Hydroponics And Low Terpene Test Results

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patro46

patro46

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I'm in a real pickle. When Oklahoma's gold rush for cannabis opened up, I jumped in, as I've grown under the radar since the 70's, and had been using hydroponics before names for many methods were even invented. I was growing in a room full of 3 inch PVC piping with plastic Solo cups on what is now called "nutrient film technique
20200401 101738
and have since grown in flood and drain and top fed constant recirculating systems, so I feel I'm pretty well versed in how to grow hydroponically, and I'm not bragging. Follow along...
So when Oklahoma went legal, we bought land and built a 10,000 sq ft facility specifically for growing cannabis, and to do so hydroponically. After all, it just made sense. Fast forward to our first harvest and results from the laboratory full panel testing. We were stellar in having a clean product (no pesticides, bugs, ect) and pretty high THC (26%+) levels, however the terpene levels were well below par. Mind you, I've grown for 40 years and never even knew what a terpene profile was. It was either fruity, skunky or whatever. I never had a number to tie to a strain. Now, it's required.
Well, folks don't seem to care about anything other than a high terpene ratio from say 2.0 to 6.0, and ours clocked in quite a bit less (.55 to .99) on our high THC producer. Mind you, folks that claim a 6. terp ratio in my opinion (and that of many testing lab owners) in utter BS.
Nonetheless, I am faced with a few potential realities.

1. I simply had the wrong genetics
2. Growing hydroponically can't create the stellar terpene profiles growing organic can.

Anyway, that's how I'm seeing this. Whatever it is, if we are to be successful, we have to figure this thing out.

So I am hoping the 100's of years of combined grow knowledge lurking in this forum will chime in with some good news. I NEED some!
 
Moe.Red

Moe.Red

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What hydro setup are you running? Are you in a sterile system? Are you pushing for max yield or letting the plants do their thing?

I know this will take a while, but growing a clone in dirt could rule out your genetics if that works and hydro doesn't.

Is it all the same genetics, or do you have anything you can compare against today?

I grow in RDWC and have no issues with terpenes, but I'm on a much smaller scale than you. I have recently introduced UVB and it seems to be zapping terpenes a bit, still doing testing on that for confirmation.
 
FourthCity

FourthCity

778
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I'm in a real pickle. When Oklahoma's gold rush for cannabis opened up, I jumped in, as I've grown under the radar since the 70's, and had been using hydroponics before names for many methods were even invented. I was growing in a room full of 3 inch PVC piping with plastic Solo cups on what is now called "nutrient film technique View attachment 1111697 and have since grown in flood and drain and top fed constant recirculating systems, so I feel I'm pretty well versed in how to grow hydroponically, and I'm not bragging. Follow along...
So when Oklahoma went legal, we bought land and built a 10,000 sq ft facility specifically for growing cannabis, and to do so hydroponically. After all, it just made sense. Fast forward to our first harvest and results from the laboratory full panel testing. We were stellar in having a clean product (no pesticides, bugs, ect) and pretty high THC (26%+) levels, however the terpene levels were well below par. Mind you, I've grown for 40 years and never even knew what a terpene profile was. It was either fruity, skunky or whatever. I never had a number to tie to a strain. Now, it's required.
Well, folks don't seem to care about anything other than a high terpene ratio from say 2.0 to 6.0, and ours clocked in quite a bit less (.55 to .99) on our high THC producer. Mind you, folks that claim a 6. terp ratio in my opinion (and that of many testing lab owners) in utter BS.
Nonetheless, I am faced with a few potential realities.

1. I simply had the wrong genetics
2. Growing hydroponically can't create the stellar terpene profiles growing organic can.

Anyway, that's how I'm seeing this. Whatever it is, if we are to be successful, we have to figure this thing out.

So I am hoping the 100's of years of combined grow knowledge lurking in this forum will chime in with some good news. I NEED some!
Genetics are going to have the biggest impact on terpenes levels and profiles by far. There may be nutritional (increased sulphur) and environmental adjustments (read about vapor pressure deficit if you are not familiar) you can make to improve things but nothing that will likely substantially change what you are already seeing with your current strains. What kind results did you get and what are you comparing them to? Lab results in general have been found to be notoriously inconsistent and unreliable, a second opinion from another lab might not be a bad idea just to see if there is any difference.

If you are unhappy with your current strains I'd look at growing variety that interest you until you find the ones that meet your needs. I started a strain/pheno hunt a couple years ago and after over 40 strains and many more plants only 6 impressed me enough to remain in rotation, not everything is a winner and sometimes it takes several seeds to find the phenotype that performs the way the strain is known for.
 
cottageman

cottageman

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I don’t have a lot of soil experience at all but it seems like things are more sensitive in hydroponics, especially when you’re pushing things. I’ve seen a bunch of people hit 2-4% terpenes consistently in hydroponics so it can definitely be done, but the whole organic vs hydro taste test will always be an argument which means to me that massive yielding great weed can be grown either way. Genetics can definitely be the factor, as well as hps vs led lights honestly. I’ve had multiple strains express drastically different terpene profiles and bud structure under led vs hps. I’d start with genetics and then take tissue samples of the plants along the way of the grow so you can see what they’re actually up taking and what they might need more of etc.
 
Moe.Red

Moe.Red

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take tissue samples of the plants along the way of the grow so you can see what they’re actually up taking and what they might need more of etc.
Can you elaborate on that? I've not heard of doing this or what it tells you.
 
cottageman

cottageman

376
93
Can you elaborate on that? I've not heard of doing this or what it tells you.
I’ve seen legal facilities send in tissue samples of their plans in veg, midway through flower etc. and send them into a lab and they can tell you how much of each nutrient the plant is actually absorbing. Cross that with the amount of each element you’re putting in and you can even test the runoff and see what it’s not eating. Maybe op can up the sulfur to increase terp levels and that should give him the most accurate picture of what the plants are up taking in what amounts
 
Moe.Red

Moe.Red

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I’ve seen legal facilities send in tissue samples of their plans in veg, midway through flower etc. and send them into a lab and they can tell you how much of each nutrient the plant is actually absorbing. Cross that with the amount of each element you’re putting in and you can even test the runoff and see what it’s not eating. Maybe op can up the sulfur to increase terp levels and that should give him the most accurate picture of what the plants are up taking in what amounts
Interesting, I'll look that up and read more about it. Thanks.
 
lvstealth

lvstealth

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op said "Fast forward to our first harvest and results from the laboratory full panel testing." so if after harvest, at what point?
 
lvstealth

lvstealth

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so, maybe it is in the curing process. do you have to cure it, or can it be tested "live"?

from a study i had read:

"Findings show that at the fresh, planted state, a cultivar has the highest expression of monoterpenes like Beta Myrcene, Alpha Pinene, Beta Pinene, and Limonene. After one week of drying and curing, each of these terpenes decreased significantly — Beta Myrcene content decreased by 55%. While monoterpenes were decreased during the curing process, sesquiterpenes like Alpha Humulene and Beta-Caryophyllene were increased. Sesquiterpenes almost doubled in their ratio from the total terpene content in data taken after the harvest processes were complete, with Alpha-Humulene increasing 100% and Germacrene increasing 154%."

"Many compounds in the plant are highly volatile, evaporating from plants with the smallest change in the atmosphere. Monoterpenes have a lower molecular weight and higher evaporation rate, the patterns shown by this research supports our current understanding of the volatile nature of cannabis compounds. The study results also showed the significant evaporation curve of some other highly volatile compounds responsible for the cannabis top aromatic notes."
 
Moe.Red

Moe.Red

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so, maybe it is in the curing process. do you have to cure it, or can it be tested "live"?

from a study i had read:

"Findings show that at the fresh, planted state, a cultivar has the highest expression of monoterpenes like Beta Myrcene, Alpha Pinene, Beta Pinene, and Limonene. After one week of drying and curing, each of these terpenes decreased significantly — Beta Myrcene content decreased by 55%. While monoterpenes were decreased during the curing process, sesquiterpenes like Alpha Humulene and Beta-Caryophyllene were increased. Sesquiterpenes almost doubled in their ratio from the total terpene content in data taken after the harvest processes were complete, with Alpha-Humulene increasing 100% and Germacrene increasing 154%."

"Many compounds in the plant are highly volatile, evaporating from plants with the smallest change in the atmosphere. Monoterpenes have a lower molecular weight and higher evaporation rate, the patterns shown by this research supports our current understanding of the volatile nature of cannabis compounds. The study results also showed the significant evaporation curve of some other highly volatile compounds responsible for the cannabis top aromatic notes."
Hey brother, can you spare a link?
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

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Can try increasing sulfur after bud onset. Never usually an issue outside of hydro and soiless. Sulfur has a pretty significant impact on terp production. That's not to say of your at an adequate level that adding more will help but rather it maybe you are slightly low and an increase may help.

Preservation is the only other thing I can think of. Cool, dark and slow dry and cure I find really help.
 
lvstealth

lvstealth

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the link i have i cant (its from a college library subscription and doesnt work outside their stuff), but i did find the company behind it and in their stuff found this, it has the same charts.

https://www.ganjapreneur.com/researchers-reveal-how-curing-cannabis-affects-terpene-levels/

this is the company

https://www.eybna.com/terpenes/the-terpiodic-table/

you might can find the studies there.

they did some interesting stuff on elevations (more terpenes in mountains than plains...) and some other ones i enjoyed but didnt understand much of
 
Last edited:
patro46

patro46

6
3
I am SO glad I posted this question. I couldn't wait to hear you folks chime in, and you did. Like a confirmation of sorts for me. Here are my thoughts, and I've given it a lot to it lately.
First, my partner and I didn't see eye to eye, and he was more or less a self-anointed "expert". HJis way or the highway, so to speak. I'm a country boy who isn't an idiot but who isn't afraid to change things up if I see they aren't working. Insanity is the result of repeating what isn't working. Anyway, here is what I seen I didn't like.

The drying process. I ALWAYS took the entire plant and hung her upside down. He took the plant apart and hung the branches. I feel it dried out too fast. I feel that the dry room needed to be 65 to 68 deg, and be kept in the dark at around 60% rh. 72 deg was more like it. Worse still, the dry room doubled over as a processing room, meaning people and lights on were in the room quite a bit during the "cure".
In addition, we grew a Jack Herer variety that clocked 2.2 on the terp ratio, not stellar, but not terrible. Again, I thought it lacked "smell appeal".
Someone asked at what stage was the product tested. After the cure, more specifically when the product tested between 10 and 14% moisture, it then went in for testing.
The cure. It started in mason jars, like we'd always done before, however, at this level of a grow, 100's of mason jars simply wasn't a realistic option either. So I took food grade plastic 5 gallon buckets and equipped them with air tight screw on Gama Seal lids. I then added two one way valves to each bucket. This way, each day I can time a pump to come on and exchange the air in each bucket. Since the valves are spring loaded, no air leaves or comes in unless the air pump is running. I put about 1.5 lbs in each bucket, and buckets are rotated each day. To simplify the monitoring process, each bucket has a temp/humidity sensor that reports humidity level and temperature in each bucket. Here's a visual.
20210206 163602
20210206 163739
20210206 163644


I haven't found much research on the subject, but found a lot of opinions, from "you can't cure in plastic", "it has to be glass" to "why not, long as it's food safe and sealed?" to "cool looking" ect. ect. I simply don't know, but then again, it it might be genetics all along, which is being changed up as I speak. It might have been the drying process or the curing process. Maybe both? The only thing I'm pretty sure of is it's something we've discussed.
What I'd LOVE to find is a commercial grower who is growing hydroponically and having success in bringing out the terps. Be a "feel good" moment for me, no doubt. Tough to find this in the commercial arena. I hate to have to change growing methods, as I'm already set up with a large chiller and am able to keep a perfect 68 deg root zone 24/7 as well as react to changes or problems much faster than with a soil based media. (We use expanded clay). This also isn't the "cheapest" method of growing. Probably one of the most expensive, but the goal was to bring a BETTER product to market, not a worse one. However if we have to change growing methods, I need to prove this and get r done.
I'm almost betting I'm gonna get b*tch slapped by a handful of you guys as it almost sounds like a handful of problems are combining into a very expensive nightmare.😱
 
lvstealth

lvstealth

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on the genetics, have a sample of a clone tested to see the genetics before making decisions - not literally, although that would be pretty interesting. i mean have the terps tested in the live plant, pre-cure
 
Thegreywizard

Thegreywizard

82
18
I am SO glad I posted this question. I couldn't wait to hear you folks chime in, and you did. Like a confirmation of sorts for me. Here are my thoughts, and I've given it a lot to it lately.
First, my partner and I didn't see eye to eye, and he was more or less a self-anointed "expert". HJis way or the highway, so to speak. I'm a country boy who isn't an idiot but who isn't afraid to change things up if I see they aren't working. Insanity is the result of repeating what isn't working. Anyway, here is what I seen I didn't like.

The drying process. I ALWAYS took the entire plant and hung her upside down. He took the plant apart and hung the branches. I feel it dried out too fast. I feel that the dry room needed to be 65 to 68 deg, and be kept in the dark at around 60% rh. 72 deg was more like it. Worse still, the dry room doubled over as a processing room, meaning people and lights on were in the room quite a bit during the "cure".
In addition, we grew a Jack Herer variety that clocked 2.2 on the terp ratio, not stellar, but not terrible. Again, I thought it lacked "smell appeal".
Someone asked at what stage was the product tested. After the cure, more specifically when the product tested between 10 and 14% moisture, it then went in for testing.
The cure. It started in mason jars, like we'd always done before, however, at this level of a grow, 100's of mason jars simply wasn't a realistic option either. So I took food grade plastic 5 gallon buckets and equipped them with air tight screw on Gama Seal lids. I then added two one way valves to each bucket. This way, each day I can time a pump to come on and exchange the air in each bucket. Since the valves are spring loaded, no air leaves or comes in unless the air pump is running. I put about 1.5 lbs in each bucket, and buckets are rotated each day. To simplify the monitoring process, each bucket has a temp/humidity sensor that reports humidity level and temperature in each bucket. Here's a visual.
View attachment 1111847 View attachment 1111849 View attachment 1111848

I haven't found much research on the subject, but found a lot of opinions, from "you can't cure in plastic", "it has to be glass" to "why not, long as it's food safe and sealed?" to "cool looking" ect. ect. I simply don't know, but then again, it it might be genetics all along, which is being changed up as I speak. It might have been the drying process or the curing process. Maybe both? The only thing I'm pretty sure of is it's something we've discussed.
What I'd LOVE to find is a commercial grower who is growing hydroponically and having success in bringing out the terps. Be a "feel good" moment for me, no doubt. Tough to find this in the commercial arena. I hate to have to change growing methods, as I'm already set up with a large chiller and am able to keep a perfect 68 deg root zone 24/7 as well as react to changes or problems much faster than with a soil based media. (We use expanded clay). This also isn't the "cheapest" method of growing. Probably one of the most expensive, but the goal was to bring a BETTER product to market, not a worse one. However if we have to change growing methods, I need to prove this and get r done.
I'm almost betting I'm gonna get b*tch slapped by a handful of you guys as it almost sounds like a handful of problems are combining into a very expensive nightmare.😱
This is a great idea and I've seen something like it on youtube.

Do you have more specs on how you built this?

What valves, controller, how many pumps etc?
 
Ponky

Ponky

2,328
263
Just out of curiosity is the does the weed taste good? Or is it just really strong and really smooth?
 
ComfortablyNumb

ComfortablyNumb

4,981
263
There is a guy on YouTube that teaches this exact same system for curing.
We use the large pickle jars. They each are 1 gallon and hold about 1/4 of our harvest.

So, sulfur boosts terps? What about Trichs?
 

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