Let’s be honest – one of the most important things marijuana growers are looking for is weed that knocks your hat off. For that, it has to be some pretty potent bud. Well, the good news is that as a grower, you have the power to induce higher THC content in your plants. Read this article to learn the tips and tricks for increasing THC.
Every marijuana grower has an invested interest in the final product’s THC levels. Whether you grow commercially or just for personal reasons, the THC level is as important as the colour, smell and yield. At the end of the day, if you grow deliciously smelling green weed but it doesn’t blow your mind when you smoke it, then what’s the point?
Achieving high levels of THC is not a matter of pot luck. There are things you can do before, during and after the grow that encourage THC production in your plants. This article is all about learning how to grow your weed to be as strong as possible. You’ll thank yourself for paying attention early, after your harvest is the dankest weed!
1. Pick a high THC strain
Of course, the right place to start is by choosing to grow a strain that has higher THC levels. The genetics of what you finally decide to grow is probably going to play the biggest role in your final THC levels. In fact, the strain you choose sets the bar as to how much THC you can expect – if you do everything right, of course.
Most first-time growers don’t achieve the full potential of THC that their plant is capable of. This is because simple errors can be made in the growing process that don’t allow for maximum THC expression. Having said that, if a strain has a general THC level of 20%, that’s probably as high as it will ever get – even if you’re the most badass grower out there.
All of this means that if you don’t choose a high-THC-strain to begin with, there’s almost nothing you can do that’s going to give you the levels you’re looking for. It all starts with the basic rule of growing. Pick the right seed.
Girl Scout Cookies is one of the most popular US strains with a high THC level, measuring in at around 28%. Bruce Banner is another high scorer when it comes to potency, at almost 29% THC. Things have started to get serious when it comes to THC levels in the world of cannabis genetics. It means that wherever you are in the world, there’s a cannabis seed that you can grow with the purpose of reaching THC potency.
2. Manipulate THC levels with light
One of the reasons that marijuana is called a “weed” is because it grows in pretty simple conditions. Even if you don’t give it a lot of light, it will still grow. So, the “grow hack” here is to give it a lot of light. That’s how we make it bigger, stronger and more powerful.
For the purpose of increasing THC, you can give your plants UV light. To understand what’s behind this, we have to do a very basic geography class. When we think about where cannabis grew the best and the strongest, it starts to become quite obvious why UV light helps.
The hightest THC sativas have always been discovered around the equator and the most potent indica strains have always come from mountains. What do these two places have in common? Of course, they are closer to the sun. These geographical locations have a greater exposure to ultra-violet light.
Trichomes, which are the anatomical part of cannabis containing the most THC, also happen to be a defence mechanism. A marijuana plant produces trichomes (the resinous part of the plant) to defend itself against strong UV rays as well as herbivores. So, by exposing your plant to UV light, you are encouraging the expression of this defence mechanism.
Growers can buy UV lighting and start exposing plants to them in the flowering stage. Remember – a marijuana plant doesn’t start developing trichomes until this growth stage, so there’s no point using UV lighting before the flowering stage.
3. Decrease CO2 in the final stages of flowering
A process that is familiar to many growers, not just of marijuana, is the ripening process. It is the same process as ripening fruit, where the resin glands of plants are stimulated to produce all of the sugary goodness that humans love. Nothing is different about the marijuana plant.
The ripening process takes place in the final stage of flowering, where your cannabis plant is producing its trichomes, terpenoids and flavonoids. Decreasing carbon dioxide at this stage encourages the production of ethylene. In fact, ethylene is the natural gas that is given off by ripening fruit. It is imperative to the ripening process.
When you decrease the CO2, the plant will give all of its remaining energy to the production of ethylene and ripening, and will produce more trichomes. This process should elevate the levels of THC for your final harvest.
4. Trick plants by lowering temperature
Tricking your plants into thinking it is winter is also another way to encourage high THC potency. By lowering the temperature (by 3-6°C) at the same time as you decrease carbon dioxide, you will mimic the autumn season, and of course, warn your plant of the upcoming frosty season. In doing so, your plants will rush to finish their flowering, thinking that winter is coming and freeze them to death.
While it is rushing to finish its flowering, most of its energy will be spent on resin production, which is where most of the cannabinoid and terpenoid profile exist. By decreasing the temperature, you might even allow your plants to have a stronger aroma than you initially expected.
5. Let your plants vegetate for longer than 8 weeks
Although this one isn’t a definite way to increase THC, some growers still use this method. In fact, letting plants vegetate for longer than 8 weeks is a popular way to increase the yield and make the plants grow bigger. There’s no certainty that this increases THC potency, but according to some growers, it’s possible.
The idea is that by leaving the plant in the vegetative state for longer, it is essentially bigger, which gives it the potential to produce more of everything. The potential to have higher THC might also depend on the fact that bigger plants require more intense lighting. And we’ve already talked about the effect of intense UV lighting on THC production. Well, this method is worth a try – even if you only get a bigger yield at the end of it all!
6. Decrease humidity levels
Decreasing humidity levels in the grow room during flowering is essentially a way to make your plants a little bit thirsty. This goes by the philosophy that stress can induce progress. Stressing the plant in the way of making it thirsty can encourage the defensive response we talked about earlier, encourage trichome production.
The resin produced by cannabis can also be a protective film against dry weather conditions as well as very wet weather conditions. So, if your plants are feeling threatened by the “climate”, they might be compelled to produce more resinous material. This can contribute to higher THC levels in your cannabis plants.
7. The harvest and cure
Whether or not harvesting, drying and curing actually increases THC levels (this is up for debate), it’s important to the final product. Most marijuana enthusiasts have smoked weed that hasn’t been cured properly and is either too moist or too dry. For some reason, it doesn’t quite have the power that properly cured weed has. Nor does it have the aroma or the flavour.
We aren’t claiming that curing your weed raises the final level of THC, but if you don’t cure it properly, it might lose some of the THC content it originally had.
You can check out our article on how to properly harvest, dry and cure your weed, but the basics are simple. Let the moisture drain out of your weed slowly. Don’t rush it. Let your buds hang to dry and before they get too dry, let them chill out in some glass jars for a while. This ensures you the fluffiest, greenest and most potent buds.
Enjoy using these techniques, and of course enjoy the results of these techniques!