Combusting cannabis is the most known form of consuming marijuana. However, the versatility of the cannabis plant remains a point of exploration across the industry. Pre-rolls and flower might be an easy sell to novice smokers, but medicinal patients and veteran tokers have been leaning closer towards the potency of concentrates. Just the tiniest bit packs a punch that can often be stronger than a joint, which is why some curiously ask, “what are concentrates?”
Many cannabis businesses have introduced concentrate collections, and it’s undoubtedly one of the smartest moves to make. Concentrates allow to capitalize on their crop using the flower using stems and trims often neglected at the end of the harvesting process. Ultimately, throwing away anything from a crop cuts into profit, a fundamental no-no in any entrepreneurial venture. However, there are other ways to maximize the cannabis used in creating concentrates beyond just using trims and stems. Sure, it’s easier to take the leftovers of a crop and put them to use. Still, a few businesses are growing specific strains of marijuana specifically to help create extracts, including some of the most popular brands that have their packaging for concentrates on dispensary shelves across the country. That’s because the final product relies on particular components that affect its dependency, taste, and aroma.
Sonoma Cannabis Company founder Samuel Edwards explained to MJBiz in 2017 that cultivators and producers must envision their final product before attempting to extract cannabinoids into waxes, budders, and oils. Terpenes and the extraction method — as in using cannabis extract solvents or non-solvents — are primary considerations. “What kind of strain you want to choose will depend on what kind of end product you want and what kind of extraction process you want to use,” explained Edwards. Sonoma came in third place in the category of CO2 oil — one of the most common solvents for making concentrates — at the 2016 Emerald Cup.
Sonoma’s high ranking is based on its methodical approach to extractions and creating exquisite experiences for concentrate enthusiasts, mainly due to the focus on resin glands. Yielding high amounts of concentrates from plants means using strains with a high THC percentage.
Before getting into the specifics, it’s worth breaking down how much cannabis is needed to produce concentrate.
It takes a quarter of an ounce (7 grams) to produce one gram of concentrate. Because of the extraction of specific cannabinoids, concentrate only consists of about 20% of the flower used.
One pound of marijuana can produce upwards of 89.6 grams of wax. The math behind it breaks down into the 20% ratio. 448 grams (1 lb.) multiplied by .20 results in 89.6 grams.
Based on our previous calculations, it comes down to 5.6 grams. If one pound of cannabis can produce 89.6 grams, we must divide this number by how many ounces can be found in a pound (16 oz.) Therefore, one ounce of cannabis can make 5.6 grams.
At this point, you might ponder on ways you can stretch out your crop to maximize profits now that you know how many grams of extracts you can get from flower. It returns to the strain itself for products like shatter and wax. At a glance, the trichome heads and resin glands strongly indicate how good the material is at creating strong concentrates. For instance, the resin density on a strain provides a firm idea of how potent the final product will be. In the same interview where Edwards explained the critical factors in producing concentrates, Jason Nelson, cultivation manager at Illinois-based medical marijuana producer Cresco Labs, revealed why Indicas are a better choice than Sativas. “Something like an Indica that’s really dense and frosty compared to a Sativa that can sometimes be more stretchy,” he said.
According to Edwards, the best time to determine the potential yield is six or seven weeks into the flowering stages, where he can feel the trichomes. If the trichomes are brittle, they’ll be better for mechanical extracts (i.e., non-solvent concentrates), but the more oily it is, the more suited it is to be extracted through a solvent, like butane hash oil.
With a wide range of products on shelves, it’s no secret that flavor profile and aroma are critical in luring consumers. However, it’s also a prominent force behind concentrates these days. Terpenes provide fruits and plants, including cannabis, their scent and taste, and it’s another factor that vape enthusiasts depend on to determine their preferences. Diesel and citrus flavors are among the most popular terpene profiles right now, and the taste itself is a driving factor in a great dabbing experience.
The marriage of trichomes and terpenes is a phenomenon that growers refer to as the Entourage Effect. The term is based on anecdotal evidence among cultivators that terpenes positively impact cannabinoids. Beta-caryophyllene, for example, is reported to endorse the effects of THC through discovering endo-cannabinoid receptors. Strains like Headband are known for high beta-caryophyllene profiles. The bottom line is terpenes promote medicinal effects. Products like distillate, which are virtually flavorless and contain high THC levels, are best reserved for those who don’t favor the taste of cannabis in their edibles.
“People say the experience is more powerful when they have those terpenes in there,” Nelson said. “We find that people overlook that little bit of flavor alteration in preference to getting some terpenes and getting a more noticeable effect from that edible.” Edwards explained that he has a few tricks to capitalize on the terpenes in his crops, like limiting their water and nutrients, which produce high terpenes and THC trichomes. Additionally, he harvests because there are more terpenes in the crop that evaporate during the day.
Creating concentrates isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s worth understanding for any cultivator. As concentrates continue to gain significant popularity, cannabis businesses should begin leaping toward supplying the demand for high-quality concentrates.