Trichomes are mushroom-like structures that contain cannabinoids and terpenes and can be found covering the cannabis plant. These trichomes result in the stickiness observed when handling cannabis bud and give cannabis its powerful effects.
Trichomes begin to form during the early stages of the flowering cycle. The plant continues to produce the sticky resin throughout the flowering cycle. You will see the trichomes begin clear and slowly get more cloudy as they fill with cannabinoids and terpenes. If you want to ensure that your plant produces the greatest number of trichomes, with the greatest amount of cannabinoid and terpene content, you need to feed them properly. There are a few things that can help you do that:
Understand Your Nutrients
Cannabis plants use 13 different nutrients to grow, but Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are the main three which contribute the most to plant growth. Each nutrient company provides different recipes, often without explanation, making the waters a little murky when it comes to what to feed your plant – and what they can actually absorb. In many cases, Phosphorus and Potassium values are listed but not specified as to what is available to roots in particular so instead, the values may be approximations. This can be due to inflated data or outdated labelling requirements. To ensure you are purchasing the best nutrients for your plant, always research the product and the brand by looking online and asking other growers if they have experience with it prior to buying.
Test Your Water
Cannabis plants absorb a very large amount of water, that is why it is so vital to know what is in your water as your plant will absorb that too. Both tap and well water contain large amounts of minerals which can affect pH levels and nutritional balance. Positive charged minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium can actually restrict the uptake of other nutrients when they occur in excess. Testing your own water can help you determine whether adjustments are necessary to ensure desired growth.
Track Plant Maturity
Depending on the growth stage of the plant, it will require different nutrients to ensure optimal growth. For instance, seedlings love nitrogen as it promotes growth of plant leaf, which allows more surface area for light absorption so the plant can produce carbohydrates. Potassium is equally important during this stage as it directs water into the growing stems and leaves.
Focus on Trichomes
When you reach the later stages of growth, the buds are no longer expanding and are instead producing cannabinoids and terpenes inside the trichomes. This stage requires a moderate level of nitrogen with a small amount of phosphorus to maintain photosynthesis. This will also help to ensure that the plant is not deviating energy (nutrients) into vegetative growth. During the later growth stages, phosphorus becomes even more important. However, cannabis plants do not absorb this nutrient very efficiently, so it is best to add in small doses as a large dose will result in the nutrients being flushed out or binding to different nutrients making them unavailable to the plant.
As eager as you may be to get nutrients into your plants, you do not want to over-fertilize them. Over-fertilization can actually result in a degradation of bud quality and trichome production as it can restrict your plants ability to absorb water.
The most common mistake is over feeding during the second half of flowering where growers will give their plants a large dose of nutrients. As previously stated, moderate levels of nitrogen and phosphorus work best to sustain trichome growth to the maximum level. Dumping nutrients on your plant during the second half of the flowering cycle can result in reduced cannabinoid and terpene content, thereby lowering your bud quality in both flavor and potency.
Poor harvesting, cutting/drying and trimming techniques can also result in lessened bud quality and decreased trichomes. When it comes to trimming, using skilled hand trimmers with gloves or employing an automatic bud trimmer with a non-stick Quantanium coating, such as the CenturionPro Solutions product line, can help ensure the trichomes are preserved through to the end product. For further tips on proper harvesting and drying and curing techniques, click here!
While there is no guaranteed “secret formula” for producing the maximum number of trichomes, bearing these tips in mind can help to improve production within the trichomes and boost your bud quality.