Platinum researcher here to to tell you to grow your corn! Why should you bother, says the crow man, intel weenies will get you most of the chemicals anyway? First of all, most of the time they die in dark corners and never send you anything. Secondly, you want to have those chemicals as quickly as possible so you actually have time to deploy them before the marines lose the game. If you’re lucky that’s bonemending or neurocryogenic or explosive to play around with, or cardiopeutic or antiparasitic. If you’re extremely lucky you’ll get MST/NST boosting level 1-4 or regulating level 1-4, but those four only show up on the level 3 clearance paper, not from plants, so you only get one shot pre-drop.
I will not cover what the machines do or where to find janitor buckets (there are 4 around the research lab, go hunting), look at the wiki for that. Nor will I be including images since I’m typing this up on my phone on the bus, deal with it!
First, get two janitor buckets and fill with 480u mutagen each. That’s 4 clicks of radium phosphorous and chlorine at 40u each, very easy. Set the buckets to transfer 60u by clicking the icon in the top left. Each tray except the one you are using to produce clean seeds for replanting should get a dose of 60u mutagen. You can use more if you want, but each mutation runs the risk of the plant withering which sets potency to 0. Really bad when that happens, so you don’t want to mutate too much. 60u is a nice middle ground.
Second, stick a backpack watertank into the all in one grinder and dispose of the water inside. Free 500u beaker, don’t have to waste a bucket.
Next, make your seeds. Vend grass seeds, pop into the lysis centrifuge with a data disk and extract the vigour gene (controls growth time). Pop that disk into the bioballistic machine with your choice of poppy or corn seed, depending on how American you are feeling today. Congratulations, your plant now grows 4x faster. Plant the seeds, clip them with wirecutters until they turn unhealthy or you can’t clip them further (solid red light). Plant the clippings and clip those too, then repeat until all trays are filled with clipped plants. Apply mutagen, leaving one tray clean for replanting. You should have a backpack full of seeds at this point, ready to replant the first set of trays while the clean tray is still growing.
Finally, when it comes time to harvest, harvest each tray into an empty tile for easy sorting and immediately replant/mutagen. Wear the dumb purple reagent scanners so you can examine the fruits to see whats in them. If there is a chemical you don’t recognise in a stack, click the stack with a plant bag to grab the lot, then click the grinder with the plant bag to load 10 at a time. Grind. Once you have 30u of the chemical, click the bottle button and it’ll get sent to the fridge. Bin all the stuff without rare reagents, keep the rare reagent fruit in case something needs it later. Fruits from the clean tray go into the seed extractor, use those to replant. Why? Chemicals are never removed from plants, only added, and there is a maximum capacity per fruit of about 60u. Unless you replant with clean seeds, eventually your plants will get clogged up and won’t give you any new stuff, it wont fit.
After scanning one new chemical, you can raise clearance to level 2 before 0:15 game time, then level 3 before 0:25 if you find one more (you get points every 10m after round start and the game usually starts at 0:05). Doing it before the interval gives you an extra point. Don’t bother going higher unless you get xeno blood samples, its a total waste of points. Save up 30-40 or so then buy more level 3 clearance papers and juice runners (or lurkers, ravagers, warriors and dancer praetorians) using IV drips and bluespace beakers (the medilathe prints those) for their tasty peach flavored heartattack juice, catechaloamine plasma.
You’ll know you are done with hydro when there are only 3 chemicals left on the ‘check research objectives’ menu in the IC tab, right at the bottom under all the alien blood shit, assuming you haven’t scanned any high clearance stuff from groundside. Usually I’ll have 5 or 6 there when I give up hydro to start synthesising drugs instead, but you could keep going until you have every single hydro chemical scanned I guess.
Thank you for reading, now go and bother the devs about bioluminescence being broken, so that they fix it and we can finally create banana trees that glow brighter than the sun and spray balding juice at you when you try to harvest them.