Beginner’s Guide to Harvest, Drying, and Curing
Growing cannabis for the first time can be a little intimidating, especially in the latter stages. You’ve spent so much time raising your plants from seed to the point where they’re as tall as you are, and now it’s time for the most exciting phase of the cycle…harvesting! A beginner’s guide on harvesting, pruning, and drying is included below, covering everything you need to know to get the ideal flower.
The three steps of harvest: trimming, drying, and curing
What makes a successful harvest even more difficult is the fact that if you make a mistake in any of these three phases, your entire harvest could be a waste of time.
You can cultivate your plants for three months, trim your buds, and dry them to perfection. However, if you don’t adequately cure your buds, you risk developing mouldy buds, rendering your entire harvest useless.
Knowing all of the intracicies of each of the three important harvest periods is what distinguishes a master grower from a novice.
We’ll go through the essentials of each of the three phases in detail, but first, we’ll go over how to time your harvest.
What To Avoid When Harvesting Cannabis Plants
- Any buds that have mold should be cut away from the plant and discarded.
- Leaves that show signs of powdery mildew should also be thrown in the trash.
- Picking your plants too early and losing out on the ultimate flavor and effect.
- Harvesting based on the number of brown to white pistils is no good.
- Harvesting too late and losing peak terpene profiles.
How to harvest your plants ?
If you’re new to harvesting, you’ll probably do it by hand. The quality of a hand-manicured bud is incomparable, and we always advocate trimming by hand when possible.
Trimming by hand will become impractical as your plant count grows, or if you are a commercial grower. A trimming machine will be required at some point. If you don’t want to waste time harvesting by hand and want to know if a machine can help, trimming may be better for you, check out our post on hand trimming vs machine trimming.
To make the process easy on yourself, all of the necessary items should be gathered prior to starting. You will need a pair of pruners, trimming scissors, a bag for any waste such as old grow media or dead leaves, and some way to hang the harvested plants.
Trimming scissors of superior quality will make a significant impact in your trimming experience. You’ll be using these scissors for hours on end, so get a good pair with good ergonomics to keep your hand from cramping.
If you buy a cheap pair of trimming scissors, you will almost certainly need to buy more. A weak set of scissors will be ruined by the sticky residue from your plants.
Once you have your materials ready, it is time to prepare your room. If you use any form of CO2, it should be turned off, since harvested plants will not benefit from it. The grow lights can also be shut off, as the plants are soon to be dead and will not be needing them any longer.
Drying Your Harvested Flowers
The worst thing that you can do is become careless when it comes to the drying. So many growers waste their hard work by speed drying causing a low quality flower. Before you do harvest your plants, decide which way you will trim them.
Wet Trimming Or Dry Trimming?
Before the flowers have had a chance to dry, take the effort to remove all of the fan leaves, smaller leaves, and cut each bud carefully. Growers that prefer to be hands-on with cutting scissors and gloves early in the season will set the buds on a drying net to air out for 10-14 days.
Fresh frozen live resin plant material can also be obtained using this procedure. Because the buds haven’t dried yet, they won’t be able to decarboxylate, resulting in a much more distinct terpene profile after being washed for bubble hash or pressed into rosin.
For those who hate the idea of cutting down each bud fresh and trimming straight after harvesting or simply have too many plants, dry trimming involves removing all the fan leaves and allowing the entire plant to hang for 10-14 days. Only once the buds are totally dry, then the removal of the sugar leaf surrounding the buds can begin.
When trimming dried plants, be sure to have a tray or sifting screen to collect the fallen trichomes. Unlike ice water hash, this pollen can be immediately smoked and not required to dry out.
Hand Trimming VS Machine Trimming
The most effective and time-honored way for cleaning a flower to perfection. Of course, not all commercial firms are able to manually trim their buds instead of using machine trimmers or other equipment like trim bins due to logistics and impracticality.
Although some true enthusiasts dislike machine trimming, it can be a lifesaver when it comes to cutting large amounts in a short amount of time. Although the buds are quite valuable commercially, they may require a second washing. Some may argue that the buds lack the personal touch that can only be provided by a home grower.
What To Look For
- The flowers will be reduced in size, however will have a solid density to them.
- To touch they will be dry and have a strong aroma when handled.
- The twigs attached to the buds will be light colored and break easily.
- Any remaining smells of chlorophyll have completely gone.
- The buds are sticky but dry, and have not become lifeless and airy.
Curing Cannabis Flowers To Enhance Flavor, Aroma, And Effect
Curing cheese or ham adds value, flavour, and additional levels to the product, and the same can be said for curing Cannabis flowers. There is a common misperception that curing and storing are the same thing, however this is not the case because curing is an oxidation process.
The idea behind keeping buds in an airtight glass jar or tub and opening it for 10 minutes each day is to allow the buds to react with the air and degrade from THC to CBD. The affects will be different, with a lot more tactile, narcotic, and ultimate couch lock impact.
In the garden, it takes time and hours to learn how each plant grows and finishes differently. You’ll be well on your way to cultivating some of the greatest flavors conceivable once you’ve dialed in a strain and know just when to flush, chop, and cure it. Drying and curing, like everything else, is a process that may easily go awry, so make sure you cover all angles before making the final cut.