Drying is perhaps the most critical step in preparing marijuana. Most users deem it more crucial than harvesting itself because it has a significant impact on the quality of your product. If done incorrectly, you could end up ruining your entire harvest, which translates to a substantial loss of money. This is why you need to take extra care of your weed when it approaches the drying phase.
Introduction to Drying Your Marijuana
Although it can be tempting to harvest marijuana before it is properly dried, it is not worth it. Patience is vital to ensuring that you get a high-quality product. Besides being a waste of resources, hurrying the drying phase is a waste of time – consider the energy and period that elapsed between the planting and harvesting phase.
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Ideally, the drying phase should last for one week to 30 days. If the period is shorter than a week, you will get a product with an odd taste. Conversely, if it takes more than a month, it will rot and get a lot of fungi.
It might be challenging to master the drying process if you are a novice, but you get better the more you do it. Some of the things you learn with time are the amount of spacing required between the buds when drying and the time it takes for the product to dry in that space.
Additionally, you will know the best spot to hang your marijuana while it dries. After this, you learn when to put the dried cannabis in glass jars and cure them. If you follow the right steps, you are almost guaranteed to get the perfect product.
The following is a systematic guide on how to achieve a high-grade marijuana harvest.
1. Why You Should Dry Your Marijuana
Before delving into the details about drying your cannabis buds, you need to know the significance of the process and how to execute it to perfection. The primary reason for drying marijuana is to improve its texture and flavor. If done incorrectly, this process can ruin your entire batch, which is disappointing, given the hard work you put in growing this plant.
Drying is considered by many, both novices and seasoned growers, to be one of the most excruciating processes in growing marijuana. Because it takes time, you need to be patient during this phase.
Simply put, it is the most critical thing about drying. However, it usually assures you of a high-quality product.
Here are the reasons why drying marijuana is vital.
It Improves Flavor and Texture
If you want your marijuana to burn smoothly and produce a pleasant flavor, you need to grow and dry it properly. The terpenes affect the smell and taste of your weed, and they have an impact on the psychoactive effects of every strain.
Preservation of Terpenes and Cannabinoids
Terpenes evaporate at different temperatures. Some vaporize in conditions slightly below room temperature. When you perceive fragrant odors from your weed, it means that the buds are losing their terpenes. This often occurs if you dry the marijuana improperly.
Alteration of Marijuana’s Effects
Myrcene is a vital terpene that has anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant qualities. It also helps in fighting anxiety and facilitates the crossing of THC across the blood to the brain. Since this element evaporates at 68 Fahrenheit, speeding up the drying process can damage it. Besides adding a pleasant odor to cannabis products, terpenes add to their potency.
For the reasons mentioned above, it is advisable to dry marijuana at low temperatures in a room with moderate humidity. More importantly, you need to be patient.
2. How to Dry Weed
Once you know the significance of drying marijuana, the next item on the list is learning how to do it.
The process starts with cutting off buds, followed by trimming and culminates in drying using various methods. The ideal result should be marijuana buds with a moist interior surface and a dry exterior surface. When you achieve this, the product is ready for curing.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to dry marijuana.
Step 1: Cutting Your Plants
Many growers start by tying a plant at its base and hang upside down to allow it to dry. Some people prefer cutting individual branches and hanging them for drying, while others cut off individual buds and lay them out for drying.
Regardless of your preferred approach, you need to cut off branches and buds at the right time to maintain your product’s quality.
Cutting is a relatively easy process because you can harvest your plant piece-by-piece. You can cut the entire plant and hang it upside down or remove individual branches and let them out to dry. If you choose to cut off branches, ensure that their length ranges between 12 to 16 inches.
Step 2: Trimming off Extra Leaves
It is advisable to trim away extra leaves before starting the drying process, or at least the big fan leaves. Some people go a step further and remove the small leaves, but this is optional. The essence of the trimming process is to improve the appearance and quality of your marijuana buds.
Although the trimming method you choose depends on your preference, experts recommend that you limit the trimming if you live in a dry region. Conversely, people who live in humid areas should trim as many leaves as possible to quicken the drying process and prevent the formation of mold.
If your region experiences too much humidity, it would be best if you separated the buds from the branches when drying to avoid any inconveniences.
For regions with low humidity, you can spare a few fan leaves when trimming to ensure that a reasonable amount of plant matter remains after trimming. This also ensures that the plants dry at the recommended rate.
If your location has moderate humidity, the best way to dry your product is by hanging it upside down.
The two types of trimming are wet trimming and dry trimming. In wet trimming, the extra leaves are removed when the plant ripens and is ready for harvesting, whereas, in dry trimming, the branches are cut when the leaves mature and hang them upside down to dry.
Below is an overview of the benefits of each of the trimming methods.
Benefits of Wet Trimming
If you prefer wet trimming, it would be best to start the process after cutting the plant before you begin the drying phase.
Wet trimming is ideal for growers with limited space in their farms. It is also suited for beginners because it is simple and straightforward.
On the downside, the plants tend to become sticky. For this reason, it is useful to wear latex gloves when wet trimming to avoid this mess. It would also help if you keep a rag beside you for cleaning your hands and tools. It is also important to maintain patience because the process takes time.
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Benefits of Dry Trimming
In dry trimming, you clip the extra leaves and excess plant material as soon as they are dry. This approach is mostly used in arid regions since keeping more leaves increases the humidity around the buds, which slows the drying process.
As mentioned earlier, slow drying prevents the vaporization of terpenes. Because the marijuana used is dry, this method of trimming is not as messy as wet trimming.
The only challenge of using this trimming method is the brittleness of trichomes, which makes them susceptible to breaking. You have to be extra careful to avoid breakages. Dry trimming is ideal when growing marijuana is at a commercial level.
Step 3: Slow-Drying
Most first-time growers are often curious why experts recommend drying cannabis buds slowly.
The reason why the process takes time is that an extended drying period improves your product’s quality and flavor. The ideal drying conditions for marijuana are temperatures ranging between 65 Fahrenheit and 75 Fahrenheit and a humidity of 50%.
If you want to regulate humidity, you can use a heater to reduce it, and an air conditioner or a dehumidifier to reduce it. Other appliances that help in increasing humidity include humidifiers and evaporative coolers.
Whatever you do, never dry your marijuana using a microwave. This is because it could create a product with adverse side effects like headaches and paranoia. Moreover, your marijuana loses many terpenes and cannabinoids when heated at temperatures exceeding 80 Fahrenheit.
Most people like hanging their plants upside down when drying, although you can use alternatives like drying racks.
Step 4: Further Slow-Drying
It is worth reinstating that patience is vital to ensuring you get high-quality marijuana. If your buds dry in less than four days, it is likely that you hastened the process. However, there is no need for worries because it can be challenging to balance all the conditions needed for perfect drying. After handling several batches, you master the process and become less error-prone.
Suppose your marijuana buds are moisture-free after an extensive drying period, it is worth noting that curing will take in that case, and you will need extra patience.
Step 5: Preparing Buds for Curing
If you choose to hang the buds upside down during the drying phase, they will be ready for curing when their exterior surface is entirely dry. Despite being dry on the side, the buds are not usually brittle. Small stems tend to snap when pressed but the bigger ones might still bend.
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When the buds are completely dry, the smallest one snaps off without leaving any string behind. Strings are an indicator that the product still has a lot of moisture on its interior surface. The buds can be dry, but if the bigger branches can still bend, it shows that they have a little moisture inside them. This water comes out through the buds at the curing phase.
In case you opt for a drying method where buds are separated from the stems, put them in a jar as soon as their exterior surface becomes dry. The objective of this is to remove the moisture in the middle of the buds, which facilitates curing and prevents the formation of mold.
3. Alternative Methods to Dry Your Marijuana
Drying ensures that your cannabis buds have the right texture and a desirable flavor. The best drying method for your needs depends on your level of patience and the size of your farm.
Here are some of the methods used when drying marijuana buds.
Hanging Plants Upside Down
The best thing about the upside-down hanging method is its affordability. You can use a string or hangers to hang the plant. If your buds start getting soggy and wet, or if the humidity levels are high, it would help if you installed a small fan to improve airflow and prevent mold infestation in your drying area.
When using a fan, avoiding pointing it directly at the buds to prevent over-drying. If you must use one, point it at an adjacent wall.
Using a Drying Rack
You need to separate the stems from the buds if you want to use a drying rack. This method is perfect for people living in regions that experience high humidity levels. While it is costlier than hanging upside down, using a drying rack dries your buds faster. This explains why commercial growers are increasingly investing in mesh drying racks.
Using a Cardboard
Another method of drying involves spreading your buds on a flat surface, such as cardboard. However, you need to continually turn the buds to prevent the formation of wet spots. You could also use a fan to speed up the process, provided you do not point it directly at the buds.
Using a Convection Oven
If you have a large batch of marijuana that needs drying, the best method to use is a convection oven. The oven can be either electric or gas-powered.
The process starts by spreading the product at the bottom of a large pan, followed by placing it in an oven with a temperature below 150oF. Too much heat can lower the potency of your cannabis. More importantly, turn the buds every 15 minutes to prevent over-drying.
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Using a Grow Tent
You can also dry marijuana buds by placing them in paper bags or grow tents. The latter has a special design that simplifies the process. Moreover, they are easy to set up, provide the perfect protection for your plants, and do not cost you a lot of money. That said, they are not suitable for large-scale growth.
The most crucial aspect of this drying method is where you place your marijuana buds. It should be accessible to enable you to check out on them regularly. The inspection should go on until you are familiar with how buds dry in your environment.
Using a Microwave
Microwaves are used by growers with small amounts of weed. Ensure that you set the microwave at half power to prevent overheating. Also, turn the buds every 15 minutes, followed by a two-minute cooling window. Repeat this until the product is dry.
Using Dry Ice
Using dry ice for drying cannabis buds is the newest approach that is popular among novice growers. The reason why seasoned growers do not endorse this method is that it can ruin the taste of your product and cause side effects like headaches and paranoia when smoked.
The most significant benefit of using dry ice is that it is less risky because the buds are not exposed to heat or light.
After purchasing the dry ice, put a layer on a flat surface, and cover it with a paper towel. Then, place the buds at the top. Ensure that the towel you use is made of breathable material to allow gas to escape from it. The buds will be ready for curing as soon as the gas escapes, and they will feel dry but not brittle.
4. Mistakes to Avoid when Drying Marijuana
Growers tend to make avoidable mistakes that jeopardize the quality of their products. The most crucial thing to observe is the color of the trichomes, as it tells you when the plant is ready for harvesting. When the hue is right, the plant has its peak potency because the terpenes and cannabinoids are at optimum levels.
During the flowering period, the color of the trichomes changes from transparent to milky. This means that the best time for harvesting is when most trichomes are milky, and some buds have an amber hue.
At the conditions mentioned above, cannabinoids and terpenes are at their optimum, meaning that the weed has its best flavor, aroma, and potency.
The following are some of the mistakes you need to avoid if you want to get high-quality marijuana:
Harvesting Wet Product
When your trichomes turn milky, start preparing how you will cut them. The most common mistake done by growers at this phase is harvesting the plant when the substrate is still wet. Ensure that the water content in your product is minimum to avoid inconveniences during the drying phase.
If you want to speed up the drying process, trim the buds thoroughly before you hang them out to dry. Although the volume of the product will reduce significantly, drying will take a shorter time.
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Over-Handling the Buds
It is essential to avoid over-handling the flowers during the cutting and trimming phases. This also applies when you are hanging the plants.
Flowers have several compounds that impact the flavor of your product. However, their delicate nature means that they need careful handling.
Neglecting the Infected Parts
After cutting, you need to assess every bud thoroughly before hanging them to dry. The essence of this examination is to look out for any infected parts.
In most cases, fungi such as botrytis and powdery mildew affect the plants at this stage. it is vital to spot and remove the infected buds before the infection spreads and ruins your entire batch.
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Improper Humidity When Drying
You need to optimize the humidity level in your drying room. This is because it correlates with the speed of the drying process, as well as the quality of the end product.
The objective of the drying phase is to make the process slow and uniform. This entails maintaining humidity and temperature at a constant level until the process is complete. The ideal humidity level for drying cannabis buds ranges between 50% and 60% Relative Humidity. If it is lower than 50%, the drying process is faster than recommended, and if it is higher, the drying process is slower with a higher risk of fungal infections.
Although it is vital to keep the humidity levels in your drying room at a constant, it does not mean that you need to keep the air stagnant throughout the period. A perfect solution to improve the airflow in your drying room is using a grow tent.
If you do not have a grow tent, you can use a small fan instead. It is advisable to avoid pointing the fan directly at the buds because it can make the plants dry too fast. Remember that the process must be slow and uniform.
Temperature and Light in the Drying Room
Like ventilation and humidity, incorrect temperature levels and too much sunlight can ruin the quality of your entire batch. A temperature exceeding 77 Fahrenheit makes your plants dry too fast. The ideal temperature range for drying is from 64 to 68 Fahrenheit.
The problem with drying your marijuana under direct sunlight is that it degrades the quality of the contents in the trichomes, resulting in a product with reduced potency.
That said, the best conditions for drying your weed is a cool place that has adequate ventilation and a relatively low amount of light. With these, you will avoid the errors that can reduce the potency and quality of your product.
What Separates Good Weed From Bad Weed? Characteristics of Quality Marijuana
Whether you smoke weed for recreational or medicinal purposes, it is essential to know the difference between good and bad because it helps you make smarter and healthier purchases.
The most crucial determinant of marijuana’s quality is the care afforded to it from cultivation to harvesting. For instance, some growers choose buds with a low concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes to focus on other qualities, such as a particular flavor.
With this in mind, you can eliminate trivial debates like indica against sativa. Instead, you will focus on important factors that affect the quality of marijuana.
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What Inputs Were Used for Cultivation?
High-quality marijuana comes from plants that get the proper care. On the other hand, plants that are watered irregularly, get limited light, and receive inadequate carbon dioxide tend to produce low-quality weed with unpleasant flavors and several adverse effects.
Every plant requires nutritious soil, frequent watering, an optimum amount of natural sunlight, and other elements like carbon dioxide, proper humidity, and sufficient space for growing.
Outdoor growers and small-scale DIY farms can experience typical product flaws associated with improper plant care, such as excess fiber in the leaves, low cannabinoid levels, and too many leaves with a few buds.
Does an Experienced Grower Trim and Monitor the Plant?
Besides the basic needs such as water, soil, and sunlight, high-quality weed stems from years of scientific research.
One of the most crucial skills in growing marijuana is trimming. The leaves of the cannabis plant are not a desirable component of the end product because they produce smoke with an unpleasant flavor and low concentration of cannabinoids. By trimming the plant expertly, the grower can optimize the product’s potency, flavors, scent, and visual appearances.
Other advanced tactics used to improve the psychoactive effects of marijuana include the pumping of carbon dioxide as the buds mature and flushing nutrients to the plant periodically.
How Accurate Were the Curing and Handling Phases?
The production of high-quality marijuana does not end at the harvesting phase – you also need to cure and handle the product properly.
The most apparent signs of poor curing include brown and dark green flowers with a papery texture. Besides making the weed unpleasant to smoke, incorrect curing degrades the flavors and psychoactive effects of your cannabis. Even worse, some growers pack flowers densely and use a pollen box to shake off trichomes. These practices reduce the potency of weed and give them a dense and unappealing texture.
Conversely, a quality marijuana bud is light and has a fluffy appearance. However, it crumbles easily. It should never be too dry or too wet.
What Is the Genetic History of the Plant?
The genetic history of a plant determines the quality of the product it produces. Advanced genetic engineering can create cross-breed seeds that grow into buds with a fantastic smell, flavor, aesthetic appeal, and psychoactive effects.
The best thing about genetic diversity is that everybody can choose their preferred variant and change to another whenever they feel like. Some of the qualities you can look at include:
- Unique flavors, scents, and visual appearance.
- The amount of trichome growth
- The balance of cannabinoids and terpenes to produce a particular psychoactive effect
- Consistency in cloning and offspring production
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Other Factors to Consider when Growing Weed
Although many growers tend to overlook them, stealth and smell control are essential aspects of marijuana cultivation.
One of the most characteristic qualities of marijuana is its unique, pungent smell. Despite its delightfulness, this odor can bring some issues to growers.
Luckily, it is easy to implement smell control measures in your growing room. You can adopt two approaches – scrubbing the smell off or devising ways to conceal it.
If you are a small-scale grower, the better choice is covering up the smell. If you have a big farm, you need to scrub the smell off to prevent getting attention from nosy neighbors.
The best option for scrubbing odors from the air are carbon filters. These devices use activated carbon that absorbs smells and other impurities in your growing room. For optimum results, use the filter in a sealed grow tent as a part of the exhaust system.
On the other hand, the best way to cover up marijuana’s smell is by using odor neutralizers. These products have strong fragrances that help in restoring the smell of air to normal. It is worth noting that household products do have an odor that is strong enough to cover up the smell of weed.
Avoid using ozone generators for two reasons; they are not as effective as carbon filters and they are not eco-friendly.
The first step to achieving stealth when growing marijuana is implementing effective smell control measures. Besides this, it also helps if you avoid selling your weed. Stats show that people who grow cannabis for personal use are less likely to experience legal troubles than those who sell it. This applies in all states, including those that have legalized recreational use of marijuana.
Additionally, only a few people should know that you grow weed. The more people know about your project, the more likely you are to experience a burglary or brush shoulders with the authorities. If possible, keep it to yourself. You can be shocked at how fast information spreads once one individual knows about your growing room.
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This article offers a comprehensive and systematic guide on how to dry your weed properly and get a high-quality and potent end product. While drying weed is a painstaking and time-consuming process, you get a sense of satisfaction when you eventually try out the product.
Keep in mind that your preference, the amount of money you have, the climate of your region, and the size of your harvest influence the best method for drying your batch.
Ensure that your plant does not have a wet substrate before you start the cutting phase. Proper ventilation improves the circulation of air in your drying room and reduces the risk of fungal infections. After drying, put the buds in a glass jar for curing before you start smoking them.
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