Mold in microgreens. Part 1 – root hair or mold - Gilė Sprout

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Mold in microgreens. Part 1 – root hair or mold

Hello,

One of the biggest problems facing microgreen growers is mold. There are many reasons why it occurs. In some cases, mold can be avoided by proper care of the plants but sometimes even that is not enough and other causes need to be looked for. But there is another case why microgreens growers (mostly beginners) throw their crops in the rubbish bin. They just don’t know the difference between mold and microgreens root hairs. So, I will start sharing my insights from this point.

Mold or root hair?

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A) Mold                                                              B) Root hair

Mold or root hair? This is exactly the question every novice microgreen grower should ask himself when he notices a suspicious-looking structure in the tray of greens he grows, and not hastily get rid of his microgreens. But to answer this question and to tell the difference, you need to know how root hair looks like and how they differ from the mold.

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A) Root hair

The root of each plant has hairs that help the plant to absorb water. These hairs increase the area of the root suction surface. The hair roots are short and constantly renewed. The root hairs of some plants can only be seen through a magnifying glass, while others are visible to the naked eye.  Those are often mixed with mold.

So how to identify, where is mold and where is root hair?

Root hairs are concentrated around the root of a particular plant and extend in straight lines in a circle around it. They form a beautiful neat shape, while the mold resembles a spider web. It spreads throughout your microgreens crop, not just along with the roots. If you touch the mold with your finger you will feel that it is slimy. I know that it can be hard to recognize who is who at the beginning, so I will try to provide as many photos with examples as possible.

Answer these 5 questions and you will most likely be able to identify the mold.

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A) Mold                                                              B) Mold

1. Does it look like cotton?

Sometimes mold looks like a cotton ball. Long threads intertwined with each other and covering even a few stems are a sign that your greens are affected by mold. If this funny looking mass of white stuff covers a very small area, you can try to remove it and expect the mold not to spread. After doing that, place the tray with microgreens to a very well-ventilated area and check what’s going on with your crop.

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A) Root hair                                                              B) Mold

2. How many microgreens are covered by this unidentified object?

It is very important to look carefully at where this fuzzy stuff begins. The root hairs run from the bottom of the root (stem) and don’t cover more than one plant but mold can cover even a few plants and you’ll even have a hard time determining from which plant it starts at.

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A) Root hair                                                              B) Root hair (↑)   C) Mold (↓)

3. At what stage of growth your microgreens are?

If your plants are very young or have only recently begun to germinate, most likely you are seeing root hairs. If your microgreens are already grown, but the white stuff is at the point where the stem touches the ground – it can also be hairs. However, if your greens are already grown and the white mass starts just above the soil, it is mold.

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A) Healthy stems                                                             B) – C) Damaged stems

4. Do the plant stem and roots look healthy?

If you grow microgreens in the soil, it can be difficult to see the roots of the plant. In this case, at least look at the stem where white mass is forming. Is it white, bright and looks the same as the stems of other plants on the same tray?  Or does it look brownish, dark brown, or maybe the stem just has a different colour than other stems? If the stem is darkened and looks unhealthy, it is more likely that it is damaged by mold. If you grow microgreens hydroponically, look at the roots. Roots also change colour and are often less developed in the area where the mold is.

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A) Mold

5. Is this white fuzzy mass slimy?

Touch that place with your finger. If the mold is large enough, you will feel that its surface is slimy, unpleasant to touch. This is another sign that you have mold.

The watering trick

There’s a simple trick to find out if those scary white fuzzy things that grow on your microgreens tray are natural roots or mold. Sprinkle or gently water your microgreens from above. If it is root hair, the white fuzzy mass will disappear, but if it is mold, it will simply be covered with drops of water.

Below I will give you some examples with root hairs and mold, sprayed with water. Can you see the difference?

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A) Mold before spraying with water              B) Mold after spraying with water

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A) Mold before spraying with water              B) Mold after spraying with water

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A) Mold after spraying with water

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A) Root hair before spraying with water             B) Root hair after spraying with water

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A) Root hair before spraying with water             B) Root hair after spraying with water

If you answered all these questions for yourself and did the trick with water but you are still not clear if it is mold or not, don’t worry. Time will help you to understand everything. Wait a few days, check your microgreens daily. If it is mold, the white mass will be growing and the condition of your greens will get worse every day. If it is root hair, it will not expand and your greens will continue to grow successfully and they will look completely healthy.

Below there are some photos of what happens after waiting a few days. Probably after such an experiment, all doubts evaporate, right?

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A) Mold

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B) Mold everywhere

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C) More mold everywhere

I hope that now you know exactly how to tell the difference between mold and root hairs.

Thumbs up if you have found this information useful and will not confuse mold with root hairs in the future anymore. Good luck in growing microgreens!

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