How To Avoid and Fix Airy Buds When Growing Cannabis

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airy buds
Author avatar By Kyle Kushman
July 20, 2022
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The ultimate goal for marijuana growers is to pull in a harvest thick with sticky, dense buds, glistening with trichomes. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s a glitch during the growth cycle, and they land up with airy buds. 

This outcome is a disappointment for any cultivator since not only is the yield small, but the level of THC is low. The harvest tends to have little taste or aroma to make matters even worse. 

You can easily prevent airy buds by following the correct processes at each stage of plant development. Nutrients, humidity, and airflow play an important role in proper bud growth. If there’s an issue during one of the phases, it could lead to loose buds further down the line. 

There is no magic needed to harvest healthy cannabis crops, just some common sense and correct procedures. Read further to determine what you need to do to prevent airy buds from forming, ensuring an abundant harvest. 

What are airy buds?

Every cannabis cultivator’s dream consists of sticky, dense buds dripping with THC. The complete opposite to this goal is loose buds that are dry. Simply put, airy buds are soft and thin, almost translucent

Don’t confuse this issue with the predisposition of some strains to produce scattered buds. It’s not the same as airy buds. Sativa plants usually grow tall with buds loosely scattered, while indicas are prone to growing short with tight, dense puds. 

Airy weed can have less THC, weak flavor, and scent, so it’s a situation that growers want to avoid.

airy buds

Are airy buds bad?

Airy buds result in smaller yields, and harvests contain less THC. You can still smoke airy weed, but it won’t have the best flavor. Even though the harvested cannabis will have less THC, you may still enjoy the effects. 

Considering that you still need to dry the harvest, this is a big issue for marijuana cultivators. The best way to avoid this is to prevent loose buds from occurring in the first place.  

Signs of airy buds

If you’re an experienced grower, you may know what airy buds look like. However, it’s a bit of a hit and miss on identifying loose buds for many novice cannabis enthusiasts. 

The first sign is the buds appear to be soft and light. They may also appear to be limp and almost look dehydrated. Another sign to look out for is an abundance of sugar leaves covering the center flower. If there are too many frosted fronds, you probably have airy buds.

A quick trick to recognize loose, airy buds is to hold them up against any light source. If they appear to be almost see-through, you’re likely dealing with airy weed. 

Loose buds

What causes airy buds

Airy buds are easily distinguished by their flaccid and airy appearance. Since the buds didn’t mature as they should, they’re not as dense as normal ones. 

As a result of their stunted maturity, they contain less THC. If your crops are growing indoors, the cause of this could be due to the plant’s source of light. Poor lighting makes for smaller plants and lower quality buds

Outdoors it can be as a result of raised temperatures. Steady temperatures are especially important during the flowering phase, and marijuana strains that flower early are most at risk of airy buds due to too much heat. Most strains do well in temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Another cause of loose buds is a lack of nutrients, affecting your crops no matter where they grow. During the flowering phase, your marijuana bushes need some nitrogen, phosphorus, and a lot of potassium. You’ll need to use a different nutrient mix during the vegetative stage so make sure you distinguish between the two to prevent loose buds from forming. 

The amount of water you supply to your plants works hand in hand with nutrients. Overwatering can cause the buds to be airy since they don’t get enough oxygen due to waterlogged soil. Too much water will also wash out the nutrients the plants need to develop dense buds

Signs of airy buds

How to fix airy buds

Of course, the best way to “fix” an airy bud problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are several ways to ensure your plants don’t land up with airy buds. We explore them below:

Strong strain

The strain that you choose determines the taste, smell, and appearance of your cannabis. Genetics play an important role in developing your bushes and, ultimately, the buds. 

Low-quality seeds from shady suppliers won’t give you the results you want. Make sure that you purchase premium products from reputable sellers. A better product significantly decreases the chances of airy weed. 

Enough light

The type of light and how long a plant is exposed are crucial for healthy crops. Novice growers often get the balance wrong, focusing on one or the other. The light cycle for weed is different for the vegetative and flowering stages. If you get this ratio wrong, your plants may develop airy buds. 

When your plant is just starting to grow during the first phase, its size will depend on the amount of light it gets. The more illumination it’s exposed to, the larger the plants will grow. A recommended minimum of exposure is 18 hours per day.  

Vegging cannabis under light

Temperature

The incorrect temperature is another cause of loose, airy buds. Without the correct amount of heat, your plants will never reach their full potential. However, extreme heat levels will result in your crops suffering from heatburn, foxtailing, airy buds, and a reduction of bud aroma. 

Genetics play a role here, too, with sativa strains handling heat better than the indica variants. It would be best if you aimed for a temperature range of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Nutrients

The correct type and amount of cannabis nutrients play an important role in plant development. They’re important for your seedlings, right through the vegetative phase and into flowering. 

Even though the plant has different requirements at each stage, you need to make sure that it gets the correct ones at the right time. If your crops don’t get enough of the right nutrient, the flowers will be underdeveloped, resulting in loose buds at maturity. 

Soil pH levels are also important for the optimum absorption of nutrients. Keep the pH levels around your plants balanced for healthy buds. 

Humidity

Getting your cannabis humidity levels right can be somewhat of trial and error. Of course, all plants need water, but marijuana crops are fussy regarding how much moisture is enough. 

Once the crops enter the flowering phase, you can keep the humidity levels below 45%. Too much moisture will attract mold to form between the dense buds. Airy buds can form if the mold damages the plant due to too much moisture. 

Healthy roots

Healthy roots equal healthy marijuana plants with fat juicy buds. Your roots need two things to be strong: water and oxygen. 

Overwatering the plant can cause root rot and decreased nutrient absorption. One of the causes of airy buds is too few nutrients. Waterlogged soil is also dense and doesn’t have a lot of air pockets. 

Starving the roots of oxygen means the rest of the plant is not getting the support it needs to be strong and healthy. Over time this results in weaker stems, flowers, and loose buds.

Healthy cannabis root

How to fix airy buds after harvest

When harvest time arrives, you may notice that the buds may not be as tightly-packed as you would like. Now is not the time to despair, so pick your loose buds gently and prepare them for dehydration. 

If done correctly, the process of drying and curing can help to firm the florets. Airy buds, after drying, also tend to get a boost in flavor and aroma. Unfortunately, this process isn’t a magic wand, and even though it can help puff up the buds to a certain extent, it won’t completely fix chronic airy weed

How to fix airy buds after harvest

How to avoid airy buds and always have dense buds

Once you’re familiar with the causes of airy buds, preventing the issue becomes simpler. It starts with where the plant is going to grow. 

Once your seeds have germinated and sprouted, you’ll move them to a larger grown patch. The size of the space determines the ultimate desired size of the bushes. Remember not to transplant during the growth stage as it places unnecessary stress on the plant. 

Any undue stress can affect healthy growth and is what causes airy buds. The important factor here is to ensure that the plant has a big enough container to thrive. 

If the pot or growth space is too small, the roots will not be healthy, which means the plant won’t get the water and nutrients it needs. The result will be an underdeveloped plant with loose buds. 

Keep an eye on the lights as well, and if they’re too bright, move them further away from the plants. Monitor the temperature using a thermometer, adjusting it as needed. Install ventilation fans to cool the air if the area is too hot. 

Using the correct nutrient mixes at the right time is also an effective method for avoiding airy buds. As a grower, you need to understand what type of feed your plants need at what stage. Nurseries stock mixes specially formulated to give your cannabis crops the right nutrients at the correct stage. 

Prevent airy buds with the correct techniques

Growing marijuana takes some patience and a little effort, but even the best growers in the world have landed up with airy buds at one time or another. 

These loose buds defeat the object of getting sticky, dense buds to harvest. Cannabis plants need certain nutrients, the right amount of heat and light, combined with just the right humidity levels to develop fully

Ensuring that your crops get what they need during the phases is crucial to dense bud growth. Fortunately, even if the harvest doesn’t turn out as expected, the drying process can help puff up loose buds. It even helps to restore some flavor and aroma. 

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About the Author: Kyle Kushman

Kyle Kushman is a legend in the cannabis community. He is the modern-day polymath of pot: cultivator, breeder, activist, writer, and educator. After winning no less than 13 Cannabis Cups, there’s nothing this guy doesn’t know about indoor growing – he’s been there, done it, and is still doing it to this day!