The Value of Terpenes To A Grower

Cannabis terpenes open doors to a better consumer experience and greater profits to growers.

Blueberries and cannabis buds depict a terpene profile of aroma and taste.

We hear more about terpenes recently and their importance in the effects of cannabis consumption. This is great news for the consumer, and for the grower, it presents endless possibilities in both breeding and cultivation while opening the door widely to better sales and brand-loyal customers.

As markets expand and cannabis consumption increases, craft growers have an opportunity to reach a key portion of total sales; crops of raw, groomed, flowers. 

Natural Chemical Compounds

Terpene science is an integral part of cannabis cultivation and consumption since terpenes uniquely define the experience with the cannabinoids that are present. Terpenes are organic compounds found in plants, animals, microbes, and fungi. Botanical terpenes are of interest to cannabis producers and the subject here. Often called “terps” by marijuana horticulturists, they are the pungent hydrocarbons secreted by trichomes as flowers become ripe. They are non-psychoactive but influence the effect of cannabinoids THC and CBD, so the subject is of keen interest to breeders, growers, and the public of users. 

In horticultural terms, terpenes are a class of molecules that define the aroma and flavors found in plants. These natural and volatile compositions are useful to plants in pollination as an attractant or in pest control as a repellant. For instance, when you smell a rose, your olfactory system is detecting the terpene profile of that flower. Terpenes are present in many products including food, herbal medicines, and essential oils.

In cannabis species, there are more than 300 identified terpenes and the list grows regularly. Besides defining the flavor and nose of a cannabis flower, terpenes play a big part in how cannabis works when consumed. Called the entourage effect by medical science, neurological receptors respond to different effects from the cannabinoids (THC and CBD) but also respond to the terpenes. This mixture of responses makes the combined effects more strongly than from individual parts of the mix and unique to the terpene composition.

The Raw Flower Market

Although other cannabis products like edibles are attractive to those just entering the world of recreational or medical use, many start with flowers. Add to those numbers the large portion of the market that prefers to smoke flowers for all kinds of reasons including habit, tradition, and desired effects. Consumption from joints, pipes, and bongs produce almost immediate effects lasting up to 3 hours. Edibles are less potent and take longer for an effect although it can last up to 4-6 hours. 

Edible and vaping products lack the natural terpenes that exist in raw flowers because the extraction process removes them. With no distinctive flavors, there are also no distinctive responses so that part of the cannabis goods market is adapting with products and processes that introduce terpenes back into the edible or vaping product; terpene isolates created from natural sources is an example. That offers many possibilities for both customization and brand identification and the terpenes may be from inexpensive sources like citrus or flower parts. Although terpenes are terpenes and flavors may replicate; the complexity of effects may be different. Flavoring with a terpene is a re-introduction and not a naturally occurring terpene and secondary mix occurring in specific strains of cannabis flowers; a factor that craft farmers who grow raw flowers for combustible consumption should focus on and maximize from their pure, natural product perspective.

Green apple with marijuana leaf
Green Apple is a popular flavor ingredient from Food Grade or GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) concentrated terpene products for use in aromatherapy, edibles, tinctures, lotions, etc.

Your Recipe for a Piece of the Cannabis Pie

For the grower of top-shelf flowers for sale as a raw product, building a distinctive reputation, and recognizable brand using terpene profiles are very beneficial with opportunities and market advantages not found from boring or mediocre genetics. Taking it a step further, for a grower who breeds for specific characteristics, it provides endless possibilities for development of desirable tastes and effects. The biggest benefit may be unseen as it also affords the chance to build brand recognition from a consistent experience or reputation of quality, a key to success in other spirit commodities like craft beer and premium wine.

Cannabis consumers love details about their products and as markets become more sophisticated, it is important to not only help educate customers about terpenes, but also to stay abreast to trends of consumer preferences. It is constantly changing but for growers who develop and cultivate new strains, knowledge of what are top selling characteristics is most useful. Your local bud tenders are the experts at what is selling and should be a good source of insight for strain choices or characteristics for select breeding.

For your own market research, visit any popular dispensary, and you will see a wide selection of flowers, often available in various weights, or in pre-rolled joints. Check out the display methods, packaging, and pricing. Notice names and how well they describe terpene profiles. Buy something and experience the entire transaction as your customer might. Analyze your purchase and the overall experiences as you plan your own cultivation and selling strategies, see how you might do things better or more uniquely. For the small batch, craft grower who produces a top-shelf product, this information, and focus on terpenes will help insure the intrinsic value of your flowers and the benefit to the end user is a product that meets their needs. With this win-win formula, understanding terpenes and how they factor into marketing your crop is the first step to merchandising success for farming profitability.

Creativity Moves the Goods 

If you are a new grower, have an outstanding product, it has passed testing and you are ready to take it to market under your own label, it is time to bring on the professionals for graphics and packaging design, if you have not already from the start. All markets are stiff with competition and without the expertise of a good design team for your visual collateral, you run a huge risk of looking “mom and pop” to the sharp eyes of customers.


You may have the absolute best bud in the universe, but if it is in shoddy packaging or the promotion materials look home-made, you will sell very little of your product. Design companies with experience in cannabis goods are also familiar with laws and regulations for packaging and marketing that are complex and changing; another great reason to bring a reputable firm or individual on board. Most successful growers, despite size, employ graphic designers or marketing professionals in some capacity.

Besides bringing in pros to assist with design elements for marketing materials, packaging, etc., it is also beneficial to have a web presence, even if your site is only a landing page. To launch a new website or to remodel an existing one, hire a good web design company that understands the ropes of a cannabis product or business. Your graphics company or design team may be a source to find one or may offer web site services themselves. If not, the best way to find a good website developer is by recommendation from satisfied customers, through your local grower groups, or from trade specialists that refer qualified candidates. It is always wise to check references and look at other pertinent criteria as you would for any contractor for any service before hiring a web design person or company.

In the creative process of site design, construction, or remodel, growers will capture interest by showing visitors the benefits of your crop product; that should always include discussion about terpenes.

Label Correctly & Describe Accurately

As laws and regulations for distribution vary by location, even within the same State, it is essential to meet or exceed label requirements, not only for individual products but also for bulk transfer. The last thing you want is to have your shipment confiscated, even if temporary, because of improper labeling or containment.

Label requirements may include size minimums, the location on product and application method, font size, safety warnings, bar codes, etc., and shipment of goods may also require a record of distribution. Some regulations require a medical symbol, others require you do not use one. Before investing in labels that will not be acceptable, find out what your local regulations specify. Additionally, it is not advisable to pre-print any pricing on labels.

We have all seen strain names and descriptions that are awesome and make you want to make the purchase for the described taste, aromas, effects, or sensations, and we have also seen some that are either inaccurate or lack any enthusiasm, let alone creativity. Strain names and descriptions are more significant than you might think, so make them unique, illustrative, suggestive, and more than anything else, make sure the name is legitimate and the effects are accurate descriptions.

Beyond the hybrid or strain name and separation into Sativa (dominant) or Indica (dominant), many strain descriptions use generic terms like diesel, pine, citrus, berry, etc. and reviews often categorize flowers this way. While easily recognized by consumers, with today’s array of genetics, they may be too broad and not tell your story in a way that will stand out from the crowd. Taste expectation is a good way to describe a flower creatively and in an enticing way. For example, instead of saying simply “Citrus,” go to the essence of the nose with specifics like Zest of Lemon or use “smells like, tastes like” descriptions for consumers to identify with. Attaching recognition of local produce or a noteworthy appellation with a terpene profile in a name is one of the best methods for recognizable branding for sale in local or regional markets. Make certain, however that any strain names on your product are true and any you create for new genetic hybrids are not a trade or service mark, registered or used by someone else; sometimes, fruit varieties or appellations are protected.

When describing the effects that someone might experience from consumption of your flowers, use clear language and make sure you are not writing a prescription for medicine. Since effects are often subjective and dependent on many factors, it is better to describe an expected beneficial experience, instead. Including suggestions for “day use,” “uplifting,” “evening use,” or “sedating” are very helpful in answering a common pre-purchase question about when use is best or suitable.

9 Common Terpenes in Cannabis Species

Appearing in different strains and in different percentages

With aroma descriptions and anticipated effects or known uses

  • Alpha Pinene: Smells like pine; up-lifting.

  • Beta-caryophyllene: Rich, spicy; calming.

  • Humulene: Spicy, herbaceous; anti-inflammatory, used for appetite control.

  • Limonene: Sweet, smells like citrus;used for anxiety and stress, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

  • Linalool: Floral perfume, sedating.

  • Myrcene:  Earthy, musky, relaxing.

  • Nerolidol:  Woody, relaxing.

  • Ocimene: Sweet, woody, fruity; anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory.

  • Terpinolene: Floral and fresh smell, relaxing.

Cannabis terpenes are yet another subject for top growers to better understand and use to select strains not only for potential cannabinoid levels, but also for the limitless possibilities in customization of effects offered from both terpenes and secondary terpenes. By breeding and cultivating for characteristics provided by terpenes, growers can fine tune their production efforts to profitability and go on to more easily market and sell their goods. At the end of the day, everyone in the cannabis merchandise stream benefits and consumers can find whatever they desire.