The cannabis ripening process: steps, stages & my TOP 14 bloom enhancers

 Huckleberry Kush Sugar Leaf Tip. Photo by Professor P of  Dynasty Genetics .

Huckleberry Kush Sugar Leaf Tip. Photo by Professor P of Dynasty Genetics.

Knowing when to pick a ripe bud is as much art as science. Each grower has their own processes and criteria for determining ripeness; but there are a number of things a savvy grower will watch for.

Most follow these steps:

Indoors

Most growers induce their plants to flower using twelve hours of uninterrupted darkness. However, plants can be forced to flower at a shorter period of darkness.

Outdoors

Look for the first signs of flowering and then count back one week from that period. Look online for dusk and dawn hours in your region. Count the number of hours between dusk and dawn; that is the number of hours it takes to force flowering.

Once a plant is forced to flower, it takes between seven and nine weeks for it to ripen. Let’s go through some of the stages of ripening during this period.

The ripening process of a cannabis bud

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During the first week of flowering you’ll see the beginning of stigmas. Stigmas are white hairs that protrude from the newly forming pistils. They’re hollow inside and have brushes on the outside through which they filter the air containing pollen. When they capture the proper grain of pollen, they strip the sperm from the pollen and send it down the hollow tube to meet the egg. If the stigmas are un-pollinated they remain white for a long time.

 

 

By week four the plants are in full flower and they put out layer after layer of stigmas so the bud gets thicker and thicker and eventually, quite hard.

 

 

 

 

 

By week six the buds start to ripen and the stigmas start turning brown. When growing outdoors, the days get shorter and the nights become longer. The trichomes, the glands on the leaves surrounding the flower that hold the THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes, start becoming more prominent; eventually the caps on these glands start filling up.

 

 

 

By week 7 or 8 we’re about a week away from ripening. Most of the stigmas are brown and the trichomes are more prominent. The glands continue to fill up with THC and terpenes; they look like mushroom caps. They begin tobulge like balloons. The odor becomes more intense; but the bud is still not ripe. It still hasn’t reached peak intensity.

 

 

 

This is a ripe bud. You can see that the trichomes are totally erect and the caps on them are prominent. They’re bulging with resin, the stigmas are brown and in this case a fake seed pod is visible. This isn’t unusual. Fake seed pods can develop with some varieties.

 

 

 

 

 

Now let’s look at it close up. These are all mature flowers. You can see the caps are bulging, but at this stage you see that almost all the glands are clear but a few are beginning to change color, either to an amber color or to a milky white. That’s an indication that they’re changing from potent THC to much less potent CBN. It’s at this point that the plants should be picked. This period lasts about 72 hours, depending on the variety.

There are three stages of the marijuana bud's ripeness Immature

 Trichome photo by Professor P at  Dynasty Genetics

Trichome photo by Professor P at Dynasty Genetics

 Trichome photo by Professor P at  Dynasty Genetics

Trichome photo by Professor P at Dynasty Genetics

Mature

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Overripe

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The trichomes are filled but the caps are not bulging. They are all clear and the odor is beginning to increase. In the last week the intensity of the odor will quadruple. When completely filled the caps will look like balloons ready to burst.

 

 

 

 

 

In the last week the intensity of the odor will quadrouple. When completely filled the caps will look like balloons ready to burst.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trichome caps are bulging. The vast majority remain clear but a few have changed color to white or amber, indicating a change of THC to CBN, a less psychoactive cannabinoid.

 

 

 

 

 

The odor has increased and reached peak intensity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the buds grow stale the odor becomes less pleasant —smell somewhat akin to fermentation.

 

 

 

 

 

The glands turn color indicating change of THC to less potent cannabinoids, and the gland heads start falling off the stalks.

 

 

 

My top 14 recommendations for standout bloom enhancers

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Because blooming plants need more nutrients (particularly phosphorus and potassium) to stimulate growth and flowering, growers often administer products such as bloom enhancers or stimulators.

I have had good experience with the following products in enhancing my harvest:

1. Buddha Bloom: A good combination of natural ingredients

2. Amino-Aide: Contains amino acids that promote increased flower growth

3. Big Swell: A good combination of ingredients; promotes growth, contains nutrients and sweetener

4. Zyme: Contains the catalyst amylase, that turns starches into sugars, sweetening the buds

5. T-Rex: Contains growth proteins that also promote branching

6. Purple Max Snow Storm: Contains natural plant growth stimulators Triacontinol and Jasmonic acid that increase yields

7. Snow Storm: Contains growth stimulator Triacontinol. Increases yield

8. Sugar Peak Grand Finale: A good combination of natural ingredients that promote growth and sweetness

9. Bloom Master: A good combination of ingredients. Natural plant nutrients that promote growth in early-mid flowering

10. Massive Bloom: Contains Triacontinol, amino acids and excellent combination of nutrients that promote growth in early to mid flowering

11. Bud Factor X: Contains Chitosan, which promotes SAR response, promoting vigor, stress resistance and growth

12. Big Bud: Contains amino acids, flowering nutrients and plant hormones that promote flower growth

13. Nirvana: An excellent combination of natural ingredients including hormones that promote growth and flowering

14. Terpinator: No ingredients listed. CANNOT make a determination without ingredients

Unacceptable bloom enhancers

■ Cutting Edge Bloom: Uses Paraben

■ Ionic PK Boost: Uses Nipacide

And lastly...bud sweeteners

If using molasses or another sugar in the water/nutrient mix, continue using it throughout ripening, even when flushing.

One formula is 1 tsp/gallon (5 ml/4 L) or a tbsp/5 gallons (14 ml/19 L) of water.

Each of the products that were listed has an effect on the taste and the form of the buds. Unfortunately, there have not been side-by-side controlled tests so you have to rely on you own experience and those of others who have shared theirs’ in garden forums.


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