It is easy to grow top shelf cannabis and at the last stage end up with a flower, which looks like it could make a seed catalogue, yet when you touch and smell it has a dry quality. The aroma can be unpleasant and after a secondary snap of a bud, the once familiar pungent reek you were surrounded by for for all that time in the grow room, has now began to show itself again. Below are my top tips to ensure your buds are perfectly dry and can be cured for the upcoming months.
Wet, Dry Or Machine Trim?
First thing I must say here is that any serious growers who care about the clinical work they have put in, will never entertain the idea of a trimming machine. Seen as a commercial large scale option, also I have personally seen more failed attempts at trimming with these over priced aggressive machines. Hand trimming is always the best way and is still the preferred practice amongst the American scene as well as many old school and new school growers. Some growers do not like to wet trim their buds as they believe you are degrading the flower every time it is handled. The advantages of wet trim are you can get right down to each individual bud site and carefully clean up, directly into a trim bag collecting all that live resin trim. Growers who choose to dry trim do not take upon the task of the laborious back breaking endurance game that is wet hand trimming.
The advantages of dry trimming are the ability to collect a substantial amount of dry sift pollen and no physical handling of the buds until that point. The process in which the flowers take to dry can vary between each method, however hand trimmers find removing the buds from the main moisture bearing stalks, will allow for a better aired flower over a shorter time. When drying the entire plant and leaving the smaller sugar leaves on to dry, this can take longer than the hand trimmed single buds on a dry net. Hand Trimming is still a careful practice performed by the Jungle Boys, Crockett, and many dispensaries across the states.
How To Smell Proof The Dry Room
What you need in order to have a proper dry room is a smell proof area that is totally undetectable. A simple and cheap solution is to invest in a grow tent that is equipped with adequate carbon filters. Having a carbon filter in a room that is not air tight will not prevent the smell, despite having a carbon filter scrubbing the air. The smell will travel through the gaps within the doors or cupboards and will begin to cause you anxiety as you begin to get that incriminating stench.
If I have a really loud buds drying out, then I will actually make a secondary dry room within the tent to ensure that first room is cleaning the smells, before it travels up towards my second carbon filter to ensure clean air. This may sound extreme having two dry rooms in one tent but this is only if you feel you do not have an air tight room that can be ventilated with no bad aroma. Also you may have an older carbon filter which is losing its ability to clean the air, so ensure that at the last hurdle of your grow you have covered yourself from an unwanted smells which can bring the authorities or disgruntled neighbours knocking.
How Much Of The Leaf Do I Trim?
Based on a wet hand trim, you will want to work in a way that allow you to delicately rotate the bud between your finger and thumb. Once you can then carefully snip away at the biggest sugar leaf, trying your best to totally remove the connecting part of the leaf. Once you have been able to do this, cleaning up any tiny leaves is a matter of lightly snipping away. As tempting as it can be to just cut all of the leaf to the size of the bud will only leave behind the remaining leaf, which to the connoisseur is looked at as a lazy trim job.
You will also want to have a tray or plastic bag underneath your buds, with the intention of collecting as much trim as possible. Deciding if you will make live resin bubble hash or dry out is up to you, however the best part of trimming cannabis to me, is getting up close and personal and seeing how those trichomes have extended down the sugar leaves and even fan leaves. Once you have your trim bag full and the plants are all cleaned up, you will want to save the trim in the freezer or allow to dry out. The difference basically is that freshly cut cannabis contains THCA and dried cannabis contains THC, which is what is also called ‘ live resin ‘.
Prepare Joints, Food, Music and Quality Control
Nothing makes a good trimming party like a well prepared room full of all the essentials to get you through the days. Before you or your colleagues begin to trim anything, ensure that the task is met with plenty of pre rolled joints, lots of food, constant flow of music and to take breaks. Trimming cannabis can be an arduous task so keeping spirits high is so important and often overlooked. The difference between an enthusiastic hand trimmer and a tired worn out trimmer is like day and night. Every bud that is hand trimmed must be as perfect as the first and ensuring quality control keeps to a high level, is your job.
If you are going to start a trimming project and it last several days, then a good tip is to keep the plants you cannot trim that day hung up. Never place the plants flat on the ground and never pile them on top of each other. It may have seemed convenient when you carried the bundles of plants, however the next day you will find hand trimming ever harder as the buds and leaf will flatten and merge which can be extra work.
What Temperature Checks Do I Need?
If you are able to control the temperature of your dry room as well as the airflow and humidity, then there is no reason why you cannot have cup winning flavours. A basic rule of thumb is to leave your buds to dry for at least 10 days. Even if the buds are small and have no real biomass, the longer they dry the better they will cure.In this 10 day period, you will want the room to be colder than warmer so aiming for 15 degrees celsius and 30% room humidity will be perfect. You do not want any fans blowing directly on your buds and as long as there is a good ventilation, then the buds will air out and begin to reek. If you leave your plants to dry out for a full 2 weeks at this temperature will produce the best buds you can find.
If your buds have dried with 3 days then you know the water content of your flower is now below 30% and the essence of the flower is now lost. In the same way a tulip or rose can dry out and lose its terpene profile. If your grow room is comfortably warm, then a good tip is to lower the thermostat until the point of shivering and a cold sensation. This is the ideal conditions for drying cannabis as they will naturally dry out in accordance with the atmosphere than be speed dried.
Is It Better To Use A Net?
Using nets to dry cannabis is a very effective, logistical and easy way to store your flowers as they dry out. The net is used for wet hand trimmed buds, so if you are of the practice of pulling your plants out of the ground and hanging by a hooking branch, then take no notice of using nets. The advantages of using a dry net is you can fill a large area of neat uniform hand trimmed buds which look identical. Not only can you fill one net, you can create secondary nets and eventually have shelves of nets full of buds ready to go into a jar when they are ready.
A good tip for anyone who needs a quick fix for a dry room, is to use mosquito nets and to wrap the corners around the posts of the grow tents and fashion a net shelf. If your tent is big enough then you can have plenty of room to place buds on the net, otherwise as I personally do, add 5 net shelves and then you have yourself a well organised airtight dry room.
Does It Need To Be A Glass Jar When Curing?
The short answer is no and as long as you can find something air tight, then the curing process will take place. You will often find glass or plastic curing jars that are designed for the cannabis industry. Alternately, an old cleaned glass jar or plastic tub will do the trick, however investing in some quality glass that can be labelled up and stored away in a dark cool place is highly recommended. If you have recently been to a coffeeshop in Amsterdam, you will have seen how they store their flowers in plastic tubs for long term, so understanding the difference between storing cannabis away and curing cannabis are different things.
Does The Cure Of Buds Degrade THC?
It is not as bad as it sounds and the effect of the flower will take on a more narcotic edge. THC will degrade over time and break down from THC to CBD and CBN. This means there will be the feelings of being heavily stoned and locked to the couch, the further your buds are cured so in comparison as far as a lab test is concerned, a sample of flower tested after a 90 day cure would indicate a change in cannabinoids meaning that the flower that was cured contained more medicinal properties.
When Shall I Harvest The Plants?
Most growers will pour all their trust into a seed company and literally chop on the day of the calendar. This is not really a good practice as like any other fruit bearing plant on Earth, we must harvest these fruits when they are most ripe. This brings to the question when is the best point to harvest? Is it when the trichomes are a certain colour and size? Should I be looking at the necks of the trichomes to see if they are falling over and losing structure? Do I need to wait for my buds to foxtail and stack up?
My tips here would be not to follow a number of days, yet to be more observant to the swelling and final development of the calyx. Also to note the size of the resin head and the structure of their necks. I have had conversations with hash making master Frenchy Cannoli, who says the trichome is what we harvest and the necks are an indication they are ready to be harvested as they fall, and begin to lose structure. One piece of advice I would give to any new growers is to harvest your buds as normal, then to leave some on the plant that will keep growing for another 7-10 days and swell up. You will only notice then how much of a huge difference an extra week or more will do.
Stress And Shock Before Chopping
Cannabis plants are wonderful things and the more stress they are given, the better they perform. This is proven by how the plants produces trichomes as a natural sun block against U.V rays. As the plant is stressed in other ways it can force the trichomes to swell and the terpene content to become more intense. There are a few different ways to do this and my personal favourite which I do every grow, is to leave a large pile of ice cubes on my grow medium and allow to melt in the night. As I do this over a week long flushing period, the plant feels the ground is freezing and as a result you will see the plant throw out an array of rainbow like colours. Your trichomes will swell and the terpene profiles are much greater.
Other methods of shock and stress is used by farmers who take a small knife and place it through the main stem and leave it in. Basically stabbing the main stem as if you were trying to kill your precious plant. Another method that is quite common amongst growers is to leave their plants in total darkness for 48 hours before trimming, which most growers swear by. The science behind these methods is to force the plant to produce ethylene which is a hormone using for ripening fruits. The same way it is used in commercial supermarkets to make display fruit seem shiny and fresh.
How Full Should My Curing Jars Be?
Your curing jars should be full enough but so you can shake and move around if needs be. You do not want a jar that is totally packed and you do not want the jar looking empty, so keeping your buds around 70% full will leave plenty of room and allow those buds to cure over the next coming months. Always keep your curing jars in a cool dark place and avoid anywhere warm and in direct sunlight. Label your buds with the strain name and date that they went into the jar and create a system. I have some curing jars with flowers that have been inside since last year, so the beauty of curing cannabis is a to see how long you can preserve those flavours and bring the absolute best of out the aroma, taste and effects. Attempt to leave the jars open for around 10 minutes per day so when they are placed back in, you will always be burping the jar for every day after the cure.
Good luck with immaculately trimming those buds and storing away coffeeshop style…