Dab Dept: Grow Tips for Extract Artists

If you’re growing cannabis to make concentrates, you have to shift your goals a little. This can be tricky if you learned to grow prior to the age of extraction. Some of the “pre-run” cultivation techniques go against what we were taught back when everyone was growing flowers just for smoking. But remember: You’re no longer a bud farmer—you are now a terpene farmer. And there are different things that we want from the plant when making dabs. Here are a few tips.

Growroom temperature: Basically, keep it cold. All the compounds that make great-tasting and potent concentrates are volatile, which means they evaporate easily. You can trap these compounds before they escape into the air by keeping your growroom temps (very) low—especially in the last few weeks of flowering. Keep your room in the mid-60s during the flower cycle. Your plant growth may slow a little bit, but the terpene profiles will be much stronger in the final product.

Raise the lights: This tip probably flies in the face of everything you learned about growing pot, but raising the lights will help keep temperatures down while also forcing your plants to stretch. Lighter, fluffier buds extract more efficiently, meaning you’ll pull more concentrates from your crop.

Nutrient selection: It’s always a good idea to grow with organic nutrients and a “less is more” mentality. We recommend using a very diluted nutrient solution, especially during flowering. Some nutes can greatly affect the flavor profile of your plants. What you may not even notice in flowers can become unbearable in dabs, because in the process of extraction, every aspect of your plants is concentrated—the good, the bad and the ugly.

Chop in the dark: This one is recommended even if you aren’t growing for concentrates. When you’re ready to cut your garden down, unplug your lights: Plants produce lots of terpenes in the nighttime hours. Those terpenes are responsible for flavor, and they start evaporating as soon as the lights come on. On the last day before harvest, crank up the AC, turn off all your fans and don’t let the lights fire up again. This will go a long way toward producing a more terp-rich final product.

Pesticides/fungicides: Once again, when you take a plant and make extracts, you’re concentrating everything within that plant in the resulting dabs. If you use pesticides or fungicides to finish off your crop, you’ll be concentrating all those chemicals as well, which will surely affect the flavor and could even be dangerous. If you wind up with a pest problem that requires some sort of chemical treatment, you might want to consider harvesting early or even scrapping the garden altogether rather than treating it with chemicals.

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