When a Cannabis sample fails its microbial contamination testing, the first question one should ask is “What’s the bug?”. Knowing the specific microorganism that is causing contamination, infestation or infection to your plants is imperative to understanding how to eradicate it from the current material safely, and how to prevent the pathogen from finding a home in your harvest again in the future.
Identifying the specific bug is easy. PCR assays which identify specific microorganisms are readily available through analytic laboratories, and turn around time is usually less than 3 days. Some bugs are amenable to remediation; through either Gamma ray exposure or extraction techniques, however some bugs, such as aflatoxin and mycotoxin producing molds like aspergillus and powdery mildew, require further methods to create safe secondary material from contaminated primary material.
Some bugs, aren’t necessarily pathogenic, and identifying the specific organism will lead one to use less disruptive remediation techniques, which don’t reduce Cannabinoid and Terpene concentrations (like Gamma Ray radiation and extraction can). It’s also important for cultivators to document the specific cause of the failed test, so that regulatory agencies can alter their guidelines in the future, to address the potential present of nonpathogenic microorganisms in material, and focus on pathogens only.
It’s not only important to know what bug caused the microbial failure, but also where in the cultivation process the contamination occurred. Hiring an analytic laboratory for a microbial evaluation can yield the answer, with a proper inspection and appropriate sampling of the facility 90% of microbial contamination sources can be identified and eradicated.