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Drying and Curing Your Cannabis After Harvest

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Harvesting cannabis this time of year can be a little overwhelming when you are just starting out. So, it is important to know the basics on how to dry and wet trim your bud, as well as how to cure and store it.

To preserve flavor, aroma, and potency, you must make some precautions. Terpenes and cannabinoids are what preserve and accent the weed, and a quality trim and cure ensures they are retained.

First, the difference between dry trimming and wet trimming: wet trimming is when you start to trim the bud immediately after cutting down your plant, while dry trimming happens when you trim the bud after first letting it hang dry.

  • Use a drying room or drying rack to remove the moisture from the buds
  • Cure the bud once you are certain it is dry and ready
  • Use airtight containers to keep your trimmed bud sealed to preserve flavors and aromas

Wet trimming your cannabis

Wet trimming happens when you start trimming your plant right after you cut it down, and before you dry and cure it.

When trimming wet buds, you will need a flat rack, because you will have a lot of trimmed buds around and you cannot hang them. Flat racks are circular with a layer of mesh. You can lay your buds flat to get needed airflow. After two or three days, test the bud for moisture and softness by pinching it. If they are still too wet, leave them and check the next day.

Pros

Some pros of wet trimming, if you are tight on space then this kind of quick trim thins out your storage needs and helps you see just what you are working with. Starters benefit from an easier trim, like this, before the sugar leaves curl up and inward. Plus, sticky buds are easier to shape, clearing stems without damaging bud.

Cons

Cons are sticky buds with trichomes can get all over your hands and tools. So, make sure to have some rubbing alcohol and a washcloth, and use latex gloves you can slip on and off.

Dry trimming your cannabis

For dry trimming cannabis, leave the stem intact and hang the bud upside down with a hanger to ensure it dries evenly. After 3 days, you can test it by bending one of the bud stems. If it breaks it is ready. If they don’t snap then check them the next day. Drying takes 4-7 days, but no longer than that.

Once your bud is dry, you can store it in airtight mason jars. Keep the jars in a cool, dark place with temps between 60-70 degrees, with a humidity at 55-65%. Keeping the humidity exactly right is important because it effects the amount of air flow and oxygen. If the humidity is off, aerobic bacteria can mold on your bud. An inexpensive hygrometer can help you monitor your humidity and get it exactly right. You can buy a quality hygrometer at any hardware store for about $20 bucks.

Pros

  • Keeping more leaves on the plant increases humidity levels around the flowers and slows down the dry, which can be great in arid climates where terpenes can be lost in a faster hot dry
  • Trichomes harden as the weed dries, making it cleaner to trim

Cons

  • Trichomes can break easier, making it harder to preserve THC
  • Hanging all your plants before trimming takes up a lot more space

Air flow and light

Once the trimming is done and moisture has come out of the bud, it is time to cure.

Either method of trimming aside, consistent, and clean airflow is a must. A steady breeze from an AC or a fan can keep the bud drying evenly and efficiently.

UV rays can break down the integrity of a plant’s components. Light contributes heavily to the degradation of cannabinoids. UV rays will simply damage cannabis over time, so you want a dark place to hang it and store it.

Cannabinoids will maintain their stability for up to two years when stored properly. There are electric and hand vacuum pumps you can buy to help ensure each jar has just the right amount of air, stabilizing humidity levels. If you make the effort, your quality of smoke will be preserved.

Storage

Plastic bags are not suitable as they are not impervious to oxygen and the terpenes in cannabis can be degraded by the plastic. Use glass airtight mason jars instead to preserve flavor and aroma. Half-quart to half-gallon jars are effective sizes. Always keep the humidity between 55-65%. Curing usually takes two weeks to a month.

You should notice some moisture come to the outside from within the bud. If you don’t, you probably over-dried your bud. Remember humidity should be at 55-65% inside the jars. If you are not sure and would like to check, you can buy a digital hygrometer at any hardware store for about $20 bucks.

Remember to burp your jars

Seal your jars and place them in a cool, dark place overnight. Check them the next day by giving the bud a gentle squeeze to test softness and moisture.

For the first week, open your jar lids once or twice a day for a few minutes. This is called burping and allows oxygen to replenish itself in the jar while moisture can escape. If something smells like ammonia, there is too much moisture. Bacteria can cause mold to accumulate from the loss of oxygen when this happens. So, make sure it gets the circulation it needs to dry like it should.

After the first week, you only need to burp once every couple of days.

In two to four weeks your bud should have cured enough. Some strains can benefit though from four to eight weeks, or even six-month periods if stored right.

Remember to find a cool dark place to store your harvested cannabis. You don’t want to worry about mold or loss of cannabinoids. Properly cured and stored bud can store for up to two years without losing potency, so take the time to get it right.

Michael Ashworth is finishing his Master’s Degree in Technical Communications at Northeastern University. He has just moved back to California after 14 years and is grateful for the people who have worked so hard to make the legalization of marijuana possible. Cannabis is a wonderful resource for a healthy lifestyle, and he believes in promoting its positive attributes and the awesome culture that surrounds it.

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