A strain’s genetics is the single most important aspect of weed cultivation. No matter what, if a strain is incapable of offering 20%+ THC, no amount of work will help you achieve it. Moreover, if you don’t grow the plant correctly, you’ll end up with far less THC. Right off the bat then, you need to pick a high-potency herb such as Girl Scout Cookies (25-28%). Other examples include:
There is a maximum three-week window where you can harvest with confidence. Make a move too late, and some of the strain’s THC becomes the less desirable cannabinoid, CBN. Harvest too soon, and you come nowhere near the plant’s full potential. During the best period for harvesting, the trichomes become milky white, and the pistils change color from white to a reddish/brown. Here is what to look for:
To maximize the THC of your plant, you need to make sure that you are taking care of it. Avoid common mistakes like overwatering/underwatering, heat stress, root problems, irregular light cycles, and nutrient issues.
Hack 2 – Harvesting.
There are quite a few ways to increase marijuana’s THC and potency, we have even heard of people using techniques such as adding supplements or allowing the plant to remain in the vegetative stage for 8+ weeks.
Next, place them in mason jars. Open the jar several times a day for the first few days. Once your buds feel a bit sticky, they are probably in the 60-65% humidity range, which is perfect for curing. After a week or so, when the buds no longer feel moist, it is only necessary to open the jars once every few days.
Depending on who you speak with, the curing process is either moderately important or a pivotal part of benefitting from high-THC weed. ‘Curing’ involves putting the herb into airtight jars once they have dried sufficiently. One theory suggests that the process causes chemical changes that boost the intensity of the herb’s cannabinoids, including THC.
Before we get started, it is essential to understand that you’ll find most of the THC and “potency” in the plant’s trichomes. These look like glistening crystals near harvest time. This guide offers five methods of increasing THC levels in your herb. As a bonus, many of the tricks also result in a yield boost.
Find out which is best…
The weed breeding landscape is very different to a decade or so ago. The increased legality of the herb ensures a higher level of freedom for breeders. The boost in the cultivation field’s talent pool means increased innovation. Not that long ago, a double-digit THC level was cause for celebration. Today, such weed isn’t even ‘mids’ because growers routinely hit 20%+, and occasionally, 30%!
Hack 3 – Your Plants Health.
Tips and tricks from the team…
There are lots of different reasons why people want to increase the level of THC in their buds. Some do it for medical reasons, while others do it for the high.
The first step after harvest is to dry your buds thoroughly. The best drying environment is a room at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) and 50% humidity. After you cut down the plant, trim any extra leaves, and hang the buds to dry. After 4-10 days, test the buds. If they feel dry and the stems are capable of snapping, it is time to cure your herb.
As for growing lights, you have several options:
Hack 4 – Lighting.
Take a close look at the leaves because they can tell a story of two. If you are an inexperienced cultivator, you may miss the signs:
Experts suggest that your buds will improve in quality, and arguably potency, for up to six months while curing. At this point, further curing is unnecessary, and you should prepare your weed for long-term storage if you don’t intend to use it.
Choose one of these strains, and you immediately give yourself a fighting chance.
Here are a few of the main reasons for boosting a crop’s THC content:
You can’t accurately analyze the trichomes without a magnifying glass, such as a jeweler’s loupe. There are typically three stages of trichome evolution:
With legalization, it looks like that may change, and one of the people leading that change is Deron Caplan, who recently finished his PhD in cannabis horticulture at the University of Guelph.
"We found an increase in cannabinoid concentration, and especially cannabinoid yield," he said.
"Drought stress is commonly associated with high quality herbs and spices," said Caplan. Evidently, this applies to cannabis as well as other herbs that find their way into your kitchen pantry.
Canada’s first PhD in cannabis horticulture gives growing tips for better bud.
In preparation for the legalization of recreational marijuana possession in Canada on Oct. 17, Caplan hopes to share his knowledge of bringing science and cultivation together.
According to Caplan, it's critical to have good soil drainage for the flowering stage.
Experienced growers typically grow new plants from cuttings, not seeds. According to Caplan, the most successful cuttings will need two to three leaves on a stem.
"Having three leaves compared to two leaves had the same rates of rooting success, but had a higher quality roots," he said.
The key is to find the right amount of drought stress. "You can't just allow your plants to dry completely," he warned.
Illegal producers' homegrown wisdom doesn't always stand up to scientific scrutiny, Caplan told Quirks & Quarks .
Tip #3: Any old dirt won't do.
According to Caplan, cannabis plants in nature respond strongly to light. But more light isn't necessarily better, particularly when you want to maximize the production of the flowers that contain active chemical ingredients like THC, cannabidiol and other cannabinoids.
Underground growers have experimented for decades on ways to get higher yields and potency from traditional cannabis varieties. But this underground experimentation hasn't been validated by modern agricultural science.
Extra fertilizer helps make plants grow tall, strong and leafy, but is less useful during the flowering stage.
"We found that even the ones that are tried and true underground, we've tested them, and some of them don't work out the way they're supposed to," he said.
Tip #4: For potent pot, a little (drought) stress is good.
Extra light will help the plant will grow quickly, as it stores energy into its leaves and stems. The result will be a big plant — but when you want it to flower, it's time to turn out the lights.
"When that lighting period is adjusted to 12 or fewer hours, then the plant starts to flower," said Caplan.
A little water deprivation — or "drought stress" — appears to even improve potency.
For more potent buds, cut back on the fertilizer once your plants start to flower.
"If the plant has more than 12 hours of daylight it will remain in a vegetative state," Caplan explained.
Type of Grow Light & Spectrum – HPS, LED & LEC Grow Lights.
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.
Click for “When to harvest marijuana by looking at trichomes” infographic.
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!
Your plant’s genes are hands-down the most important aspect of cannabis potency when it comes to growing!
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.
This cola has several weeks to go before it reaches its highest THC levels – harvesting now will reduce both your yields and your potency!
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!
Why Increase Maximum THC Levels?
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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.
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!
Much of the THC and “potency” in your buds is contained in the sparkly trichomes.
Most white pistils have darkened and curled in (bud looks more “solid”)
What increases THC levels and overall potency?
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.
Learn more about when to harvest cannabis (with lots more pics!) Get the effects you’re looking for.
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.
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.
High Times Top Strains of 1977.
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.
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.”
Highest Level of THC When…
Air Temperature, Humidity and Overwatering.
Allow Plant to Remain in Vegetative Stage For 8+ Weeks.