Buying Bulk Hemp Flower: The Complete Guide

Are you looking for wholesale hemp flower? If so, then you should know that there are several types of hemp flowers available in the market. Each type has its own unique characteristics, as well as uses. Which one is suitable for your business?

To the regular consumer, there are just a few main varieties of hemp flowers: Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis. These three types of hemp flowers differ in their chemical composition, appearance and taste.

However, what you may not know is that once processed, there are a variety of forms that hemp flower can end up as. We’re not going to be talking about genetics or strains today, we’re going to be talking about product types.

As an entrepreneur in the CBD industry, it’s essential that you understand these sub-categories of hemp flower, as they are viable ways to differentiate your product and determine pricing.

Today, we’ll break down these industry terms and discuss some different ways you can leverage these categories and tiers when running your CBD business.

What exactly is Hemp Flower?

Ahead of understanding the different types of processed hemp flower, let’s first clarify what we’ll be referencing moving forward. In the eyes of many consumers, “Hemp Flower” is typically referencing to dried and manicured hemp flower buds without any additional processing, such as the type that allows the addition of Delta-8 THC or other cannabinoids.

However, as many in the industry are aware, these hemp flowers are used as a base product for many of the different types of Delta-8, Delta-10, THC-P, and other alt-cannabinoid infused hemp flower buds that are increasingly popular in todays market. For simplicity purposes, we’ll be using hemp flower as an umbrella term that incorporates all forms of hemp buds, regardless of if they’ve been infused or not.

Different Types of Hemp Flower

So, what are the different types of hemp buds?

First off, let’s remember that even regardless of the size or manicure of the buds, there are a few different ways to grow hemp flower. Before breaking down the processed bud tiers, we’ll first talk about the main ways that growers bring those sweet hemp plants to life!

Indoor Hemp Flower

Indoor grown hemp is among the most sought after when it comes to those looking for quality. When grown indoors, this allows the grower to have the ability to control light exposure, temperature, and humidity. As a result, they’re able to create the perfect environment to meet the plants needs. This level of control allows them to produce the best buds possible, and consistently.

However, indoor grown hemp flower isn’t the most cost effective option for those who are looking to scale. Although it’s a great way to get quality buds, it’s important to note that in order to grow it yourself, it requires a large investment both in terms of space and equipment. Additionally, if you’re looking to ensure that you get some true top shelf quality hemp flower, you’ll have to ensure that an experienced grower is overseeing the cultivation on a regular basis.

On the flip side, you don’t necessarily need to cultivate indoor hemp flower yourself. It is, however, important to take these factors into consideration. So, even if you’re not growing it yourself, expect to pay a premium for these products.

Outdoor Grown Hemp Flower

In contrast to indoor, you may be pleased to know that outdoor grown hemp tends to be the least expensive method of growing hemp flower. It’s also one of the most common methods used by those looking to start their own business, due to the fact it is fairly less labor intensive and can result in extremely large yields each harvest.

Outdoor hemp flower is cultivated in a field, rather than in a controlled environment. Because of this, growers can use the natural sunlight, rain, and other natural elements to help promote the growth of their plants. This allows them to cultivate their hemp plants in a way that encourages the development of strong and healthy plants.

While the outdoor method of cultivation allows for a lower cost of product, it’s important to note that this is typically in-line with the quality of product. Unlike being grown indoors, outdoor grown hemp is exposed to the will of the elements, and depending on weather patterns and location of the grow, you’re much more likely to end up with a lower quality product than the alternative indoor options. Alongside this, there’s no control over the seasons

However, as fairly large fields are used for these operations, you’re much more likely to get the best bang for your buck when purchasing in bulk when looking at outdoor grown hemp flower.

Greenhouse Grown Hemp Flower

Greenhouse grown hemp flower is a great medium between both indoor and outdoor grow environments. This is one of the most common forms of hemp flower in circulation as of today. One key thing to note is that sometimes you’ll find that some growers will specifically use tarps in order to trigger the flower phase of the crop early. These are known as light deprived crops.

Greenhouse grows have become extremely popular due to the fact that they allow you to have a decent amount of environmental control at a fraction of the price it would cost to set up a large-scale indoor grow.

You have the ability to create a somewhat controlled environment, you also get the benefit of the natural sunlight and rain that helps to promote the growth of the plants.

This allows you to cultivate a product that’s very similar to outdoor grown, but without the negative effects that come with it.

Bud Manicure Tiers

Regardless of the method used for growing your hemp, there’s still a bit more required before it can be distributed. Once harvested, the buds need to be cured to ensure optimal smoke experience, and then manicured/trimmed to minimize excess foliage. However, there are a few different tiers based on the level of attention given during this process.

Hand trimmed Hemp Flower

In comparison to the other manicure tiers that you’ll undoubtedly run into during your business journey, hand trimmed hemp flower buds usually are the most appealing. Usually reserved for top shelf flower, hand trimming is meant to trim as much “fat” as possible. Regardless of the cure quality, you don’t want to end up with too much excess foliage, as this can affect the overall smoke experience.

As you can expect, hand trimming buds typically requires a team of people with experience in processing hemp flower buds. As a result, you’re limited when it comes to the quantity of how much flower you can process over time. Unlike the next option, to do more quicker, hand trimming your product can get fairly expensive, and fast.

Naturally, this means that you’ll only be able to produce small quantities of hand trimmed buds, unless you have really deep pockets.

On the flip side, however, a hand trimmed bud is extremely appealing and allows you to show the quality of the flower at an even higher capacity. Depending on the product you’re selling, you can easily use this trim tier as a way to help move your products.

Machine Trimmed Hemp Flower

Machine trimmed hemp flower is a more common option in the hemp industry. With prices being so low, depending on the market you’re targeting, it may not make sense to bring in a team of trim experts to manicure your product over time. If you sell bulk product, you have to be able to move stuff in and out fast, which requires an option that lets you have an adaptive processing time when called for.

So, what is machine trimmed?

Well… it’s trimming that’s done by a machine. There are a variety of options on the market, with some being nearly-identical to hand trimmed, while others are a bit closer to just basic shaping of the bud with some foliage.

The main advantage of machine trimming is that you can process a larger volume of flowers at a faster rate. The downside, however, is that the product itself can be quite inconsistent, and you may have to pay for additional labor to get it right.

However, there are some machines that are able to perform multiple functions such as being able to extract kief, which can be used for other products.

Depending on the size of your operation, you can get a machine for as little as $300, all the way up to thousands of dollars. This is why it’s important to know what you’re getting into, and what you’re looking for in terms of processing times.

Bucked Hemp Flower

Bucked Hemp Flower is the form that your product will take before it heads to the trimming process. For simplicity purposes, bucked flower is a bud or cola that has been plucked straight off of the plant from the main stalk.

“Now why on earth would I want that?”

Well, here’s the thing:

Bucked flower tends to be decently sized buds that are extremely cheap due to the fact they haven’t been processed yet. However, the quality of the flower can vary drastically, which means that you can have some pretty good bucked flower, or you can have low quality bucked flower.

Regardless, you’re looking to trim down bucked flower, then you can definitely save money, but you’ll also have to deal with the issue of inconsistency.

Depending on the market you’re targeting, you may find that you’re able to move a lot of bucked flower through your operation. If you’re selling bulk product, you’ll have to be able to keep your costs down and still get your product out fast. This makes bucked flower a good option to have handy as it’s not such a boutique market; instead you’ll be dealing with people who plan on utilizing them for other purposes, such as edibles, or you’re dealing with other suppliers who can process it themselves.

Something else to keep in mind is that Bucked flower will tend to move throughout the market without being infused. This usually boils down to the fact that the cost for infusing a product that visually is unappealing to the majority of consumers is very rarely justified.

Untrimmed Hemp Flower

Untrimmed hemp flower is quite simply that – Untrimmed!

That’s right, this is isn’t your regular bucked flower, this is bucked 2.0! Untrimmed can sometimes refer to whole plant, but this is usually just individual stalks right from the drying rack! Untrimmed hemp flower has the possibility of being a diamond in the rough.

Do you have a sharp eye for quality flower, keen negotiation skills, and the man power or machinery to turn these stalks into something beautiful?

Well, if so… then you, my friend, are ready to go get some untrimmed flower and flip them into some business!

Bud Size/Quality Tiers

Alright – So, we’ve covered all the different tiers of processing that your hemp flower can go through, however what about the tiers that your final product can end up as? Regardless of trim style, there’s a few different sizes/qualities that your flower can end up as. Similar to the manicure tiers, these quality reference tiers can also be utilized when determining what product should be used for what, and what price points you should look to move it for.

As a distributor, it’s very common to get a large shipment of flower that has only been manicured, and not sifted. As a result, a large majority of the time you’ll be responsible for sifting the flower with screens to separate each tier of bud size. Below, we’ll cover some of the common sizes and/or qualities you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure you maximize your return on investment when buying and selling hemp flower.

Tops & Colas

Tops, sometimes referred to as colas, are typically the best of the best. These are commonly the healthiest buds of the hemp flower, usually getting a direct amount of sunlight with a healthy stalk to regularly move the nutrients to it. As a result, not only are these buds great looking, they are dense and tend to be richest in terms of trichomes! These buds are extremely desirable due to their potency.

In reality these buds tend to be a cluster of regular A buds that have merged into a single large one due to the factors just mentioned.

Positively, these buds tend to be the most potent, but also tend to be the most expensive.

A Buds

“A” buds tend to be the regular flower that most people are looking for. Not as impressive as colas, but still quality and decently sized. These are the flowers that you’ll see in CBD flower shops, and the ones that you’ll most likely be selling a large portion of; mainly since they’re the standard flower that most people buy.

They’re not as good looking as colas, but they’re still one of the most desirable.

B Buds

“B” Buds are just under A buds in terms of quality. These can be seen as the runner up to A buds, and really are only different in the fact that they are sifted using a smaller screen. Depending on strain and quality, sometimes these will be moved at a slightly discounted pricing in order the make up for the lack of size in comparison to their A bud counterparts.

Popcorn Buds & Smalls

Popcorn buds and smalls are the size point that we start to see a lack of interest from the mainstream consumers. These buds are usually screened with a much finer width, so they tend to be some of the smallest buds you’ll get. However, to be clear, there is a difference between the two.

Smalls are just under B buds, while Popcorn buds are the smallest size range of the buds.

Where the line is drawn tends to be dependent on the person who is screening the flower and what size they decide to be the limit. Usually a couple factors such as the strain and quality of the flower will be considered, as some buds will be more dense and remain somewhat potent depending on their genetics, regardless of size.


Shake is the remnants of screening your hemp flower for the above bud sizes. Essentially, a screen is used to filter out each size of bud. As you begin to utilize screens with less room you’ll notice that the majority of what is left after going through each size is mostly foliage and popcorn (sometimes smaller) buds. Since it’s not quite trim, you’ll find that the application for this will typically be either for filling pre-rolls, or to turn into an extract of some sort.


Much like shake, trim is mostly undesirable on its own. Unlike shake however, trim will usually come from the initial act of manicuring the flower, and results in a much larger portion of foliage. In fact, rarely ever will you find that product labeled as trim will have any buds at all, regardless of how small they are.

Similar to shake, trim is usually not sold on its own, unless catering to a specific market. Hemp Flower Trim can also be used for extracts or pre-rolls, however due to the absence of hemp buds in general, it’s more likely to be used for infusing CBD edibles.

Final Thoughts

All in all, each type of bud and manicure level are great in their own right. They can each be used in a variety of ways, and with a little bit of creativity you can maximize the potential of each hemp flower product you get your hands on. Whatever direction you decide to go, there’s a plethora of bulk hemp products you can get your hands on in today’s booming CBD industry, no matter the audience you’re catering to, nor the budget you have!

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