The hobby grower or casual cannabis consumer might not even know where to look for bud rot. But you don’t want to find it on your buds.
Botrytis, commonly called “bud rot”, is a type of mold that develops on the dense cores of cannabis flowers. It starts in the stems and works its way into the base of your buds, eventually consuming and destroying the whole flower.
If caught early on, bud rot can be minimized to only a few infected plants, but the only way to get rid of it entirely is to destroy the infected plants and fix your environment.
The Cause of Bud Rot
Botrytis thrives in cooler temperatures with high humidity. If you have no proper airflow in your grow room, your plants can become a breeding ground for bud rot. One of the most common causes of bud rot is a double edged sword for a lot of growers.
As cannabis flowers develop and become more dense, more moisture can collect on the flowers especially in a more humid environment. While a lot of growers try to produce the heaviest buds possible for higher yields, doing so runs an increased risk of developing bud rot if extra care is not taken.
Bud rot is also much more common in drug cultivars of cannabis (improperly called Indica today), that grow stockier with denser buds due to their origins in the kush mountains where temperature were cooler. European hemp-derived cultivars (Sativas) grow taller and more airy compared to drug cultivars, which gives them superior mold resistance with proper air flow.
How to Catch It
If a grower doesn’t catch bud rot before they send it out to the dispensary, it’s unlikely a budtender or customer will pick it up either. An observant grower should be consistently checking their plants, looking under the canopy, and getting into the base of the buds with a loupe to check for bud rot.
Botrytis can be confused for amber trichomes to an amateur, as it can have a white or brownish color that resembles dark trichomes. But the distinguishing feature of bud rot is the wispy, web-like threads that spread across the bottom of the buds. A grower can catch botrytis before harvest or after harvest during trimming. It won’t always affect every plant in the grow, which is why it’s so important to check every plant, and during trimming check all the buds for bud rot.
For the average consumer picking up cannabis at the dispensary, there are a couple ways to catch bud rot. Bigger, denser buds are more likely to develop botrytis, so these buds need to be checked first. Simply rotate the bud around, checking the base for the white to dark brown, wispy threads. Squeezing the bud softly and listening for a crunch can also help. If the bud sort of mushes together in your fingers without crumbling or breaking, there’s a chance it still has moisture in it. If the bud feels a little too sticky, check for bud rot.
How to Deal with Bud Rot
The best way to deal with botrytis is to catch it early on, or preventing it all together with environmental controllers that maintain proper temperatures and humidity in the grow. If you do encounter bud rot on your plants, the earlier the better.
Unfortunately, bud rot is most likely to develop in the later flowering stages as buds get more dense. This means the infected buds need to be thrown out, and the remaining plants moved to a stable grow environment. For the cannabis consumer, if you spot bud rot on your cannabis, you might be out of luck.
Dispensaries don’t have return policies, and it would probably take some convincing to have your infected cannabis replaced free of charge. But if you have evidence like pictures, there’s a chance the dispensary will make it right. Overall, if you are sold bud rot-ridden cannabis from any dispensary, it’s time to go somewhere else.