About Cannabis Popcorn Buds & What to Do with Them

Hint- They're not nearly as satisfying as actual popcorn.


You Don't Want Popcorn Buds

Along with massive colas come popcorn buds – smaller, less dense buds of cannabis that don’t pack as much of a punch in their trichome generation, thus their effects, and therefore are often sold for less. They're the the proverbial "red-headed stepchildren" of the cannabis plant, often thought of as B-grade.

A few popcorn buds will normally pop up along the plant toward the stem and bottom branches, signifying a normal growth cycle - but a mature plant yielding mostly popcorn buds is an indication that something went very wrong during the growth process.

However, Popcorn Buds Can Be Smoked!

Popcorn buds can absolutely be smoked and many home-growers do. But they are less dense than a normal cola and have fewer trichomes, therefore, less THC. This isn’t always a bad thing if you're not trying to get too stimulated, but for the typical bud smoker, stronger is better.

They Can Be Concentrates & Edibles!

Another use for popcorn buds is to use them in resin or as a concentrate in edible products. Manufacturing edibles is a lot like making a hotdog. You take all the stuff that is left over - clippings, popcorn buds, weak plants - and throw them into the cooker. Out comes a concentrated form of cannabis that can be used in a variety of products.

Using everything in producing concentrates is a good way to maximize all parts of the plant, to be sure. But it means that quality of many edible products can be unpredictable and inconsistent in quality. You don't know what strains have been put in your edibles.

What Causes Popcorn Buds & How to Prevent Them

The primary cause of popcorn buds is stress on the plant in the form of excessive heat. Temperatures exceeding 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) cause popcorn buds to proliferate; develop with an open bloom, especially concerning indica strains that are used to colder environments.

Growers must be vigilant in controlling the temperature of the grow and controlling the distance between the grow lights and the canopy, especially according the needs of the strain being grown.

Tips on How to Prevent Popcorn Buds:

  • When growing outdoors, use a shade screen to protect plants from heat stress.
  • Remove all lower infant buds from the branches during early flowering of the plant. This leaves only the lush buds at the top of the plant, of which all growth energy can focus.
  • Using the "Screen of Green" method (ScrOG) helps even out the plant growth over an area, thereby evening out the heat and humidity produced by plants and lights. Growth is also focused on the top colas of the plants where the most cannabinoids are produced. Learn More: How to Cultivate Using the Screen of Green Method
  • Keep good air circulation around the plants to prevent stagnant heat & proliferation.
  • Use proper soil nutrition based on the strain being grown to prevent malnourishment and therefore preventing increased risk of mutations leading to popcorn buds.
  • If you're serious about getting your plants to grow to their best capabilities, check out our article: Music Will Help Your Weed Grow to its Full Potential: The Research

There is no doubt that large, lush colas are the goal of any grow. However, when popcorn buds inevitably do pop up there are plenty of uses for them, including rolling them into a nice, fat joint at the end of a rigorous day of cultivation.