Trichomes are tiny, precious glands on cannabis buds that contain most of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes. They are what make the buds potent and tasty in the first place, so most growers want to increase their concentration. Let’s take a look at which methods you can use to boost the trichome production of your cannabis plants.
Trichomes are a grower’s best friend. Not only are they the best indicators for when to harvest, but most importantly, they contain the majority of the cannabinoids and terpenes on the cannabis plant. Thus, they are what makes the precious buds so potent and tasty. With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense that growers are always looking for ways to increase the production of these tiny glands to make their weed even more powerful and flavourful.
There are several ways of stressing or stimulating the cannabis plant to boost trichome production. Usually, this is referred to as “good” stress. You may have heard the phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”; this can also be applied to methods of boosting trichomes.
Good stress will result in buds that are coated with glistening crystals, while bad stress can harm your plants and actually reverse what you intend to do, potentially killing the plant. So don’t overdo any of these tips and only try them out if you are confident enough and have sufficient growing experience. Maybe start testing them only on a few plants before using them on your entire crop. If you know what you are doing, you can use these tips to your advantage, smoking delicious flowers that sparkle like Christmas lights.
USE EXTRA-BRIGHT LIGHTS IN THE FLOWERING PHASE
In the flowering stage, cannabis needs strong and bright lights like HPS grow lights. The best trichome-covered buds are usually achieved with these kinds of devices. But they not only have to be very intense and efficient, they also have to provide the right spectrum of light to support an optimal bloom phase.
Some growers like to expose their cannabis plants to UV-B light for the last 2–3 weeks before harvest. This increases trichome production and therefore the overall potency and aroma of the buds. It is believed that this is at least partially due to a defence mechanism by plants to protect themselves from the UV-B exposure. UV-B is a lower blue/violet light spectrum or colour that is invisible to the human eye. Sunlight produces UV-B rays that can cause damage to plants and humans alike. Nearly all organisms have defence mechanisms to protect them from these harmful rays. This is why you get sunburned, and in extreme cases, cancer from too much sunlight. Plants produce trichomes in numbers to protect themselves against UV-B rays. You can make use of this mechanism with the right grow light.
MH lights produce UV-B light just like the sun. Normally, they are only used for the vegetative phase of the cannabis life cycle, but adding them to your operation in the last few weeks before harvest can significantly increase trichome production. If your MH light has a glass enclosure, you should remove it since glass blocks UV-B light. Another UV-B option are reptile lamps, but most growers don’t have them hanging around, and after all, they are not as powerful as MH lamps.
You can also look into LEDs (for several positive reasons). They usually don’t produce any UV-B light, but the unique light spectrum of LED lights causes cannabis plants to produce more trichomes all the same. Their light spectrum is generally far superior to that of MH or HPS lights. Plus, the newer generation is more powerful and cost-efficient. Most growers achieve extremely good results with LED lights. If you want to make this investment, you will be rewarded with some trichome-encrusted buds.
ALTER CANNABIS GROW ROOM VARIABLES
An easy and cheap way of boosting the trichome production of your plants is to alter some of the grow room variables, specifically humidity and temperature. In most cases, you’ll already have everything in your grow room that you need for this. This tip should also be applied in the last 2–3 weeks of flowering.
You should drop the humidity of your grow room below 30% RH and make sure that your temperature stays under 26°C so the resin doesn’t vaporise under hot temperatures. You can also lower the night temperature of your operation to 10–15°C to boost trichome production. This may seem a bit extreme, but in nature, cannabis flowers in colder months as well. This will lead to a boost of the plant’s metabolic system, resulting in higher resin production.
You can achieve these values with a dehumidifier or an air conditioner. A dehumidifier lowers the humidity while increasing the temperature by giving off heat. Here applies the rule: the more powerful, the better. An air conditioner brings the humidity down while cooling the air. Some growers even use both at once to ensure the perfect temperature is maintained while the humidity is lowered.
STRESS TRAINING CANNABIS PLANTS
Most training techniques are typically applied during the vegetative phase because plants need time to recover and adapt. But there is one stress training technique that you can use around the end of the life cycle to further increase the amount of crystals on your buds. It is called splitting, and is somewhat controversial. Please note that this is considered extreme high-stress training, so proceed with caution and use it only if you are an advanced cultivator.
The timing is crucial with this one. When you split too early, your plants will respond negatively to this kind of stress. Most growers favour a time frame of 7–10 days before harvest to split their plants. Plus, this technique is usually applied on outdoor cannabis, but you can give it a try in the grow room as well.
You basically wound the stem of a plant with a knife to trick Mother Nature and force the plant to produce more trichomes. You do this by cutting vertically through a portion of the main stem. It is believed that this stress training method increases both potency and flower production. But make no mistake, these are mere forum reports and YouTube videos that confirm the effectiveness of splitting. Reliable data is hard to come by. Please check our more in-depth article about splitting in our grow guide for further information.
There’s also the tried and tested method of supercropping, which involves bending the stems to damage tissue and induce stress. All the same, this is another tactic that should be used exclusively by experienced cultivators. More on supercropping on the Zamnesia blog.
24–48 HOURS OF DARKNESS BEFORE CANNABIS HARVEST
Some growers believe that leaving the lights out for about 24–48 hours before harvest boosts trichome production, which results in more potent, flavourful, and fragrant buds. You should take this one with a grain of salt.
This method is a hotly debated topic in the grower community, and there exist only anecdotal reports of its effectiveness. If you are not careful and don’t have enough green leaves on your cannabis plants, this will discolour them. Most growers who have tried this tip couldn’t see any difference in potency whatsoever. Some even argue that since it takes a few months to grow the plant, 1–2 days before harvest won’t make much of a difference in the process. But hey, if you are of the adventurous kind, you can still try it.
WATERING CANNABIS PLANTS WITH ICE WATER
There is also this controversial method, which we can’t in good conscience vouch for with any certainty. It is believed that watering your plants with ice water before harvest increases the overall density of your buds and the trichome production in turn. Like the above tip, there is hardly any data to undergird this proposition. All you will find is forum chatter. But most growers tend to argue that watering or flushing your plants with ice water shocks the plant’s roots, which causes bad stress. Nonetheless, if you are a believer in this unproven method, you could try it and let us know your results.
There exist a whole range of trichome-boosting supplements on the market. Although we have no experience using them ourselves, they could be worth a try. Of course, many of them are “snake oil” products, but some have proven their efficacy time and time again. The good ones among them are able to increase the number of trichomes, which leads to better smell, higher potency, and more flavourful flowers. To estimate which supplement you should purchase, be sure to do your due diligence!
CHOOSE A STRAIN KNOWN TO PRODUCE LOTS OF TRICHOMES
While the above mentioned methods maximise the potential your plants already have, this is more of an extra tip to use when you are in the stage of setting up your grow operation. Instead of applying methods to boost the trichome production (which can be a bit risky at times), you can opt for genetics that are known to become super sticky and covered with resin. This way, you get a good start, and can even increase the number of crystals further with the other tips we provided.
Some recommendations for strains with a lot of trichomes include the classic Sharksbreath by DNA Genetics, Afgooey by Strain Hunters, and the super sticky Gorilla Glue by our own line Zamnesia Seeds. It even has “glue” in the name, so you know what it has to offer. When you choose these kinds of genetics, you are on the safe side and will harvest resin-drenched buds that will please your taste buds and nostrils—and get you ultra baked!