Skillfully cultivated and cured sativa-leaning flowers tend to be light and fluffy in shape and composition, while indicas tend to be tighter and denser in flower structure, though the structure and the experience usually have little to do with each other. Rock-hard flowers are a sign that cultivators may have used plant growth regulators, which can lead to an unpleasant taste. Extremely fluffy flowers could be a signal that the plant was not grown under sufficient light intensity and was not cultivated to its potential.
The common denominator is that a good-smelling flower is distinct, pungent, and unmistakable; the stronger the fragrance is, the better.
Though a plant’s structure really says nothing about its chemical composition, it can still tell a story. Improper lighting or growing conditions can lead to “fluffy” or “airy” nugs, and while they may contain high levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, their density is still widely and harshly dismissed by the cannabis community.
While “top-shelf flower is the hallmark of a great dispensary, good flower comes in many shapes and sizes — and has more than a few nicknames.
The best smoking experiences often come with the best marijuana buds. When flower is really good, you spark up and experience pleasant highs, great flavor, and relaxing aromas. The worst smoking experiences often come when flower is, well, just bad. We always want the “loud,” “fire,” “Private Reserve” weed, and want to avoid the “schwag,” “brick,” and “bunk” weed at all costs.
While all good cannabis should be visually appealing, a top-shelf strain can easily display an vibrant array of colors. Good-quality flowers are often a deep or lime green with flaming orange or red hairs. They can also express colors from deep purple to bright blue, but should never display brown tones.
Top shelf flower should be sticky and slightly spongy when you touch or gently squeeze it between your fingers. Stems should snap and the bud should be relatively easy to break apart, but shouldn’t be completely dry or crumble when you touch it. Alternatively, buds shouldn’t be too wet or soft, since these have a higher chance of developing or containing mold or mildew.
Low-quality flower can take on a variety of quirky fragrances, which are rarely good. Often referred to as “schwag,” or “bottom shelf,” these low-end buds can reek of a musty or mildewy aroma. A musty or strawlike aroma is a clear indication of aged or compromised cannabis. Typically, when stored away from light and heat, cannabis has around a one-year shelf life before starting to really degrade. Unpleasant aromas are generally a sign of mishandling, poorly cured cannabis, or advanced age.
Here are a few markers to help you identify the best marijuana for your money.
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