Amber is Bad ?
I started breeding because I noticed that no matter what current strain I tried, none of them took me where the old school strains of the 70's took me. I well remembered that back then amber was a good thing and I read a lot of articles that claimed todays breeders had bred the CBD out in order to increase the THC content and that todays strains were stronger as a result. Yet my own sampling of these strains did not ring any of those old bells, hell some of them did not even get me high. The other thing I remembered was that the old school strains did not have todays tolerance issues, that no matter how much of it you smoked you always got the same high from the same amount.
When I started breeding it was my notion that all I needed to do was breed the CBD back in to get that old school high I was looking for and I carefully picked older strains to work with. I had seen a lot of forum post and articles that told growers when to harvest based on the Trichomes and because I remembered that amber was a good thing I did not pay attention to them. I harvested my plants as I had always done in the past with 50% (or more) amber and contrary to the current rhetoric none of my bred strains had a couch lock effect and were very potent.
Then came the plant that went over 50% amber in week 5 of flower (pictured above), I had bred 3 strains thus far that made the early amber but not this early and I wanted to understand what was going on. I started researching, what I discovered actually amazed me and I spent over 100 hours looking for the answer. I found that it all started a long time ago when a Dr. Paul G. Mahlberg started studying cannabis to determine a way to breed a THC free hemp strain in the 70's by the 90's he was joined in his research by Eun Soo Kim, and together they published this report THC (TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL) ACCUMULATION IN GLANDS OF CANNABIS (CANNABACEAE) giving us a clear picture of what happens inside the Trichomes. They discovered that THC degrades into CBN and reported that the sign of this was senescent Trichomes. They did not define this as amber but rather used the word "brown" here is the paragraph from that report detailing this,,,,
b. Effect of gland age on cannabinoid content
We also examined cannabinoid content of stalked gland by age to measure the major cannabinoid components in both a fiber and drug strain (Table 2). Glands, viewed under a microscope, can be classified according to their secretory phases from the color of their contents. Glands most active in secretion (mature) are translucent in appearance, aged glands are yellow in appearance and senescent glands are brown in color. Mature glands possessed the highest content of their major cannabinoid in both the fiber and drug strains. Senescent glands possessed low levels of cannabinoids. The concentration of some components, as CBD in the drug strains, may be so low that is was not detectable in our analysis; similarly, for THC and CBN in the fiber strain. It is unknown where the cannabinoids go during the aging process, but we suggest that it is possible they volatilize into the atmosphere along with the terpenes in glands, as noted later in this report. Nevertheless, this phenomenon of altered content in glands during aging is one that should be studied to gain a more complete understanding of the secretory process of cannabinoids in the cell.
When this report came out in the 90's it was not well known within the underground cannabis community until November 2011 when a High Times article by Mel Frank hit the stands. You can buy the magazine here, HIGH TIMES Magazine November 2011 - Issue 430 and you can read the article here, A HARVESTING GUIDE FROM BUDS TO LEAVES TO SEEDS TO THC, CBD AND CBN. BY MEL FRANK. Somehow in this translation amber became a shade of brown. Have you ever played the party game of sittin in a circle and whispering something into the next persons ear and having it go around the circle? Only to be radically changed by the time it gets to the last person. well it seems that is what happened with this article. If you look as I have, you will find folks all over proclaiming that amber is the sign of THC decay. Many mistakenly report that it degrades into CBD. Many report that it happens very fast and that it is caused by light. This has prompted a mythical practice of leaving the plant in the dark for hours and even days and also harvesting in the dark, none of which actually has any effect and is a total waste of time.
As a result of this major misinterpretation a picture (pic A) was made and you will find it all over the web as this now represents what is currently believed to be true based on what I have shared with you thus far. When I started my research, I looked for evidence that THC was degrading into CBN and I found many reports that indicated otherwise. There were reports from GW Pharma that took samples at 8, 10 and 12 weeks that showed no increase in CBN. There were 2 reports on over 30 thousand confiscated samples (by law enforcement) that reported low CBN percentages and/or no significant increase in CBN. This confused me, and then I found this article from 1999 that detailed a way to identify the age of confiscated cannabis in forensic studies for law enforcement that documented the degradation of THC into CBN averaged 7% each year on average with the most notable decline occurring in the first year. You can read this study here, CBN and D9-THC concentration ratio as an indicator of the age of stored marijuana samples.
I then started looking for discussions that referenced the High Times article to see what people were saying and how we got to this amber is bad notion? I found a very interesting thread at my old alma mater RollItUp here, New High Times Suggests Harvesting Earlier...RIU Rejoice!. If you read the whole thread you find two things that I found ironic, one was that Alaskan Thunderfuck was an early amber strain and two that I was actually mentioned twice though I did not participate in the thread. It was this thread that made me name my new early amber strain Colorado Thunderfuck. In the next chapter I will tell you how to adjust your garden to bring out the expression of early amber in strains prone to do so. I have done so by experimenting on a G13 Pineapple Express in week 6 of flower (pic B) and have had very good results.
When all this happened, I was already writing this book. I decided to get a microscope camera so I could take more detailed pictures of the trichomes and a THC test kit so I could see for myself if there was any CBN in my amber coated buds. I got the test kit here, Cannabis Test Kit as it is the same one used by High Times at the Cannabis Cups. The first thing I did was to test my new amber CTF strain which was over 90% amber when harvested. It tested 25% THC 5% CBD and NO CBN (pic C). Next I decided to do a comparrison test on my Holy Diver strain, I took a bud from the jar and left it out for a month, sitting on my coffee table exposed to light and air. I then compared the month old bud to a fresh one (pic D) The fresh bud tested 25% THC 5% CBD and NO CBN, the month old bud tested 22% THC 5% CBD and 1% CBN. This rang true for me since that forensic study detailed that the loss of THC with age did not equal the increase in CBN and that was because they isolated two new acids as part of the degradation. It also verified what I believed to be true, that THC does not degrade quickly! Please note that this Holy Diver sample was harvested at 50% amber.
The CTF was everything I had been looking for! There was no couch lock, there was a limitless ceiling, there was a slow creep that took an hour to peak, there was an uplifting euphoric high that made me want to do stuff and it only took one good bong rip to get there with no tolerance issues, and it was practically ALL AMBER. My research continued, I found articles that talked about the dangers of early harvest, I found forum post of people complaining that they could not find any amber buds in Colorado (at the new retail outlets). I found articles about what is now being called the Entourage Effect, that detail how the cannabinoids and terpenes act together to create both the high and medical benefits of cannabis. But I was looking for something that explained what I knew to be true and had just verified through my testing and that was how to properly understand how to read the trichomes and when to harvest. I thought I was going to have to write it out myself and then I found this old forum post by oldtimer1 and it explained it so well I decided to quote it,,,,,,,
A quick note about psychoactivity by oldtimer1
High psychoactive varieties produce clear or transparent capitate heads then they turn transparent amber then slowly oxidise to brown, none translucent. This type is most psychoactive at the early amber translucent stage.
Most varieties do not have a translucent amber stage. What you get is transparent then the milky none translucent that develops over time to the oxidised none translucent brown stage. This type is most psychoactive at the early milky stage.
The thing about amber trichomes, is that true amber trichomes only develop in some phenotypes and only with very high potency types!
The way to define it, is that high potency or should I say the type of plant that develops what I call complex psychoactivity, only develop with clear trichome stages, they go from glass clear to very light yellow to amber to red amber as they develop. The onset of the first red amber just showing is when the potency is at its peak.
At all these stages the trichomes are crystal clear like cut jewels! Its only as they start to degrade that they start to go brown and start to cloud ie: become none translucent this finally degrades to a dark muddy colour.
Types that go from glass clear to milky [like frosted glass]. With this type when you get 40 to 60% milky trichomes, new THC production is being produced at a lower rate than it is slowly degrading, this is the most psychoactive point for this type or variety, it will never produce true amber, instead when you get the oxidised THC starting to show, which is more of an amber brown but cloudy. With this type of var as soon as brown trichomes start appearing you know THC production is way over the top and declining rapidly, at this stage psychoactivity is also declining and the effect becomes more and more narcotic. You see this much more with genes that come from hash making type genetics or so called indicas. Its the same thing as fresh lightly pressed hash has a nice medium honey coloured look, but this very quickly starts to darken, becomes brown then black over time as the surface thc oil oxidises.
Real Amber trichomes only happen on a very few varieties (mainly sativa dominant), the order is clear, clear slightly pale yellow, ie [going amber], to clear red amber. [at all stages they remain jewel clear]
With most varieties (indica dominant) you get clear trichomes then slightly cloudy finally milky.
What happens to both types (sativa and indica) is that eventually both milky and amber trichomes will finally degrade to brown, people often confuse this brown with amber, true amber trichome types remain crystal clear until they finally degrade, they are not the same, the final brown is cloudy/muddy in both types, when trichomes are getting to this stage potency is declining rapidly and the buds well over the top.
With sativa dom's time means little, as soon as you see the first sign of trichome changes ie milky/clear straw, you start cutting a bud every week, then choose the stone you like best, sats take longer to mature especially real amber types, also longer to degrade to the brown oxidised stage.
I also found a reference to this written by Jan from Sensi Social in a most excellant article about breeding found Here which says,,,,,,
Resin Quantity and Quality - Resin production by the glandular trichomes varies. A strain may have many glandular trichomes but they may not secrete very much resin. Resin color also varies from strain to strain. Resin heads may darken and become more opaque as they mature, as suggested by several authors. Some strains, however, produce fresh resins that are transparent amber instead of clear and colorless, and these are often some of the most psychoactive strains. Transparent resins, regardless of color, are a sign that the plant is actively carrying out resin biosynthesis. When biosynthesis ceases, resins turn opaque as cannabinoid and aromatic levels decline. Resin color is certainly an indication of the conditions inside the resin head, and this may prove to be another important criterion for breeding.
And there it was, the illusive words that were left out of the reports and articles "Translucent, Transparent and Opaque" and so I made a new pic for you to properly read your trichomes for harvest (pic E) (Please Note: that you can click on some of the pics to make them larger and right click on the pics and "save image as" to save them to your computer) (pic F) is a picture of the CTF taken at harvest as you can clearly see several of the amber trichomes starting to darken but not yet completely Opaque. (pic G) and (pic H) show how the amber turns red before it goes dark (opaque) as oldtimer1 described. And the final (pic I) shows my CTF strain 3 days into flower making early amber trichomes on new growth, yes it's true this strain grows trichomes on the leaves even in veg and yes, some of them are amber.
And now you know the truth about amber trichomes, when to harvest and how THC degrades into CBN over time. Note: that if you are breeding or crossing strains that early amber is a very good thing !!!
I chose this chapter to openly share because this info needs to be spread whether you purchase the book or not !!!comments powered by Disqus