By Max Sargent

For many, growing weed that is as strong as possible is the ultimate goal. Some like gentle strains with rich flavors; others like weed that doesn’t get you high at all. But most people like weed with a high THC content and proportionately strong effects.

Given that, many growers wonder whether it’s possible to make their weed stronger. The answer is yes, and no. A good grower can bring out all that a plant has to offer, but they can’t make a strain produce THC levels beyond what it’s genetically capable of.

Yet, while you can't turn mid into loud, you can still take action during all stages of the growing process, and beyond, to ensure optimal potency. In this article, we look at ways to make your weed stronger, so you can enjoy the most high-octane effects from your strains.

Why Does Cannabis Produce THC?

The female cannabis plant produces cannabinoids in its trichomes—the resinous glands that grow on the outside of the flowers and sugar leaves. There are over 100 cannabinoids produced in the trichomes, but the one that gets us high is THC.

It is thought that THC (and other cannabinoids) are produced on the flowers in order to protect plants from a range of dangers, including excessive UV light and predators. We may prize cannabis for its THC content, but a hungry predator does not! Therefore, environmental factors play a role in determining the strength of cannabis.

However, it mostly comes down to genetics. Or, rather, genetics determine the upper and lower limits of how strong a strain will be. But within this range, we can manipulate the environment to make a plant as potent as possible.

How to Make Weed More Potent

It's important to note that even the strongest cannabis buds on the commercial market very rarely exceed THC levels of 33%, and most strains clock in with levels far below that; around 15–25% is much more common. But even these concentrations can make for some extremely potent effects! Below, we’ll give you some tips on how to make your weed as strong as possible—before, during, and after growing.

Before Growing

Before you even start growing your cannabis plants, there are two decisions you can make to improve your chances of securing a super-potent harvest.

First and foremost, choose a strain with a high average THC content! The higher the advertised THC levels, the stronger your weed will be (to an extent). However, there’s a little nuance to making this choice. For example, a super-potent sativa that demands perfect growing conditions may end up exhibiting a lower THC content than a less-potent indica hybrid that can handle almost any environment. So be sure to match the seeds to your growing ability and setup.

Only experienced growers can get the best results from particularly demanding plants. Novice growers will fare better with easygoing strains. Thankfully, there are many beginner-oriented strains that are also incredibly strong, so you needn't sacrifice THC for ease.

Second, start with a high-quality soil, or create your own super soil (which contains all the necessary nutrients for the entire grow). Establishing the perfect growing medium means your plants will be in a hospitable environment from day one. And every day they spend happy and healthy, the stronger they’ll end up being!

During the Grow

Once your seeds have germinated, you’ve still got most of the work to do. The main way you can support THC production during the grow is to keep plants healthy and vigorous.

Therefore, the first port of call is to get all of the growing basics down:

• Feed your plants just enough, but not too much; overfeeding can cause nutrient burn and lockout
• Use powerful lights, and keep them at the correct distance from your plants
• Maintain appropriate temperature and humidity levels
• Keep them free of predators and pathogens
• Water them just enough—do not overwater!
• Maintain the correct pH level at all times (around 6.5 is perfect)

While maintaining a perfect environment is the best way to ensure potent buds, there are a few extra tricks you can try to push the THC count even higher.

Inflict Stress

Indeed, certain forms of stress appear to increase cannabinoid content of weed plants. Inflicting significant stress, without dedicating a period to recovery, will just stunt growth and reduce the final yield—but an appropriate amount of stress can do the opposite. The easiest way to stress your plants into potentially boosting THC levels is to underwater just a little. Obviously, don’t properly deprive your plants of water, but sometimes letting the soil dry out a little more than usual has a positive effect.

Furthermore, some growers contend that exposing a mature cannabis crop to 24–72 hours of complete darkness before harvesting boosts resin production—though other growers dispute the validity of this technique. More advanced growers can also consider high-stress plant training techniques, like super cropping, in hopes of boosting THC.

Add UV Light

Alongside your usual lights, consider using UV light too. High levels of UV will stimulate the production of THC in plants as they seek to protect themselves. If you do use this method, make sure to wear appropriate protection on your eyes and skin!

Increase CO₂

Finally, some report that increasing CO₂ levels in the grow space can help to increase THC content. Plants use CO₂ to create energy for themselves, giving them a greater ability to grow and develop. There is limited evidence to suggest that this can lead to increased potency.

After Growing

Harvesting at the right time is one of the best ways to ensure you get the most out of your plants. Harvest too soon, and the trichomes won’t be fully mature. Harvest too late, and THC will begin to degrade into CBN.

So, how do you tell when the time to harvest has come?

The best method is to observe the trichomes using a pocket microscope. A plant at the correct stage of maturity will display around 70% milky-white trichomes, with the remaining 30% composed of 15% amber and 15% clear trichomes. Amber trichomes signify THC degradation, while clear ones indicate immaturity. Though you will likely never have a plant with 100% milky-white trichomes, you want to get as close to this figure as possible.

If you can’t get hold of a pocket microscope, another way to tell if your plant is ready for harvest is to look at the pistils—the colorful hairs that grow on the buds. If around 90% have turned red/brown, then it’s probably about time to harvest. If most of them are still white, then it might be too early.

Getting hold of a pocket microscope, though, will put you in much better stead. The pistil method can be inaccurate, as some plants continue to produce new, white pistils into maturity. Taking your cues from the trichomes themselves is a more failsafe method.

How to Make Your Weed Better

It’s not over yet.

After harvest, there’s nothing you can do to make your buds stronger, but there’s plenty you can do to stop them from losing strength. Properly drying and curing your weed plays a massive role in its final potency, as the chemical constituents will continue to change during these processes.

For instance, excess heat and light cause THC to degrade into CBN, making your buds potentially less strong.

To dry weed sufficiently, hang it for around 10 days in a room at 21°C with 50% RH. This will help the buds dry slowly and gradually. Keeping the space fairly cool and light levels to a minimum will help to sustain high THC levels.

When it comes to curing, the same concept applies; you want to keep the buds away from heat and light. Load them into quality airtight curing jars (glass is a good option) and use humidity packs to maintain the ideal RH. Store your jars in a cool, dark place for 4–6 weeks, opening the jars—aka “burping”—for several minutes each day during the first 2 weeks to ensure sufficient air exchange.

Following this protocol is the best way to encourage optimal potency, not to mention great flavor, aroma, and a generally enjoyable smoke.

How to Change the Flavor of Weed

Though there are many different cultivars bearing many different terpene profiles out there, sometimes we might desire to change or enhance the flavor of our weed. Whether it's an attempt to revive an old stash or to infuse your herb with a natural flavor kick, there are indeed ways to alter the taste of your buds.

The easiest way to do so is to add the flavoring agent directly to the curing jar. For instance, you could add lemon peel, orange peel, or a tea bag filled your favorite flavors. Cotton dabbed with a few drops of essential oil works well too. Just be aware that, if you add something moist to the curing jar, such as fresh fruit, it increases the danger of mold developing on your buds, so make sure your flavoring agent is on the drier side, and keep a close eye.

Are Premature Buds Potent?

It depends on how immature they are. If you harvest slightly early (say, 50–60% milky-white trichomes with the remainder being clear), you probably won’t notice much of a difference in potency. But if you harvest when the buds are significantly underdeveloped (50–70% clear trichomes or more), you may find the high to be comparably weak.

To reiterate, timing your harvest well is one of the best ways to increase the strength of your weed.

Are Small Buds Less Potent?

Small buds are not less potent than larger ones. In fact, some people suggest that they may even have the potential to be stronger, but this is not scientifically confirmed.

But rest assured that your small buds should be just as strong as your giant nugs.

Does Rehydrating Weed Make It Stronger?

No. Some people may attempt to improve the strength of their cannabis by rehydrating it after drying it. Unfortunately, this will not work. Once you’ve harvested your bud, it is at its maximum strength at that moment. You can keep that strength or you can lose it, but you can’t increase it.

Making Weed Stronger: It’s Possible!

There is no trick to get your cannabis to have a 100% THC content. Indeed, you can’t make it exceed its genetic maximum. But by treating it well, and using a few tips and tricks, it is possible to optimise the potency of your harvest.

Besides strain choice, it mostly comes down to being a competent and attentive grower. Master growing, harvesting, drying, and curing, and you’ll be rewarded with highly potent buds.

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