Cannabis trichomes are the small crystals, which cover the leaves and flowers of all marijuana strains. They are light, sticky and carry all the incredible flavors of each strain. Cannabis trichomes contain THC and CBD cannabinoids that help many people who use medical marijuana.
Producing the flavors, terpenes these cannabinoids determine the potency of each individual strain. As well as giving each strain its unique qualities.
The trichomes plays an important defensive role helping the plant against heat and predatory insects.
Terpenes role inside the trichomes
Terpenes are the pungent taste and scent of the cannabis plant. Secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Terpenes are the aromatic oils that provide the cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors such as citrus, berry, mint and pine.
Each terpene itself will have many aroma profiles making this balance much more interesting. Terpene levels may also vary from crop to crop. Which may lead to differences in the scent profile of the same strain.
The terpenes scent is helpful to bring you into harmony with the cannabis that your body needs. When you smell a variety of marijuana, it may be your body that tells you to dose with that particular strain.
Where are Trichomes found
Cannabis trichomes are found in three different areas of the plant.
The smallest type of trichome found in cannabis is the bulbous trichome measuring only
Lightly covering the surface, bulbous trichomes are produced. But each of them consists of only a few cells that contain a short “stalk” and a gland head that secrets the resin. When this gland swells, it often creates a small membrane that forms a small “bulbous” casing.
Capitate-sessile trichomes are denser and substantially larger than the bulbous trichomes. Measuring in the range of about 25 to 100 microns in length. This cannabis trichome has a single-cell base with a slightly larger circular gland.
Consisting of approximately 8-16 cells forming a convex rosette on top of the stalk. They are more abundant than the bulbous trichomes.
Capitate-stalked trichomes appear during the flowering phase. It covers the area in and around the outer layer of small leaves that surround the buds. The Capitate-stalked trichomes are composed of a stalk topped by the waxy gland head.
They produce the cannabis trichomes unique chemical compounds, which has the highest concentrations. The trichomes with their thick, swollen stalks can easily be seen with the naked eye. They range in the area of 50 to 500 microns.
Trichome Life Cycle
Cannabis trichomes life cycle starts as soon as the plant start its flowering process.
As they begin to produce flowers, trichomes form along the outer surface of the vegetation. It will begin to form vacuoles and plastids from the stem to the head of the gland. This process is what all the precious cannabinoids and terpenes will eventually form.
The life cycle of trichomes is by far the most accurate measure of when your cannabis can be harvested. Indication of maturity is when the parabola begins to change opacity. From a clear translucent to a cloudy white and later to an amber hue.
A good indicator of when to harvest your plant is when the trichome head has transitioned to half a cloudy white and half amber.
One fact you should keep in mind is that not all strains are the same and that some cannabis trichomes will mature differently. While small variations may occur between strains. The most common method among growers to determine harvest period is by trichome color.
Curing and Harvest of Trichomes
Separate the individual buds and place them in a clean glass jar. Paper or plastic bags are fine but glass jars work best. For the first two weeks when the buds are in the jar open them up for 5 minutes in order to air out.
Once harvested I recommend drying and sifting your flowers with a 3-screen grinder to release all the trichomes. This will produce “kief”. This type of extraction from the flower into “kief” will allow you to produce hash, extracts or tinctures.
The exact harvest time is up to each grower, because different timing influences the effects that the strain will have once cured.
A plant which is harvested at full THC is usually at “half amber and half cloudy” trichomes. The same plant that is harvested a little bit later will become less potent as the trichomes begin to deteriorate.