What are Trichomes in Weed?

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Have you really taken a look at your nug and wondered what those tiny crystals that look like snow are? Well, if you see those on your bud, first, congratulations, as you have a very high-quality flower that is for sure going to hit.

Second of all, these are called trichome crystals. Basically, these crystals are the concentrated part of the flower that holds the THC in the bud. This magic snow not only gives each bud a pretty, snow-like look but is partly responsible for certain strains to hit harder than others.

If you are curious about how they work, what they look like, and some tips on trichome production, we got you. In the following text, you’ll find everything you need to know about these small crystals and, of course, the easy way to try them out with our delicious THCA-infused prerolls.

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Key Takeaways

  • Trichomes are appendages that grow on the cannabis plant’s body. These contain terpenes and cannabinoids and concentrate most of what you can find in the plant.
  • There are three main types of trichomes, bulbous, capitate-sessile, and capitate-stalked.
  • Trichomes have three general stages when they age clear, cloudy, and amber.
  • The best time to harvest buds is closer to the amber state. Some strains take longer to get to this stage, while others can go as close as five days into the flowering stage.

 

What are Trichomes?

Let’s start this session of trichomes 101. While the name might sound like something out of your science class, these small diamonds are not complicated to get to know at all. First, let’s tackle what they are.

Trichomes are present on most nugs and are basically responsible for producing and holding all the good stuff we love from weed, like cannabinoids and terpenes. These are basically appendages that grow on top of the actual plant.

And while you might find trichomes all over its body, they are primarily concentrated in three parts: the flower, bract, and leaves.

Now, don’t worry if you’ve never heard of trichomes before. You’ve probably tried them before without even realizing it! Trichomes are found in the little hairs that give each nug a shimmering, crystal-like appearance and the characteristic icky, resin-like feel.

These are converted into extract after being collected, meaning that even concentrates have some byproduct from these tiny crystals. While it depends a little on the strain, some hemp flowers have CBD crystals instead of THC ones, but most of them hold the THCA of the plant.

Trichomes are generally made of hairs, glandular hairs, papillae, and bud scales. They are grown on the flower’s appendages and are not exclusive to cannabinoids and hemp, as you can also find them in algae and other plants and organisms like lichens.

 

Three Main Types of Trichomes

Continuing on our small class on trichomes, there are basically two main categories of trichomes which are then divided into three different types. In a nutshell, there are two big families of trichomes: glandular and non-glandular.

The first family is the only kind that produces cannabinoids, while the second family produces something called cystoliths. These serve as a way for the plant to defend itself against small plagues, like insects.

While the second family is important for the health of the plant, we’ll focus on the first category as it divides further into three kinds: bulbous, capitate-sessile, and capitate-stalked.

Let’s further explore each of them.

Bulbous Trichomes

The first type of trichome is a little more obvious than the other two. They are the most common ones and are the ones that dot the bud’s surface. Scientists are still defining if they actually produce any cannabinoids, but meanwhile, they are bulb-like crystals that cover most buds.

What Does it Look like?

Well, bulbous trichomes have a globe part that gives them a bulb-like appearance. Most of them are crystalline and mostly transparent, depending on the strain. A few of them can also turn yellow or orange. It is important to mention these can only be seen with a microscope or dedicated device.

Where to Find it

As the third most abundant trichomes of the plant, these are usually found all around its body, depending on the strain. You’ll find them evenly distributed in most of them, for a few exceptions and lower quality buds.

Capitate-sessile Trichomes

Now let’s meet capitate-sessile trichomes. These are more abundant than bulbous and are known due to their large bodies and mushroom appearance. Much like the previous kind of trichome, these are practically invisible to the naked eye but do produce cannabinoids thanks to the secretory cells at the base.

What Does it Look like?

What sets these apart from bulbous trichomes is their overall shape. Through a microscope, you’ll find them anywhere between 25 and 100 micrometers with a mushroom-like shape, with a “stalk” and a massive protrusion as a “head.

Where to Find it

These are mostly found on the underside of the leaves and appendages of the bud, with some hidden under fan and sugar leaves. Make sure to bring your microscope or device to make sure you can find them, though.

Capitate-stalked Trichomes

Let’s now talk about the creme-de-la-creme of trichomes, the capitate-stalked kind. These are also shaped like fungi but are the most common and visible ones on the plant. They are the most abundant of all the flowers, ranging in size anywhere between 50 and 500 micrometers.

What Does it Look like?

Similar to the last kind, these have a massive bulb on the top with a stalk-like shape connecting them to the plant. These are fully visible to the eye and are recognizable because of their cannabinoid production.

Where to Find it

These are very sought-after, as they are believed to contain most of the cannabinoids that are extracted from hemp. You can find these trichomes on the surface of your nug like freshly fallen snow, and they can rarely be found in some varieties around the fan leaves as well.

 

Different Stages of Trichomes

We’ve checked the categories of trichomes; now, let’s go with their different stages. Not only do they help our beloved plant thrive and pack a punch of cannabinoids and terpenes, but they also play a vital role in letting you know when it is time to harvest our buds.

Think of trichomes like your plan’s personal alarm clock, letting you know when it’s ready to be plucked and transformed into the good stuff. These crystals come in all sorts of colors during the plant’s life, and each of the hues indicates a different stage in the plant’s journey.

They start from clear to cloudy and eventually amber. Because of their importance as visual alarm clocks, they are essential to understand when your bud is goo to harvest at the peak of its fragrance and potency.

Let’s review each of these hues in detail.

Clear Trichomes

These are the first hue you’ll find once your plant begins to flower. At this time, the dots will look translucent, and it basically means that the trichome glands are slowly starting the resin production. At this period, THC is at its highest concentration. However, other cannabinoids are not formed yet.

Cloudy or Opaque Trichomes

If you see this, your plant is signaling it is getting ready to harvest. When trichomes change to this color and start to get opaque or cloudy, it is usually not ready to harvest yet. Some varieties do have cloudy-like oranges and yellows, so be on the look for that. When they turn amber, however, it is time for harvest, so be sure to check on them soon.

Amber/Brown Trichomes

Amber and dark yellow colors are the colors you want to see on your bud. This is a pretty safe signal that the plant has reached maturity. Some producers harvest immediately, as the product at this stage tends to THC-heavy.

When the trichomes turn into a brown or darker amber color, the THCA has converted into CBN, which is the product of THC breaking down. While these might not be as potent as yellow-colored trichomes, they can be more relaxing and sleep-inducing.

 

How Long for Trichomes to Turn Amber?

If you want to find out if cannabis is ready for harvest based on the color of the trichome, you’ll have to pay close attention. This largely depends on the strain and the seed used, as some transitions start as early as five days within the flowering periods.

Other strains can take anywhere between 2 and 3 weeks. Some growers from the community advise checking your weed every day after you notice the trichomes, as strains can change from one color to another in just a few days.

Keeping a log with colors or taking pictures from every time you check on them in the flowering stage can be a good way to see if the trichomes have changed color yet.

 

How Should Trichomes Look when Ready to Harvest?

So, this will change from plant to plant. But as a rule of thumb, when healthy plants are ready to harvest, you’ll have yellow, orange, and amber-colored trichomes. This process is usually clear to opaque, white, and then yellow or amber.

Pay close attention to the stage between milky white and amber, as these are the best times to pick your nugs. Since the trichomes can easily oxidize and turn from a delicious and potent THC to CBN, it is advised you keep your plants in constant observation after the “white” state.

Harvesting at the right time will result in high-potency and fresher weed since sometimes CBN can give flowers the typical “old weed” aroma, even if it’s freshly harvested and cured.

 

How to Increase Trichome Production

The best way to increase the production of our little crystals is to take proper care of them. Having enough medium, space, temperature, and light are key to having a healthy trichome count.

Some growers find that proper lighting might also help for more of these crystals in certain strains. So, more lights and higher-quality sources will always help with both yield and trichome production.

 

Tips for Harvesting Quality Trichomes

If you are planning on harvesting your buds and getting some high-quality trichomes, you’ll have to pay close attention to your trichomes during the last two weeks of the harvesting season. Since trichomes are incredibly sensitive, you’ll want to keep an eye open for flavorful buds.

Sadly, trichomes are fragile little things, so preserving them is a top priority. Lucky for you, we have a few tips on how to get the best quality on our small buddies. Let’s dive into them.

Flush Your Cannabis

To sum it up, flushing involves adding water with moderate pH levels instead of nutrient solutions. This method is useful during the growth process, as sometimes the saturation of certain minerals, salts, and nutrients can be too strong in the growing medium, including soil or fibers.

This is especially important during the flowering stage, so try doing it often in the final stages of pre-harvest. This way, you can let your plant flush any remaining nutrients in its system, which can give a cleaner product.

Remove Large (Fan) Leaves

While the fan leaves are an iconic part of the plant, you’ll want to trim them ever so often to allow your buds to absorb more light and nutrition. The problem if you skip defoliation is that it will rob nugs of getting the ultraviolet rays and proper growth. So try cutting every so often so the nugs get more of a chance of absorbing nutrients.

Know to Choose Wet or Dry Trimming

We talked about trimming, so let’s dive into the wet or dry methods. Choosing when to use them is key to having good growth and harvest, so it’s wise to learn about both. The dry trim refers to when the whole plant is dried together and trimmed when the plant is dry, while the “wet” method is done right after harvest.

Tips for Drying Your Plants

Before curing, you’ll have to be careful when you dry your plants. You’ll have to help the plant get rid of any residual moisture, not only to preserve the trichome crystals but also to prevent mold and other humidity from ruining your buds.

We recommend drying buds in a cool, dark place, with about fifty percent humidity and temperatures anywhere between 65 and 85°F.

Cure Your Cannabis

Lastly, curing your cannabis correctly is key to preserving trichomes and then either smoking the buds or turning them into extracts. Get rid of moisture and heat from your plants since heat and humidity can evaporate your terpenes or make them a safe home for fungi.

Our recommendation is to cure your buds for at least three days and up to seven days, depending on the size and strain. If you are not sure if your plant is ready, try snapping stems or twigs. If they snap when they break, your nugs are ready to smoke.

 

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