New analysis by the research-focused terpenes firm Eybna Technologies shows how various terpenes are affected by the cannabis curing process.
Many cannabis flowers are dried and cured before going to market, but live products are crafted using flower that is taken fresh off the plant. The flavor and aromatic notes are robust and more closely resemble that of the live cannabis plant than other concentrates. This may be why live resin products are in such high demand in all adult-use cannabis markets. Consumers don’t just dab live resin, they are also buying live vape cartridges. According to statistics from the BDSA Green Edge platform, live resin captures a 22% share of California’s vape market.
Research-focused terpene company Eybna Technologies noticed the market’s natural preference for live resin and sought to understand why these products were more desirable to the consumer. To do this, the terpene profile of a few cannabis plants were studied at three phases. The data was collected from the plant using the company’s proprietary Headspace technology which can provide insight into the chemical makeup of flowering plants. Headspace technology is a tool traditionally used in the fragrance industry to capture the makeup of plants at their aromatic peak. This is the first time the technology has been used for researching the cannabis plant.
All plants used in this study were grown in controlled conditions in a medical cannabis greenhouse. Researchers used Headspace tech to collect data from multiple top colas on the same plant to cut down the possibility for error. The study was focused on monitoring the patterns of terpene change throughout the cannabis life cycle in hopes of revealing the phytochemical difference between cured and live plant profiles.
The Headspace technology utilizes an adsorbent fiber located within a hollow glass dome to collect various volatile compounds from the live plant. Using this fiber, terpene content was collected at 3 stages: from fresh colas on the live plant, after they had been dried for one week, and again after being dried and cured.
As expected, the results offer insight into which terpenes degraded/evaporated and which preserved at various points of production from the farm to the dispensary shelf. Findings show that at the fresh, planted state, a cultivar has the highest expression of monoterpenes like Beta Myrcene, Alpha Pinene, Beta Pinene, and Limonene. After one week of drying and curing, each of these terpenes decreased significantly — Beta Myrcene content decreased by 55%. While monoterpenes were decreased during the curing process, sesquiterpenes like Alpha Humulene and Beta-Caryophyllene were increased.
Sesquiterpenes almost doubled in their ratio from the total terpene content in data taken after the harvest processes were complete, with Alpha-Humulene increasing 100% and Germacrene increasing 154%.
Many compounds in the plant are highly volatile, evaporating from plants with the smallest change in the atmosphere. Monoterpenes have a lower molecular weight and higher evaporation rate, the patterns shown by this research supports our current understanding of the volatile nature of cannabis compounds. The study results also showed the significant evaporation curve of some other highly volatile compounds responsible for the cannabis top aromatic notes.
For the industry, it provides scientific understanding into why many consumers prefer live concentrates to those extracted from dried, cured herb. Based on the data presented by Eybna, the depth of flavor and strong aroma of live resin may be directly related to the percentage of monoterpenes available at this stage in the plant cycle.
In response to the demand for complete flavor profiles in vape products, Eybna has used these findings to develop a “Live Line” based on the rare aromatic profiles of live cannabis plants. The company is offering a line of botanical terpenes in Cherry Kush, Sequoia, Forbidden Fruit, Alien OG, Orange Cookies, and Kush Note to assist cannabis brands as they answer the demand for more authentic, whole-plant cannabis products.
In the future, their data may be used to estimate the age of a plant, the date of harvest, and possibly even the length of the curing process.
Eybna’s new terpene formulations have a unique taste and smell profile but are not intended to replace the live resin products available on the market, and the company says it will ensure its products are not made with the aim of misleading consumers. The company intends to continue its research with the Headspace technology into the cannabis plant’s many fascinating and volatile compounds.
Written By: Cara Wietstock