Planning Your First Indoor Cannabis Grow – Part 7
Our final post in this blog series highlights how to trim, dry, cure, and store your cannabis that has been properly cultivated. Our experts at Best Bud Seeds expand on tried and true methods of finally harvesting your cannabis so you can harvest your cannabis plants like a pro at home.
Trimming Your Cannabis Plants – Wet vs. Dry Trimming
Wet Marijuana Trimming
Wet trimming occurs all in one sitting: The process is simple, as you’ll cut down the plant, cut buds off of the branches, trim the buds, and then place them on a drying rack, where they will sit for a few days.
- Removing sugar and fan leaves is easier—they get shriveled and dried up in dry trimming
- With less moisture-filled foliage attached to the flowers, drying will be quicker; this can be helpful in humid climates where mold is a hazard.
- If you’re tight on space, wet trimming removes a bulk of the plant in the beginning, so you don’t have to hang whole plants up to dry, which is great for indoor cannabis growers that are working with a small space to begin with.
- Trimming wet will give you a tighter and more aesthetically pleasing final product, meaning the buds will look more like buds and less like blocks of cannabis.
- Many experienced cannabis cultivators argue that because buds are stickier when being handled, trichomes remain intact, which preserve terpenes and flavors in your buds.
Wet trimming is very sticky. Trichomes will get on your fingers, your trimming shears, your body, everything. Gloves are recommended; rubbing alcohol or coconut oil is essential for getting the stickiness off of your fingers or any point of contact.
Dry Marijuana Trimming
With dry trimming, you’ll cut down the plant and hang the whole tree to dry for several days first. When it’s dry, you’ll cut the buds off branches and trim them.
- Keeping leaves on in the beginning makes the drying process slower; this can be great in arid climates, as a quick dry can cause excess terpene loss.
- It’s a lot less messy—trichomes harden as weed dries, reducing the amount of get-on-everything stickiness.
- Those less-sticky, less-messy trichomes are also more brittle and prone to breaking; you’ll have to handle your crop with care to preserve trichomes and THC levels.
- Hanging entire cannabis plants take up significantly more space than if you discard excess plant material first; make sure you have sufficient drying space before dry trimming.
After deciding whether or not you want to wet or dry trim your cannabis plants, it’s time to trim your plants. Start off by cutting the plant, its branches, and fan leaves off first. After the fact, you’ll be left with buds. Here’s our advice on how to trim buds:
- If buds are too big, break them down into smaller buds. A giant bud might look impressive, but it won’t dry as evenly, making it susceptible to mold.
- Trim the stem at the bottom of the bud as closely as you can without causing the bud to break down. You don’t want the stem to be exposed anywhere but at the bottom.
- Remove the crow’s feet—these are the leaves at the bottom that look like little bird feet.
- Trim off extra plant matter and manicure the bud. Angle your scissors and keep them moving. After a while you won’t even think about it.
The goal is to take away everything that isn’t fully covered in trichomes. Create a uniform surface area around the buds. This includes taking down red pistils all the way to the foliage. Pistils have very little to zero trichomes. Put all your finished buds in a separate bowl or tray.
If wet trimming, you’ll need to put your finished buds on a drying rack for a few days. If dry trimming, you’ll want to jar up your buds for curing.
Drying and Curing Cannabis Plants
Before you begin the drying and curing process, make sure you have all the equipment you will need. This includes:
- Wide-mouth mason jars for your cannabis
- A drying rack
- A hygrometer
The last two are optional, however, they make things easier by measuring humidity and ensuring your cannabis doesn’t get too dried out.
You begin the drying process as soon as you harvest your cannabis. When growers cut down cannabis, they immediately notice how sticky and wet the flowers are. This is an excellent indication of your plants’ intoxicating resin levels. However, if you leave things as they are, you invite bacteria and fungi.
One of the best ways to dry marijuana is first to cut 12-inch branches from the plants. Next, trim away the unwanted leaves, and hang the branches from coat hangers or even pieces of string! There is no need to invest in expensive equipment if you have enough space to hang the plants.
The most crucial aspect of proper drying is to ensure your storage room is at the right temperature and humidity levels. Keep the drying room between 60- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit and ensure the humidity stays in the 45-55% range. It is okay to use a small fan to circulate the air; don’t point it directly at the cannabis.
Are you having problems keeping the temperature and humidity levels at the recommended ranges? If so, purchase a humidifier (or dehumidifier if necessary) or an air-conditioning unit. Hanging your buds upside down is the best method when trying to dry cannabis.However, you can also lay them down flat on a surface such as cardboard if space is an issue. If you do this, make sure you turn the buds every few hours to avoid wet spots. Also, as you have to check on your buds daily, make sure your grow room is easy to access. You can purchase a specialized drying rack if it’s within your budget, which will dry your buds faster than the clothes hanger method. This is mainly because you remove the moisture-laden stems from the buds. If you live in an excessively humid area, mold is going to be a problem. In this scenario, it is wise to invest in a rack.
Drying Climate: The specific growing region should also be considered in choosing a drying method, he pointed out.In damp or humid regions, it’s advisable to break plants into individual branches or allow more space between plants to reduce the potential for mold.Conversely, dry or arid regions might require whole-plant drying to slow the drying process.
Potency from Curing: During a process known as biosynthesis, cannabis plants produce tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and other cannabinoids. The process involves certain compounds getting converted into different blends. For instance, THCA becomes THC. Failure to properly cure marijuana means it ultimately contains a lower level of THC and other cannabinoids. When you cut down your cannabis, make sure it is kept in temperatures between 60- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit. It is also essential to maintain the right humidity level. By doing this, you facilitate the biosynthesis process and ensure your crop is laden with THC. When marijuana is poorly cured, it creates the ideal environment for enzymes and bacteria to break down unwanted materials. It also results in the breaking down of the unhealthy sugars formed when chlorophyll decomposes. These sugars and minerals are what cause the unpleasant throat burn you sometimes get from smoking.
Curing is the process in which you take dried buds and store them in a tightly sealed container in the dark to preserve flavors, terpenes, and potency. This is a 2-3 week process that makes your final cannabis product usable and super enjoyable. See this guide for how to properly cure cannabis for maximum results.
How to Properly Store Cannabis
To ensure your flowers stay in pristine condition, the first rule is to keep your buds in a cool, dark and dry place. Heat, light and moisture will rapidly degrade your stash. A refrigerator is a good choice, and a basement could work, as well, so long as it stays cool. It’s best to let your stored buds remain untouched until you’re ready to use them, since handling your final product will knock off trichomes and ultimately make your cannabis less potent. With that in mind, the first thing you’ll want to do before storing your buds is set aside enough for frequent use, which you’ll want to keep separate from your long-term product.
As with curing, the most recommended container for storing cannabis is glass. To minimize the possibility of harming your buds with light, use dark-colored jars. If glass is not accessible to you for whatever reason, then you could use a combination of brown paper bags and plastic freezer bags. Plastic in general is not preferred, but the heavier plastic that freezer bags are made of is still better than using delicate sandwich bags, which could dry out your flowers in short order. If you really have no choice but to use freezer bags, then protect your buds from the light by first wrapping them in dark paper, such as a brown paper bag, before you seal it in the freezer bag. While you do want to store cannabis in a cool place, you do not want to freeze it. Freezing will weaken the trichomes and cause them to fall off, resulting in diminished potency.
Whatever container you use, you’ll want it to be as air-tight as possible. Any oxygen will accelerate degradation of your precious buds. Store as much cannabis as will fit in the jar or bag; if you’re storing a small amount, use a small jar. If you must resort to plastic freezer bags, then squeeze as much air out as possible before storing. Use a vacuum sealer if you have one, or invest in one if you’re storing a significant amount, as it will suck out way more oxygen than you could squeeze out otherwise.