Dearest Nico, please help… My buds are not tight, but are light and fluffy. How do I get them to tighten up? I dried them for one week and cured them for two more. They still have a green smell, not pungent, no weight. — Ken L. via the NicosNuggets@hightimes.com mailbag.
Thanks for reading and writing in. Your question is asked often and really drives towards a central tenant of cultivation: Yield. Light and airy buds are very common issues among home growers and there are a few easy ways to solve the problem.
To start, it is important to note that a strain’s yield is heavily reliant on the genetics of the plant. Some strains are simply low yielders, while other strains can put out two or three times the yield of lesser genetics. More often than not, indica-leaning strains will yield more than sativa-leaning strains, due the fact they grow shorter and bushier, with short internode lengths (distance between branches on main stem) which in turn provides more branching and flowering sites on the plant.
The latter point, however, about shorter internode lengths and more budding sites can also be achieved via smart horticultural techniques. Using fluorescent lighting for young seedlings or clones, and metal-halide (MH) bulbs during the vegetative phase, will help keep plants squat with shorter internode lengths and therefor much more branching. These lights are higher in the blue spectrum, as opposed to high-pressure sodium bulbs (HPS), which are higher in the red spectrum which induces stretching in plants.
Still, while these lighting techniques might help with overall plant yield, the issue of packing weight onto light and airy buds will require more plant food and energy. To create dense buds, the plants will need more resources to boost photosynthesis, the process that creates plant food in the form of sugars (glucose).
One way to do this is to provide more light energy. For indoor growers, this means using high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs. During flowering, we use HPS bulbs and, depending on the size of your garden, they will range between 400 and 1,000 watts per lamp. Light provides energy to plants in the form of photons, and the stronger the light source is, the more photons will be absorbed by the leaves for use in photosynthesis.
The other part of the photosynthesis equation that is often overlooked is the presence of CO2 in the garden, as well as other important minerals such as phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). The latter minerals are usually found in higher amounts in the “bloom” component of most major nutrient lines (General Hydro, Advanced Nutrients, Botanicare, etc.).
In terms of CO2, ambient levels of CO2 in urban areas generally sit around 400 PPM. Boosting these levels to between 1,000 – 1,200 PPM is a sure way to pack weight onto buds. This can be done using CO2 Boost buckets, CO2 tanks (along with a timer and regulator) or propane (gas) burners.
Be cautious when using bloom “boost” additives, which are largely P and K formulations. Remember that while these additives are good to use in moderate levels, the directions on bottle labels will tell you to use more than is needed (for obvious sales reasons) and in doing so, you end up creating a need for longer flush times, otherwise you risk harsh smoke due to residual build-up of salts and excess minerals in the flowers.
Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!