🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.
A good way to think about cannabis cultivation is that you’re actually farming trichomes, specifically the cannabinoids and terpenes they contain. Especially if you’re planning to use the flowers for making hash, it’s important to optimize for terpene production during the flowering phase of the cannabis plant’s life.
The following are some things to consider for your grow when aiming for increased terpene production:
Start with Good Genes
Quality genetics are a must if you want to produce significant amounts of trichomes. No matter your environment or level of skill, if the plant genetics are lacking, they won’t yield terpene-rich flowers.
Soil over Hydro
Stick with soil when flowering cannabis plants, as the microbiome of soil is more diverse and complex than hydroponics, making it more conducive to plant vigor and maximum trichome production.
Give your plants proper the proper spectrum of light for the flowering cycle and make sure your lumen output is on point.
The right amount of stress to a cannabis plant can actually stimulate maximum trichome production, since trichomes actually evolved in part as a way to protect the plant from danger. Training a plant’s branches to grow evenly across a horizontal canopy is a great way to maximize exposure to light and train the plant into focusing more energy on trichome production.
Flushing before Harvest
Feed the plant only pure water the last two weeks before harvest. Excess nutrients can dull terpene expression once the flowers are harvested.
Minimize Temperatures at Night
Lowering your temperatures at night by no more than 10 degrees will stress the plant just enough to increase trichome production without decreasing vigor and yield.
Lower Humidity Right Before Harvest
Another way to slightly stress the flowering plants and trigger max terpene production is to lower humidity to around 30% during the last few weeks of flowering.
Harvest at the Right Time
Don’t miss the ideal harvest window, especially by letting the buds flower for too long. Cannabis plants harvested too early haven’t yet reached the climax of terpene expression. But wait too long, and the trichomes will rapidly start deteriorating.
Use Finesse when Handling the Flowers
Ham-handedly juggling cannabis flowers around will knock off the trichomes which include the highest concentration of terpenes found on the plant. Use care and finesse when you handle flowers to keep the trichomes intact.
Proper Cure for Preservation
Finally, a proper cure is a significant factor in terpene expression and could well be at the top of the list. The terpenes you’ve worked hard to farm will be lost if the buds don’t slowly dry over 10-14 days and then cure for another couple weeks in jars. Temps should remain low, be sure to eliminate exposure to light, and in the process, the chemical composition of the flowers will change in such a way to optimize the truest expression of the terpene profile.
Be mindful of the ways you can increase terpene production during growth and also during and after harvest all the way through drying and curing. It's hard to overstate the importance of a prominent terpene profile in a premium product.