Does Future Harvest make a terpene enhancer?
Working at Future Harvest, one of the most common questions we get is "why don't you produce a terpene enhancer?". The short answer to that question is we don't feel confident enough in them to try and put something on the market. This doesn't mean we have ignored them, especially since the theory behind them is so interesting.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are a class of chemicals generally associated with flavour and odor as well as having medicinal properties. Many cannabis growers find them very important as they will affect the flavour and smell of the cannabis they produce.
Why are terpenes important?
Because terpenes come before cannabinoids, it can be assumed higher terpenes will translate to a more potent end product. Cannabis connoisseurs will seek out a more flavourful end product which translates to a potentially better price for the grower.
Terpenes affect flavour
How are terpenes produced?
Terpenes are produced by a plant when they are being invaded or feel stressed. When an animal is confronted with a virus they will initiate an immune response where their body will fight off the invader internally. Plants on the other hand, do things a little differently. When plants respond to a virus, bacteria, or anything that may be interfering with their growing cycle, they will produce chemicals to fight it off. For example, to fight off insects who are invading the plant, they may produce the chemicals morphine or nicotine as an insecticide!
Plants produce terpenes in response to stress
When a plant is being attacked it will initiate a Systemic Acquired Resistance, commonly referred to as SAR. For example, this will begin when the plant detects anything foreign, such as a pest on one of its leaves. The leaf will produce a chemical which will trigger the rest of the plant to initiate their defense mechanisms. Defenses typically include producing chemicals which will slow down the invading pest. In some plants, terpenes are among the chemical defenses the plant will deploy. Sometimes the plant may produce methyl salicylate, commonly known as oil of wintergreen, which can spread to neighboring plants who then initiate their defenses as well.
Can terpene production be artificially induced?
The major question is: can we force plants to produce higher levels of terpenes? So far, our research hasn’t proven we can do this. Future Harvest teamed up with a phytochemist, a scientist specializing in plant chemistry, to try to figure this out. We took apart products claiming to increase terpene production using a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer (NMR) and did not find anything in their formulas that would majorly impact terpene production. Through our own research, we performed trials using the chemicals plants create while under stress, chitosan, salicylic acid, and jasmonic acid; however, despite minor variations between some of them and the controls the differences were trivial. The levels of terpenes produced was not majorly impacted through our intervention.
Ultimately we made the decision not to push a product in which we cannot feel completely confident with. It is up to the grower what kind of additives they use, however, if I were in their situation I would be focusing my attention on genetics rather than chemicals in regards to terpene levels. There are some interesting strains out there which may produce higher terpene levels without chemical intervention.
Now, I am not claiming that terpene enhancement cannot be done; however, I do remain unconvinced of product claims that they offer significant benefits. Although, like any claim I am happy to revise my views based on better evidence!
Remember you can always reach out to @futureharvestdevelopments on instagram if you have any questions or need advice.