So you have successfully harvested your buds from mature, healthy outdoor plants. It probably doesn’t resemble the pot that you’re used to smoking, so how do you take the final steps to make it a smokable thing that creates a great high? The key is to dry and store your marijuana properly.
Make sure you are paying close attention to the details and take your time. Dry your marijuana in a cool and dark place with temperatures around 60 and humidity of 60. Patience is key to having a good result.
Why dry your weed
After the point when you are harvesting the marijuana, the production of cannabinoids and resins will stop, and the potency of the product will only decrease from then on. The process of drying your marijuana will slow down these effects, allowing the end product to maintain its potency far more effectively. A dried plant will burn more evenly, thus making it a great smoke. This is because the drying process results in all the water weight evaporating from the plant.
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Many experienced cannabis growers remember a time early on in their growing career when their impatience resulted in a product that was not very pleasant to smoke. They probably cut, dry, and smoked it far too quickly – before the harvest took place. Because it is mostly made up of water (over 70%), it didn’t smoke well.
Even worse, this type of weed wouldn’t even get you high. This is because the process of drying actually triggers the cannabinoids. Therefore, patience is key. After all your time and effort to get this far, don’t waste it by being impatient now.
How to dry outdoor marijuana buds
As you have probably come to realize by now, every aspect of growing your marijuana plants comes with choosing which method is best for you. Drying your harvest is no exception. Some are fast and simple while others are a bit more difficult. All of these methods are doable by anyone, however, don’t choose the simplest one just because it’s easier. Remember, patience is key, and you should choose whichever method is best for your personal preference.
The first method is the slowest one but has a high payoff because it is the most effective. The end product simply smells and tastes the best. All you need to do for this method is hang your buds up so they are upside down. This should be done in a dark, drafty place that is secure, with windows that are sealed as well. Temperature should be around 65. Make sure there is plenty of air circulation – but keep in mind that this means the smell will be extremely strong.
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This is why security is key for this method: use a closet or some other secure location. Be very careful when you choose the best place to do this. If you dry your marijuana plants in your house or a shed in the garden it’s wise to install a carbon filter that neutralizes the smell.
In order to avoid any mold from accumulating, place a fan in the room (or closet) for plenty of ventilation. Keep the plants separate, just in case one of them does develop mold – this will keep it from spreading to the other plants. If you want to make the process go faster, try removing green leaves and stems, as they are where most of the water is stored.
Do not try speeding up the process by drying the plants in the sunlight, since that will suck out the potency, color, and even their taste. It could also ruin their texture, making them more brittle and, therefore, less pleasant to smoke.
You should also pay close attention to the humidity in the drying room. Humidity levels should be around 60. If it is humid inside, or if it is raining outside, it is even more important to make sure that air is circulating properly.
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This is the riskiest time for mold, which would ruin your harvest completely. Because you would need to make numerous trips in and out of your drying room, you need to choose a secure place where such behavior would not make people curious or suspicious of your actions. Allow between ten and fourteen days for your plants to dry, assuming the harvest is large.
How to quick dry marijuana
If you are feeling particularly impatient, there is one way of drying your marijuana quickly without ruining the freshness and taste completely. Hang them upside down in a dark room, as you would with the slower method, but instead of leaving the room at its normal temperature, you should turn up the temperature to more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most likely you will need to have a heater of some sort for this, whether it’s powered by electricity or gas. You should still keep the room well-ventilated. If you pack the buds tightly together, then quite a bit of cannabis can be successfully dried within a week.
If you don’t have a particular rush, it is better to take that extra week. This is because drying the marijuana plants closer together increases the risk of rapidly spreading mold. Additionally, the fast-drying method could result in them actually drying out too quickly. Buds that have dried too quickly will be too dry and brittle, making them taste worse and smoke unevenly. Also, since the plants would be drying because of the increased temperature, their position in the room could cause different plants to dry at different rates. This also results in an uneven product.
With the fast-drying method, you will need to always be aware of changing conditions and your buds’ reactions to those conditions. You should always be ready to make adjustments accordingly. If the humidity of the room is too high, for example, make sure you add airflow but don’t lower the room’s temperature. Keep the heat evenly distributed within the room – if this happens correctly, your end result should be very good.
The risks are greatly reduced when you are patient and take more time to dry your marijuana buds. The best method is to use a cool, dark room for the drying of your buds over a longer period of time. Patience is key.
Quick drying in the oven
Perhaps you are looking for the best of both worlds, where you quick-dry a small portion of your crop, but use the slower, less risky method for the rest of your buds. Many growers do this, as it allows them to smoke their product about a week sooner than otherwise. The way to do this is through the use of a cookie sheet and an oven.
First, take your cookie sheet (an oven tray will also work fine), and bake your buds for 10 minutes at a temperature of 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, or 65-95 degrees Celsius. The resulting product will be harsher and less tasty than buds that had been dried by hanging, simply due to the fact that the water was actively removed and the chlorophyll in your plant didn’t have time to degrade.
It will maintain the same level of potency as otherwise, making it a good method for your personal use.
There are other risks involved with this method, of course. You need to make sure it doesn’t burn or get too dry because this would completely ruin it. Luckily this is a pretty small risk, as you would have to make a pretty big mistake (i.e. heating your oven to way over 200 degrees Fahrenheit) for that to happen. Don’t dry weed in a microwave!
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You should not use the baking method as a substitute for the other hang-drying methods. It is a good way to allow yourself a “test run” of your marijuana crop to see what the quality is like. It can also keep your supply up for about a week until the main part of the harvest is finished, in case that is your main concern.
No matter what your chosen method for drying marijuana is, you always need to be aware of the main risk: mold. Keep close track of the condition of your buds; examine each one for any of the slightest signs of mold. If you discover any at all, remove those entire buds immediately to avoid a further spread. It can be equally harmful to your plants as any of the other risks when you were actually growing your marijuana.
How to cure dried buds
Although curing is practiced by some marijuana growers, it is not actually a necessary step in ensuring you have a good product in the end. In fact, it will make the weed taste different. It also increases the risk of making a mistake, since the THC could decay if it is done wrong.
Not only that, but improper curing would also cause a color change so the weed at the end would look dark brown, which is most often the color of old or dehydrated cannabis.
More than likely, you haven’t even smoked cured marijuana yourself – so why start now? If nothing else it will add preparation time, making the entire process last even longer than it already does. The majority of marijuana growers are perfectly happy to smoke their uncured marijuana.
The reason some growers insist on curing their marijuana is that, when done perfectly, the weed would smoke more smoothly, and there would be less of a minty taste that comes with fresh cannabis that was grown outdoors. If you would like to give curing a try, you should investigate tobacco curing, as the processes are very much related. Try purchasing a book that describes the process in detail.
How to store dried buds
Do you have a large crop that needs to be properly stored for a longer period of time? There is a simple solution for this. You can simply put your cannabis in the freezer, stored in airtight glass containers or airtight bags (these bake bags are perfect). If it is more convenient, it would also be perfectly fine to use a very cold refrigerator.
Usually, however, a freezer is more secure because it is less frequently used than a refrigerator. Additionally, because a fridge is used more often, the light exposure could cause problems for your cannabis crop, as light degrades THC. Don’t substitute a plastic bag for the glass container, since it can leak.
For short-term storage, you may want to instead use a plastic or tin container. This should not be done for longer than a few weeks.
When you are storing the weed long term, it is crucial that the container is sealed. Unsealed containers could allow the THC to degrade, making the resulting product fairly useless for getting a good high. A leak in the container could also dry out the cannabis too much, which will make it less fresh.
Proper storage is highly important if done right, it results in your cannabis tasting just as fresh after a year of storage as if it was only one day after your harvest. You can accomplish this by having large buds from the beginning, proper drying and good packaging of your weed. Once the one year mark rolls around, you will be able to take out and smoke your stored marijuana and place the freshly grown crop inside for storage.
Should you trim now or later?
There are two camps when it comes to trimming – those who trim as soon as the buds are cut from the stalk, and those who wait until the buds are dry to start trimming. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.
Wet trimming is a popular method because it’s generally a bit faster. There’s no down time waiting for the plant to dry. When the bud is wet, the sugar leaves stick out perpendicularly, and are easier to trim off. As the bud dries, they curl in more closely and can be tougher to clip. This means that wet trimming will generally provide you with a closer cut and a tidier look to the bud.
However, because the trichomes haven’t dried and hardened into little crystals at this point, they’re more vulnerable to damage and extra care should be taken to not destroy them.
If you decide to dry trim, you have the option of trimming as you have time. With wet trimming, you’ll need to be prepared to process all your plants at once. If this is more than you can handle alone, make sure you have a crew lined up and ready to go.
The biggest benefit of dry trimming, though, is that the sugar leaves protect the bud as it dries and allow the trichomes to fully harden and form the crystals you’re looking for in high-quality weed. This means that dry trimming typically produces a better smoking experience, with less of that grassy or hay-like flavor that you want to avoid.
Ultimately, the choice to wet or dry trim is a personal one. Wet trimming will be faster, but dry trimming will boost the quality of your buds. Only you can decide which is the right option for your product.
Using a Trim Machine
There are some purists out there who would never dream of using a trim machine, and they’re hesitant for good reason. There are still trim machines on the market today that chew up the bud, destroying trichomes and wasting half the product. If you’re looking for a bud trimmer, it’s important to do your research on the science and engineering behind the product, making sure that it processes the buds gently, without causing damage, and uses high quality parts that won’t break down, harvest after harvest.
Using a trim machine allows you to much more easily process large volumes of cannabis, which means that your time to market is reduced and you’re less likely to get overwhelmed with a buildup of product just waiting to be trimmed.
This also means that you’ll be able to get away with a far smaller crew for processing. Most farmers agree that the fewer people you have in and out of your grow, the better, particularly where security is concerned.
You’ll be able to achieve more consistent results when you use a trimming machine. If you’re hiring a crew of hand trimmers, some of them will have the skill and the eye to perfectly trim a bud. Some will not. If you’re using a bud trimmer, every flower will be handled consistently, which means that there won’t be huge variations in the quality of the trim job.
Of course, the biggest benefit to using a trimming machine is the cost savings. The larger your grow, the more savings you’re likely to experience. Consider that it usually takes the average person about a day to hand-trim a pound of weed. Trimming machines, on the other hand, can trim 10 or more pounds in an hour, depending on the style. When you consider that one person can often run several trim machines simultaneously, your savings quickly add up. Kairos Trimmers, the manufacturer of a dry trimmer called the Cultivator, reports that implementing a trim machine into your processing can reduce labor and overhead costs by around 80% or even more.
With the careful selection of the right machine, you can improve the consistency of your trim, process much larger volumes, and maximize your earnings.
FAQs About Drying Marijuana
A dried plant burns more uniformly, which makes it a perfect smoke. This is because the drying process has the effect of evaporating all the water weight from the plant.
If you feel especially impatient there is one way to dry your weed quickly without completely losing the freshness and flavor. Hang them upside down in a dark room as you would in the slower approach except instead of leaving the room at its usual temperature, switch the temperature up to more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can easily place your marijuana in the fridge, packed in airtight glass containers or airtight bags (perfect for these bake bags). If it is more convenient, using a very cold refrigerator is also fine.
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