Harvest is perhaps the most exciting (and exhausting) time of year for cannabis cultivators. Following months and months of meticulous plant care, endless days of feeding and ensuring the proper lighting (sunshine or indoor lights), nutrients and the overall ideal environment, now it’s time to relish in success as you admire your healthy colas and visualize the size of your yield.
After your cannabis plants are harvested and trimmed, properly drying and curing your flower is the most important aspect of ensuring that your buds smoke to perfection. Improper drying and curing can turn top-shelf cannabis into an unusable crop, throwing away a season of hard work, time and money.
The Drying Process
As simple as the drying process may seem, it is crucial that this step is done correctly. If you dry too quickly, your trichomes may become overly dry. The result is a harsh, dry smoke and terpene degradation that leads to subpar flavors and aromas. Mildew can even result from moisture being trapped deep inside the flower.
Drying can be done on clothes hangers (wire), window screens, clothes drying racks, or any method that you find effective – just be sure there is ample space between the buds and branches to allow airflow and proper ventilation.
Drying, essentially, means your cannabis plants are going into hibernation mode. This means no sunlight or direct intense light should come in contact with your plants. The trickiest part of this process is to properly manage temperatures and humidity levels in your drying room. While everyone has a slightly different process, most growers dry at temperatures between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity level around 50 to 55 percent, sometimes lower.
Proper ventilation is critical. The exact equipment you need will depend on your climate – whether you’re cultivating in a particularly hot, cold, humid or dry environment. At Garden Rebels, we recommend using a scrubber (carbon filter and inline fan) somewhere in the drying room to help keep odor and pathogens at bay. A scrubber helps keep your air clean as well. Fantech’s Revolution Stratos and Vector fans are ideal for ventilating your dry room and even pairing it with your favorite carbon filter to make a highly effective scrubber. Incorporating Fantech’s soon-to-be-launched oscillating fans will also assist in creating a balanced environment where your cannabis can dry to perfection. Temperature and humidity monitors help ensure these levels stay within their ideal range.
In many cases, flower takes between six and 10 days to dry or reduce the water content in your buds down to 10 or 15 percent. You’ll be able to tell that your drying is complete once the stems of your individual cannabis plants snap when you bend them.
The Curing Process
A careful and delicate process, curing helps growers dry out all remaining moisture trapped deep inside the buds. The final product is cannabis flower that can be stored in airtight containers without the risk of molding. Curing also increases the cannabinoid content in your buds, resulting in intense aromas, verdant colors, and mouthwatering flavors.
Curing, the last step in your post-harvest process, may vary timewise depending on your strains and the size of buds. Plan to allow for two weeks for a good cure, after your cannabis has dried (the longer the better, but many don’t have time). Boutique cannabis farmers often buck their buds into 27-gallon stackable totes. Be sure to only fill the plastic containers about ¾ full and label the outside so you know what strain is on there (complete with a track and trace sticker).
For totes that aren’t food grade, you’ll want to use a turkey-bag-type of tote liner. One technique is to open the tote each day, as well as the liner. Wearing gloves, stretch your hands to the bottom and gently bring some flowers up toward to the top. Leave the lid open and let your cannabis flowers sit for 20-30 mins in the drying room. Then seal the liner back up, getting rid of as much air as possible, close the tote and stack your containers. Doing this each day helps your buds constrict while pulling out the terpenes.
Being meticulous with your drying and curing will help guarantee that your cannabis is bursting with the utmost flavor and potency – and ensure a successful season.
If you have questions or aren’t sure where to start, contact the Garden Rebels team. We offer on-site consulting and will help you set up your grow and troubleshoot issues so that you can maximize your yield and revenue stream.