Best practices to achieve a superior wet trim
THE BIG CHOP
Before the light/dark cycle reaches its peak for flowering, check your outdoor plants at regular intervals. Especially as they approach the flushing phase. Due to the wet chilly climate that many growers battle this time of the year, it is a good idea to inspect each plant for broken branches or any other low-hanging parts.
A break in the stem will result in vulnerability to pests, mold, mildew and other pathogens. Remove any severely damaged plant matter and ensure no broken branches are touching the ground; contact with the wet earth will hasten both infestation and illness.
If you are a large-scale commercial grower, you probably have hundreds or even thousands of plants to process. Although expensive equipment is often used to cut such crops, old-fashioned heavy-duty bolt cutters or hand saws can slice through even the thickest stalks.
While cutting down large crops, it is best to temporarily arrange the harvested plants in loose piles on top of plastic tarpaulins or in a wheelbarrow – either approach may also allow for easier transportation of the crop from the field to your drying or trimming location. Try not to leave the plants piled up for too long, or compress them, as the vegetative material will begin to decompose. This can also be an issue when plastic bags are used for long-haul transport or storage.
At this point, some growers choose to remove large fan leaves without any trichomes. One advantage of removing large leaves is to create greater air circulation as the plant dries. It can also save time during the trimming process. However, many old-school farmers leave the fan leaves intact, as they curl around flowers when they dry and protect resin glands. Hang plants to dry in a cool, dry, dark place with a bit of airflow; you can fine-tune available space to suit this purpose.
DRYING CAN MAKE OR BREAK A HARVEST
Four elements are essential when attempting to properly dry cannabis: temperature, moisture, light and ventilation.
Freshly-cut plants should be carefully hung on sturdy drying lines or racks. Whichever method you choose, plants should be kept in a cool, dry and dark location with a hint of air flow, as both light and heat will oxidize the resin in trichomes. Anything above 30% humidity may lead to mold or mildew issues, with gentle air circulation exchanging the gas released from drying plants with clean fresh air.
Those with limited resources can hang plants from a clothesline or heavy-gauge fishing line. Avoid loosely-woven cordage, ropes or natural fibers where possible, as they may absorb moisture and collect dust. Each location involved in the harvesting process should be thoroughly cleaned and prepared prior to hosting the crop. Hang plants with gap in-between to encourage airflow, but close enough to maximize the available space.
Rotate the plants every few days to inspect them. This will also maximize even exposure of the plants throughout drying. Most cannabis plants dry in about two weeks, but crops cultivated hydroponically may require an extra week. Old heads often insist twenty-one days is the magic number to perfectly dry cannabis.
When plants are nearly dry, try to snap a thick branch. Did it break cleanly? Did you hear a distinct “crack”? If so, the plant is dry enough to smoke. However, professional growers will cure cannabis for at least a month after its dry. If the plant’s stalk does not break but remains bendy, there is too much moisture within the buds for curing.
CURING IS DIFFERENT TO DRYING
Curing is essential to achieve the optimal effect and flavor of a specific strain. The presence of residual chemicals can alter potency, but utilizing organic inputs can ensure the taste of cannabis is due to flavonoids and not external components.
Curing allows chlorophyll, used in photosynthesis to convert light into usable energy, to naturally degrade. As chlorophyll biodegrades, the natural flavor is enhanced and the smoke becomes smoother. When bud makes an experienced smoker cough uncontrollably, it is usually due to lingering chemicals that have not been properly flushed.
Some growers put partially dried cannabis in cardboard boxes or bags before curing. If the buds are still moist leave the container open, if they are too crispy keep it closed to ‘sweat’ the buds and redistribute moisture. Over-dried buds can also remain on the stalk a little longer (inside the box or bag) to achieve the same goal. Remove stubbornly damp buds from stalks to expedite drying.
Carefully place buds in glass jars with lids – canning jars work perfectly for this purpose. Pack the buds as close to the jar lid as possible without pressing them together. This keeps out excess air which will oxidize trichomes, taint the flavor and reduce potency. Open and empty jars daily, shaking the jar to encourage air exchange before replacing the cannabis. Store the packed jars in a cool, dry and dark place. Proper curing takes approximately one month. However, you may tailor your curing methods and schedules to suit your needs or to cater to specific strains.
More moisture is extracted as the crop cures. This proves that even ‘dry’ cannabis often contains residual moisture, resulting in a harsh smoke. As the remaining water evaporates, buds may shrink and curing jars may need to be topped up accordingly. A little bit of extra time, planning and effort can ensure that well-grown cannabis becomes a well-processed final product.
***CENTURIONPRO TRIMMING MACHINES OPERATE OPTIMALLY WHEN THE TUMBLER DRUM IS AT 50%-60% CAPACITY.
The video below is a great example of wet trimming with CenturionPro machines.