What are Popcorn Cannabis Buds?

popcorn_weed_By Talaj
Photo: Talaj/ shutterstock

A little popcorn with your Cola is an excellent idea at the movie theater. But when it comes to cannabis cultivation, are popcorn buds a relaxing and enjoyable experience?

Of course, every marijuana growers dream is a giant, full-canopied plant that yields enormous, high-quality colas all along the stem. But even seasoned growers end up with a bucket of popcorn buds every now and again.

The question is: Are popcorn buds to be avoided? Or is there a silver-screened lining when it comes to these tiny marijuana nugs?

What Are Popcorn Buds?

Marijuana buds can be classified into three general size categories: cola, mid-size, and popcorn bud. Colas are the cash cows of a crop, especially for commercial growers. Large and densely packed, these buds typically contain higher levels of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Popcorn cannabis buds are characterized by their smaller size and fluffy, less-compact composition. They are about the size of a popped kernel of corn – hence the name – and often look like a piece of movie theatre popcorn. These tinier buds are referred to as larf cannabis.

These buds usually grow close to the stem on the lowest branches of the plant. They are often less mature than the buds in the top of the canopy which are exposed to most of the light they need to thrive. In fact, this lack of appropriate light is one of the reasons popcorn buds grow in the first place.

What Causes Popcorn Buds?

tops of cannabis sativa plantsThe primary cause of your weed producing a group of popcorn nuggets developing is plant stress.

Ask any grower what the number one stressor is for cannabis plants and the most common answer is overheating. Too-hot temperatures cause flowers to grow loose and wispy rather than compact and dense.

Excessive temperatures — typically above 82 degrees Farenheight (28 Celcius) — may result in an entire plant of the little marijuana nugs.

The second, and more difficult to control at the lower parts of the plant, is lack of direct light. As a cannabis plant grows and the canopy fans out, the lower branches are blocked from the light source. It's why popcorn cannabis buds are found lower on the stems.

Although the look of these popcorn buds is less aesthetically pleasing than their densely packed siblings at the top of the plant's canopy does not mean they have to end up in a bag with the rest of the trimmings.

Are Popcorn Buds Considered Less Potent?

There are two camps of thought when it comes to the potency of these smaller buds.

The first group says they're "trash." These growers explain that the popcorn buds use up some of the essential nutrients that could be going toward the growth of healthier colas. They also feel the smaller, fuzzy flowers aren't worth the effort to trim for curing. These are the cultivators who tend to lollipop their plants.

The second type of grower believes there is value in growing, trimming, and processing popcorn buds. These growers recommend using the smaller nugs for other purposes. Popcorn marijuana is great for pressing into rosin, making tinctures and cannabis-infused oils, or adding as a concentrate for increasing edible potency.

Due to their small size and less appealing look, popcorn buds are sold as B-grade stash. This, even though they have the same effects as the A-grade buds from the same plant. The main difference: Popcorn buds produce fewer trichomes which means a smaller concentration of THC.

Sometimes Size Doesn't Matter

With so many different strains available it can be hard to choose which one to try next. If you find yourself in this dilemma, think about grabbing a bag of popcorn buds first. It's a fantastic way to experiment and try new weed, without paying full price.