Strains high in cannabidiol (CBD) can be difficult. Whether or not a plant produces large amounts of CBD depend entirely on genetics, and not all strains have the right DNA for the job. However, even plants that are genetically predisposed for high CBD production can be finicky. Here’s the scoop on how to coax CBD from your plants.
How to increase CBD while growing cannabis
Unfortunately, there is no specific way to get your plants to produce more CBD than their genes make possible. However, giving your plants the tender love and care they need from seed to harvest can certainly help the strain produce a maximum amount of resin.
Like high-THC strains, strains high in CBD thrive in temperate locations with ample light and a nutrient rich growing medium. Also like THC strains, high CBD plants will need to be regularly checked for mold, mildew, illness, and pests.
Unlike many of the contemporary high-THC strains, some high-CBD strains have not been around as long and have not had as many generations of stabilization.
Though, with CBD in such hot demand, this paradigm is quickly changing. New CBD strains are marketed all of the time, which is good for medical and recreational consumers alike.
Older strains from back in the day are more likely to produce larger amounts of THC, but older strains are also more closely related to their wild ancestors and can be more challenging to grow.
What environmental factors influence CBD production?
While very little is known about which environmental factors contribute to CBD production, some In a 2011 study of industrial hemp, researchers found that there were particular growing conditions that were associated with the presence of CBD.
However, this connection is simply an association. You still have to have the right genetics for CBD production to be possible at all.
However, the study found that temperature and precipitation seemed to influence the production of cannabinoids. Plants that produced greater amounts of CBD seemed to prefer warm soil temperatures about five centimeters deep. CBD production also declined when the plants were exposed to more precipitation.
Based on these loose associations, it is recommended to:
- Keep soils warm, perhaps between 68 and 70°F (20 to 21°C)
- Avoid overwatering, perhaps experiment with keeping things a little dryer than normal without overdoing it.
There are is a major caveat to these findings, however. While the study looked at six years worth of industrial hemp, only 20 samples were tested overall. More samples are needed to showcase just how the environment may contribute to cannabinoid production.
3 steps for growing high-CBD strains
Apart from doing your due diligence to keep your plant well nourished, warm, and dry, there are a couple of basic things to know when growing a high-CBD strain.
Here are three things to keep in mind before trying to cultivate a high CBD strain at home:
1. Select good genetics
Surprisingly, there is one quality of cannabis reproduction that is similar to humans. Unless you come across a clone, cannabis grown from seed can express a wide variety of different phenotypes. Like human siblings, two offspring from the same cannabis plants can have strikingly different genetic features.
In some cases, there is less than a 75 percent chance that a strain will produce a high-CBD plant from seed. This is the case with one of the most popular high CBD strains, Cannatonic.
While there are potentially a couple of different strains that go by Cannatonic, when grown from seed, this strain can produce a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD.
According to United Seed Banks, about half of the Cannatonic plants grown from seed will feature this ideal ratio. However, an estimated quarter of the seedlings will be high-THC and low-CBD. Another quarter may have as high as a 1:30 ratio of THC to CBD. It all depends on the phenotype.
Doing some research or contacting a breeder about the possible phenotypes from their strain before you buy is recommended. Those that really need CBD probably won’t want to sink time and effort into a plant that can produce low-CBD phenotypes.
2. Test some samples
If you’re growing from seed and you know that there is a chance that a strain will produce a high-THC phenotype, getting your samples tested by a laboratory while they are still young can be extremely helpful. Getting your herb tested will tell you exactly which plants to get rid of and which ones to keep.
For the casual home grower or cannabis patient that likes to cultivate their own medicine, taking the time to submit some early samples can save you the cost and the hassle of growing plants that do not fit your needs.
However, those who are unable to submit samples for testing may have to wait until flowering and consume a little bit to determine the overall effects of the bud. Though perhaps a little unscientific, if you experience a noticeable psychoactive high, your strain is probably producing some THC.
To know for sure that you are getting a strain that will produce the CBD you’d like, it may be best to get a clone from a trusted source. As mentioned above, getting phenotype information from your seed source will also be helpful for finding the right products.
3. Breed together productive strains
Once you’ve determined that your strain, in fact, produces CBD, that strain can then make a great mother plant for future high-CBD clones.
The highest producing CBD plants can also be bred together to increase the likelihood that future phenotypes of the strain will be CBD producing.
After a few generations of backcrossing and/or selective breeding with other high-CBD plants, you’ve got yourself a stabilized high-CBD bud.