It may be hard to imagine now, but before 2010 and going as far back as the 1960s cannabis was mostly appreciated for its ability to induce its famous “high,” and take the edge off of a grueling day of work. Strains lacking in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were largely underappreciated and sought out only by the most knowledgeable of cannabis connoisseurs. However, with the emergence and rapid growth of America’s legal cannabis industry over the last decade, the scientific literature around this miracle plant has grown substantially — and public perception has matured alongside it.
Today, the cannabis plant is recognized and appreciated not only for its THC content, but for its second primary compound cannabidiol (CBD) as well as the hundreds of terpenes naturally present in it and its so-called “sober cousin,” hemp. Thanks to years of independent scientific study conducted around the world, we have a growing body of solid data showing cannabis’ potential for a multitude of medicinal and therapeutic applications. For example, OG Kush Terpenes (which include myrcene, limonene and caryophyllene) are known for their stress-reducing qualities.
Obviously, there are plenty of high-CBD cannabis strains whose seeds are available to purchase at your local dispensary, if you happen to live in a state where recreational cannabis is legal. But are there any best practices for growers looking to maximize terpene content in their next batch of cannabis plants? In this post, we share our top three tips on increasing terpene levels when growing cannabis indoors; all time-tested and sorted in no particular order.
Genes are The Name of The Game
If “Sell, Sell, Sell” is the mantra of the market sector, then consider genes every grower’s top priority in similar fashion. No two strains are created equal, so if you’re looking to establish a particular brand — or simply have your name associated with a specific aroma and flavor experience — carefully study the strain info on seeds you’re thinking of trying, and always keep your target terpene profile in mind. Grower’s literature and the internet are great ways to do thorough research.
After hitting the books, the truly painstaking process of selection begins. It can’t be stressed enough that no two strains are created equal, so choosing strains specifically for their terpene production is a very good way to get started.
Soil & Nutrients are Every Grower’s Bread & Butter
When growing for terpene content, it’s usually best to forget about hydroponic and/or aquaponic setups. Whether growing in- or outdoors, soil is just plain better, being native to cannabis. Soil possesses essential nutrients such as carbohydrates (in the form of sugars) and nitrogen which are simply not present in a hydroponic or aquaponic environment.
In different stages of the cannabis plant’s life cycle, its pH and alkaline levels change — in turn significantly changing its ideal mineral and nutrient levels for terpene production. This is where experienced growers stand out from amateurs. Carbohydrates are most essential midway through the bloom cycle during the bud fattening process, for example, while nitrogen levels are best reduced and gradually eliminated altogether during the final three weeks of the flowering process.
There’s No Training Like Low-Stress Training (LST) for Trichome Production
As we see in everything from fitness to horticulture, the right amount of stress can cause any biological organism to adapt and survive, continuing on as a stronger version of its previous self. Growing cannabis plants for terpene production is no exception.
Defoliation or intelligent pruning is one way; eliminating things like low branches and fan leaves directs energy as well as nutrients to flowers, in turn boosting trichome production. Tying down branches and gradual exposure to lower temperatures can also increase the chances of growing terpene-rich flowers. Factoring in strains and proper research, there are countless ways to apply just the right amount of stress to increase the production of precious trichomes (and ultimately terpenes) without harming the quality or quantity of prospective yields.
The team at LEDGrowLightsHQ.com is composed of expert cannabis writers and enthusiasts, many who frequent small grow operations for recreational purposes. We often provide insight from our partners or large publications or magazines.