By RQS Editorial Team

Although it often gets overshadowed by the harvest process itself, trimming is one of the most crucial steps in the growing process, especially in today's quality-driven market. A proper trim can make the difference between an enjoyable and smooth smoking experience, and a less pleasant and harsh one. There are two ways that growers can trim their product: by machine, or by hand. Both have their advantages, disadvantages, and unique use cases. Ultimately, which one you choose will have a significant impact on the quality of the final product.


Hand trimming is exactly what it sounds like. The leaves of each bud are individually trimmed by hand. Hand trimming is the traditional method of removing leaves and other unwanted plant material from your buds. It is a time-tested method that consistently delivers excellent results, albeit at a slow pace. However, if you have some dedicated trimmers, some time, and some patience, hand trimming will truly offer you the best result.

Hand Trimming


The biggest advantage of using the hand trimming technique is the quality and beauty of the final product. Each unique bud gets a custom trim that allows its finest characteristics to shine. Hand trimming is more accurate than machine trimming, and can help you to really get the most out of each bud. By carefully trimming buds by hand with sharp shears, your buds will lose fewer trichomes than if processed by a machine, and will look more aesthetically pleasing to boot.


The huge downside of hand trimming is the amount of time and focus it takes to do it at a high level. If you have a large amount of bud to process, hand trimming can be incredibly tedious, time-consuming, and even costly. However, the sacrifice may be worth it in order to put the final touches on top-shelf bud. Hand trimming may work fine for a personal grow, but commercial growers often have massive amounts of product to process. In these cases, hand trimming product means dealing with the cost and hassle of having to hire and employ trimmers.


As demand for marijuana has skyrocketed, processing technology has similarly advanced. Specialized machines can be used to trim your cannabis for you. These machines vary in size, speed, cost, and quality. However, newer trimming machines are capable of trimming several pounds of marijuana per hour, completely removing the need to hire hand trimmers.


The main advantage of using a machine trimmer is the speed with which you can process your cannabis. Some top-of-the-line commercial trimmers can process up to 19 pounds (~303.4 oz) per hour, making them much more efficient than hand trimmers. For commercial growers, this difference in processing time makes the decision between hand or machine trimming an easy one.

The need to get large amounts of cannabis to market very quickly means that machine trimming will forever be a part of the marijuana industry. Thanks to the drastic improvement of trimming technology over the past decade, superb final buds are now being produced by machines. While trichome loss is still a concern, mangled or wasted product is rare nowadays. Most machine trimmers consistently produce high-quality results that most smokers can’t recognize as being machine-trimmed.

Trimming Machine


Machine trimmers have an unfortunate reputation for damaging buds. Hand-trimmed bud maintains more of its trichomes and resin than machine-trimmed bud. A machine trimmer simply cannot perfectly trim cannabis without taking off too much.

Machine trimmers can sometimes also damage buds by over-trimming them. Leaving bud in a trimmer for too long can result in unnecessarily small buds. Moreover, over-trimming flower can also affect its potency and flavor.

Machine trimmers can be quite pricey. Smaller, less efficient models can be purchased for a couple hundred US dollars, but high-quality trimmers cost thousands. Depending on how much cannabis you are trimming, the up-front cost can be recouped quickly in money saved from not having to hire trimmers. However, if you are trimming a personal stash, it may be better to save your money and just do it by hand.


One other thing to consider is whether you will trim your bud while wet, or after drying. Wet trimming occurs when the bud is trimmed immediately after being cut from the stem. Dry trimming requires you to wait until your buds are dried up before trimming. Many growers prefer one or the other. However, some growers prefer to find a balance between the two, performing some trimming on the wet bud, and more after it is dried out.

Wet trimming is recommended by many growers since plant material is easier to handle when wet. Wet trimming is also more suitable for machine trimming because the buds are somewhat harder to damage. In addition, trimming wet bud is said to help reduce the chance that mold may develop during the drying process.

Dry trimming is less efficient and more time consuming than wet trimming. It is harder to trim dried buds since they are more brittle and likely to be damaged. This method is more precise than wet trimming and is considered to produce more aesthetically pleasing buds. If you are looking to produce the best quality of cannabis possible, dry trimming is probably the way to go.

Wet Dry Trimming

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