During production, tests are performed to determine the optimum time to harvest, verify that the extraction is complete, monitor compositional changes during processing, and document product potency. Mass balance tests are performed before and after extraction to ensure no loss of material throughout the process.
Testing post-harvest (and pre-extraction) is performed to monitor the effects of the production process, check the moisture content, and confirm the levels of the active compounds and absence of non-compliant pesticides on the plants.
Moisture content in harvested plants is tested as high levels can promote growth of mold and fungus, especially during periods of long-term storage. Mycotoxins cannot be removed from plant material and are extracted along with the cannabinoids so their presence can jeopardize the purity and value of an entire crop. Moisture can also impact the various operating conditions involved in the extraction process. On the other hand, if the moisture content is too low, the essential oils will slowly degrade.
Water Testing References
Post-harvest, growers need to confirm levels of CBD, CBDA, THC, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and cannabinol (CBN). Some may want to test for the levels of as many as 10-12 compounds that may be present, but most regulations do not require it. By testing for these compounds both in the growing stage as well as post-harvest, growers and manufacturers can ensure that production processes did not negatively impact the product while ensuring products meet state labeling specifications.
The presence and concentration of pesticides and herbicides is typically tested again post-harvest. Pesticide use is regulated at the state level and regulations vary widely. Laboratory testing confirms the existence of pesticide by type and quantity to ensure it is absent or within acceptable limits.
Pesticide Testing References