How To Maximize The THC In Your Cannabis Plants
With cannabis now legal in many states, growers can choose among many strains that produce varying levels of THC. Before the 1990s, most marijuana had a THC content of just 2% or less. Now it is common to see strains that exceed 20%. While some growers focus on high-CBD plants for the medicinal market, many aim for the highest THC content they can achieve. The following article will provide some tips for maximizing the THC content in your cannabis plants.
Why Grow High-THC Cannabis?
There are several reasons why growers choose to grow high-THC plants. First of all, THC is the cannabinoid that creates the high. A little THC can help you feel calm and relaxed, but a higher percentage of the cannabinoid can provide a more euphoric and energetic high.
High-THC strains also have benefits for some medical marijuana users. For example, cancer patients who have severe pain or nausea tend to get more relief from higher doses of THC.
One more reason for growing high-THC crops is to get a better crop yield. Some of the highest yielding strains are also at the high end of the THC range. For example, feminized Wedding Cake plants have a THC content of 28% and a yield of up to 600 grams per square meter.
Start With The Right Strain
The biggest factor that determines the THC content of a cannabis plant is the plant’s genetics. A plant’s DNA structure limits the amount of THC the plant can produce, so if you choose a strain that produces up to 20%, an individual plant may not always produce that much. As a grower, you can do some things to encourage THC production, but you can’t push a plant beyond its natural limits.
To make sure you get the right strain, do some research before buying seeds, and think about all of the characteristics you want to see in your plants. For example, if you’re growing marijuana for medicinal purposes, you may want to look for a strain that is also high in Cannabidiol (CBD). Terpenes are another factor to consider. Terpenes are essential oils that add aroma and flavor, and they can also enhance the mental and physical effects of the THC.
Four Popular High-THC Strains To Consider
Girl Scout Cookies. With a maximum THC content of 28%, this strain has a powerful psychoactive effect. People also use it to treat a range of medical conditions from insomnia to Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. This strain has a low CBD content of about 0.5%.
Alaskan Purple. Another high-THC strain, Alaskan Purple has a THC content of up to 27%. Named for its beautiful purple leaves, this strain is easy to grow and a popular choice for beginners.
White Widow. This strain has a THC range of 18% to 25% and a CBD content of about 1%. Its effects are calming and powerful. White Widow was first developed in the Netherlands, and it is now famous around the world.
Bruce Banner Fast. This combination of OG Kush, Strawberry Fields, and Fast can produce up to 29% THC. Users describe its effects as potent and motivating, and they find Bruce Banner to be an effective stress reliever.
Getting The Most From Your High-THC Strain
Once you’ve done your research and chosen your high-THC seeds or plants, you want to make sure you get the best possible results. To do that, you’ll need to create an optimal growing environment for strong, healthy plants and choose the best time to harvest the buds. Although some of the tactics below don’t have a direct effect on THC content, they contribute to a plant’s overall health and quality.
Use Living Soil
To give your plants the best possible growing conditions, plant your seeds in natural living soil that is made from materials like peat moss, compost, and earthworm castings and enriched with minerals and other nutrients. The compost contains microbes that serve as natural fertilizers. While plants can grow in bagged soil from the local gardening center, growers who use living soil report higher yields of aromatic and flavorful buds.
Use The Right Grow Lights
Growers can choose among several types of grow lights, including fluorescent (CFL), light-emitting diode (LED), light-emitting ceramic (LEC), and high-pressure sodium (HPS). There is some debate about which lights produce the most resinous – and thus, the most potent – plants, but there is some evidence that high-density lights like LEC and HPS stimulate plants to produce more THC in the flowering stage.
Another good option is UV-B light, which provides a high intensity of light while also boosting terpene production to yield more aromatic plants. If you use this type of light, you must protect your skin and eyes from the damaging rays. Fluorescent lights are a less-expensive option, but they are not the best choice for maximizing THC.
Provide The Right Amount Of Light
Not only do plants need the right type of lighting to produce the most THC, but they also need the proper amount of light at the different stages of their growing cycle. Plants need twelve hours of bright light each day during the flowering stage, followed by twelve hours of darkness.
During the vegetative stage, plants need even more light, at least eighteen hours per day, but the light does not need to be so intense. Some growers use LED or another type of light during the vegetative stage and add UV-B lights during the flowering stage to boost THC.
Lower Temperature And Humidity During Flowering Stage
Temperature and humidity are key factors in a plant’s growth and development throughout its cycle, and they are especially important to control during the flowering stage. During the vegetative stage, plants thrive in a warm and humid environment. An ideal temperature range is between 70° and 85° Fahrenheit during this phase, and humidity should be around 70%.
When plants enter the flowering stage, they need a cooler and drier environment in order to produce THC-rich trichomes. The best temperature range for the flowering stage is between 65° and 80° Fahrenheit, but the low end of that range is best during the latter part of the stage. The optimal humidity range for maximum potency is between 40% and 50%.
Choose The Right Time To Harvest
During the flowering stage, there is a two- to three-week period when THC content peaks. Even if you’ve done all the right things for your growing plants, you’ll lose a significant percentage of THC if you harvest too early or too late. To pinpoint the best harvest time, pay attention to changes in the trichomes and pistils.
Trichomes are the tiny, crystal-like glands that grow on the outside of leaves and buds. When trichomes are ready for harvest, they change from clear to opaque white. If you look at them with a magnifying glass, you’ll see that they begin to look like plastic rather than glass.
Pistils are the hair-like organs that grow from inside the cannabis flower. In the early flowering stage, they are white threads that protrude around the bud, but as the plant reaches peak harvest time, the pistils turn brown and start to curl inward. Aim to harvest when about 80% of a plant’s pistils have darkened.
Cure The Buds
Curing refers to the process of slowly drying out the buds after they are harvested. While this process does not increase THC content, it does seem to enhance the perceived potency of the buds.
Other Tips From The Growing Community
The following are some additional techniques that many growers use to increase the THC in their plants.
- Allow an eight-week vegetative stage. Unless you’re growing auto flower seeds, you can control how much time your plants stay in the vegetative stage by providing 18 to 24 hours of light per day. Most growers leave their plants in the vegetative stage for four to eight weeks, but some believe that eight weeks is the ideal length of time for maximum potency.
- Use special flushing methods to increase THC. Growers typically flush their plants right before harvest by giving them plain water with no added nutrients. To boost THC in the harvest, growers use additional methods several days before harvesting, including keeping the plant in the dark, watering with ice water, or hanging the plants upside down.
- Lower CO2. During photosynthesis, plants absorb CO2 from the air, and the amount of CO2 that is present in the environment affects the rate of photosynthesis and plant growth. However, some growers have found that decreasing the amount of CO2 in the grow room during the flowering stage causes plants to produce more resin and thus, more THC.
Final Thoughts On Maximizing THC
The techniques above can all help your indoor or outdoor plants reach their full potential in terms of cannabinoid and terpene content. To get the highest amount of THC in your buds, it is essential to grow the right strains, give your plants the proper care, and harvest the buds when their THC content is highest. Most of these tips can also help you increase your plants’ yield and improve the scent and flavor of the buds.
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