The cannabis world is experiencing an incredible evolution. More favorable common-sense laws allow businesses across the country to join in on the green rush, providing a safer environment to produce cannabis and a legal framework to purchase and consume it. A greater amount of cannabis is being produced today than ever before in a more professional environment with experienced and knowledgeable cultivators. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of concentrates, where passion meets science, cultivation and ingenuity. The quest to extract the best-quality concentrates has had a marked influence on the cultivation of cannabis, changing how some approach growing. The results are a greater understanding of cannabis cultivation and a wave of cleaner, more enjoyable concentrates entering the market for consumers to enjoy.
Before considering the environment and the growing techniques involved in producing top-shelf concentrates, it’s important to understand how genetics play a role in extractions and how they can influence both yield and quality. Intimate knowledge of and experience with a specific strain or a strain’s particular phenotype can aid in choosing the right genetics for the production of concentrates. Multiple Cannabis Cup winner Ozi, a.k.a. the Cuban Grower, explains, “I like to use old-school, frosty strains like Cookies and Cream which will dump loads of kief and trichomes.” He prefers using sativa and sativa-dominant hybrids to make water hash and kief as “they seem to be more stable and stay sandy as opposed to greasing up too much.” Ozi adds: “The landrace, sativa-dominant strains seem to have more stability, especially at higher temps, making extraction easier.”
Perhaps this is inherent in equatorial strains, as they are accustomed to higher environmental temperatures and produce terpenes that are more stable. Conversely, more indica-dominant strains like OGs, Kushes and Purples are accustomed to cooler temperatures and tend to be volatile at higher temps, greasing up and becoming harder to extract via non-solvent methods that produce kief and water hash. Some terpenes begin to volatize at temperatures as low as 74°F, while others are stable up until nearly 400°F-plus.
Cannabis Cup winner Nikka T of Essential Extracts California prefers the approach of choosing strains that exhibit a high oil-to-wax (fats and lipids) ratio. While he loves Cookies and Cream for its large yields, he “prefers strains like Forbidden Fruit, which returns a smaller yield but tends to have more terpenes and a larger nose.” Nikka adds: “Cookies and Cream doesn’t have the huge terpene profile. The best of both worlds would be OGs and Kushes, which have a decent yield but also the greasy, heavy terpene count.” The key here is that different strains will result in variations in quality and yield. Some strains lend themselves to kief while others provide a higher quality when extracted with cold water or via solvent extraction.
Setting the Environment
Cultivation specifically for Cup-worthy concentrates means setting an environment that yields greater terpene and oil content. This can often conflict with an established garden objective, as big fat colas accompanying huge yields don’t necessarily mean a better percentage of high-quality concentrates. Intense lights that help produce massive flowers should either be replaced with lower-wattage ballasts or be placed farther away from the garden’s canopy. Lowering the temperature of the growroom to as low as 68°F can reduce flower yields but help retain precious terpenes that add to the flavor and quality of the end product. Remember when walking into a garden that those terpenes that fill the air are degassing off the plants, resulting in less essential oils and flavor in your flower and therefore in your concentrate. The Cuban Grower advises, “I use an infrared gun to monitor my canopy tops and try to remain below 75°F to avoid cooking the tops.”
Proper pruning and the use of trellising, stakes, and stem-bending or -twisting methods can help ensure that flower sites receive as much exposure to light as possible. This gives the plant enough energy to produce as much oil in the buds below the canopy as well as those on the top. And, as High Times senior cultivation editor Danny Danko teaches, “The more the root, the more the fruit.” Plants that have larger root-balls can divert more energy to the flower and into oil production. Providing an environment rich in CO2 gives the plant more fuel to produce a greater number of better-developed trichomes, and it’s a fairly easy means to boost concentrate performance. Some growers refer to themselves fondly as “terp farmers.”
You Are What You Eat
One of the unforeseen consequences in the explosion of the popularity and the production of concentrates has been the way that it has illuminated some of the poorer practices in the cannabis community. What was once undetectable or present in very low numbers in flowers has now been concentrated and revealed in unacceptable amounts in extracts. While a flower may have 20 percent THCA, once concentrated it can reach 85 percent and higher. Any pesticides, heavy metals and contaminants can also increase in similar fashion, highlighting the need to grow without the use of chemicals, pesticides and other additives. Nikka T warns against “using feeds heavy in salts or synthetic sugars as they are harder to flush out, which creates a larger wax-to-oil ratio, resulting in inferior concentrates.” When growing specifically for concentrates, foliar feeds should never be used, especially in the flowering period, as any substance that gets on the flower material will wind up concentrated in your final material. Flushing at the end of a grow becomes paramount to the quality of your concentrate. Any salts, nutrients or non-cannabis elements will contaminate the flavor and smoothness of the smoke. Avoid foliar sprays as much as possible, as these can easily find their way into your finished product. Although it might be unnoticeable when smoking the flower, a discerning palate can detect a contaminant in its concentrated form. Harsh, bitter or unenjoyable flavors in your dab can often be attributed to neem oil or too many sugars or nutrients.
In the modern concentrate market, there’s an overall emphasis on keeping the concentrate as pure to the plant’s genetic expression as possible. Plants shouldn’t be fed or encouraged to grow to a freakish point. Steroid-fueled hulking nugs fed to the brink with PGRs (plant-growth regulators) will not produce smooth, favorably flavored top-shelf material. The flavor shouldn’t represent the terroir of the environment like old-school hash from overseas, containing impurities from the mountains from which the plants came. Distinct water and nutrient combinations as well as less-than-favorable extraction locations and methods lend their own uniqueness. Pounding stalks of cannabis against concrete walls and collecting kief from the dusty floor to press into hashish imparts flavors that are impure and complex. Modern extraction knowledge and improved palates have elevated the art of concentrates.
The modest use of some beneficial teas, finishers and bloomers can be used to increase terpene production, as long as they can be fully flushed away. The Cuban Grower prefers to use a feed finisher that makes the plant think it has a bacterial infection with the idea that this helps increase resin and terpenoid production midway through flowering.
When it comes to feeding, last-minute sugars, blackstrap molasses and many other finishers add too many sugars and nutrients that become difficult to fully remove from the plant and don’t have enough time to be converted into useful energy.
The Fruits of Your Labor
Providing the best path to the greatest concentrates doesn’t quite end in the growroom and can be often overlooked. Drying and curing your flowers destroys terpenes and changes the overall freshness of the flavor. Older material and dried-out trim can result in an undesirable hay-like, earthy flavor, diminishing the boldness and burst of flavor. Putting your fresh-cut material into a cold environment and even freezing it to preserve those precious terpenes is the most popular way to run water hash. Solvent extractions usually use drier material, often resulting in loss of flavor and oil. Cold curing is slowly becoming more popular, cutting out that tinny flavor that often accompanies concentrates made from wet material. Lowering temperatures to the high 50s or low 60s and providing a small amount of airflow can help achieve a good ratio of dryness to terpene retention.
Intimate knowledge and experience with a specific strain, even a particular phenotype, can be a fundamental key in the craft of extraction. Providing cool and clean grow spaces that follow proper standards and practices gives the plant the greatest probability of producing the best extracts possible. Giving the plant enough sustenance to thrive without pushing it, ensuring that it only receives beneficial nutrients and water and avoiding any foliar contact to prevent foreign contamination, provides the best material to process into concentrates. The remarkable advancements of cannabis concentrates are primarily due to the growing practices of our cultivators. While we continually strive for the best-grown and cleanest cannabis possible, the truth is that, on the whole, cannabis has never been as clean as it is now. When the passion of cultivators and the modern techniques of extractors meet, the results can be the most effective and greatest gift that cannabis can provide.
This feature was published in the September 2018 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.
The post Concentrating in the Garden appeared first on High Times.
1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.
CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.
2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?
Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.
3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. Typically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!
99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.
In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?
The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.
5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?
We feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.
6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?
Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.
7. What is the best method of use?
For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.
8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?
There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.
9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?
Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative side effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.
10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?
As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.
When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.
The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.
For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.
THOSE WHO SUSPECT THEY MAY HAVE A DISEASE OR ARE SEEKING HELP FOR A DISEASE SHOULD CONSULT A QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?
In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.
12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?
Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.
13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?
No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.
We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor there, Cannawell.
14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?
Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†
Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.
15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?
We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. We also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.
16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?
We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.
17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?
CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.
Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.
18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?
“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia
There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).
For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.