What Are Popcorn Buds?
Though many growers see them as something to be avoided, small, dense popcorn buds can also be valuable and useful if they’re properly handled and trimmed.
Cannabis plants love light. It is perhaps the most essential ingredient in a successful crop, indoors or outdoors. How and where light (sunlight or artificial) interacts with cannabis greatly effects the overall growth of plants. That said, lighting also directly dictates the quality and types of flowers that cannabis plants produce.
Generally speaking, marijuana buds are classified by size in three categories: colas, mid-size, and popcorn buds. The smallest of these three classifications, popcorn buds, are those cannabis flowers that are large enough (at least the size of one’s thumbnail) and dense enough to be kept with the rest of the more prized buds. Another name for popcorn buds is larf cannabis.
Any bud smaller or lighter than a popcorn bud is generally added to a harvest’s trim (leafy matter with THC crystals) and made into concentrates, butter, or edibles.
Popcorn Buds: Trimming and Handling
As aforementioned, popcorn buds are those small buds that are tightly packed enough to be kept in a bag with the rest of the colas and mid-size flowers. However, while popcorn flowers are considered “keepers” in the minds of most cultivators, there are a few stipulations one should remember when processing and storing them.
For starters, trimming popcorn buds is an extremely daunting task. A sure way to burn oneself out while trimming is to schedule an entire day of little bud hand work. If hand-trimming popcorn buds, it is a good idea to mix them in with the larger flowers so as not to overwork oneself while handling these smaller buds in one trim session.
To streamline the process, many cannabis growers today choose to use trim machines to clean up their popcorns while hand-trimming the larger, prize flowers.
When harvesting a significantly sized crop, it is easy to overlook popcorn buds and instead put them directly in with one’s trim. Make sure that a keen eye is kept on the harvest process to ensure that these little buds make it into the bag with the rest of the flowers.
Indoor vs. Outdoor: Plant Pruning and Flower Growth
The amount of popcorn buds present in one’s harvest is greatly dependent upon the way one chooses to prune their plants. Along this line of thought, how cultivators prune their cannabis plants is also dictated by whether the plant is grown indoors or outdoors.
For indoor gardens, the intensity of artificial light diminishes exponentially the further away it is form a light source. This means that even a mere six-inch difference in how close a branch and flower is to a grow light can greatly affect their growth and productivity.
Point being, a uniform canopy will result in a harvest that contains mostly cola and mid-sized buds because the entire canopy is receiving maximum illumination. Those branches below the average canopy height, however, will yield popcorn buds and trim material.
To put the actual flower growth of cannabis plants in perspective, the top cola buds are the largest flowers because they receive the largest amount of light. For indoor gardens, these top cola flowers are generally the only buds that gardeners like to leave in their canopy.
Growers usually clean up the bottom three-quarters of the plant. In this process, cultivators use a sterile pair of scissors to remove elements of the plant (leaves, branches, buds) that don’t receive strong light from the artificial light source and those elements will yield airy flowers and popcorn buds.
Outdoor cannabis gardeners have the blessing of abundant sunlight and plants that are greatly spread out from one another. Because of the strong sunlight reacting with the side growth, outdoor plants have large colas on the sides and tops of plants.
While the general plant processes of growth for indoor and outdoor gardens is the same, the less-restrictive growth space of outdoor gardens requires a different pruning process.
For outdoor grows, this pruning process is referred to as “middling” because growers only clean up the middle of the plants and generally don’t cut off the bottom branches (which still receive abundant sunlight).
As seen with indoor crops, outdoor cultivators do this middling process to remove all plant matter that isn’t receiving much light.
In summary, popcorn buds often share many of the same qualities of their larger, more expensive counterparts. As such, they can offer the cannabis connoisseur an additional opportunity to try out a new, high-quality strain without having to pay a premium for larger buds. Hence why it’s worth taking the time to properly handle and trim your popcorn buds.