How sugar plays a major role in growing cannabis
In order to increase the number of buds you harvest, it’s important to ensure your cannabis plant has enough sugar. Let’s take a look at why sugar is so essential to the growth process, and how the cultivator can boost sugar production with various methods. Growing cannabis isn’t a walk in a park. At least growing great cannabis isn’t. You need to know a lot of things to optimise the health and yield of your plant. One piece of information that is important to consider is the sugar level of your plant. This might seem like a strange variable, but it’s actually one of the biggest factors affecting cannabis growth, ultimately dictating the weight of your harvest. If a plant produces enough sugar and distributes it to the right places around its structure, you can expect a haul of fat buds.
No sugar, no cannabis
We’ve all heard of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a natural process conducted by all plants, in which sunlight is converted to, you guessed it, sugar. There are a variety of ways to enhance this process and encourage greater sugar production. But it’s not just about adding supplements; sugars must reach the right places throughout the plant, with some areas requiring more than others. The principle behind sugar distribution is called “sink strength” where sugar flows or “sinks” through its different organs. However, the speed of the flow varies, and the buds are the ones that need and receive most of the sugar.
Also, younger foliage requires more sugar because it is still growing. Meanwhile, the older and mature leaves need less. The unabsorbed sugar doesn’t go to waste though, as it is transferred to the young leaves. This might sound like a straightforward process, but it really is quite complex. In fact, there’s a lot of competition going on as every part of the plant pulls whatever sugar they can get. The harder the pull, the more sugar goes into it. This means that the organs with stronger suction get more sugar. We can calculate how efficiently sunlight is being converted to sugar by measuring carbohydrates (simple sugars) contained within the sap of cannabis leaves. The process may sound complicated, however, with a brief overview of brix levels and a cheap, straightforward instrument, novice and experienced cultivators can unlock invaluable growing prowess.
Calculating sugar using brix levels
Brix is the scientific term for measuring how much light bends when it passes through an object. Place any object into water and it appears to bend. In reality, the light outside the water travels at a higher speed than the light within the water. The difference in density of the two substances is what results in the optical illusion. By measuring the angle at which light travels through sap, it is possible to calculate the degree of refraction taking place. The brix level obtained via the use of a refractometer will give growers an indication of the sugar density of sap, and thus the strength of the plant.
Remember, higher sugar content means fatter buds, and a greater brix percentage is indicative of this. Although other compounds within sap will alter the angle at which light refracts, sugar—or in this case carbohydrates—are one of the largest molecules, and as a result, their effect on light is more dramatic than other, smaller molecules.
A refractometer: an essential tool
Thankfully, handheld refractometers are inexpensive and simple to use, a win-win for cannabis growers, no matter their budget or experience. Start by applying some distilled water to your refractometer; a reading of 0% brix will ensure it is properly calibrated. By opting for a digital refractometer, the process becomes even more straightforward. Once you are happy the device has been sufficiently tuned, place a few drops of sap squeezed from a rolled cannabis leaf into the well hole and press the switch. The digital display will indicate the brix level.
One final note on calculating brix; temperature can also be a factor in how light behaves when it passes through an object. Most brix meters will automatically factor temperature into their reading, however, as a precaution, make sure any liquids you are trying to read are at room temperature first.
You have a refractometer and have competently calculated the brix level of your cannabis plants, but what is a respectable brix percentage? The target brix level is anything over 12%. This shows that the conversion to sugars being undertaken by your cannabis is not only efficient, but your plant also has a greater resistance to pests and diseases. The higher the brix level you can achieve, the better; anything lower than 12% and your marijuana is lacking any one of the key attributes it needs to survive, such as light, water, nutrients, or sufficient temperature controls. If you do fall into the category of less than 12% brix and have already undertaken steps to make sure your cannabis is correctly catered to, the following techniques can help improve the production of sugar.
Encouraging sugar production
Photosynthesis isn’t just about the absorption and efficient use of sunlight. It also takes into consideration a lot of different factors. These include the presence of water, carbon dioxide, and the health of the soil. By optimising these variables, growers can encourage plants to absorb all the essential nutrients necessary to produce more buds.
The good thing is, the sugar distribution process does not require human intervention, although it can certainly benefit from it. There are a vast array of sugar supplements out there claiming to boost the bloom period significantly. Everything from branded products to simple blackstrap molasses can be added to the substrate a few weeks before bloom to ensure widespread and effective sugar distribution.
Trimming improves cannabis sugar production
One of the most common and popular methods of naturally boosting sugar production is leaf trimming. This process, known as defoliation, speeds up sugar production by redirecting sugars to parts of the plant that benefit most—the buds. But be sure that you don’t remove the majority of leaves, as this would make the whole process ineffective by stalling photosynthesis. Simply trim down young foliage as soon as it grows. This stops it from using too much energy and helps the buds suck more sugar. Remember, leaves are one of the biggest contributors to sugar production. It will help if you spare the top leaves from trimming because they catch the most sunlight.
Making cannasugar is easy!
Here’s a very simple recipe for making cannabis infused sugar! Cannasugar, (also known as weed, marijuana or pot infused sugar), can be used just like real sugar easily making just about anything medicated! Stir a spoonful into your coffee or tea, add to your favorite cookie or candy recipe, the choices are endless!
It is best to try this cannasugar recipe is some fresh, good quality cannabis. Experimenting with different strains will produce sugars with unique flavors that can be tailored to your needs. If you are in a legal state and have a medical marijuana card, you can easily buy a gram or 2 of a few different strains to see which you like the most.
This cannasugar recipe easily scales up or down, so feel free to make as much as you want! Potency can be reduced for those wanting less, simply use either less cannabis to fit your personal needs. You can also experiment with different strains which can add their own flavors and aromas to your final product.
If you don’t care about the color you can do the extraction with a lower proof. You can also minimize the color by water curing your flower first. Keep your cannasugar stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place and it will probably last forever.
Cannasugar Recipe Ingredients
- 1/8 oz. (3.5gr) cannabis flowers, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup (100gr) white sugar or turbinado sugar
- 2/3 cup (150ml)Any drinkable alcohol – you can get creative with flavors!
- The day before you plan to make your sugar, place the alcohol in the freezer and let it sit overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F (120C). Place your coarsely chopped cannabis in a small shallow dish, like a pie plate (glass if you have it). Cover tightly with 2 layers of aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.
- Transfer the now decarboxylated flower into a Mason jar. Pour the alcohol in to the jar and ensure the cannabis is completely covered.
- Put the lid on the jar and swirl gently to agitate. Place the jar in the freezer for 10 minutes, gently swirling to mix every 2 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the jar from the freezer and strain through a coffee filter into the clean pie plate you used previously.
- Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.* Alternatively, you can combine the alcohol mixture and the sugar in the cleaned Mason jar and then pour the resulting mixture into the shallow dish.
- Place the pie plate on an electric griddle with the temperature set to low. Alternatively, you can use a heating pad. Using a small fan to provide good air circulation, let the mixture sit undisturbed until no more alcohol remains. You can always feel free to just let it sit and evaporate on its own as well if you’re not in a hurry.
- Gather the remaining cannabis infused sugar from the dish making sure to break up larger pieces. 30 seconds with a mortar & pestle or a few pulses in a blender will break up any lumps if you want.
- Store the sugar in an airtight storage container until ready for use.