The same cannabis seeds, grown by two different growers can produce dramatically different THC levels. Grow environment, the absence or presence of several common stress factors and the cannabis genetics will largely dictate the total cannabinoid content as well as terpene levels and yield. There are some tried and tested methods to improve the potency of cannabis buds. It’s equally important to avoid some common pitfalls made by less experienced home growers. Our top tips are below.
7 tips to increase the potency of cannabis buds
Best ways to improve homegrown cannabis potency
Some of the best ways to increase the potency of homegrown cannabis may require you to change existing grow room habits or equipment. If investments are required, then remember that a high-value crop like cannabis will soon repay the grower with harvests that will reach new levels of potency.
1. Ensure optimal LED lighting levels and exposure
Indoor homegrown cannabis
A good quality LED will last years and suffer very little noticeable loss of intensity even after several years of use. Buy wisely from a competent manufacturer and they will supply a chart showing the expected PPFD levels at various hanging heights above the canopy.
Outdoor homegrown cannabis
Some licensed outdoor growers do position greenhouse-style LED light bars around their prized outdoor plants during bloom to maximise potency. Though in reality few outdoor growers can implement such luxuries. In reality the best an outdoor grower can do is to cut back surrounding vegetation so their cannabis plants can enjoy all-day sunshine.
Greenhouse homegrown cannabis
Supplemental greenhouse LED light bars are highly recommended for any greenhouse cannabis grower. Fitted with integrated light sensors, the LED bars will automatically adjust their brightness according to ambient natural light levels. You can expect to increase the potency of cannabis buds as well as improve yields.
2. Choose cannabis seeds with the highest-THC potential
Even the world’s best cannabis growers can’t get high potency buds from genetics with low-THC or medium-THC potential. Note that some growers deliberately avoid the highest THC strains if they simply feel uncomfortable with the most potent cannabis buds. Thats why many cannabis seed suppliers offer strains with low, medium and high THC potential.
Dutch Passion have grouped together the top 15 (or so) strongest feminised seeds and autoflower seeds into a special High-THC seed collection. If you are only interested in growing the very strongest Dutch Passion strains click below!
Highest-THC feminised photoperiod cannabis seeds
Highest-THC autoflower cannabis seeds
3. Maintain your plants health from seed to harvest
Ensuring a stable, steady grow environment sounds far easier than it really is. To allow your cannabis plant to thrive you need to ensure she can grow steadily free from stress, environmental battles and pests. Keeping your plant in the nutrient sweet spot with neither over feeding nor underfeeding is a great foundation.
Use of slow release organic nutrients such as those from BioTabs is highly recommended to avoid the yo-yo effect; cycling from over-feeding to under-feeding the plants. Maintaining steady temperatures free from extremes of heat and cold is also another essential.
4. Harvest your cannabis buds at the right time
Home growers often know how they like their cannabis ripening. Many feel that ‘commercial’ cannabis and street weed tends to be harvested a week or two earlier than preferred. Home growers can select the precise moment of cannabis harvest for them.
Our expert guide explains all you need to know about timing your cannabis harvest and how the buds look at various stages from early harvest all the way through to late harvest.
Tip: Many growers believe that adding a couple of days of complete darkness at the end of the bloom period helps their plants to increase resin (and therefore THC) levels.
5. Do not neglect or rush the bud curing process
One of the more overlooked stages of the cannabis bud production process, a good curing maximises the delicious taste and preserves optimum potency levels. Once your buds are perfectly cured you may wish to put them in an air-sealed jar or possibly the freezer where they will remain in peak condition for a year or more.
Best ways to dry and cure cannabis
6. Use a supplemental UVA/UVB light
Many top growers supplement their LED grow light with a UVA/UVB light. These mimic the UV wavelengths seen in natural sunlight and allow the cannabis plants to gain and extra couple of THC percentage points. Terpene content also improves in the presence of UV supplemented light.
7. Try cold conditions in late bloom
Many licensed growers as well as hobby growers are great believers in introducing cool conditions in late bloom, just before harvest. Licensed growers often do this with cold air. This usually requires onsite air-conditioning in order to drop ambient temperatures sufficiently.
The effect is claimed to increase THC and resin levels. Often this will introduce autumnal hues to the buds and leaves. Hobby growers can replicate the effect by adding ice cubes around the stem.
Debunking common myths about homegrown cannabis potency
There is plenty of misinformation about homegrown cannabis potency, and plenty of bad advice too.
Not true. Licensed growers have worked hard on continuous improvement programs that show that small incremental improvements can be made through optimisation of environmental factors. There are some fast, quick wins too – anyone upgrading from HPS to LED will automatically notice new quality levels.
CO2 availability is often a bottleneck that can limit yield rather than potency. The carbon in the carbon dioxide gas is used as a chemical building block for new growth, therefore increasing the CO2 concentrations can improve yield (assuming no other factors are limiting growth). Note that high CO2 levels only make sense with high PPFD levels
Not necessarily! Much depends on the outdoor conditions and the cannabis seeds being used. Whilst it is true that the indoor grower can produce ideal conditions many indoor growers routinely make the same errors (such as over watering and over-feeding, the 2 most common mistakes). A skilled outdoor grower using fine-quality outdoor cannabis seeds may well produce more potent cannabis buds than a less skilled indoor grower using poor genetics and practices.
Definitely not true! In fact Dutch Passion have recently seen autoflower strains producing higher THC levels and higher total cannabinoid levels than their photoperiod siblings. Several of the Dutch Passion autoflower seeds will produce plants capable of THC levels in the 25% range.
Not proven. Many growers feel that a little stress can improve potency. It is perhaps easier to say that bending, cutting, SCROGing, super cropping etc can improve yield by maximising light use.
Final thoughts on increasing homegrown cannabis potency
Whether you’re growing feminised seeds or autoflowering cannabis seeds, many growers sometimes feel that they are not always pushing their cannabis genetics to the max. A look to the official statistics would support that view. According to Dutch Government coffeeshop studies, the average THC levels found in coffeeshop weed is around 15%.
That is considered ‘strong’ weed by most coffeeshop customers. So imagine how strong your home-grown cannabis buds would seem at 25% THC levels. Use the best cannabis seeds, quality LED lights and a few other grow room upgrades and you too could soon be enjoying next-level potency on your homegrown cannabis buds.
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