Cannabis plants are grown all over the world for recreational use as well as for medical purposes. But if it’s your first time cultivating, you’re probably looking for information about how to hang buds, get them dry, and cure those bad boys to perfection.
Cannabis is an amazing plant; it can contain a high level of CBD. But it also has THC which provides many health benefits including relieving anxiety and depression. And let’s not forget about the host of other beneficial cannabinoids found in various strains.
Growing your own cannabis can be quite satisfying and cost-effective. While labor-intensive, it’s a rewarding experience. And after months of caring for your marijuana plants, it’s harvest time!
In this article, we’re covering everything to do after you harvest cannabis. But we’ll also cover what happens a few hours after you harvest cannabis, as well as what you should do in the first week to ensure success.
So, let’s get started!
What to Know Before Harvest Time
Drying and curing cannabis plants before long-term storage is just as important as cannabis cultivation itself. You won’t be able to achieve the results you want if you don’t understand the drying and curing methods.
The first week after your harvest is the most important! This initial week is when the main prep work is done.
Before drying cannabis, many growers prefer to take the first week – depending on yield size – to remove the branches of a cannabis plant one at a time. It is advised to hang the branches rather than the entire plant. This technique of drying plants will let your harvested weed dry faster.
Make sure to dry and cure marijuana plants slowly, taking several days. When the buds have completely dried, then it’s time to cure them. Curing dry buds is like the aging of wine in that it adds a better flavor and fragrance to marijuana while also extending its life.
The drying and curing process takes patience and time. It may be tempting to try to speed up the process, but final bud quality can only be achieved by taking your time.
Why You Need to Dry & Cure Marijuana
Some of the reasons why you need to dry and cure marijuana include:
Better Tasting Buds
Marijuana buds taste better after they’ve been dried and cured. The proof is in the final product!
The smell, taste, and effects of smoking marijuana depend on how well you take care of your buds after they’ve been harvested. If you want a good high for recreational or medical purposes, make sure to dry out and cure your yield.
Longer Shelf Life
Dried and cured weed is less likely to grow mold or lose potency over time. If you want your buds to last longer, it’s essential that you dry them out before curing them.
But make sure you dry and cure them slowly. If you dry cannabis buds too quickly, they may lose their flavor and fragrance.
Fewer Headaches & Other Health Concerns
Some people experience headaches and nausea after smoking marijuana. This is usually due to the lack of patience and care during the drying process.
Thus, it’s best to avoid these issues by taking your time with your drying to maintain quality. If you follow the right process – whether it’s slow drying or the use of a dry ice chamber – this will help reduce headaches and other adverse side effects.
Consumption Before Drying & Curing is Not Good
Marijuana should never be smoked, vaporized, or eaten before the drying and curing processes. The natural chemicals inside the marijuana plant need time to interact with each other so that they can release their full potential when you consume them.
When the right amount of moisture has been removed from your marijuana buds, it will burn more evenly, too. This will result in a smooth, tasty smoke that won’t irritate your throat.
Buds that haven’t been dried and cured properly will end up tasting harsh on your throat and won’t burn well. They may also become very bitter and lose a majority of their terpenes.
As you can see, drying and curing cannabis properly is very important. Drying and curing buds correctly can take weeks or even months to achieve the desired results.
However, keep this in mind; once you’ve perfected this process, your cured cannabis will be worth all of the time and patience.
The Differences Between Drying and Curing Cannabis
The first step in cannabis production is for the marijuana to be dried. This process removes the majority of moisture from your marijuana buds.
Drying your cannabis flower reduces humidity and water levels in plant cells. This makes them easier to store for a long period of time.
Drying the buds slowly is the best way to make sure that all of the chemicals and nutrients inside the plant are preserved. This process also allows for an even burn when smoked.
If you take care when you’re drying your buds, they will end up tasting much better and offer more pleasurable effects.
Once your marijuana buds have been dried, they must then be cured in order to further remove moisture and increase flavor quality.
But how does this help?
The curing process gets rid of chlorophyll and sugars that can give cannabis a green taste. It also helps to improve the smell, texture, and smoke quality of your weed.
Think about the aging of fine wine. That’s basically what you’re doing when you’re curing cannabis nugs.
Once you successfully cure cannabis, it will have less harshness to its taste, will burn evenly with a pleasant aroma, and won’t irritate the throat. But just because you cure buds doesn’t mean you dried them correctly.
Keep reading to learn how to get the excess moisture out of your sticky icky.
So, you’ve grown cannabis plants and now you’ve harvested your buds. But there’s more to drying cannabis than you might’ve guessed.
Drying harvested cannabis is a lengthy procedure that requires some patience. But this part of the process is essential if you want a superior end product.
THC may be lost if it is dried too rapidly. If it’s dried too slowly, molds may grow. It’s vital to have patience and pay close attention to the details while drying herbs. But the high-quality results are well worth it.
If you wish to store your marijuana for months or years, proper drying is one of the most important things to consider. Thus, you need to know how to dry marijuana like a professional. Let’s cover that now.
The Marijuana Drying Process
Drying cannabis is the process of removing most of the moisture from it. The key here is to remove just enough moisture without doing it too fast.
The result is that it becomes easier to store your trimmed buds for a long time. But let’s not forget, properly drying your buds will make them taste better and have an enjoyable effect. That is, if you do it properly.
The Cannabis Drying Room
While it’s not necessary to have a dedicated drying room for prepping harvested cannabis, it does give you a more controlled environment. But a drying room must be prepared, too.
Prepare your drying area before the harvest time. This will allow you to keep the harvested cannabis in good condition while waiting to be dried.
A dark, well-ventilated area for drying and curing is required. It’s also ideal to have a drying rack, lines, or mesh to hang cannabis plants or flat dry cannabis buds are all essential items.
A small fan, air-conditioning unit, or dehumidifier are also useful. This is how you’ll adjust and maintain the room’s environment.
A hygrometer is also a smart investment for measuring relative humidity. This will allow you to adjust the humidity as needed.
The drying room will provide the best environment for drying your buds. It should be easy to access and check on them regularly, making adjustments as necessary.
Prepare this space before the harvest time and then you won’t have to worry about anything once they’re ready!
Trimming Your Cannabis Buds
There are two methods for trimming harvested weed: wet trimming and dry trimming. Simply put, the options for trimming buds is to do so before or after drying.
Wet trimming is the process of removing the majority of the leaves from your cannabis while it is still moist. You can do this with a pair of spring-loaded trimming scissors, ideally curved ones.
Some people prefer to trim after drying and before curing since it is less sticky. This is referred to as dry trimming. We’ll look at each option more in-depth below.
You can trim right after harvesting your cannabis plants. But it’s still important to remove any leaves that are close to your buds. This is referred to as wet trimming, and it’s recommended in high humidity areas because it prevents mold from growing.
This is a faster way to dry the wet trimmed buds compared to dry trimming. This is because the flower dries quicker without the additional leaves retaining moisture.
Make sure to remove the fan leaves and trim the bigger sugar leaves.
It’s important to avoid cutting off too much, though! You want your plant to keep as many trichomes as possible so you can get a nice high when you smoke them.
Be sure to put a tray under to collect your leaves and fallen trichomes. While not as potent as the flowers, this stuff can be used for cooking and other purposes.
Another method is dry trimming, which is done after drying and before curing cannabis flower. This isn’t the best option for those living in humid climates. But it’s all a matter of preference.
Some prefer dry trimming because it is less sticky. If the climate is not humid, mold growth is less likely.
If you live in an arid climate, dry trimming is definitely an option to consider. It’s also possible to get a higher yield with dry trimming than wet.
This method is the more traditional way of trimming cannabis buds. However, keep in mind, the process takes longer because it involves waiting for them to dry and then removing leaves.
Still, there are some benefits! For example, you want to take the time in order to remove all the extra trichomes and buds. This will give you a smoother smoke, without the harshness of sugar leaves.
After the marijuana is dried, you can then go ahead and cut off the sugar leaves. This part can be tricky since the dried leaves are smaller and harder to cut.
It takes longer for the flowers to dry if you choose the dry trimming method option. However, this preserves their natural flavor better. Again, the trimmed leaves may be collected for usage in other manners. We like to use them for our edibles!
Air Drying for Dry Buds
You can air-dry your own cannabis without the need for special equipment. The optimum temperature for drying the cannabis is 75°F, but 60-70°F is the best if you’re looking to preserve as much terpenes as possible. The optimum humidity level for drying is 50%, although the humidity level of 45-55% is acceptable.
Because light and high temperatures alter the quality of marijuana, keep your buds in a dark environment. Many cultivators will hang them in their basements.
If your basement has a damp, musty odor though, it’s possible that the humidity is too high. This will threaten your yield and is best dealt with before it becomes a problem.
Prevent Mold on Your Buds
To prevent mold from developing, get a hygrometer to check the humidity level before deciding where to dry your cannabis flower. Your hygrometer will also help you track the humidity in the future.
It’s also important to check your buds every few days in order for any mold to be spotted early on.
When you’re drying your cannabis, never let them sit in water because this can cause molding and other problems.
If you suspect molding, it’s important to act immediately. This means taking the cannabis and moving it to a new location.
You want to create lots of air circulation, which is why you keep them out of plastic bags. Plastic will trap any moisture and humidity inside, leading to mold growth.
You may need a fan, a dehumidifier, or an air conditioner to circulate the air around and get the right temperature and humidity.
Depending where you live, the time it takes to dry nugs can differ. You should aim for drying your buds for a week or more before going on to the curing phase.
Avoid using any type of heating system because this might affect the taste of your marijuana negatively. If drying buds in your space takes too long, change the temperature or humidity to assist it along.
If you plan to do dry trimming, hang your harvested cannabis upside down by the stems. Otherwise, do some wet trimming before drying your marijuana plants.
Simply string up your stalks and let them dangle until enough moisture evaporates. Make sure you have a well-ventilated space and the branches are spaced apart so that they will dry uniformly.
Be creative! You can use cloth hangers, drying rack, wires, ropes, or fishing lines to hang dry your flowers. To avoid mold, it’s important that all harvested buds remain exposed to air until they’re dried.
Another way to air dry is by laying out marijuana buds on a mesh screen on a drying rack. The mesh must be smaller than the buds; you can use cheesecloth, for example. Make sure the mesh is easy to clean so that it won’t spread mold spores onto your cannabis.
Spread out the flowers so the air can circulate around them. Be sure to turn the buds regularly so they dry evenly.
If you’re using a fan, make sure it’s not blowing too strongly to the drying rack. Because the buds are placed flat without any strings, they’re easily blown away. And this can result in trichomes flying off of the buds, as well.
How to Tell When Cannabis is Dry Enough
There’s a simple test to determine whether your buds are dry: Take a small stem and attempt to bend it.
If the small stems snap, your buds are dry, and you’re ready to continue the curing process. But if they bend and don’t break under the pressure of your fingers, let them dry for a little while longer.
Keep in mind, this isn’t an exact way to tell when your cannabis is dry enough. If you’re looking for a more precise way to tell, get a device to measure the moisture in your nugs.
You want your buds to dry for between seven and 12 days before the curing process. But we’ll talk a bit more about that in the next section.
How Long It Takes to Dry Cannabis
How long it takes for marijuana flowers to dry depends on a few different factors. Some variables come into play here, and if you have the perfect situation and wet trim, you can dry your buds in as little as a week.
If you have a drier climate where the humidity is lower, the process will be much faster than if you live in an area where there is more moisture in the air.
The size of your buds will obviously have an impact on how long they take to dry. Your bigger, more dense buds will take longer to dry than smaller ones
In general, the drying process takes 7-12 days. Your buds will lose a lot of moisture during this time, meaning they’ll decrease in size and weight.
Consider wet trimming if you want the herb to dry faster. Trimmed herbs dry faster since most of the leaves are removed first, resulting in less plant material to dry.
Curing Cannabis Flowers
Now that your flowers are dry, it’s time to prep it for curing. Thus, if you haven’t trimmed off the leaves, this is the time to do so.
Then, it’s time to go on to curing trimmed buds!
Curing cannabis means letting the marijuana buds “breathe” for a few weeks before you smoke them. This brings out the buds’ natural flavors and makes for a stronger, more potent final product.
The Curing Process
Curing cannabis is the final step before smoking or consuming your marijuana. Here’s what’s involved:
Place trimmed buds inside glass jars and fill them about three-quarters full. Make sure to leave some space on top for the dried flowers to breathe.
Avoid using zip-lock plastic bags or other plastic containers. These are no good when it comes to curing your buds.
The optimum temperature to cure cannabis is 70° F (20° C) and the optimum humidity is around 60%. If you live in a humid climate, moist absorber packs may be used in the jars with the buds to keep the moisture inside at a low level.
Make sure to check your hygrometer for relative humidity levels. Keep one in at least one of the jars to monitor what’s happening during the curing process.
Curing marijuana should be done in a dark environment. So, to preserve cannabinoids, keep the jars out of direct light.
This process will rehydrate buds on the outer part by drawing moisture from the center. During the first week, you’ll need to open the jars daily at least three times for 5-10 minutes to get fresh air in and take out excess moisture (this process is known as burping). This air exchange is needed to prevent mildew, mold, and bacteria.
After the first week, you can extend the time between burping. Open your jars once every two or three days for burping purposes. This should be enough to promote high-quality cured cannabis.
If you can smell ammonia when opening the mason jars, that means there is too much moisture and anaerobic bacteria are growing.
Leave the lid off for a day and close it the next day. The ammonia smell should be gone from your marijuana flower.
How Long It Takes to Cure Cannabis
The curing process will take some time, but if you want good results, it’s definitely worthwhile. The slow curing process gives the terpenes inside cannabis flower time to react with one another as well as infuse into their surroundings.
To ensure the greatest strength and flavor, your buds should be dry-cured for at least three weeks. You can also choose to extend your curing period to test what works best.
Ideally, you’ll spend around four to eight weeks curing your buds. Feel free to experiment a bit to see what produces the most fantastically-cured cannabis buds.
Storing Cannabis after Drying & Curing
Dried and cured cannabis can be stored under proper conditions for around two years. In the same way as wine, dry cannabis flowers are best stored at cold dark temperatures.
Cannabis buds are sensitive to UV light, which has the potential to break down many organic and artificial components. Over time, harmful UV rays will cause cannabis buds to deteriorate.
Cannabis and terpenes that have taken months to develop can be dried out by excessive heat. When plant material and essential oils become excessively dry, they produce harsh smoke.
It’s also worth noting that low temperatures slow down decarboxylation, during which THCA is transformed into the psychoactive THC. After a while, THC breaks down into CBN, a cannabinoid with distinct attributes and effects.
Cold air has less moisture than warm air. Keep cannabis between 55-65% relative humidity when stored to maintain and enhance color, consistency, aroma, and flavor.
Label your jars with the name of cannabis strain, THC and CBD content, and harvest date. You don’t want to forget what’s in the jars when you have a variety of cannabis strains or mix them together.
Recap How to Dry & Cure Marijuana
Harvest the buds at the proper time. When trichomes become cloudy or amber is when you should harvest them.
After harvesting comes the prep-work, which means you’ll have to start trimming if you’re planning to wet trim. This involves removing the small sugar leaves and fan leaves to decrease your drying time.
Now that you’ve harvested your cannabis, you may choose to trim the leaves before or after it has been dried. If you reside in a humid environment, it is recommended that you perform “wet trimming” right away.
Those who live in a dryer region can do “dry trimming.” But if you like in a humid area and decide to dry trim, keep in mind, you’re increasing your risk of developing mold and losing your yield.
To dry cannabis, hang the stems with buds upside down. But other options exist.
You may also cut the blooms and lay them on a mesh rack in a dark room to dry. Turn the drying buds once in a while. Make sure there is adequate air circulation around them.
Temperature between 60 and 70°F is ideal for drying, as well as a humidity level of 45-55 percent.
Cannabis plants generally take 7 to 12 days to dry. Try bending a tiny twig of a cannabis plant with your hands. If it snaps, the drying process is completed. But a tool to measure nug humidity is more precise.
If you opted for dry trimming. Trim the cannabis buds in the drying room or a dark room to get them ready for the curing process. Keep those buds out of direct sunlight to maintain those terps and other cannabinoids.
To cure buds, put your dry buds into airtight containers made of glass, such as mason jars. Fill the jars to about three-quarters full, leaving some space for air at the top. Close the lids tightly.
Check the mason jars each day and open the lids for 5-10 minutes a day to get rid of excess moisture (also known as burping). The best temperature and humidity for curing is 70° F and 60%.
In 4-8 weeks, your dry buds should be fully cured. This is when they will be in their prime and ready for consumption.
Store buds can be kept in an airtight container away from direct sunlight in a dark, dry, and cool place for long-term storage. Properly stored cannabis buds will retain their potency for about 2 years.
Choose glass over plastic. Glass storage ensures your buds will stay fresh longer.
Concluding on Drying & Curing Cannabis
It is important to know how to dry and cure marijuana properly for maximum potency. Drying time may also vary based on climate conditions
To keep all of the chemicals and nutrients in the plant, it must be dried and cured slowly rather than quickly. They’ll taste better and give a pleasant high if you take proper care while drying and curing cannabis.
Any questions? I’ll answer them in the comments. So feel free to ask away!
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On a final note, we want to wish you the best of luck with your yield. We know all too well what it’s like putting your heart and soul into a grow operation only to have the buds go moldy. But we also know how great it is when everything works out for the best!
Thanks again! And…happy growing!