When someone says ‘maximizing the harvest’, what immediately comes to mind is increasing the yields. That’s true – but only to an extent. Another option is to grow massive marijuana buds. Imagine combining the two techniques – higher yields and bigger ganja. If done successfully, your harvest will be the stuff of every grower’s dreams.
So, how exactly do you make the flowers grow gigantic? It may sound like rocket science, but it’s actually reasonably easy to do. Mostly, it comes down to nurturing the plants every step of the way and satisfying their needs.
Buds are the most sought-after parts of cannabis plants. That is because they boast the highest concentrations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other valuable compounds. To be clear, it is the female buds you want. While the males could technically produce flowers as well, they contain far fewer cannabinoids – if any at all.
Female buds make their first appearance 4-6 weeks from germination as the so-called “preflowers.” These start as the calyx – long, pointed outgrowths that later sprout hairy filaments called the pistils. These structures can be seen on the nodes or the growth tips in the stem.
It is during the flowering stage when full-blown buds finally develop. Your goal, at this point, is to encourage fruiting and blooming so that the buds could grow as potent, dense, and massive as possible.
Here are 9 ways you can achieve maximum bud growth.
1. Start with Quality Genetics
Having top-quality genetics as a starting point is critical. If not, all the other steps in this list would not even matter. If the seeds are mediocre at best, don’t expect them to churn out the desired fat, dense colas. You’ll probably just end up wasting precious time, effort, and resources.
Get your seeds from a reputable seed bank, and the rest will follow. Homegrown Cannabis Co. offers over 400 strains of marijuana seeds. Each has proven, highly stabilized genetics, guaranteed to grow into the purest, most potent buds – and more.
Worried about the upfront costs? Check out this collection of cheap weed seeds.
2. Provide Enough Light
Indoor growers can take advantage of artificial lighting to promote bud growth. Generally speaking, more intense lights mean fatter buds and higher yields. On the other hand, plants that don’t get enough light begin to stretch upwards to get closer to the light source, causing them to turn tall and lanky. Being weak-stemmed and physically unsound, they would never be able to support large flowers.
To increase the light intensity, simply position the lamps closer to the canopy. Be careful not to bring them too close, though. You don’t want to burn or stress out the plants. If the leaves start yellowing, curling, or wilting, move the bulbs further away.
What type of grow lights should you even use? During the flowering stage, seasoned growers swear by the high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. These fall in the red spectrum, which helps coax out sizeable yields and massive buds. The ideal distance between the plants and the light typically depends on the wattage of the bulbs. Consult the instruction manual for the optimal values.
At any rate, if you’re using HPS lamps, the table below can serve as a rough guide.
|150 watts||8-12 inches|
|250 watts||10-14 inches|
|400 watts||12-19 inches|
|600 watts||14-25 inches|
|1000 watts||16-31 inches|
3. Meet the Plant’s Nutrient Requirements
After transitioning to the flowering stage, lower the amounts of nitrogen and increase the phosphorus levels. Nitrogen is associated with robust vegetative growth, so the plants won’t need it to develop chunky colas. On the other hand, phosphorus encourages bud production, which is why flowering or bloom fertilizers contain high levels. Popular options include Pure Blend Pro Bloom Soil from Botanicare and FloraBloom from General Hydroponics. These have 2-8-4 and 0-5-4 NPK ratios, respectively.
If growing in soil, you could go the organic route. Bone meal and chicken manure, for instance, are excellent sources of phosphorus. To use, sprinkle it over the soil bed as a topdressing or work it gently into the soil.
4. Keep an Eye on the pH Level
The pH level plays a vital role in nutrient absorption. In general, marijuana plants prefer a slightly acidic root environment of pH 5.5-6.5.
If the pH lies outside of this range, the roots will have a hard time capturing the essential minerals needed for optimal growth. In other words, the plants would not be able to soak up the nutrients already present in the medium. If left unaddressed, nutrient problems, including deficiencies, are only a matter of time. And once the plants are sick and starving, growing massive buds is out of the question.
Avoiding this problem is easy. Simply check and adjust the pH every time you water and feed the plants. You would also need to monitor the pH regularly since it tends to fluctuate. For fuss-free measurement, consider investing in a good-quality digital pH meter. To raise or lower the pH to suitable levels, pH adjusting solutions should do the trick.
5. Prune the Right Way
Pruning involves removing unnecessary parts of the plant – such as dead leaves and auxiliary branches – to boost growth and yields. In doing so, you could grow the purest, largest, and best-quality buds.
In essence, you want to prune away the sections not receiving enough light, such as the lower nodes. If left alone, they will only sap precious resources from the upper canopy, resulting in tiny, popcorn buds at best. But if you remove them, all the energy goes to the main colas, allowing them to grow the desired large, hefty buds.
Remember to prune only during the vegetative stage since the plants may need time to recover after the procedure. You don’t want to risk stressing out the budding plants. After at least three days – or once the plants have resumed growing – you can trigger the flowering phase.
If you’re a beginner, it might take some time before you master this technique. Just keep on trying. Rest assured that the rewards are more than worth the time and effort.
Note: It is not recommended to prune autoflowers. That is because their rapid life cycle doesn’t leave any time for healing and growth.
6. Train the Plants
Besides pruning, training the plants is another surefire way of improving the yields and bud quality. Typically, cannabis plants grow one large stalk, with several smaller stems surrounding it. Since the larger stem towers over the others, it will capture the most light. Naturally, it always ends up the healthiest, as well as grows the largest buds. Meanwhile, the lower branches compete with each other for the leftover resources, only to develop substandard florets. Such a setup is not conducive to productivity.
By training the plants, you can have a more even canopy composed of several same-sized stalks instead of a single large one. This allows for uniform light access, with the resources being redistributed equally across the plant. As a result, each stalk can develop large, beautiful colas.
Generally, there are different ways to go about this. The most popular is low-stress training (LST), high-stress training (HST), super cropping, or the screen of green method (SCROG). Keep in mind that only LST is suitable for autoflowering plants.
Often abbreviated to LST, this method involves training the plants to grow horizontally, rather than vertically. All you need to do is bend the young plants to the side and secure them in place using a twine. Doing so improves energy efficiency and ensures an even light distribution across the entire plant. This results in larger yields and higher-quality buds.
The Screen of Green Method
This popular indoor growing technique is a form of LST. Again, it is all about maximizing the use of space and energy. It involves placing a metal screen over the young plants, inducing them to grow horizontally during the vegetative phase. The goal is to keep the bud sites evenly spaced and at the same height, ensuring that each tip receives the same amount of light.
High-Stress Training or Super Cropping
This age-old technique entails squeezing, bending, and folding the stems to damage the inner tissues. Once pliable enough, you could manipulate the plants to grow a certain way. For example, you could reposition the branches or make the canopy more leveled. While there is no one way of super cropping the plants, the result is the same – the increased quality and quantity of the yields.
7. Maintain Ideal Temperature and Humidity Levels
The right temperature in the flowering stage is the key to growing the most potent, dense, and massive marijuana buds. Ideally, you should slightly lower the temperature after flipping the switch. And since humidity goes hand in hand with temperature, you have to keep it in check, too.
Refer to the table below for the suitable temperature and humidity levels across the different growth stages.
|Growth Stage||Temperature (During Lights on)||Temperature (During Lights off)||Humidity|
|Seedlings||Around 77°F (25°C)||Around 70°F (21°C)||65-80%|
|Vegetative||71–82°F (22–28°C)||64–75°F (18–24°C)||55-70%|
|Early Flowering||68–78°F (20–26°C)||61-72°F (16-22°C)||40-5%|
|Late Flowering**||64–75°F (18–24°C)||61-68°F (16-20°C)||30-40%|
**About 1-2 weeks before harvest time.
Never exceed 80°F (26°C) during the flowering phase. That is because excessive heat could slow bud growth and degrade the terpenes, resulting in reduced potency, aroma, and flavors. Too-cold temperatures, on the other hand, could induce the buds to grow fluffy and loose, which is the last thing you want.
Also, make sure that the temperature differences between lights on and off (or between day and night) are not too high. Settle for 5-10°C to be safe.
8. Boost the Carbon Dioxide Levels
Cannabis plants need carbon dioxide to carry out photosynthesis, the process by which they synthesize light energy to make food. Glucose – the manufactured food – is then used to fuel plant growth, bud production, and other vital processes. Simply put, the more carbon dioxide, the better.
Keeping the grow room well-ventilated can help fetch in fresh air while expelling stale air. Generally, the atmosphere holds around 400 ppm of CO2. If the value begins to drop, then so would the sugar production. If you have a proper ventilation system, you should not have any problems.
But, you could take things to another level by introducing more CO2 into the grow space. This can be done using CO2 tanks and generators. By itself, though, raising the CO2 levels is not enough. Remember, it’s a core element of photosynthesis and works alongside light energy. In other words, you would have to pair it with increased light intensity. If done correctly, you can expect higher yields and bigger buds.
If you do plant to add extra CO2 in the grow room, make sure to seal the area to prevent the CO2 from leaking out. A higher CO2 concentration also lets you get away with much higher temperatures than normal. For example, if the CO2 levels sit at about 1200-1500 PPM, it is possible to maintain temperatures between 85-95°F (30-35°C).
9. Harvest at the Right Time
Knowing the right timing is the key to harvesting large, potent, trichome-coated marijuana buds. If you collect prematurely, the flowers would not have reached its full potential yet. However, if you wait too long, the cannabinoids and terpenes may start degrading already.
So, how do you know when the flowers are all set for harvest?
There are various plant changes you can monitor. For one, around 70-90% of the pistil will darken to brown. The fan leaves may also start yellowing or drying out.
The most reliable approach, though, is to observe the trichome color using a magnifying tool. Initially, the resin glands will appear translucent. You should wait until they turn milky white – an indicator that the buds are ripe – before harvesting.
Dense, Massive Marijuana Buds in a Few Easy Steps
A prolific harvest composed of hefty, outsized marijuana buds is every grower’s dream. But with a few tweaks in the grow room or the garden, you could easily turn this dream to reality. Know that it won’t happen overnight, though. Rather, you would have to monitor the plants carefully from seed to harvest, providing them with exactly what they need along the way. It might sound laborious, but once you finally sample the buds, you’ll know that all that hard work has more than paid off.