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How to Boost Terpene Profiles in a Cannabis Strain

Terpenes are enchanting contributors to cannabis cultivation, providing aromatic smells and flavorful tastes to finely cured buds. With over 200 different types of terpenes found in cannabis, it’s easy to see why each strain has unique flavours and smells. 

Recent developments in terpene research reveal their involvement is more than just great taste and aromas. By studying their influence on different cannabinoids, research has uncovered correlations to the overall effects a cultivar exhibits.

This discovery, called The Entourage Effect, shows how cannabinoids and terpenes work together synergistically to achieve therapeutic enhancements from a cannabis strain. For example, the cannabinoid THC often produces short-term memory loss. Pairing it with a cultivar that contains the terpene Pinene, a memory enhancer, results in a beneficial union.

Additional exploration reveals the ecological role terpenes play on cannabis plants. Their scents and flavours attract or repel insects, both beneficial pollinators and intrusive pests, as well as herbivore animals. As a marijuana plant’s defence system kicks in, so does terpene production.

With that in mind, cannabis growers can incorporate some low-stress techniques on a cannabis plant, especially during the flowering stage, to trigger terpenes to multiply. Knowing a particular cultivar’s genetic make-up, along with proper harvest and curing practices, helps growers preserve the powerful terpene contribution to the whole plant.

Let’s look at how to incorporate these practices on a prized cultivar to boost terpene profiles.

How Terpenes Bring Out the Best from a Cannabis Strain

Terpenes are secondary metabolites produced from hydrocarbon compounds in plants. They are present in cannabis as well as fruits, vegetables, wood, and flowers. These beneficial contributors are the principal ingredient of essential oils used for flavouring and aromatherapy.

All of the magnificent smells and tastes of marijuana can be tributed to terpenes. From fruity, sweet aromas to musky, earthy fragrances, these little gems work synergistically with cannabinoids, defining a cannabis strain’s characteristics. Cannabis breeders have recently taken a closer look at the beneficial roles terpenes have on the whole plant.

Different terpenes produce a variety of unique qualities to enhance different strains. Limonene, for example, is a monoterpene found in citrus fruits, delivering fruity flavours and scents. Limonene also contributes to the therapeutic effects of a cannabis strain as it relieves anxiety and stimulates antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Another monoterpene, Myrcene, is most commonly found in cannabis plants. This robust terpene exudes musky fragrances, reminiscent of the smell of good bud. Myrcene contributes synergistically with cannabinoids as an anti-inflammatory, reducing chronic pain.

As cannabis breeders learn more about the intricate qualities of terpene properties, especially in medical marijuana strains, they can bring out the best in a cultivar. Terpene profiles of a particular cultivar reveal not only flavour and aroma, but more interestingly, how these influential contributors enhance a cannabis strain.

How Terpenes Ecologically Contribute to Cannabis Plant Health

Terpene compounds, synthesized inside tiny bulbous trichomes, play an essential role in helping cannabis plants thrive in outdoor settings. Their sweet fragrances create an appealing environment for pollinating insects. Fragrant fields of bud in eco-friendly surroundings encourage beneficial insect activity. On the other hand, when an intrusive infestation occurs, all hands are on deck as the plant senses the stress.

Through the biosynthesis process, a marijuana plant releases bitter terpenes to repel insects and herbivorous animals. As production ramps up in stressful situations, terpene residue combines into the sticky resin covering flowering cannabis plants. Other stressful scenarios, such as high temperatures, also activate terpenes to kick it into overdrive. When temperatures rise, terpenes evaporate, causing the plant to synthesize more terps.

How to Encourage Terpene Formation on a Prized Cultivar

Knowing terpene production increases in stressful situations, introducing Low-Stress Training (LST) techniques in the flowering phase will bring out more of these benevolent donors.

Bending branches out and away from the plant base allows for more light exposure and airflow. While this technique is usually administered to a cannabis plant in vegetative and pre-flower stages, gentle manipulations in flowering time encourage terpene reproduction.

Additionally, removing large fan leaves, especially those on bushy colas late in the flowering phase, stimulates terpenes to multiply prolifically. While cannabis enjoys warm, humid environments, increasing temperatures slightly during the late flowering phase also motivates a marijuana plant to increase terpene production.

Raising Terpene Populations in Different Growing Mediums

Cannabis plants, grown in rich organic quality soil under optimal environmental conditions, typically won’t need much help increasing terpene development. The bustling microbial activity found within the rhizosphere creates symbiotic responses from the plant. Terpene populations explode in soil-grown cannabis, producing irresistible flavours and tantalizing aromas.

Soilless and hydroponic growers can promote terpene reproduction in the flowering stage using synthetic fertilizers formulated for terpene advancement. Lower nitrogen inputs accompanied by higher doses of phosphorus and potassium encourage flower development. As cannabis plants rely on glucose for flower production, nutrient formulas for the bloom stage often include sugar additives such as molasses, encouraging terpene development.

As science has recently turned its attention to the benefits of terpene contributions in cannabis, terpene isolates are being developed exclusively for cannabis strains. Similar to essential oil extractions, created by isolating terpenes through a distillation process, these sequestered terpenes are applied directly to marijuana plants. Soilless and hydro growers can capitalize on boosting terpene levels by incorporating these newly developed products into their system.

Terpenes bring out unique qualities in cannabis plants
Terpene compounds, synthesized inside tiny bulbous trichomes, play an essential role in helping cannabis plants thrive in outdoor settings.

Knowing the Best Time to Harvest for Optimal Terpene Contributions

Terpenes are volatile compounds, creating a frenzy of activity as cannabis plants near the end of their season. As the plant heads into the finale, terpenes paired with various cannabinoids visually mature through the colouration of tiny mushroom-shaped trichomes. Checking trichome development in the last couple of weeks leading up to harvest reveals the best time to cut down the plant.

When a cannabis plant begins building its flowers, early trichome observations reveal lucid, tiny bubbles popping up on leaves and buds. As the plant matures further into the flowering stage, the little mushrooms become cloudy and opaque. As harvest time nears, trichomes begin turning an amber colour, easily distinguishable with a magnifying glass.

Pulling a cannabis plant too soon, before the synergy within the trichomes maximizes, results in poor quality flowers. On the other hand, waiting too long severely diminishes cannabinoid and terpene performance. Look for a mix of both cloudy and amber trichomes to maximize results from a cannabis plant.

Hydroponic and soilless growers need to flush their system two weeks before harvest. Eliminating nutrient supplementation spurs a cannabis plant to use up all available stored resources to finish the plant. As excess nutrient and salt deposits are rinsed away with freshwater, terpene and cannabinoid profiles naturally elevate.

Drying and Curing Techniques to Preserve Terpene Quality

While terpene volatility may cease after harvesting the cannabis plant, preserving the delicious tastes and intoxicating aromas is easily accomplished with proper drying and curing techniques. Maintaining temperatures in a drying room between 18 – 21⁰C (65 – 70⁰F) with humidity levels between 50 – 55 % helps keep the terpene profile intact. Drying times are usually 10 – 14 days or when the water content in dried buds is between 8 – 15%

Probably the most crucial aspect of cannabis cultivation is in preserving the crop. Curing precious flowers to maintain the exquisite aromas, delectable flavours, and synergistic effects from terpene contributions is a slow process. But like a fine wine, it only gets better with time. Slowly curing prized bud over several weeks in a closed container with daily oxygen burps ensures terpene integrity.

To Help Boost Terpene Profiles, Get to Know the Cannabis Strain

In the end, it boils down to what you are hoping to achieve from growing a new strain. Whether it is a luscious, CBD-heavy medical marijuana strain or a deliriously high THC Sativa-dominant hybrid, finding a cultivar with a benevolent terpene content helps cannabis growers narrow down their choices.

Post author
Charle Thibodeau
Charle’ Thibodeau is a freelance writer with almost a decade´s experience, specializing in cannabis content for the past two years. A strong motivation to educate, inform, and promote the culture surrounding this miraculous plant is her earnest mission.
See more from Charle Thibodeau

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