If you take a clear picture of your buds with a phone or camera and zoom in, you can often see the trichomes clear enough to identify their color. It’s best if you can actually rest it on something so it doesn’t move at all. Even a little motion will make trichomes much less clear in pictures. Don’t take pictures under unnatural colored lights like LED or HPS grow lights because it makes it really difficult to see the trichome color. Dim light will also make trichomes almost impossible to see.
Try Using the Flash – Try taking pictures with and without a flash, as it can make a big difference depending on the environment Take a few different pictures from different angles, and from both close and far. Sometimes if you put a camera or phone in too close everything gets blurry, so you may have to move the camera further back than you’d originally think in order to get a clear shot Optical Zoom – If your camera has an optical zoom (the lens can actually move as it focuses, like with most cameras but not phones) it can help to zoom in before taking the pic. Keep in mind that digital zoom (like what phones have) doesn’t help much. Example, this picture was taken by a Samsung Galaxy 4 camera phone (2013 version) with the flash on. If you zoom in really close, you can actually get a much closer view of the trichomes. In this case, nearly all the trichomes are white and fat, which means this plant is in the harvest window. However, sometimes even with a camera, it can be difficult to really see the trichomes.
Some phones have products that let you attach a small lens to your phone in front of the camera to magnify the image and take closer pictures. You can make these yourself by taking the lens out of a laser pointer and DIY attaching it to your phone, but the professional ones often are easier to use, and they cost less than $15. A digital microscope is probably the easiest way to see the trichomes. They zoom in very close and allow you to take a video so you can really look at the trichomes after the fact. When you see really nice pictures or videos of trichomes, it’s often because the media was taken with a digital microscope. These go in much closer than most magnifiers or cameras. Here’s an example of a digital microscope in action – these buds are ready to harvest. We took the above videos using the Carson zOrb hooked up to a laptop. So far this seems to be the most accurate and dependable way to look at trichomes we’ve found. Trichomes are what make buds potent, so most growers are interested in making sure their cannabis plants produce as many trichomes as possible. Here are the main strategies growers use to increase the number of trichomes so buds look like they’re covered in “glitter.” 1.) The Right Kind of Light. Light needs to be very bright in the flowering stage. Cannabis plants grown under weak light tend to grow fewer trichomes and produce far less bud. The most trichome-encrusted bud is usually produced under very strong and bright grow lights like HPS grow lights. Very strong grow lights like HPS bulbs make cannabis produce more trichomes than if the buds were under weaker lights in the flowering stage. Some growers (including some famous ones like Ed Rosenthal) believe that exposing cannabis buds to UV-B light for the last 2-3 weeks before harvest can increase trichome production and overall potency. Although not yet proven, this may be partly because trichomes are theorized to help protect the plant from UV-B rays. UV-B is the name for a “color” of light in the lower blue/violet spectrum that humans can’t see. It is produced by the sun and causes damage to plants and humans. In fact, nearly all organisms on earth have defenses to protect themselves from UV-B rays. Humans get sun-burned if exposed to too much UV-B and can even get cancer in extreme cases, so our skin protects us by becoming darker in response to sunlight. Instead of a tan, plants produce trichomes that can help protect against UV-B rays (though trichomes also have many other uses such as producing cannabinoids and terpenes/essential oils/smells). Metal halide grow lights produce UV-B light just like the sun! Although MH lights are generally only used in the vegetative stage like for these plants below, it may be helpful to expose buds to UV-B light for the last 2 weeks before harvest to increase trichome production.
The most common source of UV-B light for growers (besides the sun of course) are Metal Halide grow lights. UVB light is also produced by incandescent bulbs but they aren’t really bright enough to be used for this purpose. Just remember that glass blocks UV-B rays, so if you’re using a metal halide bulb in an enclosed hood, it’s important to remove the glass (and find another way to cool the light) so UV-B rays actually reach your plant’s buds. Another option for UV-B light is reptile lamps, though not a lot of growers have those hanging around the house, and they’re not as powerful as a Metal Halide lamp 🙂 Possibly LED grow lights. Although most LED grow lights don’t produce any UV-B light, some growers believe the unique light spectrum of many LEDs actually stress plants in a way that causes it to produce more trichomes as a defense response. In the wild, trichomes can protect the buds from many dangers, including bugs. That may be why the plant produces more trichomes in response to certain types of stress.
This trichome-encrusted bud was grown under LED grow lights (click for a close-up) 2.) Environment: Alter Temperature & Humidity Near Harvest (Advanced) The main thing to remember when it comes to altering your grow environment for the last 2-3 weeks before harvest is this: Humidity below 30% – Drop the humidity of the grow space below 30% RH for last 2-3 weeks before harvest to increase trichome production Temperature between 70-80°F – Make sure your temperature stays under 80°F (26°C) to ensure potency is not being baked right off your buds.