Growing weed at home has become more popular in recent years. There are many advantages of growing and harvesting your own buds, including the many setups to choose from to suit your own needs.
However, one problem that many home growers run into all too frequently is a bad smell coming from their fresh buds. A bad aroma can ruin the quality and enjoyment of your weed, even negatively affecting the flavor.
Worse, sometimes your buds could be entirely devoid of any smell - a surefire sign that something is not right. So, what do you do when your weed doesn’t smell like weed?
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know on how to bring that earthy skunky smell back to your weed.
Importance of Terpenes
To understand what causes a foul smell or taste in weed, it is vital to know what makes buds smell good when grown right. The answer lies in one word: terpenes.
Terpenes are a group of organic compounds created within the trichomes - those fine fuzzy hairs you see on hemp buds and leaves. They are produced by many other plants and are not unique to cannabis (though cannabis is one of the most terpene-rich plants).
Terpenes influence the aroma and taste of weed, but their role goes far beyond that. If you’ve ever read up on the science of weed and how it interacts with our brains, you’ve probably heard of something called the "entourage effect."
This is when the right combination of cannabis compounds and ingredients provide a larger effect than any of these ingredients would in isolation. In other words, weed, quite literally, is more than the sum of its parts. This applies to terpenes as well!
Not only do they determine the taste and smell of our weed, but by interacting with cannabinoids such as THC, they do affect how weed makes us feel. This is why it should be every weed grower’s imperative to maximize their crop’s smell, ensuring it turns out right.
Otherwise, it might make for an underwhelming experience when your buds are ready for consumption, but don't smell right.
Nutrients and Supplements
The biggest cause of poor-smelling buds is interfering with the cannabis plant’s natural growth pattern. Many attempt to make their cannabis grow quicker, fuller, and improve its characteristics by enriching it with nutrients and growth supplements. This is generally a bad idea unless done in cautious moderation.
Too many added nutrients can cause the buds to lose their natural color, which can affect the smell. If this is the case with your buds, you might also note a foul taste, a key sign of excess nutrition. When feeding your plants nutrients, it’s essential not to overdo it and stick to the recommended amount.
Another reason why your buds might not smell as they should is because you harvested them too early. When this happens, the terpene count in the cannabis is abruptly cut off and will remain low even as you cure your harvest.
It is crucial to time your harvest right by watching for key signs of maturity in your plants. As cannabis blooms and enters its final growth stage, the buds become more visibly solid.
The trichomes also darken more and curl or kink in a certain way instead of continuing to grow out straight. When you notice these signs (in addition to an ever-increasing smell), it’s the right time for harvesting your buds.
High Temperatures When Drying
Many home growers report a particular kind of bad aroma, the so-called “hay” smell, which is undetectable until harvesting, but becomes more noticeable after drying.
In most cases, this is down to improper drying techniques. The single biggest thing you can do to make your buds dry correctly is to hang them evenly in a well-ventilated space. Otherwise, the insides of the bud will dry faster or slower than the outsides, resulting in a foul smell.
Likewise, temperature plays a critical role during the drying stage. A drying space that is too hot and doesn’t have enough air circulation is the perfect environment for mold to grow on your weed. This not only ruins its smell, but can also make your buds uncomfortable to smoke!
Curing for Maximum Smell
After drying, there is one step many inexperienced growers often forget: curing weed to really bring out that smell.
Even if you do everything right up until drying, your buds might still come out smelling a bit weak. Properly curing marijuana ensures a stronger smell and potency – and it’s better for the plant’s health too!
We recommend the old-school method that has stood the test of time: curing your weed in glass jars. A simple set of mason jars will do! Just separate your buds and fill each jar up to three-quarters of its full volume. Seal, and let the buds sit and cure for at least a few weeks.
During this time, it is important to periodically check (at least daily) each jar for humidity levels. You don’t want your buds to be drowning, so open the jar for a few minutes to an hour or two as necessary if you see too much moisture.
Generally, you want to keep humidity levels between 55 and 62 percent. There are specialized humidity packs that can help you maintain that rate.
Shorter Curing Period
If you did cure your buds but still notice a foul smell (or none), you probably did not let the curing period run its full course. Buds need at least four weeks to be fully cured; in some cases, even more!
Trace amounts of humidity leftover after drying and curing may not just invite mold but also inhibit terpenes, thus causing a poor aroma and taste.
Best Way to Store Weed
You need to make some basic considerations if you want your weed to maintain its flavor and potency.
Weed’s biggest enemies are light, moisture, and heat. The most convenient way to ensure that all of these are kept to a minimum is to do what we already suggested above – keep your buds in sealable, airtight mason jars in a cool and dark place! This way, you can ensure minimal terpene loss and provide the optimal conditions for strong-smelling, fine-tasting, and heavy-hitting weed.