What does this mean? It means that like other crops, moisture levels need to be checked and maintained. Here’s how moisture meters are keeping cannabis growers in bloom! With the cannabis industry ready to skyrocket, there’s something to keep in mind with all this: above everything else, cannabis is a plant…it’s a crop….and one that needs to be carefully monitored to grow successfully.
Growing and Harvesting Cannabis Plants
Humidity levels and moisture content can have a huge impact on the growth of a cannabis plant. The moisture levels must vary as the growth stages of the plant change and develop, so monitoring moisture levels is key to the overall success of the plant.
In each stage of the plant, the soil must be tested for its moisture levels to ensure that the plant is not being over or under-watered and that the humidity levels in the room are appropriate for each growth stage.
What are the required moisture levels at each of these stages?
- Seedling state: 65- to 70-percent moisture
- Vegetation period: 40 to 70 percent
- Flowering period: 40 to 50 percent
- Late flowering period: 30 to 40 percent (this is the final one to two weeks before harvest)
Once harvested, moisture levels in the flowers themselves need to be between 14 and 15 percent for cannabis to be considered dry enough to accurately measure THC levels. What about cured cannabis, shelf-stable and primed for smoking? The flowers need to continue to dry for several days or even weeks until they reach a moisture content level between 11 and 12 percent.
Frequent monitoring of moisture levels can help ensure the plant and soil have the correct level of moisture. What kinds of tools should you use to check these levels during the growing period?
The FD720 Moisture Balance can measure soil samples using the LOD (Loss on Drying) method. Or a Universal Moisture Meter like the HB300 is programmable and portable, which means that you can test soil moisture levels from anywhere in the grow room.
How Moisture Meters Monitor Cannabinoid Level Accuracy
When you are testing the harvested and dried cannabis flowers, knowing the water content is one of the most important pieces of data. It makes a difference in knowing its potency and effectiveness. In calculating the THC and cannabinoid levels, moisture is king. A flower sample with equal amounts of THC but different levels of moisture will produce varying test results.
Why is this? Cannabinoid levels are expressed as a percentage of the total weight. So if a 10-gram sample contains two grams of THC, that sample would have a THC content level of 20 percent. But what if that sample has not been fully dried and instead weighs 15 grams? That would skew the results. It would seem that the same sample would have a THC content level of around 13.3 percent, which would be incorrect.
If two cannabis flowers contain the same amount of THC but one has been completely dried, it will be lighter and therefore will appear to have a higher concentration of THC than the other sample—even if the concentration levels are actually identical. Changes in moisture content can mean inaccurate results.
Moisture meters help regulate these moisture levels, ensuring that accurate measurements are taken for each sample. What kind of moisture meter would help determine the moisture level in cannabis flower buds?
A NIR moisture meter would provide quick, easy and non-destructive results to test moisture levels. The KJT130, for example, is simple to use. It provides portable measurements without even having to make contact with the cannabis, instantly displaying the moisture value on the screen.
Not having to make contact with the cannabis protects it from contaminants, keeping the plant matter safe for medicinal purposes—even if the contact would be with something clinical like a moisture meter. If your cannabis is undergoing an artificial drying process, the KJT130 can still provide the data you need to dry each flower bud to the correct level of moisture for accurate measurements.
Moisture Meters for Regulation
In some states, testing moisture levels of cannabis is required to monitor these THC and cannabinoid levels. In California, for example, all cannabis has to undergo moisture level testing. Results for each sample must be printed on an official certificate of analysis.
And in Nevada? Not only are all processed cannabis and cannabis resin samples required to be tested for their moisture content, but these products must have a moisture content level of less than 15 percent in order to pass the test and be approved for use. A highly qualified scientific director is required to be present at each testing facility, and each director must ensure that laboratory techniques are of the highest standards and meet certain specifications. They also must supervise all staff within the testing facility.
The point here? Monitoring moisture levels in cannabis is no joke. Moisture meters are necessary not only to ensure a quality product but also to meet legal standards and regulations.
Are you a cannabis grower looking for answers about how moisture meters can make your grow room run more smoothly and how monitoring moisture levels can make for a successful crop with accurate measurements time and time again? Then we’re here to help!