Q. I’m ready to harvest my indoor grow. How do I trim and dry my buds?
A. There are a few different ways to chop your buds, but I’ll show you the best way I’ve found to trim and cure.
You planted your seed, you babied it for four months, by now, you have many hours of labor into your pride and joy. Now it’s time to chop it down. All your work could be ruined if this last step isn’t done correctly.
Let’s take a look at the things we will need before we start.
1. A place to hang and dry your harvest. You’ll need a tent or a room that has airflow, odor control, and a humidity of about 60%. The place to hang your bud should be dark or dimly lit. When you hang your harvest, it can be pretty dank, so you’ll need the same odor control you have in the flower room.
2. A good set of shears. A good set of scissors makes all the difference in the world. You’ll also need some wire cutters or heavy duty scissors to cut the thick branches.
3. Vinyl gloves will prevent your hands from getting smelly and sticky.
4. An airtight container to cure and store your cannabis.
Let’s get started:
1. Use your heavy duty scissors or wire cutters to cut your branches. Cut a few branches off the plant, while it’s still in it’s pot. Then get straight to trimming. If you let the branches sit around for too long, the fan leaves wont break off the branch as easily, and leaves get limp and are harder to trim.
NOTE: Some people prefer to hang the entire plant with all leaves attached up to dry, and trim leaves later. The advantage to that method is it slows down the drying process, creating better tasting bud. The disadvantage is it is much more difficult to trim wilted or dried leaves off your bud.
2. Pull out the large fan leaves by hand. Pull each large fan leaf downward with your thumb and index figer, and it will break off easily (as long as the plant is well hydrated). Try to hold it by the branch, not the bud. Keep your hands off your bud as much as possible. This will give you the best looking end result. If the fan leaf doesn’t come out easily, you can use your middle finger to push back on the bud (as you can see in this picture). You will have some fan leaves that have a TINY bit of frost. You can throw them away or keep them. I throw them away.
3. Now that all the big fan leaves are off and in the trash can, it’s time to pull off any leaves that have frost on them (aka sugar leaves). We will throw these in our trim container and later we can make BHO, RSO, coconut oil, butter, ice hash, dry ice kief, whatever. Pull off all you the sugar leaves you can. It’s easier to pull them off than to cut them out. The more you can pull out, the better your finished bud will taste, since you won’t be smoking so many leaf stems.
That’s some frosty goodness right here! It’s great medicine so don’t throw it away. At first you may be confused about which tiny leaves to pull out and which ones to trim out. In my opinion, if it is covered with frost, that’s medicine, and you can leave it on. However, leaf stems don’t taste as good as bud, so it’s a trade off. Find a happy medium, and don’t get worry too much.
In a future article, I’ll show you how to make medicine out of these sugar leaves, including some delicious peanut butter cups:
When you’re done pulling out all the smaller frosty fan leaves, your bud should look like this:
4. It’s time to start trimming with the scissors. Make sure you have a big tote like the one you see above for the trim to fall into. Hold the scissors up to the bud as shown, and start trimming off any leaves coming out of the bud.
Notice I’m holding it by the branch. I close and open the scissors rapidly and turn the leaves into them, rather than moving the scissors around the bud. This part takes some practice. With time, you should be able to trim about 2oz of dried bud, per hour.
5. Final trim. You can see a few leaves in the middle that didn’t get trimmed well, because they don’t protrude from the bud. If you’re a connoisseur, and want the finest tasting smoke, you’ll need to get in the with the tips of your shears to get to it. If you’re not picky, leave it.
IMPORTANT: While trimming, you WILL stink up your house or apartment. Since you’ve been there the entire time, you may not notice how dank the smell is. If you live in an apartment, your neighbors WILL smell it. If you live in a house, you have a little more freedom, but if you get a knock on the door, just opening the door, the visitors will smell it. When you’re done trimming, change your clothes before going out.
6. Hang the branch on a wire hanger and then put it in an area that is odor controlled, and about 60% humidity. I hang from the ceiling in the vegetative growth room. It is ok if the bud gets a little ambient light but no direct light! The buds should hang for about 4 days in 55-65% humidity. A fan should be running in the room, but don’t blow it on on buds, or they may dry too quickly.
NOTE: Some people cut the buds off the branches and / or lay branches in a drying rack. I prefer to hang branches on a wire clothes hanger for a few reasons:
>>>> When the buds are attached to the branch, they dry slower. Slower dry = better tasting smoke.
>>>> If the buds are resting on a drying rack, the weight of the bud tends to make a flat spot on the bud.
>>>> Some medicine is left behind on the drying rack. That wastes medicine, and now you have a dank drying rack you need to store somewhere.
>>>> The best “bag appeal” is achieved when branches are hung, instead of them rolling around in a drying rack.
7. After 4 – 5 days, when we squeeze a bud, it should feel somewhat dry, not wet and spongy. When we bend a branch, it should not be so dry that it snaps, but it should fracture slightly. If we leave them hanging any longer, the outside of the buds will get too crispy. It’s time to take them down. Use your own judgement here.
8. Now it’s time to cut the buds off the branches into our drying container. Use a container that is long and flat, like you see in this picture. Cut the buds off the branches into the container. The buds should be no more than 2″ deep. Put the lid on the container and let it sit for 4 hours. Come back and check your buds.
After 4-6 hours, you should notice the buds have become spongy. This is because the INSIDE of the bud is more moist than the outside. Keeping them closed up, evens out the moisture thru the entire bud (some people refer to this as “Sweating” the buds). Take the lid off, and let it sit for about 5 hours, or until the buds feel dry again. Be sure the buds are not sitting in direct light, as this may degrade the quality.
Keep repeating this, over and over for 2-3 days, turning the bud over gently. You will know when you are done, when you can’t tell a difference after the lid has been on or off for 6 hours.
IMPORTANT: If you leave the buds in the closed container for too long (before they are completely dry), the buds could mold, wasting your entire harvest. Set an alarm and don’t forget to check it. Error on the side of letting them get too dry, rather than staying too moist.
When you’re done, dried bud should look like this:
9. Now it is time to put your bud in a glass jar, or other sealed container, such as a “c-vault”. The perfect humidity is around 60-62%. Open the jar (aka “burp”) for 10 minutes, once a day for the next week, and check your buds to make sure they are not spongy or too moist. If you notice they are spongy, they were put in the jar too soon. I cannot stress this point enough. You’ve done all this work, don’t ruin it now, by rushing the drying process.
I use a “Boveda” 62% humidity back in my containers. This is no substitute for “burping” your jars.
10. After another week (2 weeks from being cut), your bud is smoke-able. But the taste and potency will get much better after a month or two. This is because of the natual decarboxylation process (the process that turns thca into THC).
Enjoy your harvest, and remember, nothing good comes quickly. Take your time with the curing process and you will reap the rewards of great tasting, potent smoke.
Related questions, or comments welcome below.