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7 Ways Growers Can Increase Terpene Levels in Cannabis

July 26, 2018
(Steven Senne/AP)
Terpenes—the aromatic compounds that give cannabis different scents—have quickly become a discussion centerpiece among growers, budtenders, and consumers alike. Produced in secretory cells found in the plant’s trichomes, terpenes are found amongst cannabinoids and other oils produced by the plant. These terpenes have been shown to work directly with THC and other cannabinoids to influence and enhance the effects of different strains. Not only that, it’s common for consumers to make a purchasing decision based on how good a strain smells to them.

Follow Your Nose to the Nearest Dispensary

As we learn more about their ability to enrich cannabis’ effects and benefits, many cultivators wonder how to best capture these delicate and fragrant terpenes for an even more flavorful harvest. Here, we’ll take a look at a few primary ways to increase the terpene production in your plants.

Choose High-Quality Genetics

Not all strains are created equal. The best growers in the world can’t make ditch weed look like Super Silver Haze! If you want a high-quality and fragrant strain, don’t skimp when it comes to buying seeds or clones.


Cannabis seeds 101: A guide for growers

Grow Your Cannabis in Soil

Whether you’re growing indoors or outside, raising cannabis in quality soil is known to produce a more flavorful product. Many associate this with the complex nutrient profiles that can be found in soils. Just like growing wine, food, or farming livestock, cannabis grown in specific soils in specific regions can take on unique flavors.

Light Exposure

When growing flavorful cannabis, having good sun or light exposure is essential. If growing outdoors, make sure there is space between plants so that every cola is receiving as much lights as possible. Indoors, provide lights that offer a healthy range of spectrum. 

Low Stress Training (LST) 

A little bit of stress can go a long way in the production of trichomes and thus terpenes. There are numerous low stress training (LST) methods—as well as other more intensive methods—that can help you get smellier buds.

Training your plant by tying branches down or pruning lower branches during flowering will help direct energy to other flowers to produce more trichomes. You can also remove fan leaves around buds or expose your plants to colder nighttime temperatures.

As with any sort of training, you’ll need to pay close attention to the needs of your plants. If the process becomes too much for your plants, you may see diminished yields and quality.

Flush Your Cannabis Plants

Two weeks before harvesting, you should stop feeding your plants. Nutrients build up in the buds and overpower the beautiful, natural flavors they produce. By giving your plants a pure water source, all excess nutrients will slowly be washed out and leave you with a clean, aromatic end product.


How and when to flush cannabis plants

Harvest Time

Leaving your plants up for too long will result in trichomes breaking down, altering their chemical contents. Using a magnifying glass, you can observe the color and shape of trichomes which will help you determine when your cannabis is ready for harvest. Take a look at Leafly’s guide to harvesting cannabis to learn more.

Handle the Buds Carefully 

Trichomes are fragile, and every time you handle a bud, you may be destroying some of these delicate trichomes. Prevent this by handling the buds gently and limiting how often buds are moved. Encourage trimmers to be gentle and hold onto a stem if possible.

Curing Cannabis

Curing—or the slow process of drying your buds—is one of the most important ways to preserve and celebrate the terpenes of your most recent harvest. Keep temperatures low, lights off, and humidity consistently around 45-55%. With a proper cure, the chemical make up in the buds will change making your smoke tastier and more enjoyable.

Trevor Hennings's Bio Image

Trevor Hennings

Trevor is a freelance writer and photographer. He has spent years in California working in the cannabis industry.

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  • les

    There is NO science to support the false concept of flushing, its nothing more than an old, hippie myth. Its sad people just believe everything they are told about growing, gardening is full of useless and detrimental myths.

    You can’t flush anything from a plant it all either gets consumed or or stored.

    And please tell me, EXACTLY what “nasty chems” do you think your removing? bottled nutes are watered down minerals and elements the plant needs. some micro nutirents need to be converted to there ion or cation form, ans almost all companies use EDTA, also found in 99% of processed food as a preservative! You eat more EDTA in a day than your plant gets in a month!

    If your going to write about growing, do everyone a favor, challenge so called convetional wisdom. Check your facts against science and everyone will learn the proper ways to grow!

    • contel

      Very interesting points. I always thought flushing sounded kinda silly, but I do it any way.

      • Scott Smith

        It’s not silly. There is A LOT of data showing that flushing, without any doubt, does work…
        Take out the science/data and just test it out for yourself. You will find it makes a big difference, if you’re doing it right.

        Like so many things in life, it seems counter intuitive that you will get cleaner cannabis using “chemical” nutrients. However, the suprising fact of the matter is that you can easily flush out nutrient salts almost entirely! This is not possible using “organics”.
        I use organics in combination with my synthetics but not in the last month. I want to be able to flush whatever I’ve fed them out in the last 2 weeks. Again…not possible with Organics…
        Also, you’re flushing the nutrients out of the medium forcing plants to use there stored reserves. Flushing agent sequesters any nutes left in the growing medium making them unavailable to the plant and open to being Flushed out with the run off.

        And by the way, WTH does the amount of nutrients and chemicals Humans eat have ANYTHING to do with the cultivation of cannabis plants…

        • Shawn Grimm

          We did side by side Dwc with and without and outdoor soil with and without using long term smokers that know the product well the flush drum beaters they couldn’t tell a difference as for fact more times wrong than right and the grey ash blk ash didn’t hold any weight either we tested we saw ,and we concluded little to no difference.With our test take what you want out of it .OK I HEAR YOU! ONLY A simple TEST. your results maybe different

    • Tyler Harmon

      Uh, cure at 70% humidity???? Clicked on link to y’alls curing recommendations, and found the Correct humidity for curing. 55-60%. In this article, you’re putting out bad info. 70% for curing is going to mold / kill terpenes….aka, the exact opposite of what this article is claiming to maximize.

    • Kelly Tedder

      I hope your kidding. Google “testing marijuana for chemicals” and see how the results compare to flushing…..

  • Lynn Beynon

    If you’ve pushed your plants in a hydro system flushing is vital to quality . Failure to do so will at the very least effect taste and tarpenes .