There are many discussions about the therapeutic value of medical and recreational cannabis, about all the terpenes and cannabinoids that bring relief to those who suffer from numerous illnesses and disorders, including gastrointestinal problems, PTSD, depression, epilepsy, and even cancerous tumors.
But where do all these “magical elements” come from?
Just like people have glands for deriving hormones that are vitally important for the normal functioning of the body, cannabis plants have their own resin glands that are called trichomes.
Trichomes are present mostly on the flowers and main fan leaves. However, you can also find them in smaller quantities on lower leaves and even on the stalk. The buds have the largest amount of trichomes, and this is exactly the place where the most magic happens: here, the production of most cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, occurs.
Such important parts of the plant are actually so little that you can barely see them. They resemble mushroom-like protrusions from the surface of the flowers, and when they grow together, thousands of trichomes form visible cloud-like formations. However, each separate trichome can be clearly seen only under a microscope.
Since trichomes are the source of valuable cannabinoids, it is extremely important for a grower to get as many of them on the flowers and to do everything possible to keep them safe. Therefore, as a grower, you need to know how to reach these goals.
Actually, not all trichomes are the same. There are three types of them: bulbous, capitate-sessile, and capitate-stalked. Bulbous trichomes are so tiny that you can barely see them with the naked eye, while capitate-stalked can be easily seen, and when you look at the buds, you mostly look at this type of trichomes. It is not clear yet, what exactly the difference in functions between all three types is. However, it is believed that all of them manufacture terpenes and cannabinoids in one or another way.
So, it is for the benefit of any grower to learn how to increase the number and quality of trichomes and save all of them, whether they are visible or not.
Some growers consider trichome farming as the number one priority in everything they do. In every step of manufacturing cannabis, starting from growing and harvesting, and finishing with curing and extracting marijuana, all their attention goes only to trichome preservation and proliferation. It turns into a guiding principle for the cannabis industry. No wonder: trichomes can maximize resin potential, so the more high-quality trichomes you have on your plants, the better your weed is.
If you want to join that race for better trichomes in your garden, you should start with genetics. Some strains are originally better in producing more trichomes than the others. So it is better to get some sinsemilla cannabis that is mostly used for resin production: those strains are always rich in trichomes.
Growing marijuana from seeds, you can get plants with different features: some labels provide more variations, while others can guarantee you almost identical plants—it all depends on the quality of the seeds.
However, once you spot the plant that has the most trichomes on leaves and buds, use it for cloning. No need to risk with seeds again, cloning will give you the opportunity to know what to expect from your ladies and be sure in your garden features.
Good genetics do play an important role in trichome production, but failures in growing conditions may significantly decrease their value. The quantity may be the same, but if you do not provide your garden with enough nutrients, airflow, the right humidity level, temperature conditions, and amount of water, these trichomes may poorly do their job—producing cannabinoids and terpenes.
This is why giving your cannabis everything it needs is a must. If you want just “any marijuana,” then “any conditions” will work. But if you are after superior trichome plants, then try to treat your ladies like real princesses and give them all of your attention.
Apart from the right conditions for growing your plants, you need to be careful with several factors that can damage the already formed trichomes.
First of all, you need to minimize trichomes' contact with flowers. Any interaction during the flowering phase can damage trichomes and potentially harm their functioning. If you have to do any operations with flowers, try to be as careful as it is only possible.
When harvesting, grabbing the colas with bare hands is a bad idea. It is better to use gloves and cut the buds with scissors so that physical contact with tender trichomes is minimal.
It is also important to maintain cool temperature while harvesting and generally during the flowering time. There is no certain data why cooler temperature can increase resin production. However, in most cases, it really works. Hot temperature may not only decrease resin formation but also damage the cannabinoid content in weed during harvesting and curing. The more pungent the aroma of the herb, the more trichomes are damaged: they produce the scent as a result of degradation from heat.
There is a simple and reliable method of knowing whether the plant is ready for harvesting or not. You should not rely on some schedule, general look of the plant, or the moon calendar. Trichomes are the only parameter that shows the state of the plant.
If you look at the trichomes through a magnifying glass, you can see them either being translucent or white. Translucent trichomes are still in the process of producing terpenes and cannabinoids, so they in no way should be touched or damaged. It is only when they turn to milky white color that they give you a sign that their mission is over.
However, the biggest concentration of resin accumulates when the trichomes become even darker and turn to a color close to amber. This color signifies that the trichomes have reached their apex, and keeping them any longer on a growing plant would be a mistake.
Whether you are up for making hash, extracting concentrates, or trying to grow your own perfect plant, trichomes play a significant role. It is not enough only to pay attention to the leaves and protect your garden from pests and mold; a true grower also cares about these tiny parts of the plant that actually do the whole magic. Without trichomes, cannabis would not be as valuable as it is.