Growing great cannabis doesn’t just happen. It takes experience, knowledge, and discipline. If you and I know the secrets to producing top-quality marijuana, why would we bother to purchase it? This is exactly why professional growers don’t want you to know the little tricks that make their product so exceptional. If you want to grow the best crystally, sticky, smelly and smooth cannabis buds use these simple but profoundly effective guidelines.
Before we break down the most important variables of high-quality cannabis cultivation, what are the defining parameters of high-quality cannabis itself? Modern testing laboratories allow us to check for the potency of the various cannabinoids including THC and CBD, and for contaminants such as bacteria, yeast, fungal diseases, pesticide residue, and heavy metal toxicity. Besides the cleanliness and potency of cannabis, the other very important factor for most cannabis enthusiasts is flavor and aroma, which are both determined by the levels of various terpenes present in the harvested product.
QUALITY CANNABIS SEEDS – QUALITY CANNABIS BUDS
Anyone with extensive experience will tell you that what matters the most to increase your chances of consistently growing high-quality cannabis is genetics. Even a beginner cannabis cultivator can grow top-shelf product given the best genetics to start with. By contrast, unstable and low-quality genetics grown by the best cultivator around cannot reach the potential of high-quality strains and genetic vigor. All cannabis strains have their own attributes, so the best thing to do is to find one that fits what you’re looking for. Some strains are high in THC, some are known for tasting pleasant, some are high in CBD, etc.
Choosing the best strain from the available seeds is a challenging undertaking. There is a wide variety of seeds available for sale from your local cannabis distributor or breeder. Now you understand how the issue comes.
Consider these factors when choosing a seed strain:
- The size of the area you have. Certain seed strains need to be spread horizontally while others tend to be bushy. You should know what you want to grow.
- Do you want to grow indoors? Choose the best strain that is suitable for your climate
- The type of hit you exactly want to grow. Whatever might be your choice, try to build a strain that fits your grow area.
THE LIGHTING TECHNOLOGY
The amount of light your plant receives in it’s life can be used as a good indicator of how close it will get to its maximum potency when all other conditions are met. In fact, outside of genetics, light-intensity plays the biggest role in determining how big/hefty/potent your buds will be. Older bulb technology was only able to make one dominant color of the light spectrum at a time and required indoor gardeners to switch their bulbs mid-growth cycle from a predominantly blue spectrum bulb to a red/orange spectrum bulb. Thankfully, recent advances in lighting technology such as LEDs and full-spectrum bulbs allow you to customize the spectrum ranges being delivered to your plants and better replicate what light colors plants actually need. The most significant discovery related to new lighting technology is that cannabis exposed to extra amounts of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) light directly increases the plants’ production of the cannabinoid THC. Many growers now supplement extra UVA and UVB lights to take advantage of this theory.
So how much is enough? Unfortunately, this is a question that is very difficult to answer as it depends on the specific strain you’re growing, the area you’re growing in, and the size of the plant being grown (smaller plants need less light). The general rule to go with is “more is better”, and watch your plants to see how they react. In most cases, it’s hard to give your plants too much light unless you have a high powered LED or a 1000 watt HPS.
HUMIDITY IN YOUR GROW ROOM
If you are seriously looking towards improving your cannabis production, then you need to invest in CO2 monitors for your grow room. Marijuana is a plant that thrives in a variety of conditions. Here are the guidelines you need to follow:
- During the vegging phase, your plant needs high humidity. It can help in reducing the saline levels hence enhancing a bushy growth. Make sure to maintain moisture above 45% or else you plant will have a deficiency of nutrients
- During flowering, your plant needs low humidity. Maintain it at 55%-maximum. An excess of humidity in this face will lead to mold growth in the buds
Just like with humidity, deviations in temperature will affect the quality of your buds. Here are some guidelines to managing the temperature of your grow room:
- Vegetative temperature should be between 70-85°F
- Flowering temperatures should always stay under 80°F
- Decrease the temperature by 10°F at night during flowering to mimic nature and increase resin and terpene production
- If you live in a hot climate consider turning your lights on at nighttime to avoid overheating your plants
- Grow with full spectrum LED lights to avoid burning your plants
The next category of variables that still plays an important role in determining the quality of your cannabis crop are the nutrients you feed the plants. Whether it’s mineral-based fertilizer, organic liquid nutrients, or dry soil amendments, the quality and details of your feeding regimen factor into the results at the end of your cultivation. Avoid fertilizers intended for ornamental horticulture made with low-grade ingredients such as urea and ammonia or contaminants like heavy metals.
STRESS YOUR PLANTS TO BOOST TERPENE PRODUCTION
Terpenes are molecules that impart the flavor and smells to your cannabis buds. Often novice growers will produce a bud that gives a decent high, but has all the sensory pleasure of a bale of old hay. For buds that smell and taste as good as the hit they impart, you need to up the terpene content of your marijuana.
Gentle stressing will stimulate terpene production. Try a mild technique like LST throughout the entire flowering stage. More experienced growers can try the more aggressive technique of Super Cropping, or defoliating (also called lollipopping). Keep in mind that not all strains respond well to more aggressive techniques, so start out slow until you get to know your plants well.
DECREASE THE AMOUNT OF WATER BEFORE HARVESTING YOUR CANNABIS
During the last two to three weeks of flowering marijuana plants will begin to ramp up resin production. You want to encourage this process! Gradually decrease the amount of water you use during this period. You may even let the roots dry nearly all the way out (do this carefully! If you damage the roots at this stage you could lose your whole harvest).
Reducing the volume of water you use during the end of flowering will stimulate your plants to produce extra sticky resin to protect the buds. This means more THC and a harder hitting final product. Drying the roots out will also make your buds smell stronger and have a more potent flavor.
Don’t forget to flush your plants during this period by only giving pure water, no nutrients. Residual nutrients in the flowers will create a harsh, chemical flavor that can ruin your smoke.
In professional grow rooms the gardeners wear special clothing and undergo a thorough disinfecting process upon entering. The goal is to kill any pests, diseases, fungal spores and foreign seeds from your clothing and body.
Quality bud comes from healthy plants. The simplest way to avoid bud rot, pest damage and other diseases is to prevent the contaminating agent from entering your grow room.
Before and after entering the grow room, make sure you wear the disinfected clothing. Washing your hands before and after will help promote healthy plants. For this reason, you are avoiding contaminating agents from getting contact with your plants.
LEARN THE RIGHT TIME TO HARVEST… THEN WAIT AN EXTRA WEEK
Early harvesting is one of the most common mistakes amateur growers make. If you cut your buds too soon you miss out on all the THC and terpenes cannabis plants produce at the end of flowering.
Start with the recommended flowering time for the particular strain you are growing. Towards the end of that period, use your eyes and an artist’s loop to monitor the readiness of the trichomes. When you think it is the right time, wait one more week. This last part will be difficult, but make yourself wait and you will see a huge difference in the potency, flavor and smell of your buds.
DRY SLOWLY AND CURE AT THE PROPER TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY
Your job isn’t over after the harvest. Proper drying and curing is essential to producing high quality marijuana. With both steps it is important to GO SLOW. Quick drying, insufficient curing and high temperatures during either stage will destroy the flavor and smell of your buds.
Keep these things in mind during drying and curing:
- Dry buds for 7-10 days if possible before placing in jars to cure
- Never jar buds that feel wet on the outside
- If your buds dry too quickly try leaving the sugar leaves in place until it is time to jar
- Handle the buds as little as possible. Rough or over-handling will damage terpenes
- Buds are ready to cure when the smallest stems snap instead of bend (large stems still bend)
Once your buds have been properly dried, the only thing left to do is cure your buds. This last step won’t add to their potency per se, but it’s largely responsible for the taste and smell we all love.
Essentially, curing your buds involves sealing them in an airtight container for at least 2-3 weeks. During this time, the jars are periodically jostled, opened, emptied and refilled with the same buds. This will give the buds to ‘get rid of’ certain not-so-tasty chemicals, and the jostling, emptying, etc. will help prevent mold from forming.
Growing marijuana is a thrilling experience that can offer you a fantastic opportunity especially if you understand the secrets of growing. The above guidelines will help you along the journey to grow cannabis like a professional. However, you need to network with other growers in your area and exchange the secrets and best practices of growing cannabis.