How to dry buds without hanging

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Are you all done growing? Once you’ve cultivated and harvested your plants, it’s time to put the finishing touches via drying and curing. Typically, the industry and community use a hang dry method or a combination of that and other solutions like rack and screen drying (see ILGM’s complete Drying guide for more details), but do you know how to dry buds without hanging the entire plant?

This article explains how to dry marijuana buds without hanging. We’ll also discuss the optimal times to dry your plants without hanging and how to do it right. 

Drying marijuana buds in a rack
Drying buds in a rack

Is Rack/Screen Drying for You?

While most growers opt for hang-drying, rack/screen drying is also an option. Knowing how to dry buds without hanging them is helpful because it lets you optimize your space while processing you. If you are considering this method, the first step is deciding whether or not it is best for you. 

Three factors help determine whether rack and screen drying is the right process for your grow: space, trim preference, and time.  

Space

Many home growers may not have the large space required to hang whole cannabis plants for drying. Keeping this space environmentally controlled is key to drying as well. Remember, we want to go slow with this process, and it takes about 10 – 14 days to dry. Racks and screens can be stacked to optimize small drying rooms. 

Trim Preference

The second factor to consider is trim preference, as in wet trimming vs. dry trimming. There is much to be said about the trimming debate; for now, treat it as a personal preference. The rack and screen drying method can be great for those who prefer to wet trim. It is difficult to dry trim flower that was dried flat because the sugar leaves will stick to the buds more. 

Time

Time is the third factor that comes into play when considering a weed drying rack vs. hang drying. It is quicker to rack and screen dry wet-trimmed flowers than hanging and dry trimming later. This is due to the water content of cannabis in both states. 

A full plant hanging has a lot of water weight. It needs to be dried and then typically dry-trimmed, which means even more biomass is being dried in your space. However, the rack and screen method requires wet trimming, which means the amount of biomass dried is much less and takes less time. 

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    Hang Drying vs. Flat Drying

    Hang drying is less difficult, maintains the flower structure, and can help keep flowers from drying out too quickly. However, expect a longer dry time and plan to dry trim. You can go as simple as a line strung across the dry room or utilize more complex vertical hanging solutions.

    Flat marijuana drying vs hang drying
    Flat drying vs hang drying

    Flat drying reduces drying time and the necessary space, but you’ll need to wet trim first and flip material to avoid flat spots. Some people don’t like doing this, but I prefer wet trimming.  Equipment options can vary from simple baking sheets to screen systems designed for the cannabis space. 

    Flat drying is more work

    One big difference between hang drying and flat drying is the amount of work you’ll do.  For hanging methods, it’s basically “set it and forget it” until the smaller stems are snapping nicely. (Never leave your flower in the dry room until the larger stems snap!)

    When flat-drying cannabis flower, if you set it and forget it, the flower will develop flat spots and not look as exquisite as it could. To prevent this, carefully flip the material at least once a day. This is easy with racks; simply place a second sheet over the first and flip the whole contents onto the new one. With screen methods, you may need to be more careful and creative when quickly flipping materials.

    Drying cannabis flat off the branch will speed up the drying process by a few days, allowing more air to circulate across the material. The buds are wet-trimmed and then snipped off the larger stems or left on stem segments. This reduces the overall biomass in the trim room and the work that your environmental controls have to do. 

    racks vs screen marijuana drying
    racks vs screen

    Flat Drying marijuana buds with Racks vs. Screens

    If you’ve decided on flat drying, up next is the how. Flat rack systems are generally ideal for bulk drying, while screen systems do well with smaller harvests or trim.

    How to dry buds flat with racks & screens

    Rack drying process

    Racks can be stacked 12 or more high on baking tray shelves, typically on wheels to help move them from room to room. These racks are commonly baking sheets, but wire mesh or racks specially designed for cannabis are the best way to dry buds without hanging. As we discussed, this drying method is ideal if you’re constrained on space and/or time or prefer to wet trim.

    DIY dry racking cannabis at home
    DIY dry racking cannabis at home

    Screen drying process

    Screen solutions are typically fabric apparatuses that unfold to hang from the ceiling to create lightweight shelves for drying cannabis flat. There is a drawback to screens, however. They can sometimes “taco” and bend, which will cause the flower to collapse onto itself. Make sure to place the material evenly on the screens to avoid this step.

    How to dry buds without hanging them

    Drying cannabis flowers without hanging the plants is a process. Here’s how you do it:  

    1. Step 1

      Pull off larger fan leaves and cut the plant into smaller pieces. 

    2. Step 2

      Wet trim the smaller pieces using a trim bin to capture the cannabinoid-rich sugar leaf. 

    3. Step 3

      Place trim in an even layer on a screen system to dry. 

    4. Step 4

      Put wet-trimmed flowers on racks in baking sheets or similar materials. Snip the buds free from the main stem when doing this.  

    5. Step 5

      Keep the room dark; maintain a humidity of ~50-60% and a temperature of ~65 Fahrenheit/18.33 Celsius. 

    6. Step 6

      Monitor this daily for 7 – 10 days using small stems to check for snapping and one test bud to squeeze.  

    7. Step 7

      Pull cannabis for further drying (curing) and consumption once the outside of the bud crackles but has some give and/or when the smaller stems have a noticeable snap. 

    Tips for the best results

    Going horizontal means wet trimming first. Other than that, the drying methodology and the ideal environment are similar in both methods. Whether you hang your cannabis or stack it on a rack will not dramatically affect the curing process. However, it may speed it up if you dry herbs without hanging. 

    Ideally, take the drying process slowly to reduce the water quantity and avoid losing any volatile terpenes in your flowers.

    Drying and Curing are necessary steps to protect and perfect your cannabis. Even if you don’t have space to hang dry,  there is a perfectly viable alternative in rack or screen drying your cannabis. Remember, flat rack systems are ideal for bulk drying, and screen systems do well with smaller harvests or trim. With that harvest on the rack drying, it’s time to visit ILGM.com for your next round of seeds! With guaranteed shipping, germination, and high-quality genetics, you’ll be working with your next set of plants in no time. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Cannabis Drying

    What makes a good drying room in terms of temp, humidity, and light?

    A good drying room should be dark with a temperature on the cooler side of 65 F/18 C and relatively high humidity between 50 and 60%. The key here is patience. Keep things low and slow, and you’ll have amazing dry weed in no time.

    What humidity should flower be dried to before curing can begin?

    This varies across the industry and may also vary based on your plans with the flower once cured. In general, the target humidity is between 10 and 15%

    How dark should a drying room be?

    Keep dry rooms completely dark to reduce THC degradation from light and speed up chlorophyll reduction. Any light can impact the quality of your final harvest. 

    Sources:

    Avatar for Rob Sanchez

    Rob Sanchez

    Rob started cultivating in 2011 and worked in Colorado's medical days as a cultivator and hash maker before getting involved in software development for the cannabis industry in the US and Canada. Since then, he continues to pursue cultivation on his own while building better software for the industry and working as a cannabis consultant. He is passionate about cannabis connoisseurship and craftsmanship with a penchant for terpene-rich flower and solventless concentrate. He loves to share his knowledge and experience and to see the community grow.... [Read full bio]

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