Anatomy of a bud: pistils vs trichomes
To gauge ripeness, you need to know the basic anatomy of a bud, specifically the pistils and trichomes. Picture pistils as the delicate “hairs” on the bud, while trichomes are the tiny, glistening crystals covering the surface.
These pistils, or hairs, curl inward and change in color as the bud matures, starting as white or light-pink and gradually transitioning to darker hues, such as orange or amber. When the pistils have darkened, it’s a sign that the bud is approaching ripeness.
On the other hand, trichomes are microscopic resin glands that cover the entire surface of cannabis flowers. These resin glands contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that give cannabis its unique effects and flavors. When it comes to trichomes, you’ll want to pay close attention to their color and clarity.
Understanding the interplay between pistils and trichomes is necessary o gauging bud ripeness accurately. While pistils provide a visible sign, trichomes offer a more precise measure of cannabinoid maturity. As you continue to read, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how these signs work together to determine the ideal harvest time.
How to identify over-ripe buds
Over-ripe buds represent a stage of cannabis maturity that’s often less desirable for most growers. One clear indicator of overripe buds is the darkening of both pistils and trichomes. Overripe cannabis buds will have less psychoactive properties, or less THC because THC begins to degrade in the presence of oxygen and light. THC begins to turn into CBN as it degrades.
You can determine if your buds are over-ripe by looking at both the trichomes and pistils’ color. The plant will begin to look sun faded and brown. Looking the vibrant appearance it had at the peak of ripeness.
To get a clear picture of the trichomes on your cannabis plant you will need a handheld magnifier, either a digital microscope or jeweler’s loupe will work. Under magnification you will notice the trichomes covering the buds will all turn amber and brown, signaling a significant change in the chemical composition.
At this point, the THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, begins to degrade into CBN (cannabinol). This transformation not only reduces the potency of the bud but also alters its appearance, making the entire bud look brownish. Over-ripe buds can result in a less enjoyable and less potent cannabis experience, so growers need to monitor their plants closely to avoid reaching this stage.
Like trichomes, over-ripe pistils will turn darker in color and become brittle which can result in a harsh smoke. The pistils, which were once vibrant and often white or light-colored, will have all turned brown. Once ALL the pistils have changed colors and there are no longer any white hairs your cannabis bud has probably become over-ripe.
Is an over-ripe bud worth harvesting?
The question of whether to harvest over-ripe buds is a tuff one, and the answer depends on individual circumstances and preferences. If you wait too long to harvest you may have lost some of the THC and psychoactive potency, but they still hold medicinal value.
Over-ripe cannabis tends to contain higher levels of CBN (cannabinol), a cannabinoid with its own set of narcotic properties. CBN is known for its potential to promote relaxation, relieve pain, and sleep aid. For individuals seeking relief from insomnia, muscle spasms, or chronic pain, CBN-rich cannabis products can be beneficial. CBN has shown promise in reducing inflammation and acting as an appetite stimulant, making it a potential treatment for various health conditions.
So, while you may not want to smoke over-ripe buds, they can still offer valuable medicinal benefits in both edible and tincture forms.