Phytocannabinoids – The art of mastering key abiotic factors

Cannabis is known to contain more than 120 different phytocannabinoids. These precious compounds are responsible for the therapeutic and psychoactive effects associated with our precious crops… Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the best known and most studied phytocannabinoids. CBD has been linked to analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic properties, without producing significant psychoactive effects. While THC, our master of expansion, is mainly responsible for the psychoactive effects. Other phytocannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and cannabivarin (CBV), among others, have also aroused interest in the scientific community due to their potential therapeutic properties.


Phytocannabinoids interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological functions. As research continues, more benefits and applications in the field of medicine and health are expected to be discovered. In this article, we will outline the most relevant factors that influence the production of these sought-after by-products:



Some strains have a naturally high production of phytocannabinoids, while others have a lower production. While many cannabis growers prefer strains with high THC levels, there are strains with medium levels but higher profiles in other phytocannabinoids that can offer maximum enjoyment without compromising the experience.


The light

Both light intensity and light quality have proven to be crucial factors affecting phytocannabinoid production. In general, a light intensity of at least 600-1000 µmol/m²/s is recommended during the flowering phase, for example.


Temperature and altitude

Ambient temperature and altitude can affect the profile and concentration of phytocannabinoids. Researchers and experienced growers have observed that a temperature in the range of 20-30°C can be beneficial; however, this can vary between genetics and growth stages.

As for altitude, a factor that cannot always be controlled, some researchers have observed that plants grown at higher altitudes may show a higher production of terpenes and an increase in the concentration of certain phytocannabinoids such as CBDA, CBCA and CBGA.


CO2 concentration

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the most relevant factors. For example, there are reports where exposure to a CO2 concentration of 1,200 ppm significantly increased THC concentration.


Water availability

Water availability, irrigation frequency and controlled water stress can influence the production of phytocannabinoids. In general, to enhance their production, it is recommended to use water with a balanced pH between 6 and 7, so as to ensure optimal nutrient uptake and to avoid the presence of undesirable contaminants such as heavy metals, chlorine or pesticides. In any case, opt for filtered and dechlorinated water with low electrical conductivity. And very important: do not neglect proper irrigation!


Availability of nutrients

A constant supply of essential nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the key to producing quality flowers. The right amount and balance of these nutrients during the flowering phase can increase the production of phytocannabinoids.

In an experiment where cannabis plants were induced to be deficient in nitrogen and phosphorus, aerial vegetative fresh weights were reduced by 73% and 59%, respectively. This is an indication of the importance of optimal nutrition.


Of course, nutrition goes beyond just N-P-K, as is the case with synthetic fertilisers. While these macronutrients are vital, the organic world offers a diverse range of plant biostimulants, beneficial microorganisms, phytohormones, amino acids, etc. These elements not only complement the N-P-K, but also play a fundamental role in the nutrition of the plant, which, in turn, affects the aroma and taste of the flowers.


In the fascinating world of cannabis, understanding and harnessing these factors becomes the master key for growers who strive for perfection and consumers who crave excellence. Balancing these factors, and thus unleashing the full potential of the plants, is the shared secret among those who seek not only to grow, but also to experience the essence of cannabis…