5 Secrets to Growing Top-Shelf Bud
by Sirius Fourside
Have you ever had cannabis that was just…so so? Mediocre? Just okay? Cannabis that’s ‘just alright’?
Have you ever had cannabis that was so good, you want to save it so you can have it as long as possible? Cannabis so good that you inspect it closely as if you could somehow see why it’s so great?
What makes the difference between the two?
The look of the bud in addition to its potency, taste and smell is what makes cannabis seem top-shelf to the user.
But what happens when you’re growing cannabis that makes gives it these desirable qualities?
In this weeks issue of the GrowWeedEasy newsletter, you’re going to see what growing practices are responsible for making the difference between mid-to-low-grade cannabis flowers and top-shelf bud!
You’ve probably heard it a million times, but good cannabis starts with good genes. Having seeds with good attributes to work with gives you a plant that will flourish under the right conditions as opposed to just surviving.
All cannabis strains have their own attributes, so the best thing to do is to find one that fits what you’re looking for. Some strains are high in THC, some are known for tasting pleasant, some are high in CBD, etc.
In any case, growing cannabis from ‘bagseed’ is an easy way to lower your chances of growing great weed. In a best case scenario with bagseed, you’ll get a female seed as good as one from a seed bank. In a not-even-the-worst-case-scenario, you could get a male seed that grows a runt plant from a weak strain. Or even worse…it’s not even cannabis!
There are quite a few places you can go to get seeds with good genes, I’ve had the most luck and the least trouble with ordering from a trustworthy seed bank. Personally, I use Nirvana Seeds for their high-quality strains and I’ve got 100% of my shipments from them, but I’m also a big fan of seeds from Barneys Farm and DNA Genetics.
High Light Intensity
The amount of light your plant receives in it’s life can be used as a good indicator of how close it will get to its maximum potency when all other conditions are met. In fact, outside of genetics, light-intensity plays the biggest role in determining how big/hefty/potent your buds will be.
This means that even if you get seeds from a strain that is known to have 22% THC, the plant will need enough light to allow it to grow to this level of potency. This doesn’t mean that you need a 1000 watt HPS to grow great bud, but it does mean that you’re probably not going to grow top-shelf buds with a single 26 watt cfl bulb.
So much is enough?
Unfortunately, this is a question that is very difficult to answer as it depends on the specific strain you’re growing, the area you’re growing in, and the size of the plant being grown (smaller plants need less light). The general rule to go with is “more is better”, and watch your plants to see how they react. In most cases, it’s hard to give your plants too much light unless you have a high powered LED or a 1000 watt HPS.
Harvesting At The Right Time
For many growers, this is the toughest part to get right. Why?
Because you can buy seeds with awesome genes, and you can buy a MH/HPS combo that will flood your cannabis with light, but you can’t buy patience! And boy will a flowering cannabis plant try your patience!
Aside from becoming ever more picky about which nutrients they get, flowering plants will begin to smell ever-more enticing and look more and more ready to harvest. The problem is that there is a small 2-3 week window in which cannabis should be harvested, and most growers (myself included) get the urge to take them down prematurely.
Whenever your plants are flowering and you get the feeling you should harvest them because they look ready, reference this page and double check to make sure they are: https://www.growweedeasy.com/how-do-i-know-when-to-harvest-marijuana. Harvesting early is an easy way to ruin the buds you’ve taken so long to grow, so double, triple and quadruple check they’re they’re ready before you cut down a single bud!
Many growers consider drying and curing to be two parts of the same process, but I like to separate them to really underline the important steps involved.
It’s important to not only dry your newly harvested buds before they can be used, but you want to dry them as slowly as possible. Drying buds too quickly can make them crispy and harsh, and will make them smell – ironically – like cut grass.
A good way to keep moisture in the plant and keep it from drying too quickly is to trim the harvested branches after they’ve been dried. Having the extra leaves left on will cause the plant to dry slower since there is more actual plant to dry out.
Personally, I trim my buds before I dry them since it seems to be easier for me while trimming and when I’m cutting buds off of the stem. From there the buds can be hung up to dry, or placed on a drying rack.
In either case, I would recommend leaving on as much stem as you can as it slows the drying process, and is easy to remove later. I would also recommend hanging your buds upside down to dry before testing any other methods. Anecdotally, I’ve found that buds that retain their stems and are hung upside down to dry tend to dry much slower than on a rack…which is exactly what you want!
In short, dry your buds for as long as you can. Aim for more than 5 days, with a goal of 8-10!
Once your buds have been properly dried, the only thing left to do is cure your buds. This last step won’t add to their potency per se, but it’s largely responsible for the taste and smell we all love.
Essentially, curing your buds involves sealing them in an airtight container for at least 2-3 weeks. During this time, the jars are periodically jostled, opened, emptied and refilled with the same buds. This will give the buds to ‘get rid of’ certain not-so-tasty chemicals, and the jostling, emptying, etc. will help prevent mold from forming.
To get a step-by-step tutorial on the drying and curing processes, see our article on GrowWeedEasy.com: https://www.growweedeasy.com/how-to-cure-buds.
The Short Version
Here’s the meat & potatoes of this article in case you forgot any part of it(as some of us are prone to do):
Potent, top-shelf bud requires these 5 things:
- Good genes (Get good seeds)
- High Light Intensity (More light is better for your plants)
- Harvesting at the right time (You only get one chance; patience is key!)
- Slow Drying (The slower you dry your bud, the better)
- Proper Curing (Put them in a jar and let them out every so often until they’re done)
Great Bud Starts with Great Seeds!
What’s the first step in creating fat, potent, mind-blowing buds?
Make sure you start on the right path by beginning your next grow with a with a hearty, potent, higih yielding strain!
“Nirvana Aurora Indica is an F1 hybrid of Afghan and Northern Light. Its plants stay short, producing heavy colas and dense buds. This marijuana strain produces exceptional amounts of resin, resulting in a deep, near-black hash with a tasty aroma and a heavy buzz.”
“BlackJack produces hard buds with huge, grape-like calyxes that are completely encrusted with THC! The smoke is heavy and flavorsome, and produces an exceptionally long-lasting high.”
“Nirvana Wonder Woman is another one of those fabulous new high-volume marijuana plants. Wonder Woman bears rock hard buds which are easy to trim. The smoke of this cannabis variety has a classic, rich, skunky flavour accompanied by a long-lasting buzz.”
5 Secrets to Growing Top-Shelf Bud by Sirius Fourside Have you ever had cannabis that was just…so so? Mediocre? Just okay? Cannabis that’s ‘just alright’? Have you ever had cannabis that
Weed slang: the difference between dank, mids, and ditch weed
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- Dank weed
- Ditch weed
- What is kind bud?
- Factors that affect weed quality
Consider for a moment the difference between a cheap bottle of wine from the local convenience store and a pricey selection from an upscale Italian restaurant’s reserve list. While both are classified as wine, the grape quality, grow climate, and post-harvest techniques all distinguish the finest varietals from wines of lesser quality.
The same principles can be applied to cannabis plant quality, too. As medical and adult-use cannabis legalization continues to take root across North America, the difference between dank bud and ditch weed has never been clearer than it is today. Over the decades, people have used a variety of slang terms to classify weed. Like all slang terms, they vary by region. What is called reggie by some, may be seen as schwag to others. While one person may be looking for dank, another may be asking for top-shelf. But in the end, they’re usually looking for the same thing: the best marijuana on the market.
Weed quality is relative to what’s currently available on the market and the location of that market. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Overall, the quality and potency of weed have dramatically increased since the 1960s and 1970s. What was once considered dank a decade ago would likely be relegated to mids today. Something that is considered to be mids in California might be coveted as top-shelf in a state where cannabis is illegal.
In this article, we’ll break down the main categories of weed to help you distinguish between schwag or top-shelf herb and learn the most popular slang terms in the process.
(AKA top-shelf, loud, chronic, kind, headies, piff)
Dank, fire, dang good. Whatever you wish to call it, this is the type of weed that you’ll find on the top shelves of dispensaries. In this most premium category, you’ll find a diverse cast of products with strains that vary in effects, flavors, and aromas. In legal states, top-shelf weed usually comes at a top-shelf price. An eighth of dank can cost upwards of $60 in some adult-use markets. Ultimately, the price will vary on a number of factors, such as the dispensary location, cultivator, and product availability. Think of top-shelf bud as craft beer, carefully curated to offer unique aromas and flavors. In most adult-use markets, top-shelf weed tends to have a focus on higher THC levels.
In most adult-use markets, top-shelf weed tends to have a focus on higher THC levels. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Top-shelf, high-quality nugs can range from bright green to a darker green with streaks of purple, often heavily blanketed with sugary trichomes and vibrant hairs that boast a fiery orange or red hue. Most dank buds come in the form of dense, vibrant, frosty nugs. The trichomes should sparkle when the surface is struck with light.
Taste and aroma
Similar to the appearance, the taste and aroma of dank will also depend on the strain’s terpene profile. One quick sniff of top-shelf bud will pry open a world of aroma that is louder and tastier than milder mids could ever evoke. Taste will also be determined by the strain type and the presence of certain terpenes. If the abundance of trichomes doesn’t convince you of the dankness of a particular strain, a complex, well-balanced aroma and flavor can indicate high-quality flowers.
With top-shelf cannabis products, high potency should be expected. THC levels for the particular product you select will depend on the strain and grower. You can find lab analysis results on the packaging of products sold in most adult-use and medical markets. In general, top-shelf flower in recreational markets will have high THC levels — anywhere from 25% to 30%. But psychoactive potency isn’t necessary for consideration as top-shelf as is the case with hemp products. On the medical market, for instance, high-CBD strains derived from hemp plants (such as perennial favorite Charlotte’s Web) are also seen as top-shelf selections.
More closely related to dank than schwag weed, mids are, as the term denotes, middle-of-the-road in quality for marijuana plants. Although legalization has caused an influx of high-quality weed to flood legal markets, prices for top-shelf bud can be prohibitive. This has made mids an enticing option for those living in legal states, as it offers a decent bang for your buck. While some dispensaries classify mids as lower-potency strains, this could end up being a bargain for consumers who prefer something lower in THC and higher in other cannabinoids.
Cannabis labeled as mids will usually have more airy buds compared with the densely packed, trichome-coated flower that is sold at top-shelf prices. But most mids should still have a noticeable amount of frosty trichomes sprinkled throughout the bud. Compared with top-shelf, mids tend to be less vibrantly green in color with fewer orange hairs sprinkled throughout the flower. Mids rarely contain seeds and have been trimmed to remove most or all stems. In certain locations, mids can pass as high-quality nugs.
Taste and aroma
Mids have a smaller concentration of trichomes, which contain the terpenes that make cannabis aromatic and flavorful. As a result, the aroma and flavor of mids will be less intense than those of their top-shelf counterparts.
Depending on the location, mids will boast THC contents ranging anywhere from 10% to 16%, or sometimes higher in legal states. The price of mids will also vary on where they’re being sold.
(AKA regs, reggie, schwag, dirt weed, brick weed)
When someone tells you that you’re smoking ditch weed, they probably didn’t intend that remark as a compliment. Ditch, also known as schwag, is a term for low-grade cannabis that can be rather unpleasant.
Ditch weed will typically take on a brownish appearance with hints of dark green, and is often mixed with byproducts of the plant such as stems and leaves. In some cases, ditch weed is so dried out that it simply crumbles upon contact.
Taste and aroma
One whiff or look should be all it takes to figure out whether you have ditch weed. This grade of marijuana has an earthy, dirt-like smell that translates into a harsh and pungent taste upon combustion. Some might find the flavor bearable, but ditch weed lacks the nuanced flavor that top-shelf strains have to offer.
Ditch weed has an earthy, dirt-like smell that translates into a harsh and pungent taste upon combustion. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Ditch weed is uncommon in legal markets. As a result, the potency and effects produced by it are difficult to quantify. It stands to reason that cannabis grown in sub-optimal conditions is likely to result in lower potency and less desirable effects than mid-grade and top-shelf cannabis.
What is kind bud?
Sandwiched in the gray area between mids and dank is a type of flower known as kind bud. Correctly spelled “kine,” from the Hawaiian word for “excellent,” this type of bud is above average but doesn’t score quite as high as dank. With kine bud, the cannabinoid profile can be either high in CBD or THC depending on the strain, so potency isn’t a distinguishing factor. You can identify kine bud by stacking it up against the factors used to measure mids or dank, with some slight modifications. For example, kine bud might be more potent than mids but less so than dank. You also might observe more trichomes on a kine bud than on a mids, but fewer trichomes than would be on a typical top-shelf flower.
Factors that affect weed quality
High-quality cannabis is typically cultivated in optimized environments where growers have greater control over every aspect of the cultivation and curing process. Strains are carefully selected and the cannabis plants are often grown with the finest cultivation supplies, such as living soil and organic nutrients. In order to maintain a natural shape and keep the trichome-coated bud intact, most top-shelf marijuana is carefully hand-trimmed, but even machine-trimmed marijuana can still classify as dank.
Schwag weed is typically grown in a harsh environment, causing the buds to form early without the glittery trichomes commonly found on the surface of dank or mid flower.
Curing is an important part of the cultivation process that, if done improperly, can turn top-shelf potential into mids. Mids will sometimes have a grassy or harsh taste due to improper curing. Aside from the lack of aromatic enjoyment, additional signs of poorly cured weed include dampness to the bud and stems that don’t easily snap.
In most cases, mids will still contain a passable terpene profile that gives off a pleasant aroma that is more akin to dank than ditch, but the difference in pungency between mids and top-shelf should be discernible.
If bud is harvested too early, it could be relegated to the mids or even schwag category, as a premature harvest can result in reduced potency and a less enjoyable taste.
When we’re talking about top-shelf bud sold on legal adult-use markets, the packaging is oftentimes as enticing as the nug itself. High-quality flower should have THC and other cannabinoids listed on the product label and should come with a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab to ensure there are no pesticides, mold, or other contaminants on the bud.
Schwag, on the other hand, is sometimes compressed and transported in a brick that contains a mixture of small, dry nugs, shake, and lots of seeds and stems — hence the well-deserved nickname “brick weed.” When improperly handled and cured, even the best nugs can contain high levels of the cannabinoid, cannabinol (CBN), which may offer sedative qualities.
Although this sleepy cannabinoid might not be preferable to the recreational user seeking a buzz, CBN has been studied for the potential ability to treat insomnia,inflammation, pain, and bacteria, and may even act as an appetite booster. In its molecular form, CBN might sound appealing to some, but keep in mind that low-grade weed could also be contaminated with pesticides, mildew, mold, or insects due to having an adverse growing environment.
Weed slang: the difference between dank, mids, and ditch weed Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Dank weed Mids Ditch weed What is