People compare particular strains to a variety of scents: lemon, pine, cloves, wood, skunk, and even diesel. There are many things cannabis can smell like, but do any of them indicate a whiff of trouble?
What influences the smell of marijuana?
There are several factors that influence the smell of weed. Perhaps the most significant one is the age of the cannabis plant, or more precisely when were the buds collected from the plant.
Weed that has been prematurely collected from the cannabis plant may have a less distinctive skunky odor. When you smoke it, this is also less potent weed. The chances are you are not going to get an ultimate high from smoking ‘young’ cannabis. If you are homegrowing, you might want to wait for the right timing to harvest those colas. When the cannabis plant gets to a certain age, the weed it produces gives a more beautiful high. So, weed from older cannabis plants, dried properly after harvest, will have a stronger odor.
The smell may also differ due to the different strains of marijuana. Cannabis plants contain terpenes, the organic compounds that give the distinctive odor of marijuana. So for instance, cannabis strains with lemon terpenes will give a distinctive lemon-like smell.
How do cannabis plants smell?
It’s a specific skunky, faintly weedy piney scent that becomes more distinct as the plant is aging. Most plants will smell similar both during the growing process and when they’re picked, dried and cured. The scent is more obvious and noticeable when the plant is in its flowering stage, however. That is why it’s important to control the odor of your cannabis plants in case you are cultivating at home.
Whether you want to tell the difference if you are growing Indica or Sativa plants, the smell might be helpful, but not necessarily. By default, Indica strains are supposed to smell more pungent, emitting more skunky and smellier aromas. Sativas may have enticing smells, enriched with sweet, fruity, or spicy terps derivatives, so they are generally less smelly. Some people do not agree that you can tell the difference between Indicas and Sativas by the smell. In favor of their argument is the abundance of hybrids that fuse properties from both Indica and Sativa.
If you are homegrowing cannabis, you are probably going to buy and try out several different seeds. After several months you should be able to differentiate smells that enter your nostrils. You may notice that the first plant you seeded smelled differently than the plant you seeded afterward. If you notice any such differences in the scents between the different plants you are growing, it might be an interesting aspect of the homegrowing. Note it down, especially if you are keeping a cannabis diary.
You may also wonder why weed smells skunky. It does so because of some terps. Most cannabis plants have myrcene terpene compounds that are present in other vegetation, too. For instance, bays, hops, mangos, and lemongrass all have myrcene compounds. Those strains of marijuana that have a more skunk scent may give you a stronger stoner effect. This indicates that myrcenes contribute to more than just the smell of marijuana. Basically, the intensity of smell is important in determining the strength of the strain.
It smells like freshly-cut grass
The scent of freshly-cut grass is an indicator that the chlorophyll in cannabis is decomposing into ammonia. This problem originates during the curing process, and it’s an indicator of incomplete curing.
Curing is an additional step in the cannabis preservation process, after drying and before consumption. Curing cannabis properly allows it to mature into a form that can maintain its freshness for up to two years. Rushing this process, or completing it incorrectly, can result in cannabis that smells like lawn cuttings.
Curing is sort of like aging wine or cheese. Some cannabis growers insist that long cures improve the flavor of the final product.
The cannabis drying and curing process can be delicate. It requires a controlled environment, with specific temperature, humidity, and air circulation levels. The initial drying phase takes place around room temperature, at 40-50% humidity, with plenty of air circulation.
After initial drying, the cannabis is trimmed and separated into flowers. It is then stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place until the buds have rehydrated slightly. Initial drying forces the moisture into the center of the plant, but a slow cure in a sealed jar forces the moisture to distribute itself more evenly, contributing to the metabolism of sugars, starches, and nutrients. A proper cure ensures that cannabis stays good for up to two years.
Importantly, the container must be “burped” regularly while curing in order to replenish the oxygen in the container. When curing is still incomplete, the cannabis will smell like freshly-cut grass or lawn clippings when it is opened for burping. However, once the process is complete, it will begin to smell like cannabis again.
If you receive cannabis that has an ammonia or a freshly-cut grass smell, this is an indicator that something went wrong during the drying or curing process. Most likely, the cannabis has not cured completely.
Incompletely cured cannabis will taste harsh, and this harshness is likely due to the ammonia. There is also some evidence suggesting it might even pose a health risk. A 2008 study of illicit cannabis in the UK found the presence of ammonia at toxic levels.
How to Differentiate Good Buds From the Bad: A Guide
We hope the above generalisations make it easier to distinguish the quality of a given bud, but it can get a bit more complicated. Below, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty and inspect cannabis flowers a little closer.
As we discussed before, aromatic molecules known as terpenes are responsible for said signature scent. Despite the similar undertone, though, most strains feature unique smells thanks to different concentrations of terpenes.
You’re probably familiar with the small, shiny structures on the surface of cannabis buds and sugar leaves. These mushroom-shaped glands—trichomes—pump out terpenes during the flowering stage.
You’ll know you’re dealing with good-quality weed when the olfactory wave of terpenes hits straight after opening your stash. While a pleasing scent and cannabis quality aren’t unconditionally connected, the former is a likely indication of the latter. Hints of flowers, fuel, earth, spices, sugar, fruit, citrus, and berries are among the most common aromas.
The Ultimate Guide To Cannabis Aroma And Quality Appreciation
The quality of a strain’s terpene profile depends on several variables:
- Genetics: Some strains are genetically equipped to pump out more aromatic terpenes than others, mostly due to selective breeding practices.
- Drying and curing: Genetics only achieve so much. Correctly drying, curing, and storing cannabis will preserve the terpene profile and make for better-tasting buds.
- The right nutrients: During the flowering stage, cannabis plants have a higher demand for potassium and phosphorus and less of a need for nitrogen. Get this balance right, and you’ll produce some fantastic-smelling flowers.
- Living soil: A strong microbial population will help plants access all of the nutrients they need to develop an optimal terpene profile.
- Companion planting: Many growers claim planting basil in close proximity to cannabis helps improve its smell.
Quick Growing Tip: Boosting terpenes will improve the overall smell and flavour of your plants. Select strains such as Lemon Shining Silver Haze and Haze Berry to start with a genetic advantage.
Although you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can definitely judge cannabis buds by their appearance. There are many factors that indicate quality to a trained eye, and colour is one of the most important.
Of course, cannabis flowers come in an array of different hues of purple, orange, green, and red. It isn’t so much the colour that gives away quality, but more so the vibrancy. See, healthy and well-grown cannabis flowers have a bright and shiny look to them.
Such vibrancy signals good genetics, solid growing techniques, and adequate curing and storage. In contrast, poor-quality cannabis appears matte, dull, and pallid. These buds are often dark green to brown, pale, and ultimately unappealing.
Quick Growing Tip: Flushing plants at the right moment will prevent excess nutrients from accumulating in flowers and eliminate nutrient burn.
Additional Tip: Play around with genetics and temperature to grow purple weed! Start with genetics like Purple Queen to increase your chances of success.RELATED STORY
Many-Coloured Weed – What Is Colourful Cannabis And Why Does It Exist?
Upon looking closely at the surface of cannabis flowers, you’ll come across a miniature landscape—valleys, peaks, and all—made up of different glands, organs, and structures. Among the scenery, the pistils protrude the most.
These hair-like tendrils are the sex organ of the female cannabis flower, serving as the receiver of male pollen. Once this genetic dust makes contact, the flower becomes fertile and swiftly goes to seed.
Away from their biological role, pistils serve as useful progress markers. During the early flowering stage, these reproductive parts boast a brilliant whiteness. As the weeks go by, their appearance turns to a solid dark orange.
You should always look for deep orange pistils when eyeing up buds. Harvest should ideally take place when at least 70% of the hairs turn this colour. This indicates the buds are ripe, mature, and ready for snipping. Flowers with mostly white pistils signal immature cannabis. Left a while longer, these flowers will mature and unleash a complete cannabinoid and terpene profile.