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Increase THC levels and the potency of your cannabis

Image of a man smoking cannabis with a potent brain effect

If you want to know how to increase THC and other cannabinoids in your marijuana plants this article is for you. In the following article we will see how to maximize the potency of any cannabis variety, in the simplest and safest way.

🎯 Factors influencing cannabis potency

Cannabinoids levels in marijuana may vary depending on these factors:

  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Cultivation
  • Conservation

image of a photografic montage that represents a marijuana leaf doing weights in the gym*

1- Why is genetics important in the potency of marijuana?

Genetics is the most important thing, it is what will mark the full potential of a variety. This means that with a loose strain, such as the Duckfoot, you will never get an extreme potency, no matter how well you cultivate it and even if it has the perfect environmental conditions.

If its maximum THC potential is 7%, you cultivate it perfectly, it has the maximum of light, total darkness during the night period, perfect temperature and humidity… In other words, with all the ideal parameters, that variety will get a maximum of 7% THC.

On the other hand, with a potent genetics it is easy to get your joints to be potent, as long as you have a clear minimum care. For example, a White Gelatto, even if it suffers some heat, a little hydric stress, or some lack, it will give you a potent weed.

Whenever we think about getting the most potent marijuana comes to our mind to increase THC levels. This is a good thing because, as we have seen, THC is a determining factor, but it is not the only important thing. Within the cannabis terpenes it has been discovered that there is a very special one, since it acts on the CB2 receptor like another cannabinoid. Beta-Caryophyllene also has medicinal properties of its own, and when it works in synergy with high levels of THC and other cannabinoids it turns weed into a hard drug.

So we can say that the most determining factor when it comes to achieving the greatest potency of marijuana is genetics.

2- How much does the environment influence the level of cannabis potency?

The environmental conditions where a marijuana plant is cultivated can influence the amount of cannabinoids and terpenes that it obtains. Within these environmental factors the most important are the light and the temperature.

The trichomes that develop our favorite plants serve as a defense system against U-VB rays. It has been shown that the higher the levels of light intensity of different spectra, the greater the amount of resin. The best is sunlight, and indoors a combination of different luminaires

Temperature has a lot to do with the degradation of cannabinoids, especially terpenes and flavonoids. An ideal daytime temperature would be around 25 º C. indoors, being able to rise if administered a greater amount of CO2, another environmental factor.

illustration showing the ideal parameters in indoor cannabis cultivation*

3- Is the way of cultivating very important for the potency of the weed?

It’s really important, as we saw before, a perfectly finished plant is not the same as another plant of the same genetics badly cultivated. For example, when we read that PEV Seeds’ Gorilla Vip can exceed 25% THC it is true, but it does not mean that all those who cultivate it are going to get a marijuana with such high levels.

It even happens with clones of the same mother plant, you can give it to a colleague who is an expert in cannabis cultivation, the one who always brings out the best weed, so that he can grow it in his own way. Another cuttings from the same mother you give it to a friend who has just started the cultivation, so that he can grow it as he wants. It is very probable that if you do an analysis when both harvests, the buds of the expert colleague get higher levels of cannabinoids, don’t you believe me? Try it and you’ll tell me…

4- What does the way marijuana is conserved have to do with its potency?

It really matters a lot, so much so that a cannabis of high potency and delicious flavor can become a mediocre weed. Light, air and humidity can degrade the cannabinoids and terpenes of a crop, so it is very important to keep the buds properly after drying and curing.

The ideal is to keep the harvest in hermetic glass jars, in the dark, in an environment of low humidity. A good conservation is not going to turn a loose marijuana in a powerful grass, but it will get that the power and quality does not decrease, or at least it slows down to the maximum this process.

Another advantage of preserving perfectly cured buds is that they last much longer in optimal conditions, even reaching the next season without hardly changing. We have tried joints from old harvests, more than 5 years old, which were still very good. Obviously not as well as when he was 6 months old that we believe is the moment of maximum power of marijuana, but still very well.

image of a glass jar full of buds for preservation*

👾 Tips and tricks to increase the potency of your cannabis

  1. Choose a variety with aTHC potential of more than 20%, if it is possible that it contains quite a lot of Beta-Caryophyllene and Limonene.
  2. Control to the maximum the parameters of the culture, at least these: maximum light, temperature around 25º C. diurnal and 18º C. nocturnal, humidity of more than 50% in growth and less than 50% in flowering.
  3. Use insecticides and natural preventive fungicides, to avoid that some type of plague stops the development of the plants.
  4. Observe the plants daily, if it can be with a magnifying glass or microscope, to correct possible deficiencies, blockages or plagues.
  5. Treat the flowers well, both during cultivation and after harvest. Sometimes I feel sorry to see some people grab the buds, or hit them ruthlessly. This is bad, not because they are also living beings, but because the cannabis resin are very sensitive glands that spoil when touched.
  6. Control parameters during drying, curing and subsequent conservation too, we have already seen how important it is to maintain cannabis right.

We have already seen the best way to improve the quality of our cannabis, and as you know the genetic potential is only an important part. So don’t worry, at Pevgrow we can offer you the best genetics on the market.

But, as you have been able to verify, the other part that is going to determine the total power of the marijuana ultimately is you, and on that hand we can also help you to obtain the greater success, so if you have any doubt you can ask us. And if you want others to get the best possible marijuana also the best thing you can do is to share this article, we thank you in advance.

Do you want to get the most power in your cannabis plants? ⚠️ Don't miss this article ✅ Your marijuana will reach the highest THC levels.

How to Increase THC When Growing Weed

Table of Contents

Increasing Cannabis Potency During the Growing Process

When it comes to growing cannabis, there are lots of different goals by different growers. Many growers are growing medical marijuana for medical-related purposes. Others are growing for their personal adult use. For many growers, including both medical marijuana and recreational cannabis growers, a common goal is to maximize the amount of THC and other cannabinoids produced when growing cannabis (ie increase the “potency” of your buds).

This cannabis bud was grown to produce the highest levels of THC possible – as a side effect it is dense, sticky and looks great.

Why Increase Maximum THC Levels?

  • Greater mental and psychoactive effects from the same amount of bud (your harvest will go further!)
  • Many medical marijuana growers desire high THC levels for the relief of nausea, certain types of pain, spasticity, certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis, etc.
  • Many of the things you do to increase THC levels will also increase your overall cannabis yields.

However, not every grower wants the highest levels of THC in their bud, and may actually be seeking other cannabinoids found in certain strains. For example, there are many medical marijuana growers who prefer low-THC, high-CBD cannabis, which is non-psychoactive and may be of interest to those looking for possible relief from anxiety or seizures. Learn more about the difference between CBD and other cannabinoids like THC (unfortunately you can’t use grow methods to increase CBD levels, you need to start with a low-THC, high-CBD strain).

Much of the THC and “potency” in your buds is contained in the sparkly trichomes

What increases THC levels and overall potency?

These are the most important factors that will affect your THC levels and overall marijuana potency:

Strain & Individual Plant Genetics

Your plant’s genes are hands-down the most important aspect of cannabis potency when it comes to growing!

Your plant genetics set the “upper limit” of how much THC and other cannabinoids your plant will ever be able to produce. Although you can use grow methods to maximize the THC within that limit, you will never be able to overcome the limits set by your strain and plant genetics.

So as a really rough example, let’s say your strain/plant genetics can only produce 15% THC at most. That means you may get less than 15% THC in your buds if you don’t grow the plant right, but no matter what you do you’ll never be able to increase it above 15%.

In order to get really high levels of potency and THC, it’s essential to start with high-potency, high-THC genes from a respectable breeder. Learn how to research strains so you get the most potent cannabis plant to fulfill your needs. If you’ve never ordered cannabis seeds before, learn how to get seeds delivered to the US and worldwide.

Some strains just don’t have the genetics to make cannabis buds as potent and trichome-covered as the one pictured here! Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to beat genetics so start with good genes!

Harvest Time

Many cannabis growers don’t realizing they are actually harvesting their buds too early, dramatically reducing yields and potency!

There is a 2-3 week period during the flowering stage when plants are “mature” and buds are at the highest levels of THC. At this point, the tiny resin glands (trichomes) on the buds have turned milky white, and most of the white hairs (pistils) on the buds have darkened and curled in.

Highest Level of THC When…

Most white pistils have darkened and curled in (bud looks more “solid”)

Most clear trichomes (looks like glass) have turned white (looks like white plastic)

If the plant is allowed to keep maturing, the cannabinoid profile continues to change. Buds harvested on the later side tend to produce more of a relaxed “body” effect, though the psychoactive effects of THC may be somewhat reduced.

If you harvest earlier than this, the plant hasn’t reached its full potential. Sometimes early-harvested buds can produce a “speedy” effects, or give some people headaches (curing will help with this) so avoid harvesting early if you can!

Learn more about when to harvest cannabis (with lots more pics!)
Get the effects you’re looking for!

This cola has several weeks to go before it reaches its highest THC levels – harvesting now will reduce both your yields and your potency!

Plant Health & Care

In order to get your cannabis to produce the most potent buds possible, you need a robust, healthy cannabis plant with lots of bud sites getting direct light during the flowering stage. This means it’s important to avoid common plant health mistakes like overwatering, underwatering, heat stress, root problems, irregular light cycles, and nutrient problems. Check out our 7-step remedy to fix most cannabis plant growing problems. Try to maintain balance and avoid environmental extremes. Basically, treat your cannabis plant like it’s a celebrity – it gets everything it wants!

Light Levels

Although cannabis can grow in relatively low light conditions (it grows like a weed!), it will not produce significant amounts of bud without very bright light in the flowering stage. Cannabis uses light to power the growth of buds, along with the THC and cannabinoids contained inside. Outdoors your plant needs direct sunlight 8+ hours a day to produce to its fullest, and indoors you need strong, bright grow lights (like LEDs or MH/HPS grow lights) to produce the highest levels of THC.

Curing Process

Although there is no evidence that the curing process (jarring up buds after they’ve dried) increases THC levels directly, there is a lot of evidence that it increases the perceived potency of buds.

Though not well understood, this may be because there are chemical changes that happen during the curing phase that “intensify” the effects of THC and other cannabinoids.

The curing process also has other benefits for marijuana growers. For example, newly dried cannabis buds often smell like cut grass or hay, even if they smelled great in the flowering stage. The curing process helps get rid of the unpleasant grassy taste/smell and brings back the natural taste and smell of the cannabis plant.

Lastly, uncured and early-harvested buds can cause “speedy” thoughts or headaches for some people, and curing often reduces these negative effects.

Common Myth: Using CO2 increases THC levels

Although it’s true that using CO2 can increase your overall cannabis yields, there isn’t any evidence that it actually increases the potency of your bud. Learn about other ways to increase yields.

Unknowns: These Growing Methods May Increase THC But Aren’t Well-Tested

These are some of the common ways growers try to increase the THC levels of their cannabis. These techniques and methods are considered “unknowns” because there hasn’t been a whole lot of scientific testing to see what works and what doesn’t work as far as increasing THC.

Supplements to Increase THC and Overall Potency

There are many supplements for growing cannabis, and each one has a different purpose. Some supplements are great, while others are just snake oil.

When it comes to supplements for bud quality, most claim to increase yields or flavor as opposed to potency. However, there are some supplements that either claim or insinuate that they will increase the potency and/or THC levels in your cannabis.

Unfortunately, at this time there aren’t any supplement companies which have conducted systematic tests showing that their supplements will actually increase THC. Because of this, although it seems possible that some of these do work as stated, I can’t recommend any ones in particular.

If you know of any supplement manufacturers who have actually tested their products on real cannabis plants and can demonstrate that their supplements actually increase THC, we’d love to hear from you!

Allow Plant to Remain in Vegetative Stage For 8+ Weeks

I’ve heard this one from different growers over the years, but for now, the jury is still out. The idea is that a cannabis plant needs to remain in the vegetative stage for at least 8 weeks before being switched to the flowering stage in order to reach its maximum THC levels when it starts budding.

Cannabis plants which have been allowed to grow for at least 8 weeks in the vegetative stage tend to be much bigger and more robust than plants switched earlier, and they produce far greater yields. But does that mean that they produce higher levels of THC? It seems like it could be possible, but it might also be related to other factors. For example, big plants are usually grown under powerful grow lights, which affects potency, and are also often grown by more experienced growers. More testing is needed!

My idea for a test (hopefully someday I’ll get to do this when I get more room to grow!)

  1. Sprout several seeds from a very stable cannabis strain like Northern Light to reduce genetic variation between the plants
  2. Allow each seedling to grow out to 8 weeks in the vegetative stage, then take a clone off each plant. Although clones are the size of seedlings, they are the same internal “age” as their mother so in a way, these clones would already be 8 weeks old
  3. Sprout more seeds of the same stable strain and grow them until they’re about 3 weeks old so they’re the same size as the clones. You want to time this so that the seedlings are about 3 weeks old just as the clones are the same size and taking root. Seedlings can’t start flowering before 3-4 weeks old and we’re trying to create as close to the same conditions as we can between the two plants to reduce as many variables as possible.
  4. Now that you’ve got your 3-week seedlings and your “8-week” clones that are the same size, flower them together in the same conditions.
  5. After harvest, test the THC levels! If the buds from the clones are more potent than the ones from the seedlings I’d say it’s pretty good evidence that increased age increases potency. If not, well, back to the drawing board to try another test!

Letting plants get older before the switch to the flowering stage definitely results in bigger plants and higher yields, but we don’t know if it increases cannabis potency!

Lack of Pollination (Producing “Sinsemilla”)

Just a few decades ago pretty much all cannabis bud you could find was full of seeds. This is because at the time many growers didn’t realize that male and female cannabis plants need to be separated in the flowering stage to prevent the female plants from getting pollinated and making seeds.

However, once cannabis growers became more aware of growing techniques including how to prevent pollination, there was a rise in “sinsemilla” weed, a word which combines the Spanish word “sin” (without) and “semilla” (seed) to mean cannabis “without seeds.”

Seeds belong in your garden, not in your buds!

The sinsemilla bud that started flooding the market was much higher potency than the seedy, low-quality bud that had been available before. This led to the term sinsemilla being used to describe very high quality and potent cannabis. There’s no doubt that most growers prefer buds without seeds, but the term sinsemilla has led to the idea that cannabis buds without seeds were inherently more potent than seedy bud.

While this may very well be true, there isn’t much evidence that it’s actually the lack of pollination which caused the dramatic increase of potency experienced by cannabis enthusiasts at the time. Right around the time growers started producing non-seedy buds, the cannabis breeding scene was also starting to get established. Publications to assist cannabis growers like the High Times magazine appeared on the scene to help growers learn better growing techniques, and cannabis breeders like Nirvana started shipping cannabis seeds of famous strains to growers all around the world by mail order.

High Times Top Strains of 1977

Growing and breeding techniques were improving simultaneously. It’s possible that the increase in potency experienced by people who switched to seedless buds was actually the result of better genetics/breeding. These days, most people only get sinsemilla and no one really wants to do direct comparisons.

However, keeping buds from producing seeds will dramatically increase the perceived quality of your buds, as well as your yields, so regardless of whether it increases bud potency or not, it’s something every grower wants to do! Don’t let your female plants get pollinated – remove all male plants from your grow room immediately (or start with feminized seeds, which don’t produce any male plants)!

Type of Grow Light & Spectrum – HPS, LED & LEC Grow Lights

Different types of grow light produce different spectrums (colors) of light. There are some growers that believe that growing cannabis under the unique light spectrums of LED grow lights or LEC grow lights may increase resin production and THC levels. Other growers swear that you need powerful HPS grow lights to produce the highest levels of THC.

Special Ways of Flushing

During the flushing process of growing cannabis, a grower generally gives their plants just plain water for the last few weeks before harvest. This is done to encourage the cannabis to “cannibalize” itself and use up all remaining nutrients in the plant.

The idea is to get the plant to use up any nutrients that may have built up in the buds which could possibly affect that taste/smell after harvest

However, there are several additional types of flushes that many growers believe will increase THC levels. Most of these are done in addition to regular flushing, just before harvest. Unfortunately, there aren’t many (if any) tests determining which one of these work, but there are many experienced growers who swear by these methods!

Unfortunately, they don’t all match (for example some growers say to harvest in the morning, while others believe you get more THC if you harvest during the plant’s dark period), but these are the most common flushing techniques that I’ve heard to increase THC levels right before harvest.

These “flushing” methods may (or may not) increase THC:

  • keep plant in the dark for 2-3 days before harvest
  • harvest cannabis in the morning
  • harvest cannabis during the plant’s dark period
  • water plants with ice water before harvest
  • chop down and hang entire plant upside down for a few days before trimming and drying buds

Air Temperature, Humidity and Overwatering

I wrote this section after reading the results of a 6-year study about industrial hemp. Although hemp is closely related to the cannabis, they’re not the same thing so these finding should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. In the study the researchers found the following environmental factors were associated with higher levels of THC:

  • High humidity
  • Warm air temperature
  • Lower levels of precipitation (rain)

Since the study is based on hemp grown outdoors, it’s hard to know if these factors will influence the THC content of cannabis plants grown indoors, but I do think it’s a good idea to keep things warm (at least above 70°F/20°C which is the minimum recommended temperature for optimum growth) and avoid overwatering!

Common grower knowledge says that lower humidity towards the end of the flowering stage will raise THC levels, but this study makes me want to look into that further since the hemp in the study actually produced higher levels of THC at higher humidities!
Conclusion: Time to Grow More Potent Cannabis!

There are certain techniques that will definitely maximize the THC produced by your cannabis, and there are other methods which may increase potency but their effects are less certain.

If you are serious about increasing the THC levels in your cannabis, make sure to follow the top steps which are known to increase potency! Skipping any of those steps will reduce your potency for certain! Choosing the right strain, giving plenty of bright light, taking great care of your plants while they’re alive, and harvesting/drying/curing properly are the most important steps you can take to increase the THC levels of your buds!

But luckily for cannabis growers, most of the “unknowns” can’t hurt your plants, so there’s no harm in trying them out, too!

There are a few growing techniques known to increase the THC of buds, as well as several "unknowns" which may also have a big effect on potency. Learn what you need to do to get the results you want!