How to Increase THC When Growing Weed
When it comes to growing cannabis, there are lots of different goals by different growers. Many growers are growing medical marijuana for medical-related purposes. Others are growing for their personal adult use. For many growers, including both medical marijuana and recreational cannabis growers, a common goal is to maximize the amount of THC and other cannabinoids produced when growing cannabis (ie increase the “potency” of your buds).
This cannabis bud was grown to produce the highest levels of THC possible – as a side effect it is dense, sticky and looks great.
Why Increase Maximum THC Levels?
- Greater mental and psychoactive effects from the same amount of bud (your harvest will go further!)
- Many medical marijuana growers desire high THC levels for the relief of nausea, certain types of pain, spasticity, certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis, etc.
- Many of the things you do to increase THC levels will also increase your overall cannabis yields.
However, not every grower wants the highest levels of THC in their bud, and may actually be seeking other cannabinoids found in certain strains. For example, there are many medical marijuana growers who prefer low-THC, high-CBD cannabis, which is non-psychoactive and may be of interest to those looking for possible relief from anxiety or seizures. Learn more about the difference between CBD and other cannabinoids like THC (unfortunately you can’t use grow methods to increase CBD levels, you need to start with a low-THC, high-CBD strain).
Much of the THC and “potency” in your buds is contained in the sparkly trichomes
What increases THC levels and overall potency?
These are the most important factors that will affect your THC levels and overall marijuana potency:
Strain & Individual Plant Genetics
Your plant’s genes are hands-down the most important aspect of cannabis potency when it comes to growing!
Your plant genetics set the “upper limit” of how much THC and other cannabinoids your plant will ever be able to produce. Although you can use grow methods to maximize the THC within that limit, you will never be able to overcome the limits set by your strain and plant genetics.
So as a really rough example, let’s say your strain/plant genetics can only produce 20% THC at most. That means you may get less than 15% THC in your buds if you don’t grow the plant right, but no matter what you do you’ll never be able to increase it above 20%.
In order to get really high levels of potency and THC, it’s essential to start with high-potency, high-THC genes from a respectable breeder. Learn how to research strains so you get the most potent cannabis plant to fulfill your needs. If you’ve never ordered cannabis seeds before, learn how to get seeds delivered to the US and worldwide.
Some strains just don’t have the genetics to make cannabis buds as potent and trichome-covered as the one pictured here. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to beat genetics. Start with good genes.
Many cannabis growers don’t realize they are harvesting their buds too early, dramatically reducing yields and potency!
There is a 2-3 week period during the flowering stage when plants are “mature” and buds are at the highest levels of THC. At this point, the tiny resin glands (trichomes) on the buds have turned milky white, and most of the white hairs (pistils) on the buds have darkened and curled in.
Highest Level of THC When…
Most white pistils have darkened and curled in (bud looks more “solid”)
Most clear trichomes (looks like glass) have turned white (looks like white plastic)
If the plant is allowed to keep maturing, the cannabinoid profile continues to change. Buds harvested on the later side tend to produce more of a relaxed “body” effect, though the psychoactive effects of THC may be somewhat reduced.
If you harvest earlier than this, the plant hasn’t reached its full potential. Sometimes early-harvested buds can produce a “speedy” effects, or give some people headaches (curing will help with this) so avoid harvesting early if you can!
Here’s a quick cheat sheet
Click for “When to harvest marijuana by looking at trichomes” infographic
Learn more about when to harvest cannabis (with lots more pics!) Get the effects you’re looking for.
This cola has several weeks to go before it reaches its highest THC levels – harvesting now will reduce both your yields and your potency!
Plant Health & Care While Buds Form
In order to get your cannabis to produce the most potent buds possible, you need a robust, healthy cannabis plant with lots of bud sites getting direct light during the flowering stage. This means it’s important to avoid common plant health mistakes like overwatering, underwatering, heat stress, root problems, irregular light cycles, and nutrient problems. Check out our 7-step remedy to fix most cannabis plant growing problems. Try to maintain balance and avoid environmental extremes. Basically, treat your cannabis plant like it’s a celebrity – it gets everything it wants!
Green healthy leaves are always a great sign
Keeping plants healthy while preventing the grow space from getting too hot or humid during the second half of the flowering stage will greatly increase your overall bud quality and help maximize THC levels.
Although cannabis can grow in relatively low light conditions (it grows like a weed!), it will not produce significant amounts of bud without very bright light in the flowering stage. Cannabis uses light to power the growth of buds, along with the THC and cannabinoids contained inside. Outdoors your plant needs direct sunlight 8+ hours a day to produce to its fullest, and indoors you need strong, bright grow lights (like LEDs or MH/HPS grow lights) to produce the highest levels of THC.
I love doing side-by-side tests between different types of light and then getting the buds lab tested to see the effects on terpenes and potency. So far, the HLG 300 R-Spec LED has produced the highest THC of all the LEDs tested. Although the yields were just average (harvest pictured here), it produced some of the highest quality buds I’ve ever grown.
These Mandarin Cookies buds were listed as producing 25% THC. They and produced about that under HID grow lights but tested at 27% THC under the HLG 300. Several other clones from the grow also tested at higher THC than expected. This was only one grow comparison but so far the HLG seems to be the most “THC-increasing” grow light I’ve tried.
Although there is no evidence that the curing process (jarring up buds after they’ve dried) increases THC levels directly, there is a lot of evidence that it increases the perceived potency of buds.
Though not well understood, this is likely due to chemical changes that happen during the curing phase that “intensify” the effects of THC and other cannabinoids.
The curing process also has other benefits for marijuana growers. For example, cannabis buds that get dried too fast may smell like cut grass or hay, even if they smelled great in the flowering stage. The curing process helps get rid of the unpleasant grassy taste/smell and brings back the natural taste and smell of the cannabis plant.
Lastly, uncured and early-harvested buds can cause “speedy” thoughts or headaches for some people, and curing often reduces these negative effects.
Common Myth: Using CO2 increases THC levels
Although it’s true that using CO2 can increase your overall cannabis yields, there isn’t any evidence that it actually increases the potency of your bud. Learn about other ways to increase yields.
Unknowns: These Growing Methods May Increase THC But Aren’t Well-Tested
These are some of the common ways growers try to increase the THC levels of their cannabis. These techniques and methods are considered “unknowns” because there hasn’t been a whole lot of scientific testing to see what works and what doesn’t work as far as increasing THC.
Supplements to Increase THC and Overall Potency
There are many supplements for growing cannabis, and each one has a different purpose. Some supplements are great, while others are just snake oil.
When it comes to supplements for bud quality, most claim to increase yields or flavor as opposed to potency. However, there are some supplements that either claim or insinuate that they will increase the potency and/or THC levels in your cannabis.
Unfortunately, at this time there aren’t any supplement companies that have conducted systematic tests showing that their supplements will actually increase THC. Because of this, although it seems possible that some of these do work as stated, I can’t recommend any ones in particular.
If you know of any supplement manufacturers who have tested their products on real cannabis plants and can demonstrate that their supplements actually increase THC, we’d love to hear from you!
Allow Plant to Remain in Vegetative Stage For 8+ Weeks
I’ve heard this one from different growers over the years, but for now, the jury is still out. The idea is that a cannabis plant needs to remain in the vegetative stage for at least 8 weeks before being switched to the flowering stage in order to reach its maximum THC levels when it starts budding.
Cannabis plants which have been allowed to grow for at least 8 weeks in the vegetative stage tend to be much bigger and more robust than plants switched earlier, and they produce far greater yields. But does that mean that they produce higher levels of THC? It seems like it could be possible, but it might also be related to other factors. For example, big plants are usually grown under powerful grow lights, which affects potency, and are also often grown by more experienced growers. More testing is needed!
My idea for a test (hopefully someday I’ll get to do this when I get more room to grow!)
- Sprout several seeds from a very stable cannabis strain like Northern Light to reduce genetic variation between the plants
- Allow each seedling to grow out to 8 weeks in the vegetative stage, then take a clone off each plant. Although clones are the size of seedlings, they are the same internal “age” as their mother so in a way, these clones would already be 8 weeks old
- Sprout more seeds of the same stable strain and grow them until they’re about 3 weeks old so they’re the same size as the clones. You want to time this so that the seedlings are about 3 weeks old just as the clones are the same size and taking root. Seedlings can’t start flowering before 3-4 weeks old and we’re trying to create as close to the same conditions as we can between the two plants to reduce as many variables as possible.
- Now that you’ve got your 3-week seedlings and your “8-week” clones that are the same size, flower them together in the same conditions.
- After harvest, test the THC levels! If the buds from the clones are more potent than the ones from the seedlings I’d say it’s pretty good evidence that increased age increases potency. If not, well, back to the drawing board to try another test!
Letting plants get older before the switch to the flowering stage definitely results in bigger plants and higher yields, but we don’t know if it increases cannabis potency!
Lack of Pollination (Producing “Sinsemilla”)
Just a few decades ago pretty much all cannabis bud you could find was full of seeds. This is because at the time many growers didn’t realize that male and female cannabis plants need to be separated in the flowering stage to prevent the female plants from getting pollinated and making seeds.
However, once cannabis growers became more aware of growing techniques including how to prevent pollination, there was a rise in “sinsemilla” weed, a word which combines the Spanish word “sin” (without) and “semilla” (seed) to mean cannabis “without seeds.”
Seeds belong in your garden, not in your buds!
The sinsemilla bud that started flooding the market was much higher potency than the seedy, low-quality bud that had been available before. This led to the term sinsemilla being used to describe very high quality and potent cannabis. There’s no doubt that most growers prefer buds without seeds, but the term sinsemilla has led to the idea that cannabis buds without seeds were inherently more potent than seedy bud.
While this may very well be true, there isn’t much evidence that it’s actually the lack of pollination which caused the dramatic increase of potency experienced by cannabis enthusiasts at the time. Right around the time growers started producing non-seedy buds, the cannabis breeding scene was also starting to get established. Publications to assist cannabis growers like the High Times magazine appeared on the scene to help growers learn better growing techniques, and cannabis breeders like Nirvana started shipping cannabis seeds of famous strains to growers all around the world by mail order.
High Times Top Strains of 1977
Growing and breeding techniques were improving simultaneously. It’s possible that the increase in potency experienced by people who switched to seedless buds was actually the result of better genetics/breeding. These days, most people only get sinsemilla and no one really wants to do direct comparisons.
However, keeping buds from producing seeds will dramatically increase the perceived quality of your buds, as well as your yields, so regardless of whether it increases bud potency or not, it’s something every grower wants to do! Don’t let your female plants get pollinated – remove all male plants from your grow room immediately (or start with feminized seeds, which don’t produce any male plants)!
Type of Grow Light & Spectrum – HPS, LED & LEC Grow Lights
Different types of grow light produce different spectrums (colors) of light. There are some growers that believe that growing cannabis under the unique light spectrums of LED grow lights or LEC grow lights may increase resin production and THC levels. Other growers swear that you need powerful HPS grow lights to produce the highest levels of THC.
I don’t think anyone has yet discovered the “perfect spectrum” but some LEDs are certainly getting better bud quality than others.
Like I mentioned earlier, the HLG 300 R-Spec LED is the only grow light so far I’ve seen that seems to be able to actually increase THC levels in lab tests between clones. More testing coming soon!
Special Ways of Flushing
During the flushing process of growing cannabis, a grower generally gives their plants just plain water for the last few weeks before harvest. This is done to encourage the cannabis to “cannibalize” itself and use up all remaining nutrients in the plant.
The idea is to get the plant to use up any nutrients that may have built up in the buds which could possibly affect that taste/smell after harvest
However, there are several additional types of flushes that many growers believe will increase THC levels. Most of these are done in addition to regular flushing, just before harvest. Unfortunately, there aren’t many (if any) tests determining which one of these work, but there are many experienced growers who swear by these methods!
Unfortunately, they don’t all match (for example some growers say to harvest in the morning, while others believe you get more THC if you harvest during the plant’s dark period), but these are the most common flushing techniques that I’ve heard to increase THC levels right before harvest.
These “flushing” methods may (or may not) increase THC:
- keep plant in the dark for 2-3 days before harvest
- harvest cannabis in the morning
- harvest cannabis during the plant’s dark period
- water plants with ice water before harvest
- chop down and hang entire plant upside down for a few days before trimming and drying buds
Air Temperature, Humidity and Overwatering
I wrote this section after reading the results of a 6-year study about industrial hemp. Although hemp is closely related to cannabis, they’re not the same thing so these findings should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. In the study the researchers found the following environmental factors were associated with higher levels of THC:
- High humidity
- Warm air temperature
- Lower levels of precipitation (rain)
Since the study is based on hemp grown outdoors, it’s hard to know if these factors will influence the THC content of cannabis plants grown indoors, but I do think it’s a good idea to keep things warm (at least above 70°F/20°C which is the minimum recommended temperature for optimum growth) and avoid overwatering!
Common grower knowledge says that lower humidity towards the end of the flowering stage will raise THC levels, but this study makes me want to look into that further since the hemp in the study actually produced higher levels of THC at higher humidities!
Conclusion: Time to Grow More Potent Cannabis!
There are certain techniques that will definitely maximize the THC produced by your cannabis, and there are other methods which may increase potency but their effects are less certain.
If you are serious about increasing the THC levels in your cannabis, make sure to follow the top steps which are known to increase potency! Skipping any of those steps will reduce your potency for certain. Choosing the right strain, giving plenty of bright light, taking great care of your plants while they’re alive, and harvesting/drying/curing properly are the most important steps you can take to increase the THC levels of your buds!
But luckily for cannabis growers, most of the “unknowns” can’t hurt your plants, so there’s no harm in trying them out, too!
Is High-THC Weed More Potent? What the Numbers Really Mean
Cannabis consumers of all kinds judge the potency of their cannabis on THC level. While this seems like a logical thing to do, it’s actually not the best way to determine how high you’ll get.
High-THC strains won’t necessarily have stronger psychoactive effects than their weaker counterparts.
If this comes as a surprise, you’re not alone. The value of a simple number on a label receives too much credit from consumers and budtenders alike. It seems no matter how many times we think we understand cannabis, science manages to throw us off – in a good way, of course.
Like it or not, the way cannabis interacts with the mind and body makes a simple THC measurement inaccurate to tell how high you’ll get. Potency – like many things about cannabis – is complicated.
That being said, let’s see if we can take the mystery out of THC percentages and how they apply when using cannabis.
THC Percentage: Benchmark or Marketing Gimmick?
It’s easy to find the THC percentage on a weed label. Unfortunately, there’s no telling how the product will make you feel compared to low-THC marijuana.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the system isn’t useful, just not in a budget-friendly way.
Words like “strong,” “premium,” and “high-grade” are popular marketing terms for selling weed. But how do you define a “premium” strain? The simplest way is to base it on the THC concentration.
Using THC percentages as price benchmarks allows dispensaries to charge extra for high-THC cannabis flower and concentrates. They use the incorrect assumption that potency implies quality, tricking experienced weed users into spending extra on high-THC strains.
“When cannabis tests at more than 25 percent THC, dispensaries can justify charging $75 or more for a store-bought eighth—because there’s a very good chance people will pay it, confident that they’re taking home the best and most potent weed available. If the weed’s in the teens, well, it had better be cheap. The problem is that this is all wrong. All of it.”
As the age-old adage goes: “That’s how they get you.”
Why the Misunderstanding?
People have a huge habit of thinking “bigger is better.” Consequently, it’s natural to assume a higher THC level is more potent.
Normally, having more of a good thing is ideal, but this thought process is flawed when predicting the effects of your high.
You might also blame alcohol labels for this widespread misunderstanding of THC potency and effects. Alcohol percentage is an accurate indicator of how quickly and strongly intoxication sets in. More importantly, the effects of being drunk are pretty much universal (with exceptions like different behavioral changes).
The complexities of cannabis compounds – which we’ll cover shortly – don’t allow for such straightforward measurements.
Furthermore, people choose certain alcoholic beverages for different reasons, so the actual percentage can be more of a concern than a benefit.
What Do THC Levels Tell Us?
What (if any) useful information can we get from reading THC content? The information might not be a dead giveaway for how high you’ll get, but you can still glean a lot from it.
Percentage of Total Weight
If you’re looking for an accurate predictor of different effects, you’re barking up the wrong tree. But if you need to know the amount of THC related to total weight, then the THC percentage is as precise as it gets.
Ultimately, you can use that percentage and, with some quick math, figure out the THC levels per total weight of dried cannabis or concentrates.
For example, a plant with 10.0% THC translates to 100 milligrams per gram of dried flower.
The same rule applies for any number. Herb with 25.5% THC indicates 255 milligrams of THC for every gram. Just take the THC percentage, move the decimal one spot to the right and you now know the total THC dose for every gram of dry herb.
The same process applies to concentrates. For instance, a vape cartridge with 90.0% THC contains 900 milligrams per milliliter of oil. If the vape cartridge is 0.5 milliliters, then the total content in that cartridge is 450 milligrams.
Aside from number-crunching, THC labeling has another practical benefit. The system is able to easily deter inexperienced consumers from overspending or “greening out” from too much THC at once.
Amount of Product Needed
If the THC percentage measurement doesn’t predict your level of intoxication, then what is it for? Ultimately, it boils down to efficiency.
Common sense dictates that high-THC cannabis will deliver more THC with less plant material. You can use less high-potency flower to reach your desired dose compared to a weaker product.
People with more experience prefer high-THC cannabis, as they likely develop some level of tolerance over new or infrequent users.
Edibles and Extracts
Stronger flower is also handy for making edibles and extracts. Cooking with marijuana requires way more bud than the average smoke session. With that in mind, it’s smart to use a strain containing as much THC as possible, giving you more THC while using less plant matter.
If you plan to make your own cannabis butter to bake some weed brownies, cookies, or other edibles, choosing high-THC plants will save you some bud.
What Science Says About THC Levels
With cannabis research gaining momentum, we have a lot of catching up to do. Only quite recently, on June 10, 2020, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study analyzing the link between THC content and intoxication effects.
The findings went against everything the cannabis community has accepted as a common-sense fact.
The study analyzed the effects of THC on 121 participants. 55 subjects smoked flower with 16 to 24% THC, while 66 used concentrates ranging from 70 to 90% THC.
The researchers confirmed a massively higher amount of THC in the blood of concentrate users, yet the intoxication was barely different from those who consumed mid to high-THC flower.
What Affects Cannabis Potency?
For ages, THC percentage has been the default for figuring out how a cannabis strain will make you feel. But research spanning several decades helped us unlock some of the mystery behind the desired cognitive effects of cannabis in low and high-THC strains.
Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and the Entourage Effect
To better understand the mechanics behind getting high, we need to look at the “entourage effect.” In a nutshell, the entourage effect is a synergistic relationship between cannabinoids and other compounds.
THC may steal a lot of the spotlight, but it’s far from alone. So far, there are over 100 known cannabinoids in cannabis, but there could be more still hidden inside.
Different cannabinoids affect – directly or indirectly – the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors in the body. THC effectively binds to both receptors, but some cannabinoids could change, reduce, or interfere with the uptake of THC.
Then we have terpenes – aromatic compounds found throughout the plant kingdom. Terpene and cannabinoid levels all impact the strain’s effects. Even if your chosen product’s label indicates high-potency THC levels, other compounds will determine if the strain really works as advertised.
Like cannabinoids, certain terpenes can mitigate or enhance the way THC interacts with our bodies. For instance, limonene – a terpene common in citrus fruits – can counteract the effects of THC if you get too high. In turn, a strain high in limonene might reign in the effects of THC.
Myrcene, for instance, is the most common terpene in cannabis, and has a very strong sedative effect. High-myrcene strains relax the mind and body, slowing down cognitive and motor skills in the process.
On the other hand, a strain rich in caryophyllene creates a more energizing high, leading to improved mood, energy, and focus.
Terpenes also have their own host of health benefits and effects unrelated to cannabinoids.
Some people also depend on the indica, sativa, hybrid system to predict a potential high, but this is even less accurate than relying on THC numbers. You can read more about that in our article here.
Simply put, pay attention to those terpene profiles if you want to dial in your cannabis effects or have interesting cannabis experiences.
Remember when we discussed THC percentage and weight? Well, like a McDonald’s Quarter-Pounder, that number implies total weight before cooking (or lighting). In other words, total THC on the label isn’t a reflection of how much you’ll consume.
How much of the total THC you get depends on its bioavailability. Bioavailability measures how much of a compound or chemical is available for the body after consumption.
Don’t worry, a dry herb vaporizer can really improve efficiency. A 2016 study tested several prominent vaporizer brands and models. Bioavailability measurements ranged from about 45% to as high as roughly 83%.
Using our 27% THC strain example, vaporizers could deliver between 121.5 to 224.1 milligrams per gram – vastly more than combusted flower.
Vaping is also much safer for the lungs than conventional smoking, as it doesn’t rely on burning plant matter. Instead, it heats up the cannabis until the different compounds boil into an inhalable vapor. This means no nasty tar and gunk to clean (or inhale).
Cannabinoids vaporize at different temperatures. The hotter you vape, the more cannabinoids are available, impacting the intensity of your high.
THC vaporizes at around 175oC (3470F), with THCV and CBC having the highest boiling points, at 220oC (4280F).
However, keep in mind that vaping higher than 205oC (4010F) destabilizes terpenes and creates benzene – a known carcinogen.
Vaporizers beat combusted herb in pretty much every department except pricing. If you want a top-of-the-line vape, be prepared to spend quite a bit. But starter vapes are available for as little as $50.00.
Keep in mind, not all vapes are created equal. Do your research to avoid buying a cheap knockoff. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Reddit thread r/vaporents for user reviews and community recommendations.
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How to Increase THC Potency of Cannabis When Growing at Home
The art of growing cannabis has evolved over many decades into a thing of ease and beauty. Now, you can grow your marijuana at home with very little work and zero hassle using the Grobo grow box .
Whether you’re growing cannabis for personal consumption or commercial purposes, the potency of your plant remains an essential factor. Being able to maximize the amount of THC (and other cannabinoids) in your buds will directly translate to higher potency levels.
Benefits of Increased THC Levels
Growers have different reasons for wanting to increase cannabis potency. Whether you consume cannabis recreationally or medicinally higher THC levels can be a useful benefit. Simply, you can get more use out of your cannabis with higher THC content than you would with cannabis containing lower levels of THC.
Being able to produce higher THC levels and cannabinoid levels in the plant has several benefits, from achieving more significant psychoactive effects to inducing stronger relief from pain, nausea, and multiple sclerosis, or for merely maximizing yields.
Let’s dive into how to increase the THC production of your cannabis plant!
Factors That Have a Direct Influence on Potency (THC Levels) of a Cannabis Plant
Much of the potency of your cannabis plant resides in the sparkly hair-like trichomes of your buds. Trichomes can be found all over the buds, sugar leaves, and sometimes even the stem of a cannabis plant.
Many growers often talk about boosting the resin production of a plant as being equal to raising potency. You should know that this isn’t always the case. However, if you’re growing a strain that has the genetics for high THC content, boosting resin production will usually translate to an increased cannabis potency of such a plant.
The techniques we would be looking at have been tested and proven to get cannabis growers the maximum possible potency levels. Indoor cannabis growers will find these most useful in maximizing the overall benefits of each harvest. So, let’s get to it. How to increase THC?
Strain and Plant Genetics
This is by far the most important factor in determining how much potency your plant can achieve. The particular strain and genetics of your plant determine the individual qualities and potency limits.
A plant with strong genetics and a high potency benchmark can easily produce buds of really high quality. However, a plant with poor genetics for potency will never perform beyond its genetic limits.
For example, let’s assume that your particular cannabis strain has a THC upper limit of 10%. This means that under optimum growing conditions, the highest potency level that can be achieved is 10%. No amount of growing techniques or tricks can make a plant exceed its genetic boundaries as far as potency is concerned.
Therefore, if you’re looking to get cannabis of high quality and potency, you should buy seeds with a genetic predisposition to high THC levels and high cannabinoid levels.
Plant Care and Health
To get the maximum possible potency levels from your plants, you need to ensure that you employ the best growing practices .
A healthy cannabis plant with lots of bud sites is the perfect recipe for the most potent buds, provided that you treat your plant right. You must avoid environmental extremes that can harm your plants. Also make sure you are providing it with good airflow, quality nutrients and trim off any dead leaves.
Treating your cannabis plant with the utmost care and attention will help you to get the THC levels that master growers brag about. If you want your plant to produce the most potent and frosty buds, treat it like a celebrity.
Any experienced grower would tell you that light plays a crucial part in the life and growth of a cannabis plant. The amount of light your plant receives during its flowering stage dramatically influences the production of potent buds
While it is possible to grow cannabis under low light, achieving its maximum potential requires something stronger. Cannabis grow lights like LEDs and HPS are the industry standards for growing plants with dense buds and potent sticky resins. So, if you want to increase THC levels in your cannabis plants, stick to using the strongest lights in your growing setup.
Optimal Harvest Time
A lot of cannabis growers fail to comprehend the full effects of harvesting at the right time. A plant should only be harvested when the buds are mature and ripe, that is when the trichomes turn milky white, and approximately 30% of the trichomes are amber.
Cannabis buds are at their highest THC levels within a 2-3 week period during its flowering stage. Seasoned growers have discovered that you can increase THC levels in your cannabis plants if you time the harvest period right.
In comparison, growers looking for low THC/high CBD profiles tend to favor the extended maturity of plant buds.
The process of systematically drying out cannabis buds for improved taste, smell, and storage is known as “curing”. While no evidence supports the notion that the curing process can directly increase cannabis THC levels, it does help to improve its overall perceived quality.
Curing your buds also has the added advantage of reducing the speedy effects of under-developed buds.
Ever wonder how to cure your cannabis? Check out our YouTube Video about how to cure cannabis quickly and easily!
Factors That Can Also Enhance Yield of Cannabis Plants
The factors we’ve looked at so far are strictly designed to increase THC levels of cannabis only. However, they aren’t the only known growing techniques that affect THC levels.
Certain other growing methods have the added advantage of increasing overall harvest yield. Whether you’re a recreational or commercial grower, you want to get the most value from your growing efforts.
The following growing methods should help with increasing yield in addition to influencing the production of highly potent buds:
Inducing Vegetative Cycle
Some growers have a technique for keeping a growing plant in its vegetative stage for 8 weeks at least. This means that the cannabis plant is induced into growing more vegetative parts before it is switched to the flowering stage. The increased length in the vegetative stage means a larger yield and can lead to very potent buds when combined with powerful grow lights.
Providing the Right Amount of Nutrients
Making sure your plant is well fed is one of the easiest ways to increase you yield. If your plant has all the nutrients it needs to grow, it will grow fast, which may result in a bigger yield.
Pro tip: Providing more phosphorus in the flowering stage can help produce larger blooms.
If you have a Grobo , no need to worry about nutrients! Our 850+ strain recipes will automatically dose the perfect amount of nutrients to your plant throughout each growth stage, including the flowering stage and vegetative stage.
Topping involves cutting the top of the cannabis plant, so it grows bushier rather than taller. This results in the plant developing two apical buds, also known as colas. They are the largest blooms on the plant, so having two will increase the yield.
Dropping the temperature of your grow space to about 10-15 °F simulates fall and the beginning of winter. This helps to trick the plants into “panic mode” where it rushes to finish its flowering stage before the extreme cold kicks in.
This means that the plant puts all its energy into producing resin and improving the cannabinoid content of its buds. More resin production translates to a bigger harvest and higher quality buds with potent THC levels.
Adjusting Grow Space CO2 Levels
In addition to manipulating the temperature, expert growers like to reduce the amount of CO2 in the grow space.
During the flowering stage of a cannabis plant, it produces ethylene—a hormone that helps to ripen the mature buds. Dropping CO2 levels during flowering forces the plant to produce more ethylene to help it ripen faster and produce more resin.
However, during the vegetative growth phase it is beneficial to add additional CO2 to your grow space. This can help the plant grow faster.
The goal of any cannabis plant is to mature and produce seeds that will guarantee the survival of its genes. However, a female cannabis plant can only produce seeds after it has been pollinated by pollen from a male plant. Growers have discovered that preventing pollination in a female plant causes it to go into a frenzy and produce massive amounts of trichomes and resin.
Growing outdoors it is very hard to control whether your plant gets pollinated. Neighbours may have male plants, and that pollen can travel miles to pollinate your plant. Luckily if you’re growing indoors, it’s much easier to control. Make sure you are keeping an eye on your plants and remove any males.
You can also purchase feminized seeds , so you won’t have to worry about the gender of your plant!
This process of producing sinsemilla (Spanish for “without seed”) buds can give rise to a highly potent product that fetches top dollar.
The techniques for maximizing potency in cannabis buds are trade secrets that every cannabis grower should know. If you’re serious about getting the best out of your plants, start with strong genetics and complement with the techniques we’ve discussed. Make sure to give your plants as much light and care as they require, and you’ll be able to harvest the dankest, most potent buds in no time at all.
If you know of other proven techniques that can boost cannabis potency, do let us know in the comments.
You can be sure that we’ll update this guide as soon as there’s new information on things that can help to maximize THC and cannabinoid contents.