When setting out with the intention to grow cannabis, it’s easy to see why harvesting handfuls of treasured buds is considered the pinnacle of the experience. All of the hard work, time, and money you’ve invested leads up to that final moment of reward. However, the work does not stop after the chop.

Next, growers need to ensure that their harvest is processed correctly to prevent any chances of it becoming damaged or rendered non-smokeable. Drying and curing cannabis flowers post-harvest is an essential measure to minimise the risk of mould contamination.

Drying and curing will also greatly improve the taste of a crop. This is due in part to processes that break down chlorophyll over time, resulting in a less-harsh taste. This aspect is especially important for those aiming to share their product or use it medicinally. Drying and curing is also reported to reduce the anxiety associated with smoking cannabis; it may even increase cannabinoid potency.

These procedures can enhance the shelf-life of a stash, meaning growers can enjoy their harvest for many months to come.

TRIMMING BEFORE DRYING

The drying process begins as soon as you cut down your plants and begin to trim the buds. In doing so, you will notice how sticky and wet the fresh flowers are. Although this stickiness is a good indicator of the sheer amount of psychoactive resin on your buds, it also offers a great breeding ground for fungal and bacterial contaminants. Leaving buds lying around in this state is usually a recipe for disaster; so it is best to act with haste.

There are multiple ways to trim your plants at the start of the drying process. “Wet trimming” involves trimming as soon as plants are ripe. Cut off the branches one by one and proceed to use sharp scissors or shears to precisely trim down excess plant matter. Although the buds are of primary interest, the sugar leaves also contain lower cannabinoid levels and can be stored separately, then made, for instance, into edibles later on.

“Dry trimming” is a technique mostly used when a grower has a large amount of plant matter and little time to process it. This involves cutting off branches and hanging them whole from drying lines. Once the plants are dry, they are then trimmed and processed. Dry trimming is more challenging when it comes to neatness as small sugar leaves will have curled in toward the bud. Plus, dry trimming may cause a loss of resin due to agitation of the branches when hanging and being handled.

Regardless of the trimming method used, it is important to process your harvest within a suitable drying room. A drying room should ideally feature a cool and dark environment between 15-22°C.

Trimming Before Drying Cannabis

CREATING A DRYING ROOM

Drying and curing your buds in a designated drying room will give you greater control over the environment and conditions in which your buds are dried. In turn, this means that a well-functioning drying room can help you produce better and higher quality buds.

To prepare your drying room, first decide exactly which drying method you will use, and ensure that you have the right equipment on hand. Secondly, you will need to clean and sanitize your drying room before moving any equipment or product in. Sanitizing the walls and floors of your chosen room will ensure that no mould or bacteria will linger around to possibly damage the quality of your buds.

The equipment you use in your drying room will primarily depend on your chosen drying process. However, you should always aim to avoid any light exposure or moisture leaks. Your drying room should also be equipped with fans (or heaters for winter drying) and a dehumidifier and the equipment to power them. Lastly, don’t forget to include monitoring tools that can keep an eye on the exact conditions in the room, especially temperature and humidity.

THE DRYING PROCESS

If you opt to use the wet trimming method, have your sticky buds at the ready. Now, you will need to spread them out across a large surface area. Placing them directly on cardboard or newspaper is not advised, as this does not subject the flowers to total aeration. Placing them upon a dry rack with netting or wire mesh is a far superior option. This allows airflow to reach all sides of the buds. If possible, use drying racks large enough to spread the buds out evenly, with a few centimetres between each one.

Using a small rack means piling buds on top of each other, which may result in uneven drying and possible mould contamination. When buds are left to dry, they start to release a lot of water. If this water cannot escape, pockets of moisture may begin to form. Moisture is one of multiple variables that mould needs in order to proliferate.

Now that your buds are evenly spaced out on a rack, the drying process has commenced. The speed of the process totally depends on the preference of the grower. Of course, this can be sped up and completed over a short period of time, but good things come to those who wait. Rushing the drying process and exposing buds to high temperatures can massively reduce the quality of the crop, and may result in weed that tastes utterly awful and offers a poor and uncomfortable high.

Drying Process Cannabis

THE SLOWER THE BETTER

Ideally, the drying process will be slow. A room temperature of 21°C, along with a humidity of 50% is optimal. Various pieces of equipment can be used to adjust the environment to these levels, such as an air conditioner, dehumidifier, humidifier, and heater. A thermo hygrometer can be used to measure the temperature and moisture levels within a room.

Keeping your room within the optimal range, continue checking on your buds every 3-7 days. They will become drier by the day, and you can simply handle them to observe their progression. Eventually, your harvest will become so dry that you can snap the buds easily with your hands. If they snap clean without signs of any stringiness, this is a sign that your buds have been properly dried. Any bendiness will indicate that water is still present, and that the drying process in not yet complete.

PLACE YOUR BUDS IN JARS

Now that your buds have been successfully dried, you will need to store them in a controlled environment to begin the curing process. Quart-sized, wide-mouthed mason jars are a perfect option for this. These jars will store around 1 ounce (28g) of dried cannabis buds each. Fill each jar around ¾ full so that there is room for additional air. The ideal curing environment for your jarred cannabis is a room temperature of approximately 21°C and a humidity of around 60%.

CURING YOUR STASH

Curing is another process that takes both time and patience, but pays off in the end. Curing will leave you with a stash that tastes incredible and offers a pleasant high. During the first week or two, it is advised to check on your jars at least once per day, or even twice if you have the time to do so. When opening the jars, check each bud for any signs of mould or mildew. If any symptoms are visible, remove the affected buds from the jars to prevent any spread. Opening the lids of the jars allows for air exchange to take place, gracing your buds with a fresh supply.

If your buds are still too wet, you can remove them from the jars for a couple of hours in order to release excess water. If they are just slightly wet, then leaving the lid off of your jars for around two hours will suffice.

During the weeks of curing, it is advised to consistently smoke small samples of your stash to investigate the taste and strength. The longer your cure your buds for, the smoother the taste will become.

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