If we tell you to imagine your perfect harvest of cannabis, the first image that comes to your mind will probably have a cornucopia of beautiful, tight weed nuggets soaked in flavorful resin. Unfortunately, sometimes nature has its own plans for your harvest, and instead of that idyllic picture, you’re left with small or leafy, airy buds that look nothing like what you’ve dreamed of. Luckily for you, there’s still something that can be done about the problem of airy buds. Keep reading till the end to not only learn about the causes and solutions for airy buds, but to also find a list of three strains you should invest into to NEVER deal with light, leafy buds again.
How To Recognize Airy Buds
If you can’t quite understand what an airy bud is, you’re either a perfect grower or haven’t had that much experience yet. Fortunately, we can describe what a loose bud is so you can take action at the first sight of this fiasco of a cannabis grower. First of all, the main signs of an airy bud include its lightness and softness. Do buds appear flaccid more than tight and sturdy? It’s most likely a case of an airy bud. Does the bud seem to have way too many sugar leaves, so much that you can’t even recognize the flower in the center? Then it’s an airy bud. That’s why these are often called leafy or fluffy buds. Look at any source of light through one of your buds – if it appears almost see-through, you’re again dealing with loose, airy cannabis buds.
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What's So Bad About Leafy Airy Buds?
Now that you know what an airy bud looks like, what’s actually so bad about it? While an airy bud is definitely better than no bud, you always want to harvest nuggets that are dense and firm. Why? First, airy and loose buds are generally smaller in size because they never reached full maturity. For the same reason, they will be late on THC/CBD/terpene production, which is the ultimate goal of cannabis growing. Hence, if you’re harvesting a crop of leafy, loose, and light buds, you’re robbing yourself of not only the potential harvest’s mass, but also its potency and flavor.
What Causes Airy Buds?
Next, we’re going to cover the main reasons behind leafy buds. As you’ll see, loose and leafy buds are sometimes part of a strain’s genetics, but there are other factors you can control yourself. Follow along to learn what causes airy buds and what can be done in order to bring every weed flower to its full potential.
Apart from heirloom strains that grow wildly in their natural habitats, the vast majority of modern cannabis strains are a result of careful and thoughtfully-engineered breeding. Well, most of the time. While some of the well-known cannabis seed banks gain recognition and the respect of growers for their stable genetics and prized quality of harvests, there are also some slacker breeders and simply sketchy seeds, which grow to be marijuana plants with such a predetermined trait as leafy buds. Unfortunately, if you plant seeds of poor genetics, it won’t matter how much you care for the plant or how much money you invest in the grow process – the seeds’ genetics will do their thing and leave you with a low-potency harvest of loose and airy buds.
Lack Of (Or Too Much) Light
Another main reason behind the unsatisfying quality of buds is poor lighting conditions. Providing your plant with enough light in the flowering stage is what makes the most difference when it comes to harvesting dense vs. airy buds. Cannabis is a sturdy plant and, in most cases, will produce buds even under such low light conditions. However, those buds won’t be in any way as dense or potent as they could be. On the other hand, too much light or having the light source too close to the bud sites may likewise cause cannabis flowers to under-develop, although this scenario is definitely rarer.
Overall cannabis health, including optimal bud growth, requires constant temperature control. Leafy airy buds are often caused by environments that are too hot for marijuana. Interestingly, temperatures that we humans find comfortable (+18-28C/64-82F) are also perfect for our favorite plant. If after entering your grow room you feel hot, that’s a good sign that your marijuana plants might be experiencing heat stress. Temperatures above +30C/86F are dangerous for cannabis and can end up causing loose airy buds.
Each stage of cannabis development requires its own set of nutrients. When talking about the flowering stage, when buds appear and mature, this period in the cannabis lifecycle calls for low nitrogen and high phosphorous and potassium levels. If your fertilization routine for the flowering stage is picked wrong and provides excessive nitrogen, not enough phosphorous and potassium, or both, your buds won’t fatten and grow dense. Moreover, even if the nutrition plan is picked correctly, the issue might be hidden in the wrong pH at the root zone, which won’t let marijuana absorb the nutrients it needs most.
If you found this article while asking yourself, “Why are my buds light and airy?”, the issue you’re overlooking might be poor airflow in your grow room, or even if this aspect is dialed in, not enough free space around the buds. The thing is, cannabis plants are striving to procreate and are actually pretty smart – since they’re naturally pollinated by wind, marijuana plants won’t waste their energy on developing buds that are hidden from light and wind. That’s why, if the bud sites are covered with excessive foliage or surrounded by stale air, they won’t produce buds that fully ripen.
On another matter, for one reason or another, all growers sometimes look for a quick harvest. If you’re in need of a fast-performing plant, our Fast-Flowering Collection is your go-to destination. Check it out!
How To Fix Light Airy Buds
Finally, if it’s too late to prevent airy buds from happening and you can see that your nuggets don’t look as full and dense as you’d like, there are still some tricks to apply to try and make the buds fill up.
Nowadays, there are many bud density boosting solutions available to purchase from garden stores or online – just ask for bloom-boosters. Some of these have complex lists of ingredients, including vitamins and amino acids, while others work primarily with potassium and phosphorous. If your buds are loose and airy, they might help – just follow the directions on the package.
Airy buds can be a sign of overwatering during the flowering stage. If your cannabis plant looks droopy and has light buds forming, you might just want to stop overwatering it.
Reduce Humidity Before Harvesting
Reducing humidity levels below 45% just two to three weeks before harvest helps cannabis increase resin production and also tighten up.
Don't Harvest Too Early
This might sound obvious, but if you want your buds to fully mature and reach the desired size and weight, don’t harvest them too early! To harvest at a good time, watch the trichomes on the buds with your phone’s camera zoomed in or with a magnifying glass. When the trichomes start turning amber, you can start harvesting.
Tighten The Buds Up By Drying and Curing
The quality of the final product largely depends on how you dry and cure your buds. This step is necessary to not only improve the flavor, aroma, and potency of your weed, but also to let the buds tighten up one last time before consumption. If you harvested airy buds, there’s still a chance that after drying, they’ll get denser and more appealing.
How To Prevent Loose Airy Buds
Now you know the main reasons behind loose and airy buds, it’s time to turn that knowledge into some helpful tips that you can use to make sure each bud you harvest is dense and full of THC, CBD, and flavorful terpenes.
- You should always start with choosing seeds of proven genetics that are known for developing dense buds, rather than seeds of unknown origin that can end up producing airy buds despite all the effort you put into cultivating them. Here at Herbies, we work with the best cannabis seed producers and the best genetics, all of which are easy to grow and yield great results every time.
- After you’ve picked a strong cannabis genetic and a healthy seed, it’s time to decide on the lighting. If you want the buds to fill up during the flowering stage, you need to provide them with enough red-spectrum light. Full-spectrum LED lights or HIDs are perfect for this purpose – you just need to make sure they’re powerful enough. Calculate the wattage you need to use while considering that in perfect conditions, 1 watt of light equals 0.5-1g of harvest – meaning that, if you’re looking to yield 300g of buds from your plant, you’ll preferably need a grow lamp that’s at least 600W.
- Depending on what type of light you choose, you need to make sure the light source doesn’t get close enough to the plant to cause the bud sites to heat up. Keep the lights close, but don’t forget to do a simple check every now and then – place the palm of your hand where the buds are and make sure it doesn’t feel too hot. Always use ventilation and exhaust systems as well to keep the temperature in the grow room under +30C/86F, and follow temperature directions from the breeder for each particular strain.
- Proper ventilation will not only help you with keeping the temperature under control, but also with providing bud sites with the breeze they need to stay healthy and grow big and dense. However, to make sure air makes its way to the buds, don’t forget to defoliate your plant and perform LST as necessary. If you do so, not only will your buds remain properly aerated and have room to grow, they’ll also be exposed to more light, which is undoubtedly beneficial for getting buds to fill up.
- Finally, keep an eye on your pH, which should stay between 6.0-7.0 for soil and 5.5-6.5 for soilless media. That way, during the flowering stage, your buds will be able to use all the potassium and phosphorous you’re feeding the plant with to grow big and heavy. Don’t forget to lower the amount of nitrogen for the flowering cycle, too.
Strains That Won’t Produce Airy Buds
We’ve already mentioned the importance of good genetics and how they affect the mass and overall quality of cannabis buds. Without beating around the bush, here are our top three picks for cannabis strains that never produce light and airy buds.
Original Big Bud Auto (FastBuds)
The name speaks for itself – Original Big Bud Auto was created with bud mass in mind. This quick 23% THC autoflower produces disproportionally large buds with floral flavors and blissful effects. Make sure to stack up your plant’s branches and see those flowers fatten up!
Critical Super Silver Haze (Delicious Seeds)
Known for her rock-solid nuggets, Critical Super Silver Haze is a potent Sativa-dominant hybrid. It’s been fighting off the competition since the 90s with its tightly clenched fists that brought it so many awards. Grow it and see not only the highest quality buds, but also some of the most cerebral highs in your memory.
Mimosa Shot (Herbies Seeds)
Created by yours truly, Mimosa Shot has quickly gained recognition for its gloriously dense buds that also produce an abundance of flavorful resin. It’s packed with citrusy terpenes reminiscent of tangerine candy, and loaded with 30% THC to quickly get you out even of the darkest state of mind.
No More Leafy, Loose, Airy Buds!
That’s how we’re going to finish our guide on airy buds – with you well-prepared to distinguish the case of airy buds at first sight and eliminate the problem once and for all. Now you know everything you need in order to harvest heavy yields of buds full of resin every single time. Is there anything else cannabis-related you’d like to know more about? Let us know in the comments below!