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Nutrient Lockout

Nutrient Lockout is a problem in which plants are unable to access the required nutrients at various stages of growth. A lockout can be due to pH being outside of the ‘accessible’ range, either over or under, and only allowing access to certain nutrients, or by nutrient imbalance so they aren’t being taken up readily. Depending on these two factors the ‘lockout’ could present as a multitude of nutrient deficiencies.

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The pH and EC should be measured consistently throughout the life cycle of the plant and adjusted based on the stage of growth. If you are taking measurements regularly then the problem can be caught early before the plants are affected.

In soil the salts and pH imbalance can build up. In this case the soil should be flushed with slightly pH adjusted water until the point that the runoff is similar in pH. The medium must then allow for drying to prevent root rot, and then start watering with a fresh mixture.

Hydroponic systems can either be adjusted with a pH supplement to adjust up or down. If the situation is more difficult than just adding pH supplement the system can be drained, run with distilled water to run through excess nutrients, and re-balance with a fresh nutrient mixture.