Cannabis is most commonly consumed in the form of a flower, so many growers focus on getting high yields to increase profits. But some prefer to focus on the burgeoning concentrate market. Growing for concentrates is slightly different than growing for flowers because the ultimate goal is to have a plant that produces a lot of trichomes, in order to have that flower processed. Trichomes are the glandular crystals that form on cannabis buds that contain cannabinoids and terpenes. They can also be referred to as resin, crystals or sugar. The cost of shipping the material to be processed for concentrates can be a financial deterrent for some growers, however, with rosin technology, many growers are now able to process their own concentrates for high-end oil.
What makes it a good plant for concentrates
If you’re going to concentrate the flavors of a strain, it’s best to start with something that already has a delicious, high flavor that you like.
To get a good concentrate, you need to start with a good flower. The best concentrates are extracted from a quality flower that produces bulbous trichome heads.
Plants that produce large trichome heads will have more oils, which in turn may contain more cannabinoids and terpenes, making them capable of producing more flavorful concentrates.
It is especially important to have large trichome heads when solventless hashing because they will more easily break off in the hashmaking process.
Strains with complex terpene profiles with multiple terpenes can produce unique flavors. Sometimes it’s worth trading a high yield for novelty – complexity and rarity can be a great concentrate. If you have a particular effort, producing marijuana concentrates can make you appreciate its subtle qualities further.
How to improve the quality of your plants
Because concentrates focus on a strain’s terpene and flavor profile, you don’t want unwanted compounds like those found in pesticides and nutrients to end up in your concentrates. Here are some ways to improve the quality of your plants by protecting and preserving terpenes.
Use a complete soil
This soil is loaded with most of the nutrients plants need, all in organic form, making it easier for the roots to absorb them.
Avoid foliar spraying
Foliar spraying helps fight nutritional deficiencies and pest problems, but you want to avoid this practice when the plants are in bloom, as the residue will show up as a contaminant in your concentrate. If you need to spray the plants, do it before flowering and use only organic sprays.
Stay away from dangerous chemicals that cannot be eliminated from your crop. These will settle into your concentrates and are dangerous to consume. Consider using integrated pest management strategies, predatory mites, or organic foliar sprays to keep your garden healthy without affecting the flower.
Flush Your Crop
If growing with non-organic fertilizers or nutrients in a water-based soil or soil, give your plants only water in the last two weeks of flowering before harvest. This will give them time to flush out impurities, making the flower cleaner and therefore a cleaner concentrate.
Tips and tricks for increasing trichome production
These simple methods can have a big impact and greatly improve the quality of the final product.
Specific terpenes begin to break down at room temperature, making climate control in your grow room essential to the flavor quality of your concentrate. You can use an air conditioning system and even an infrared heat reader to observe the temperature of your colas as the plants bloom. Ideally, you want your canopy to be less than 75 degrees.
CO2 is an essential part of photosynthesis and without it your plants will not be able to fully utilize the nutrients. Give your plants a boost with a CO2 burner to increase the size of your plants during both the vegetative and flowering phases. Larger plants will have more surface area and therefore more resin due to the higher yields.
This is open to debate, but some growers argue that reducing the temperature in the grow room just before harvest can lead to increased trichome production.
The idea is that the stress created by lowering the temperature will cause a cannabis plant to produce more trichomes in an attempt to protect itself. When a plant is about to die, it will produce more resin to attract more insects to pollinate. Some growers will even stop watering a plant a few days before harvesting to induce stress
Consider lowering the temperature to a low 60° no more than 2 weeks before harvest, when the sprouts are mostly being grown.
What to do after harvesting
The last step in accenting delicious terpenes in your cannabis comes with harvesting. Some growers freeze their buds without hardening before making concentrates, while others prefer to cure before making concentrates.
Here are some different approaches on how to store terpenes after harvest.
Freezing prevents terpenes and cannabinoids from breaking down and captures a plant’s fresh profile when its terpenes content is the highest.
If you’re planning on focusing within a couple of weeks of harvesting, you can skip the curing process altogether and freeze your buds. You will need to remove the fan leaves and lower the colas until all the buds are no bigger than a golf ball or whatever and then pack the buds.
Drying and hardening
If you are unsure whether to turn your flower into concentrate at harvest time, properly drying and caring for your plants is a must to protect the trichomes. Hang your plants so that you have plenty of breathing room in a room with good air circulation, at a temperature between 60-70 °F with a humidity of 45-55%.
When drying is complete, place your buds in glass jars where they can slowly cure, popping your eyelids a few times a day at first to let the buds breathe and release moisture. The extra time opening the jars will become less necessary and the buds will continuously improve, usually up to 6 months.
As previously mentioned, some terpenes will break down at room temperature (70 °F). Then keep curing temperatures between high 50 and high 60 with 55% humidity to maintain quality.