Harvesting, Trimming, Drying and Curing your Cannabis
Hi All, so I am going to touch firstly on harvesting which was covered in the first edition of Skyf.Co Magazine as a quick recap.
When to Harvest your Lady? Is She Ready for Harvest?
A magnifying glass or jewellers’ loupe is best to check your trichomes on the buds.
- Wait until your buds stop growing new white hairs. By this point, your buds should be fragrant (the whole grow area will likely smell strongly of cannabis), plump and ‘filled out’.
- Wait until at least 40% of the white hairs have changed colour (darkened) and are curling in. This marks the beginning of the harvest window. Buds harvested now will have more of a speedy or head high effect and are not at full potency.
- Harvest when all the trichomes are cloudy as this will be when the THC levels are at their most potent or harvest when 50-70% of the hairs have darkened for highest THC levels.
- Harvest when 80-90% of the hairs have darkened for more of a couchlock, anti-anxiety effect (some of the THC has turned into the more relaxing CBN) or when the trichomes have just turned amber.
The hardest part of growing cannabis for many new growers is finding the right time to harvest.
So why do we trim our Dagga/Cannabis?
Their Appearance – Trimmed buds are often considered of higher quality. Most buds are completely manicured when you see them in magazines, at dispensaries and online. This is the appearance we have come to associate with good weed and so untrimmed buds may look less appealing to some people.
Better Terpene Smell/Aroma – Buds that are trimmed before going into your jars gain a stronger or danker smell over time. Untrimmed buds take on an almost common garden grass/lawn or hay type smell.
Smoother on Your Throat – Leaves are harsher on your throat and lungs than flowers when smoking. Trimming off extra leaf matter makes buds smoother to smoke or dry vape.
Higher THC Concentration – Even the trichome encrusted sugar leaves have a significantly lower concentration of THC and other cannabinoids than the flowers which means that trimmed buds tend to have higher levels of THC.
Wet Trimming vs Dry Trimming or Trimming before or after drying:
I had no clue about the differences between the two when I started growing but learning the pros and cons of each made it a lot easier. From researching online and chatting with different growers I learnt that growers successfully use both methods and there is no right or wrong way to do it (everyone will however have their favourite way and believe it is best).
There are two trains of thought when it comes to trimming your cannabis. Some growers trim their cannabis buds before drying them (I personally prefer this method while the plants are still in the ground) and some growers trim their cannabis after the buds have already dried.
Trimming while your buds are still wet is easier and more precise, you also do not risk losing resin/trichomes from agitation as you do when handling dry buds. Having said that dry trimming can make for an exceptionally manicured product worthy on its looks alone.
What you need for a good trim will be a sharp pair of scissors or pruners as well as disposable gloves which you can find at your local grow shop.
Drying your Cannabis:
Ok so for your buds to dry evenly, you will want to ensure that air can move freely coming into contact with them on all sides. The best way to do this is to hang up your cut and trimmed branches or even complete plants. You can use wire racks or drying nets if you are working with individual buds or small branches. If you choose to use racks, keep in mind that you will need to flip your buds regularly to ensure they do not flatten on the one side.
For best results you should hang or position your trimmed or untrimmed buds in a dark room with good air circulation, an oscillating fan helps with this and a relative humidity of about 45–55% is best and try to keep a temperature of between 18 to 24 degrees celsius.
There are a few factors that will affect how long it takes for your cannabis to dry.
The size of your buds will obviously affect your drying time so larger and denser buds will take longer to dry than smaller ones. How you choose to trim your plants will also have an effect. Remember that the branches of your plants hold the most water, so if you hang large branches these will take longer to dry than smaller branches or individual buds. Finally, the temperature, humidity, and airflow in your drying room will also have a big impact on the time it takes for your weed to dry.
In general, the drying stage takes about 7–14 days, depending on the above factors as well as weather. During this time, your buds will lose a lot of moisture meaning they will shrink in size and lose a lot of weight as well. I try to get a 14 to 21 day dry on my plants as I hang the whole plant and my drying room is fully insulated so I have found the longer the drying period the better and smoother the smoke seems to be.
So how do you know when your buds are properly dried and ready for curing?
There is a simple test to know if your buds are dry enough, simply take a small branch and try to bend it. If it snaps, your buds are dry enough and you are then ready to move on to the curing process. If they bend, your buds will need to dry a little longer.
The curing process:
If you have trimmed your buds wet you will be ready to move on to the curing stage as soon as your buds have dried, there may be a small bit of manicuring left to do. If you choose a dry trim, then you will have to complete this before moving on to curing.
Once your buds are dry and fully trimmed, place them in a big wide mouthed jar (mason, jam jars or even buckets work well for larger scales). Fill the jars approximately ¾ of the way so there’s room for additional air and to reduce the risk of mould or mildew ruining your harvest. Once you have filled up your jars, store them in a dry, dark environment (like a kitchen or bedroom cupboard) and check on your buds at least once per day for the first two weeks. When opening your jar, run your finger around the curved section at the top of the jar to feel for any moisture. If it feels damp leave your jar open for a few hours to get rid of the extra moisture. A really great way to check the humidity is to place a hygrometer in the jar and close the lid for 10 minutes to get an accurate humidity reading.
If you notice the smell of mould or ammonia when burping your jars the first few times, it is likely to mean that your bud is not dry enough to cure yet. Remove the buds and continue to air dry them for a day or two before placing them back into the jars.
When checking your buds keep your jars open to allow for an air exchange and inspect the buds individually for any signs of mould. If you find an infected bud, make sure to remove it from its jar immediately to avoid the fungus spreading.
This process of consistently checking in on your buds will pull excess moisture out of your jars and allow fresh air to hit your buds. A lot of grower’s cure for two weeks but optimal is 4 to 8 weeks, longer if you can.
I find that a 6-to-8-week cure is optimal as the terpene profile or aromas become more abundant and the smoke smoother.
You should aim for a humidity level between 58 and 62% when curing your flowers. This increase in moisture content will slightly re-hydrate your flowers, improving their taste and smoothness while still preventing any mould formation.
Storing your Bud once curing is completed:
Once you have finished your cure, you can keep your bud in the same jars, in a cool, dark and dry place. You no longer need to check on your buds as frequently, so make sure to keep your jars well sealed to prevent your flowers from drying out too much. If you have a lot of weed, consider investing in humidity packs like Boveda or something similar to keep your flowers fresh over long periods of time.
There are the 2 most common types of Boveda packs, namely the 58 and 62%, I prefer the 58% as I like my bud a little drier.
Now that you have completed your grow, harvest, drying, trimming and curing process it is time to light up and taste your hard work, well deserved.
Enjoy, Stay Blessed and Keep ‘er Lit until next time.