The hemp industry, like any other industry, is guilty of using descriptive words that say a lot but don't really mean anything.
After all, the “premium” tag can be placed on everything from the highest-quality hemp to the cast-offs that no one wants.
But there are a few terms that do mean something and the most important is “top-shelf”, “top drawer” or “high-grade”.
It refers to super high-quality hemp that was grown under optimal conditions, harvested with great care, and stored in a way that enhances its quality, but there is a little more to it than that.
What Is Top Shelf CBD Hemp Flower?
Top shelf is often indoor-grown, as it allows for maximum control and creates a product that has more of the desirable trichomes.
The top shelf label begins before the seeds are even sown, as these potent buds come from the best possible genetics.
Cultivators use proven genetics to create something that delivers a high yield of CBD hemp flowers.
They focus on specific strains that have been tried and tested, ones that deliver reliable harvests and produce an end product that consumers want.
It's why many of the best top shelf flowers seem to be grown from the same dozen or so strains.
During the growth cycle, the plant will be carefully monitored to ensure it gets enough light, water, and nutrients.
The goal is to create something that produces high levels of CBD and terpenes without tipping the scales with regard to THC.
It's not easy, and it's one of the reasons why top shelf CBD flowers are more expensive.
Once the plant has reached maturity, the next step of the process begins.
The plants are harvested, often by hand, and they are then dried slowly and carefully.
Slow curing is important, because if this process happens too quickly, it will produce dehydrated and crisp buds, taking away many of the intricate flavors and leaving a harsh and unpleasant smoke in its wake.
After the flowers have been cured, they need to be stored in a way that preserves their flavor.
It's a complicated process and a lot of things can go wrong.
That's why top shelf flowers are so highly sought-after.
Does It Cost More?
You should expect to pay anywhere from $6 to $10 per gram for top shelf flowers, although it depends on how much you purchase. If you buy larger quantities, you will pay just a few bucks a gram.
If you're buying by the gram, it can seem like a pretty hefty price tag, but it's usually worth it.
You will get more cannabinoids, more intense aromas and flavors, and a smoother smoke.
Is it the Most Expensive Hemp?
Top shelf isn't always the most expensive hemp available at your local dispensary.
Some dispensaries offer something known as “Special Reserve”. It's still top shelf hemp, but it is essentially the pick of the harvest, the crème de la crème of the crop.
Special Reserve carries an even higher price tag and is available in extremely limited quantities.
A discerning hemp smoker may notice the difference between top shelf and Special Reserve, but it's unlikely to make much of a difference to the average smoker and may not justify the extra cost.
Is There Top Shelf CBN Hemp Flower?
CBN is not as common as CBG or CBD, but this industry is still in its infancy and we might see some high-CBN hemp flowers in the near future.
When we do, we will almost certainly see a few top shelf varieties, and the same applies to cannabinoids like CBG, which is already available in strains like The White, Sour G, and Jack Frost.