Hemp flower quality ranges all the way from cheap bulk buds to exclusive boutique varieties. Some folks are perfectly satisfied with economical hemp that gets the job done, and that’s ok. But those of us who want to relish the best things life has to offer seek out top-shelf hemp flower the same way wine collectors search for a premium vintage. And when we find one we love, we stock up.
Let’s examine the ins and outs of top-shelf buds so that you can enjoy a five-star hemp flower experience.
What is Top-Shelf Hemp Flower?
Bars store their finest liquor on the top shelf because they only need to access it when a truly discerning customer comes in and places an order. Typical drinkers tend to stick in the middle price range. Bottles with top-shelf labels cost more because of the years of skill and care needed to produce them. Vintners and spirit distillers usually produce top-shelf liquor in smaller batches, making it difficult to find certain brands at times.
Producers of top-shelf hemp flowers work the same way. As with fine liquors, many hemp farmers save a portion of their highest-quality flower for personal use.
Distinguishing Qualities of Top-Shelf Hemp Flower
The quickest way to determine the quality of your hemp flower is by examining its appearance, aroma, and flavor. Other important things to consider are the price, growing methods, and cannabinoid content.
You can find out a lot about a brand’s hemp by examining their website, lab reports, and online reviews. However, some factors can only be tested when you’ve already brought your hemp flowers home. Fortunately, many top-shelf hemp flower brands offer sampler packs or individual CBD pre-rolls, so you can try out a variety of strains before purchasing more.
But first things first. Lab-testing is the most important factor when you’re buying any cannabis buds, not just top-shelf hemp flower. Examining third-party lab reports, called Certificates of Analysis (COAs), will ensure that the hemp flowers you buy are free of harmful contaminants like mold, pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals.
COAs also show the amount of CBD and other cannabinoids in the flowers. These numbers will tell you about the strain’s potency and prove that THC levels are below the federal legal limit of .3% THC. Some Certificates of Analysis also record terpene profiles, which can be helpful once you figure out which flavors you prefer.
The Appearance of Top-Shelf Hemp Buds
Several factors distinguish top-shelf hemp flower appearance from that of lower quality buds, such as:
- Color: Top shelf buds will have fresh green, yellow, and even purple hues, depending on the strain. Brown-colored buds are a sure sign of old, improperly cured, or incorrectly stored buds.
- Moisture: Well-cured buds won’t be too dry or too wet. Top-shelf hemp flowers will be slightly squishy if you give them a gentle squeeze between two fingers. Overly moist hemp flowers were probably harvested too soon, resulting in less-potent buds that are difficult to keep lit for smoking. Dried-out buds are often an indicator of old hemp flower. They’ll taste like straw and have weaker effects.
- Manicure: Top-shelf hemp growers employ humans to trim their buds. Most hemp connoisseurs agree that hand-trimmed CBD hemp flowers taste the best. Larger sugar leaves left on the buds often indicate machine-trimming and will add more cellulose, taking away from the flavor of the terpenes.
- Trichome layer: Trichomes produce all of the cannabinoids and terpenes in hemp plants. Top-shelf hemp flowers will have an even layer of trichomes because growers have taken great care to preserve them. An uneven trichome layer means the buds have been handled roughly, most likely by using machines to harvest and trim.
Top-Shelf Hemp Flower Aroma and Flavor
High-quality hemp buds have a wide variety of different aromas and flavors depending upon their individual terpene and flavonoid profiles. The top-shelf hemp flower strains you choose will mostly depend on your particular taste.
However, there are some aromas and flavors that indicate poor quality hemp. Low-quality hemp flowers may smell like hay or even mold. This kind of smell usually means the buds weren’t cured or stored correctly. These buds will taste just as bad as they smell and may even be harmful to your health. When in doubt, remember: The nose knows.
The Potency of Top-Shelf Hemp Flower
Low-quality hemp flower is often less potent due to early harvesting, rushed curing, or inadequate storage. Some companies even try to pass old buds off on unsuspecting customers.
Top-shelf hemp growers take care to preserve the optimum potency of each strain they grow. You can find out the potency of the hemp flowers you buy by checking the cannabinoid levels on the strain’s Certificate of Analysis. The lab report will list the percentage of CBD and THC along with any other cannabinoids found in the buds. Some hemp strains even feature alternative cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol (CBG) or delta-8.
Top-Shelf Hemp Flower Prices
If hemp flower prices seem too good to be true, they probably are. Top-shelf hemp flower prices start at around $8 per gram. Premium brands need to charge more because they have a higher overhead. Top-shelf hemp brands grow in smaller batches, use organic methods, and employ expert gardeners. Top-shelf brands also have higher quality control standards meaning that less of their harvest gets passed on to consumers.
Top-Shelf Growing and Harvesting Methods
There are several growing practices to look for when you’re shopping for top-shelf hemp flowers, such as:
- Organic growing methods: Organic growing methods are a must when it comes to hemp flower. Eating conventionally-grown food is unhealthy, but inhaling chemical-laden hemp flowers is worse. Most people enjoy hemp flower to relax and get the benefits of CBD. Smoking or vaping conventionally-grown hemp flower defeats the purpose.
- Sustainable farming methods: When top-shelf hemp companies adhere to sustainable farming methods, they show that they care about the environment and the people who make up our world. Many cheap industrial hemp brands only seem to be concerned about the bottom line.
- Slow-cured hemp: Seasoned top-shelf hemp growers know that the curing process can make or break the quality of their flowers. Premium brands are more interested in sending out the best hemp flowers possible instead of fixating on high turnover. Most top-shelf brands cure their buds for at least 60 days before making them available for purchase.
- Hand-trimmed buds: Machine-trimming usually means mass-produced, which is the opposite aim of a top-shelf hemp flower brand. Trimming is an artform, and expert hand-trimmers will carefully manicure each bud to provide customers with optimum taste and appearance. The practice of hand-trimming also creates jobs and helps the local economy.
- Professional packaging: Cheap packaging can result in conditions that will lower the potency and flavor of hemp flowers. Top-shelf hemp flower brands ensure that their packaging will protect their buds from light, heat, and moisture, which can ruin even the best hemp flower.
Frequently Asked Questions about Top-Shelf Hemp Flower
Will Top-Shelf Hemp Flower Give Me the Benefits of CBD?
Top-shelf hemp flower will give you even more substantial therapeutic benefits than run-of-the-mill hemp buds. Premium hemp growers go to great lengths to preserve all of the CBD, alternative cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids in their hemp flowers. Together, you’ll get the maximum benefits from CBD and the entourage effect, the holistic synergy between hemp compounds.
Will Top-Shelf Hemp Flower Get Me High?
Top-shelf CBD and CBG hemp flowers provide the same relaxed sense of calm that any other CBD product offers. You won’t need to worry about any intoxicating effects because they contain less than .3% delta-9 THC.
If you would like a more heady hemp flower, you may want to try top-shelf delta-8 flower. Delta-8 hemp flower offers a mellow, functional buzz that many enjoy for daytime productivity.
How Will I Know I’m Buying Top-Shelf Hemp Flower?
When you’re first developing your hemp flower palate, you’ll need to rely on things like lab reports, website content, and customer reviews to identify the highest-quality hemp. Look for brands that stick to organic, sustainable growing practices and practice slow-curing and hand-trimming methods at harvest time. Once you get your hemp flowers home, you’ll want to examine qualities, such as:
After a while, you’ll easily spot the top-shelf hemp flower among the sea of inferior buds.