As microbiologists discover more about the microscopic world that directly affects plant functions they are paying close attention to the “building blocks” of all proteins: the amino acids. Amino acids are organic compounds with an amino (-NH2) and a carboxylic acid group (-COOH) that are required for plant functions throughout the plant’s entire life cycle.
Amino acids are necessary for the synthesis of cellular molecules including chlorophyll, enzymes, proteins, and vitamins. Basically, amino acids are required for virtually every plant function. Even at the very beginning of a plant’s life amino acids are vital. During the germination process an embryo will consume amino acids derived from proteins stored in the endosperm. Other specific amino acid related functions include the synthesis of structural proteins, contributing to the formation of phytohormones (auxins, ethylene, polyamines, porfines, etc.), and the regulation of water balance particularly in times of stress. Amino acids can also act as chelators of the essential nutrients required for normal plant development.
L-Form Amino Acids
Amino acids come in two forms: L and D. The D form amino acids are larger molecules with a high molecular weight and cannot be used by plants. L-form animo acids when in the free form or in formation of small peptides can be absorbed by plants. This is very important to understand when shopping for an amino acid supplement. Fertilizer companies who use strong acidic or alkaline solutions to extract amino acids generally end up with a formula that contains both L and D form amino acids. These solutions are usually less expensive; rightfully so, because they are less effective. Companies that use enzymatic hydrolysis of proteins to produce amino acid formulas end up with only L-form amino acids. These formulations are usually more expensive because of a more intensive processing but are well worth it because they are much more effective. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Animo acid supplements are no exception.
Why Supplement Amino Acids?
It is true that plants create their own L-form amino acids when grown in optimal conditions. So why supplement amino acids? In order to create these amino acids the plant will have to “exert” a good amount of energy. It has also been discovered that plants growing in less desirable conditions or plants experiencing stress will stop or decrease their animo acid production. In order to obtain the essential L-form amino acids a plant will actually break down structural proteins. This activity requires a lot of energy that would otherwise be used to promote more growth or root stimulation. By supplementing L-form amino acids to their plants a cannabis grower can ensure the maximum level of amino acids needed by the plants is maintained. This will help optimize the crops’ performance and allow the plants to focus energy otherwise used for synthesis of amino acids on producing bountiful, trichome-covered flowers.