For optimal extraction-ready cannabis, it's necessary to take a different approach than merely growing the best plants possible.
When growing plants for oil production, a grower should take the following factors into account:
Genetics and the quality of the raw materials are both important considerations.
Which kind of cultivation yields the best results in terms of yield and quality of the final product?
When, how, and how well the plant is harvested, trimmed, and stored.
The control of pests and the potential impact that has on resin production.
Yes, Cannabis Plant Genetics Matter
Philip Hague, Director of Cultivation at New York City-based Acreage Holdings, concentrates on selecting strains with high resin production since resin contains cannabinoids, terpenes, and raw material for high-quality oil.
“We’re working with a deep group of genetic material,” he said. “We’re able to grow lots of seeds and find plant materials that lend themselves more toward the extraction process.”
Hague prefers Kush strains for their high resin production, as long as they're the genuine article from South West Asia, not Kush plants of the California variety.
However, if you see a lot of crystals, or trichomes, on a plant, it can be a bit misleading. Resin may be found in plenty in the plant's flowering portion, but this does not guarantee that it will be found in its leafy material.
“Some of the best plants that we’ve ever come across for the extraction process aren’t very outwardly resinous,” Hague said. “But they do produce quite a bit more on the extract end.”
Make Sure the Growing Environment is Optimal
Plant resin production is largely determined by its genes, but the cultivation environment can help fine-tune and complete the process.
Jeff Thorne— manager of cultivation of Sunniva, a cannabis service and product provider situated in Calgary, Alberta— uses a climate-controlled greenhouse to aid in the production of massive resin heads. A hotter, more humid room is the starting point for his plants; and as the development cycle progresses, it cools and dries.
The total yield and potency, as well as terpene production, are all affected by how well the plants are cared for. There's no way to consistently manufacture high-quality items from genetics unless you have well-defined and standardized operating procedures.
Finish Off Your Cannabis Harvest Strong
After you’ve succeeded in selecting the correct strains and have nourished them to properly flourish, it’s essential that you guide your harvest through the last stage to ensure the most optimal plant material for extraction.
At Acreage, Hague prefers to harvest his plants reserved for extraction a bit earlier than the flower for retail. He cuts his plants and immediately freezes them as opposed to drying, curing, and trimming them.
This method preserves some of the terpenes for live resin, in addition to assisting in the reduction of labor costs.
He also recommends that growers and prospective growers recreate the conditions of the “whole-plant experience” within the given premises by lowering maximum temperatures at the finishing phase of the plant cycle in order to assist in the preservation of the extracted oil’s terpenes.