You have just spent at least 3 months taking the utmost care of growing your plant to perfection, but it doesn’t stop at the chop! The way you dry, trim, cure and store your cannabis will have quite an effect on the end result including flavour and quality and harshness of smoke. Here are a few tips from the weed nerds at the UKCSC.
Firstly you want to make sure that your plant is ready to harvest. There are several things to take into consideration here. Has the plant growing medium been flushed with fresh clean water for the last 10-14 days? This is important to do as it removes excess nutrients, fertilisers and plant wastes from the soil or water tank so the plant can have a more natural finish by using up the food stored in it’s leaves. This is why some plants get that eye catching fade on towards the end. This is something to aim for and can also help the calyxs to swell. If you don’t flush your plants properly you may have excess chemicals in the plant that are not healthy to ingest or smoke, you will get a dark ash and a harsh smoke and taste.
Secondly you want to make sure you have got yourself a harvest scope so you can take a magnified look at the trichomes on the buds. You want to see mostly cloudy with some turning gold or amber which are mature trichomes and fewer that are clear. The most common flowering time most breeders give is 8 weeks but often they could be left longer if these two points have not been reached yet.
Prepare an area to do your trimming. You want to make sure that it is clean, dust free and if possible a surface that you can wipe down afterwards. Chop off all the fan leaves from the plant. Drying with the fan leaves on if they are still very green can leave a stronger taste of chlorophyll in the final product. Most people do not use the fan leaves and dispose of them either in a bin or add it to their compost pile which provides a brilliant boost to it. If you have grown organically you can dry these out, crush them to dust and use them to add into a flour mix for a fruit crumble pie with quite the sedative effect!
DO NOT leave them to sit in a bag and go mouldy in your grow room.
Decide where you are going to dry. This can be in the tent that they have grown in or a separately prepared space. You need to make sure there is air still being exchanged from the space they are hanging in so that they do not start to rot, it needs to be of low humidity so the buds actually dry and needs to be clean so there is no risk of mould spores or any other contaminants infecting your hard work – especially if people are going to be using this as medicine.
Choose if you are drying on the plant as a whole or if you are going to break it down into branches and put on string hung across the tent/space used; or even straight down into buds off of all the stems and laying them in a net drying rack. Hanging the whole plant can take slightly longer as the stalks and stems contain more moisture. This process can take between 7 days and 2 weeks and although early on it may seem like it is dry on the outside there will still be a lot of moisture inside of the bud. A good way to tell when it is ready is when the bud stem has a slight flex to it but produces a nice snap sound when bent enough.
NB. You may wish to manicure your buds fresh before hanging but this is entirely down to personal preference or if you want to use the fresh trim for another reason such as making fresh frozen ice hash.
Prepare an area to do your trimming. You want to make sure that it is clean, dust free and if possible a surface that you can wipe down afterwards. You will need 2 containers large enough for the trim and the buds that you are going to be manicuring, some small scissors or fiskers, some Isopropyl alcohol (or alcohol hand gel) and some powder free latex gloves. Into one of the containers, snip off the leaves from their stems. Try not to leave the crows feet on the buds, even if it is coated in resin still as this will all still go to good use. Removing the foliage from the buds, even this small amount of leaf will improve the flavor and reduce the harshness of the smoke (if the bud is being smoked). Place the finished manicured buds into the spare container.
EXCESS TRIM STORING & USE
Once you have removed the extra sugar leaf from the flowers you will be left with still usable material. DO NOT throw this away! The resin is still valuable and there is a wide range of products you make with this. Bubble hash or oil concentrates, edibles or topical creams and balms are the most common end results of trim. The best way to store it though if you aren’t going to use iut straight away is to put it in in an air lock or zip food bag/ storage container and place it in the freezer where it will retain its freshness. You can do this either with dry trim or fresh off the plant and it is a necessary step if you are going to make hash with either solvents like alcohol or butane or if you are going to use ice water for your hash extraction.
After all that hard work it would be nice to get the best out of the buds and resin you have so eagerly grown. Some people like to stick the buds straight into glass jars or a sealed container. Sometimes it may be necessary to take one extra step and put them in paper bags for a few days to draw out any excess moisture. It all comes down to how you prefer your flowers.
NB The time of year may have an effect on which method you need to use here in the UK. Burp your jars to change the air every day for the first few days, twice if needed and then once a week for a couple of weeks; then they should be good to be left for a couple of months to mature.
Make sure to store them in a cool dark space without largely fluctuating temperatures and certainly no higher than 24 degrees which would damage the potency and the flavor. This process helps the active ingredients naturally decarboxylate converting the THCa>THC and CBDa>CBD from its acid form into its bioavailable form that has full effects desired. While it can still be effective after a couple of weeks, cannabis cured for 2-4 months is where you get the best result and matured terpenes – the essential oils that give the strain its smell and effect. Hydroponically grown cannabis can sometimes lose its vitality after 6 months but soil will continue to mature for a bit longer. Check out our advice on being self sufficient. Ditch that dealer.