Organic vs Synthetic Side by Side

By: Soft Secrets, January 30, 2013

There are some differences of opinion that get argued over more that others, and a common topic for debate is the difference between organic and synthetic nutrients. The amount of conflicting information available on the topic is staggering. I have heard both sides of the fence hurl claims and insults at each other with vehemence and determination.

There are some differences of opinion that get argued over more that others, and a common topic for debate is the difference between organic and synthetic nutrients. The amount of conflicting information available on the topic is staggering. I have heard both sides of the fence hurl claims and insults at each other with vehemence and determination.

The synthetically fed bud on the left appears very similar to the organically fed bud on the right.

Gentle Reader, I thought I'd take a few plants, and a few nutrients, and see what I could find out for myself on the topic. I took 3 drip/dwc hybrid systems, 3 clones, and 3 sets of nutrients to see what I could see. I'm not claiming this is the definitive test on the topic, I'm just reporting what happened with a particular three plants.

The three plants were all taken from the same mother, a Purple Lady from G13, and started indoors under a 1000 watt metal halide lamp. One was fed a preprepared line of organic nutrients, one was fed on traditional organic nutrients including bone meal, blood meal, alfalfa meal, guano, kelp, and potash, and the last was fed a line of synthetic nutrients.

The traditional organic plant suffered from gardener error, and was mistakenly overdosed with a K (potassium) in early growth, stunting it. The commercial organic line grew well, and did not show indications of nutrient deficiencies, but appeared to be a fair amount smaller and busier than the commercial synthetic fed plant.

They were moved outside at 4 weeks from seed for two reasons. One, so the long nights of fall would trigger flowering, and two, because that was when my 1000 watt digital ballast died. The natural lighting in the area I had available to use was not ideal, but some light is better than none at all, and the same goes for harvests.

During flowering, the plants looked very similar, with no noteworthy differences in bud structure appearance between the three. The synthetic plant continued to enjoy a lead in size throughout the grow.

The commercial synthetic line produced 71 grams to the organic line's 32 grams.

At harvest, root development was best with the synthetically fed plant, with a final harvest of 71 g dry smoke. The two organic plants came in well behind with 32 g for the commercial line and 24 g for the traditional organic plant.

A double blind panel of ten was used to taste test the results. Only after all the comments and rankings were documented were the identities revealed. Since my “poker face” isn't the best, I thought it prudent if I didn't know the identities of each of the samples, so I wouldn't influence the panel in their responses. I hid the true identity of each of the three in the lids of a set of three matched jars. The jars were mixed, shuffled, randomized, and otherwise spun about so that I had no idea which was which. Then each was assigned a label, “Thing 1”, “Thing 2”, or “Thing 3”. Joints rolled from Thing 1 had one stripe, Thing 2 joints had two stripes, and Thing 3, three. When panel members responded, they adressed their remarks only by “Thing” and the number, since the true identities of each was hidden.

And here are the results:

3rd place with 7 points: Organic (Traditional).

The synthetically fed plant had the largest roots.

I thought it was the smoothest of the three. It is more like smoking out of a vaporizor than smoking a joint. On the down side, it shares the same drawback, in that it is almost too smooth to feel fulfilling.

Comments from the panel also remarked on the mildness, although not always as kindly, with one respondent calling it “bland” and other remarks such as “No fruit nor floral fragrance. No fruit flavor. I missed the fruit and floral notes in this one.” and “Had a very smooth taste, like an ultralight cigarette. Hard to tell for sure that you got a hit until you exhale.”

I believe that the comparatively lighter nutrient regimen allowed for a cleaner flavor, but that the low ranking may be a reflection that too light and clean of a flavor may not be the most popular.

2nd place with 11 points: Organic (General Organics GO Box).

This was my favorite, and only a single point separated 2nd place from 1st in the flavor rankings. I thought it was the most floral tasting of the three.

Panel members agreed with comments like : “Fresh cut florals! Fresh berries and citrus!”

and “The scent and taste is both woody and floral, with a light, berry-citrus fruit scent and pineapple-mango taste on the top notes.” and “has layers of flavor, and it’s easy to detect the florals, the fruit and the woody earthiness. This is my favorite of the three.”

The highest praise came from a respondent that wrote:

Liked the mildness and gentleness to things 3 and 2. Didn't feel like coughing at all. Wrote a little poem afterwards.

“Thing 1 is done,
Thing 2 is through,
Thing 3 is free
Hooray for me!”

1st place with 12 points, Synthetic (General Hydroponic Flora Series).

When the lid disks are flipped, the secrets are safe.

When I tried it, I found it to be both smooth, and pleasant, with a mild fruity flavor on the tip of the tongue on exhale.

Panel members remarked that it was “detectably fruity on the inhale; smooth and no harshness on the throat.” with a “berry-fruit-light citrus taste and scent”. The “strong grape notes” were said to have “a stronger taste, more substantial and satisfying.”

I was pretty surprised at the result. I had been led to believe that the difference between cannabis grown with organic nutrients would taste substantially better than the one grown with synthetics. The is a noticeable difference between the two. The synthetic tasted fruiter, and the organic tasted more floral, but the answers as to which tasted better was almost split down the middle with only a single point between them. Apparently, personal preference plays a key part.

A single test with a couple of plants isn't a very large sample, so this may be an exception and not representative of normal results, but each time things are tested, and each time results are reported on, the body of knowledge that we all share gets just a little bit bigger.

Peace, love, and puka shells.

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