It’s known that there are no other plants in the world that are capable of producing THC; some can produce similar cannabinoids to CBG and CBD but there’s nothing similar to THC. This chemical composition is found in the resin from cannabis plants which serves the purpose of protecting the buds from UV-B rays. It’s been proven that plants grown at higher altitudes show much more THC; sativa plants from Ecuador or plants high in the mountains of India have more THC than those grown much lower down; the difference in these crops is, apart from air pressure, the quantity of UV-B rays.
Although all growers know trichomes to be important, most do not understand why the cannabis plant produces them in the first place. This is crucial to grasp if you want to achieve those deliciously resinous buds. Biologically, trichomes are used for self-defence. They’re the best natural way that female cannabis plants protect themselves from pests and pathogens. With “aggressive” aromas and tastes from terpenes and other compounds secreted by trichomes, insects tend to stay away from flowers. Trichomes also help coat the buds, defending them from harmful UV rays. By providing shadows, the plant can better control the amount of light it lets into flowers.
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.
Exposing cannabis plants to good stress will result in robust plants that are more likely to produce more resin and larger buds. The best plants are the ones that not only survive doses of good stress, but actually thrive on it. To ensure you are growing the best plants, it is important to cull plants at each stage of growth.
The quantity of resin and degradation of THC depends half on the strain that you’re growing and half on the actual crop conditions. This means that you can have the best strain in the world but if it isn’t grown properly the results won’t be that good, compared to a less well-regarded strain that has been grown in perfect conditions which can give an amazing resin yield.
If you want to achieve the best and most trichomes you can, choose genetics that are known to produce an abundance of them. When you get the best seeds, you’ve done everything possible for one of the factors. Now you only need to worry about environmental conditions. Remember, though, trichomes aren’t everything when it comes to potency. Make sure you fully understand what each strain has to offer before purchasing seeds.
Using air circulation is the most common way of stressing plants that most people already incorporate in their room for other reasons. By using an oscillating fan to keep young plants moving with forced air, you are, in effect, constantly providing small stresses to the stem of the plant which help the stem become thick and robust more quickly than if forced air is not used.
Plant training is the process of managing plant growth using various levels of applied stresses to manipulate the plant shape and size. These stressors alter growth by changing the plants’ nutrient distribution pathways, modulating metabolic rates, and by physically spreading the plant out laterally, making it easier to maintain an even canopy.
This will be the most important environmental factor to consider regarding trichome development. Light exposure has a heavy influence on a plant’s trichome yield. Cannabis tends to develop more resin when grown in equatorial regions. These are areas with high exposure to UV rays. As mentioned above, cannabis uses trichomes to protect the buds from too much light. By exposing the plant to UV-B light for 2-3 weeks, you’ll be able to observe a difference in trichome yield.
LEDs might also be an option for upping trichome production. These lamps don’t produce any UV-B light, but some growers believe that with just enough stress, trichome proliferation will still increase. This might be a risky option, but it could work. When exposing your plant to low-impact forms of stress, you should constantly check for signs that they are still healthy. While some stress can be beneficial for boosting trichomes, too much will bring your plants past the point of no return.
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.
Harvesting At The Right Time
For the best yields, it’s crucial that you know how to identify when it’s time to harvest by the colour of the trichomes. This is something you should start doing in the last couple weeks of the flowering stage.
Since trichomes cannot be seen by the naked eye, they must be looked at with a magnifying glass or jewelers loupe. If the trichomes are still translucent, they are not ready. At this point, they’re still producing cannabinoids, something you don’t want to interrupt. Buds will grow exponentially in the last 2 weeks, so be patient. When trichomes start turning milky white, it’s an indication they’re close. The buds still won’t be ready, but this is the time to be most attentive. Around half of the pistils should’ve darkened to an amber-brown colour by now.
The trichomes will transition from a milky white to a cloudy white tonality. Harvesting during this stage will give the most psychedelic/mental effects, but it will yield less hash than if you wait. It all depends on the grower’s preference. When trichomes finally start to turn amber, there’s no more time to waste. Harvesting during this stage will create more of a body high associated with indica strains.
There is a short, yet manageable window to achieve a good mental and physical high combination. When the trichomes still display a cloudy white colour, but are already turning slightly amber, harvesting will result in a nice mix of effects. A good time to chop is when ¼ of the trichomes have turned amber, while the others remain cloudy.
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.
Now, it’s time to talk about some myths that people use when trying to get more THC in their plants
- Watering with LSD – Apart from being useless, even if this was done people would end up selling some super psychedelic weed on the market.
- Letting it die in the pot without watering it – One thing is controlled water stress, another is to let your plant suffer for no reason; this will actually lower THC production.
- Drying it in the sun – If you do this the THC in your bud will oxidize almost completely until it turns into CBD.
- Watering it with juice or soda before harvesting – Apart from the fact that your plants won’t have enough time to absorb it, you might end up overdosing it on sugar.
- Burying it in soil – if it’s humid you’ll end up with fungus and maybe possibly lung infections, and if it’s dry you’ll probably be fine to smoke it but it definitely won’t do anything to the THC levels.
- Pulling it out with the roots and boiling them – THC is in the resin, which is in turn in the buds, so doing anything at all to the roots is a bit silly.
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