The concentrates market, set to reach 14 billion by 2026, has garnered considerable interest from growers. Cannabis producers seeking to maximize their production of concentrates must increase the yields from their plants. In doing so, they must take into account the cannabis extraction methods, cultivars, and terpenes but also the final product they seek — when they consider yield. So how to improve yield in cannabis extractions? Are there any other criteria to consider as far as yield is concerned? What extraction methods are best to choose?
What is “Yield” — How do we Calculate It?
We define “yield” as the percentage of the final product obtained at the end of the extraction process in comparison to the volume of the starting material used.
In cannabis commercial productions, “yield” may be referred to as the full-spectrum CBD oil obtained from hemp or the cannabis oil derived from different extraction methods. There are two popular extraction methods available for producers: the mechanical approach such as heat pressing and dry sifting and the solvent method that relies on butane, CO2, or ethanol. The starting point — or the base oil — is the primary extracted oil from concentrates from topicals to tinctures and hash. Producers want to maximize the base oil in the extraction methods.
No matter the extraction method used, the yield is essential for cultivators since it enables them to make the most of the cannabis plant without losing components. For example, growers seek to get the maximum amount of oil with a smaller amount of plant biomass.
There are many ways to calculate yield, and there’s more to cannabis yield than simply figuring the volume of oil extracted. Information about potency, quality, and efficiency are other critical criteria to take into account for cannabis yields — depending on the type of products they wish to create.
Today, with advanced technology methods of separating and isolating cannabinoids, yield calculations go much deeper.
Potency, Efficiency, and Quality
Producers should extract the oil taking into consideration potency and efficiency in the starting product — and removing the unwanted materials of the plants to preserve its quality without losing on yield. Each concentrate has a different potency level; therefore, it’s vital to choose the cultivars or flowers with caution.
Potency: producers evaluate the value of the product as potency indicates the actual amount of THC or CBD in the final product. Naturally, the higher the cannabinoid potency in extracts, the higher the efficiency in the extract process. Producers are targeting the extract with the best yield and the highest potency while trying to ensure the best efficiency.
Efficiency: indicates the level of oil obtained from the starting material. Maximum efficiency would mean extracting 100% of the valuable cannabinoids in the raw plant material. Obviously, no producer wants to throw away potential useful products, so the goal is always to extract as much value as possible.
How to Achieve High Yield?
To achieve high yield and reduce loss, producers should use cultivars with a high level of THC with lots of resin, especially for hash oils. Resin density (or concentration) is key in this approach. Jason Nelson from Cresco Labs claims it’s possible to measure resin density by looking at a particular plant variety and choose the most suitable extraction process accordingly.
But other important factors prevail in the selection and extraction processes: the trichomes, which are the most sought after components of the cannabis plant, can indicate the best extraction process. According to Samuel Edwards from Sonoma Cannabis Company, if the trichomes feel brittle after six weeks, the mechanical process can be chosen. If a producer wants to create hash oil, then choosing a trichome which is oily — and processed via the solvent method — is preferred.
There are other tips cannabis growers may take a look at. According to Edwards, stressing the plants with little water and no nutrients could boost the plant to produce more terpenes and trichome components — which then is better for extraction and greater yield.
Lastly, cannabis producers should pay attention to contamination – i.e., any impurity in products such as plant cell wall debris and the water in extracts. They should also eliminate risks to improve the product safety and extraction process, i.e., choosing the right solvent, for instance.