet radiation in the form of UVA and UVB increases production of THC, CBD, and other marijuana compounds.
We’ve asked hydroponics lighting manufacturers to manufacture HID bulbs and other lighting units that kick out humongous amounts of UVA and UVB.
Some manufacturers offer HID “finishing” bulbs for use during last half of bloom phase.
LED manufacturers claim 7-band LED lighting boosts resin production because of high UVA and UVB.
I’ve used LED or finishing bulbs mixed with my regular HPS bulbs in bloom phase.
In most cases, that extra hydroponics lighting didn’t generate enough if any benefit to make it cost-effective.
The one combo that did work well for me is when I used plasma lighting combined with my regular HID 1000-watt bulbs.
Chameleon plasma lighting is an ultra-modern form of grow room lighting that has an adequate spike near the top end of the UVA spectrum, but not so much in the UVB spectrum.
It’s a more intense and powerful light that any T5 high output bulb, or any LED.
The indoor marijuana community has long realized we want lighting technology that produces plant-stimulating amounts of UVA and UVB.
We also learned that a hydroponics bulb with the ability to deliver significant intensity of UV light wavelengths is also useful during grow phase, producing faster above-and-belowground growth.
Recently, the highly-respected hydroponics lighting manufacturer Eye Hortilux started selling what it says is a high UVA, high UVB four-foot T5 high output fluorescent bulb.
They call it PowerVeg, and they say it puts out full, intense light spectrum targeted specifically for plants, with a huge dose of UVA and UVB missing from most hydroponics lighting.
The claimed benefits of the PowerVeg spectrum include faster grow phase growth, better root development, shorter internodes, and increased flowering phase performance.
Other PowerVeg benefits include if you intend to start your marijuana plants indoors and then transfer them outdoors, the high UV output of the PowerVeg prepares your plants for sunlight’s high UV content.
(Growers who start plants indoors under regular grow lights “harden them off” against UV shock by putting them outdoors only a few hours a day, and gradually increasing those hours, to prevent marijuana plants from being “sunburned.”)
Hortilux says the ideal distance from a T5 fixture (with PowerVeg bulbs) to the plant canopy is 12 inches; the company reminds growers that plants not accustomed to high UV need time to adjust to PowerVeg bulbs.
One thing to remember also: high doses of UV damage your eyes and skin, similar to how bright summer sunlight can cause damage.
If you spend a lot of time in your cannabis grow room and use PowerVeg T5 hydroponics grow lights, wear UV filtration sunglasses and clothing.
A senior Hortilux rep explained that unlike other lighting companies, Eye Hortilux ensures quality and effectiveness by using horticulture-tuned wavelengths generated by proprietary chemistry that Hortilux alone manufactures for use inside its bulbs.
The rep also said it’s important to remember that PowerVeg T5 fluorescent bulbs are totally made in the United States, with very rigid quality control, manufacturing standards
A friend of mine got 16 PowerVeg bulbs. When I visited his grow op, he showed me the PowerVeg output looks just as bright as his other brand of T5 high output bulbs, but he hasn’t had enough time with the Hortilux bulbs to provide any definitive evaluation of them.
In cases where a company rolls out a new lighting product, I recommend a grow light test, as follows…
Start with identical marijuana clones in a garden that uses identical inputs and environment. Put them in two enclosed spaces. Light one set of cannabis clones with PowerVeg and the other set with your favorite T5 bulbs.
In grow phase, carefully monitor, measure, and compare growth rate, leaf color, plant vigor, maturation rate, and root development.
In bloom phase, it’s harder to do a side by side testing because you’re looking at factors that are harder to measure, such as cannabinoid production, but it can be done as follows:
Do one side of the grow with a 1000-watt HPS HID bulb plus a 4-light T-5 unit containing non-PowerVeg, versus the other side with an identical HPS HID bulb and a 4-light T-5 unit containing 4 PowerVeg bulbs.
In both grow and bloom phase, make sure you’ve got no light bleedover between your two test zones.
In bloom, you’re paying most attention to resin production, since extra UVA and UVB are alleged to increase resin production.
You’d also be paying attention to whether your marijuana crops grown with PowerVeg finish faster, better, and bigger than the non-PowerVeg crops.
If you have access to PAR and light intensity meters, include those in your testing.
One thing I know from being an outdoor grower at high altitude where UVA and UVB intensities are elevated, “extra” UV boosts cannabinoid production and changes change cannabinoid ratios so the high is trippier— more psychedelic and euphoric.
Want to see an illustrated example of a home marijuana grower starting a competitive test between hydroponics lighting systems? Look here.
Here’s another test done by a marijuana grower, this one competing a plasma light against HPS in an autoflower grow op.
As more and more growers get the PowerVeg and work with them, and after I’ve logged a few crop cycles growing Haze, Kush, and other connoisseur cannabis strains using PowerVeg, we’ll know better if the Hortilux PowerVeg T5 lightings create marijuana “super-plants,” charged up with UVA and UVB.
Please note: in no way to do I endorse using T-5 bulbs as your only lighting in bloom phase.
I also note that if you run Hortilux Metal Halide Blue bulbs in grow phase, and use that Hortilux Blue as auxiliary lighting combined with the Hortilux Super HPS in bloom phase, you won’t need T5 lighting except perhaps for the first 1-4 weeks of grow phase when your young seedlings or clones can’t handle HID light.
Yes, this new Hortilux T5 fluorescent is a high-end product with a high-end price (MSRP is $30 per bulb…double or triple what other T5 grow bulbs cost).
But Hortilux is one of the few ethical, science-backed, legit companies in the hydroponics lighting industry. I tend to believe them when they make product claims.
At the end of the day, it’s all about grams per watt and cannabinoids per watt.
So if the Hortilux PowerVeg T5 hydroponics grow light significantly increases my marijuana growth rate— and if its UVA and UVB noticeably change the high and increase cannabinoid production and harvest weight— it will be worth the price per bulb!