For something to be defined as artisanal, it must be produced by non-industrialized methods with the focus being to allow tastes and processes to develop slowly and naturally, rather than curtailed for mass-production. This is precisely how we determine the best of the best in Colorado cannabis flower.
Flower in the Ajoya Artisanal category may also be referred to as connoisseur level, top shelf flower, or platinum level at other dispensaries.
While the end product is a great measure of the quality of the experience, beautiful flower starts with a differentiated growth ethos. To land on the Ajoya Artisanal Flower menu, strains must meet the following criteria during their cultivation phase.
Elite genetics emanate with a healthy start: Rare genetics or a well know variety. If a seedling is started from an unhealthy seed or cloned from a tapped out mother plant, the results are unlikely to be solid.
Focus on trichome production rather than THC content or bud size: These genetics may yield plants that don’t land on the highest THC of all time list. Highest quality flower productions prioritizes trichome production. The trichomes house terpenes which contribute to the smell, taste, and effect of the flower. A terpene heavy end product creates a robust, well rounded smoking experience.
The best flower in Colorado comes from indoor grows: Growing indoors allows for maximum environmental control. Cannabis plants have extreme plasticity. Did you know that a plant in one area of a cannabis grow can express significantly differently due to slight variations in temperature or light exposure?
Use of top quality nutrients and ideal environmental factors: Cannabis plants also adhere to the human nutritional adage of ‘garbage in, garbage out’.
Carefully selected and skillfully applied nutrients create healthy, fruitful plants. Other elements to consider include soil pH, water purity and frequency, temperature, humidity, and circadian rhythms. Yes, plants need to sleep too!
Small batch grows for increased care and monitoring during grow process: Growing cannabis requires a tremendous amount of tender loving care. The fewer the plants in an individual batch, the more attention each plant receives. If you want to learn more about how positive energy and attention impact plants, check out the apple experiment.
Processing: Curing, Trimming, and Packaging
It requires great skill and experience to cultivate a beautiful cannabis plant. It takes one processing misstep to sacrifice that hard work. Ideal processing for connoisseur flower requires the following steps:
Ideal cure times: When the plants finish their flower phase, they go through the harvest process and land in a cure stage. Curing allows the plant to release moisture needed to continue to grow. A solid cure reduces the likelihood of mold or mildew while preserving the perfect amount of moisture in the flower.
Hand trimmed to preserve trichomes and bud structure: Once the cure stage comes to completion, it is time to remove the excess leaves. This constitutes the trim phase. Cannabis plants can be hand trimmed or machine trimmed. For flower at the top of its class, hand trimming is the way to go. A hand trim preserves the hard earned trichomes and puts a little extra love into each bud. A machine trim, while efficient, can remove trichomes due to the tumbling nature of the machine trim process.
Sealed packaging: Sealed packaging allows the flower to retain moisture and limit exposure to oxygen which degrades the volatile cannabinoids and terpenes.
Careful storage to avoid overheating and oxidation: When the flower arrives at Ajoya, it must meet the following criteria to land in the Artisanal Flower collection.
Strong aroma: Premium cannabis flower aromas range from sweet and fruity to diesel or skunky notes. Any hints of must, dirt, mildew, or ‘flat’ scent are unacceptable. Keep in mind, the odor is coming from the terpenes which are also directly related to the physical and mental effects. Stronger the fragrance, the more nuanced the experience is likely to be.
No seeds: Cannabis plants have hermaphrodite tendencies when stressed. If a harvest undergoes stressful conditions, one or more plants can swap genders and pollinate its harvest mates, which creates seeds. Seeds can also result if the initial feminization process is incomplete.
Identifiable bud structure: Top quality flower should have spongy, sticky, dense nugs. They ‘give’ when touched, but spring back rather than crumble.
Vibrant colors: Cannabis flower can include a wide range of color expressions from reds, purples, oranges, blues, and of course gorgeous green. This includes the actual bud as well as the ‘hairs’. Any signs of brown or dull green tones indicate that flower is past its prime… or never made it to prime time.
Concentrated, robust, visible trichomes: Back to the ever important trichomes. Growers work hard to produce and preserve trichomes. For those at the top of the game, you will be able to see the fruits of their labor. Trichomes provide the frosty look to high quality flower. Magnified, they have the appearance of a snail antenna.