Cannabis isn’t known as a “weed” without reason. Whether carefully tended by hand in a controlled environment or cast to the wind by nature itself, marijuana finds ways to continue thriving. With that being said, if you are aiming to cultivate and control your cannabis production, then you must come to terms with the drying and curing process.
A critical post-harvest element, to dry and cure your cannabis is to prepare it for consumption, dramatically improving the quality and taste of your bud. Let’s explore this system together as we learn the best methods for drying and curing cannabis fast.
Following Your Harvest: Drying Marijuana
Planning for what will happen after you harvest your crop is almost as important as raising the crop itself. Drying and curing are the methods that follow the cultivation of your plant, preparing the buds to maximize their potency during consumption at a later stage.
Drying as a process will occur after a plant has been harvested when the newly-cut plants are still brimming with moisture. To help stave off this moisture-laden process, cultivators will hang their plants upside down while cutting the flowers off to reduce the overall moisture in the plant.
Once the plants have completely dried, the cultivators will trim the buds before storing them in containers to prevent the loss of aroma and flavor.
Traditionally, the drying process can take between two and seven days, though the process can be shortened during wet trimming. When there is less plant material to dry, the entire process can be sped up.
Creating Your Dry Room
Establishing a valid post-harvest curing room can be pivotal to the overall success of your crop. The amount of overall space you will need depends on the style of cure that you plan to pursue. There are several different methods that you can employ when it comes time to dry your marijuana or hemp plants.
No matter what drying method you plan to use, consider pulling together the following pieces of equipment for the dry room of your garden.
- Hanging rack
- Hygrometer (to track humidity and temperature)
- Fan (for air circulation)
- Air conditioning
- Trimming scissors
Now that we have our tools collected, we can begin harvesting the plants that will be dried. There are a few different techniques we can employ to maximize the efficiency of the drying and curing process, beginning with how we approach the delicate buds.
Manual Trim / Dry
If you want to speed up the drying process, put in some groundwork with your own two hands. Manually trim your plant by removing the fan leaves before hanging the buds out to dry. As these fan leaves retain plenty of water, their removal should help to reduce the humidity levels of the room. Removing leaves can also help to prevent mold from forming.
Working with manual trimmers will allow you the kind of accuracy and sensitivity that trimming machines cannot mimic, leading to an overall cleaner and better product. However, this hands-on experience requires time, patience, and effort.
Brown Paper Bags
Did you know that you could undergo the drying process with brown paper bags? Cut and trim your buds into roughly popcorn-sized chunks. Trim everything down to a manageable size before placing the weed inside of your paper bags. Leave the bags roughly halfway filled to allow for air circulation. The brown bags should be placed in a dry and temp-controlled room.
Agriculture Trimming Machine
If speed is the name of the game, then an automatic trimming machine might be the best way to go. Automated trimming machines are ideal when the goal is to speed up how long it takes to dry and cure your cannabis.
However, automatic trimming machines are much harsher on your plants, causing the loss of THC-drenched pistils as well as bruised, damaged, and battered buds. For all-natural growers, avoid using a trimming machine unless the situation demands it.
A trimming machine can speed up the drying process by dramatically reducing the level of moisture that your plant must contend with.
Hang to Dry
After having been trimmed, your freshly harvested cannabis must be placed in a well-ventilated, dark, and temperature-controlled room where it can be suspended to dry. Avoid humidity and moisture in your drying environment while also preventing exposure to any natural or artificial light. Light exposure at this stage of the game could lead to bleached buds, ruined colors, and lessened taste.
This process can take upwards of three to four weeks depending on your plant, the style of your grow, and your gardening environment.
Curing Your Cannabis
Once our marijuana has been trimmed and dried, it is time to finish off the process by curing. This is a vital postharvest step that adds to the overall quality and smokability of your plants. Once you’ve completed the harvesting of your marijuana, as well as the removal of its moisture, it is time to begin curing.
To cure your cannabis, you will need airtight Mason jars or other glass jars that can be heated in an oven to kill any potential bacteria. Once devoid of bacteria, you can place your dried bud into the container. Remember any moisture in the container can turn into mold or a bacterial infection at a later time.
Avoid Ziploc bags as they are much more likely to retain high levels of moisture, thus hindering the curing process.
Tips for Curing Weed
At this point, we are in the home stretch of the harvest. To properly cure your weed and generate an amazing final product spanning seeds, germination, and harvest, you’ll need some patience.
Curing can take anywhere from 14 to 30 days.
- Make Sure Your Weed is Dry: Weed that is still rich in moisture will quickly begin to turn due to bacterial infections and mold. Check your weed several times before placing it in its final container.
- Perform Regular Inspections: Get into the habit of checking your jars daily. Roughly a third of the jar’s space should be left empty. Gently shake each container to ensure the buds are not stuck together.
- Open Jars Every Three Days: Make sure to properly burp your weed during the process. Open all of your jars periodically, roughly once every two to three days, to help moisture evaporate while offsetting any potential mold.
Within 14 days to a month, the weed you’ve cured should retain only roughly 5% of its moisture levels. If you cure your weed for at least six months, all of the moisture should be gone. During this process, your weed will change in color while retaining its core terpenes and cannabinoids.