Drying Your Marijuana Plants
Successfully harvesting a good crop isn’t the last step on marijuana grower’s to-do lists. Pot just harvested from outdoor plants is not ready to be packaged, sold, or smoked. First, it has to be dried and cured. This process requires patience and attention to detail, so don’t rush it. You have taken your time to research where to buy weed seeds in the first place, so remember that same sense of patience as you carry on with these final stages of the growing process.
Why Dry Weed?
When growers harvest their marijuana, resin and cannabinoid production stop. From then on, marijuana will only decrease in potency. Drying the crop properly will preserve the THC-laden trichomes and reduce potency loss, ensure that the plant matter will burn evenly, and make it much more enjoyable to smoke.
It’s common for first-time growers to get impatient when it comes time to dry their buds. If they try to sample the fruits of their labor early, growers will find that it isn’t very enjoyable. Don’t despair. The crop isn’t ruined. It just hasn’t been finished yet.
Recently cut marijuana is composed mostly of water. At harvest, plants typically contain over 70% water, which means they won’t smoke well and the resin and cannabinoids won’t be concentrated. In fact, smoking wet marijuana won’t even produce the desired results most of the time, since the drying process actually triggers some of the cannabinoids to become more active. Exercise patience and wait until the crop is fully dried, cured, and ready to smoke.
Choosing a Drying Method
Growers have a few options at their disposal when it comes to drying methods. Although smoking wet product should never be one of them, some of these methods allow growers to start smoking their buds sooner than others. By far the best method for drying marijuana is to do it the old-fashioned way and devote 10 to 14 days to slow-drying the crop, but that’s not the only way to dry buds.
The traditional slow-drying method for drying marijuana remains the most popular because it allows the buds to retain their potency, improves their taste and aroma, and creates a smooth, enjoyable smoking experience. It’s also an easy and low-cost solution.
Growers who want to slow-dry their crops can string up rope inside a dark, dry room, then hang the branches of their plants upside-down from the rope. Make sure the windows are sealed, and the room is secure. The temperature for slow-drying should be kept at around 65 degrees, and growers should ensure proper air circulation and ventilation to reduce the humidity to around 30%.
Slow-drying marijuana will create a strong odor. Growers with reason to be concerned about discretion can either choose secure locations inside their homes such as closets, or they can dry their buds in a garden shed or another outbuilding that has been equipped with an adequate ventilation system. Those who choose the latter method can install an in-line carbon filter to neutralize odors.
Growers who choose to dry their plants indoors can ensure adequate ventilation by placing a fan in the closet or drying room and hanging their plants far enough apart to prevent the spread of mold. Check the buds frequently. If any mold develops, the affected plants should be removed immediately to prevent it from spreading and ruining the entire crop.
Patience is key when it comes to slow-drying. Some novice growers may be tempted to try hastening the process by exposing their plants to sunlight, but that’s a mistake. The sun’s UV rays will reduce the potency of the final product and alter its color, taste, aroma, and texture. It’s not worth the tradeoff of slightly faster drying times. Keep the plants in the dark, maintain low humidity levels and reasonable temperatures, check the plants frequently, and wait at least ten days before test-smoking any of the buds.
Quick-drying marijuana cuts back on the total drying time by about a week, but it increases the chances of crop loss due to mold or drying out too quickly. It also requires heat, so growers will need to spend extra money on electricity or propane. That being said, if time is of the essence, quick-drying is a viable alternative to slow-drying that won’t completely ruin the smoking experience.
To quick-dry marijuana, hang the plants upside down in the drying room, but place them a little closer together. Instead of leaving the room at around 65 degrees, use a heater to increase the temperature to 90 degrees or more. The room should still be well-ventilated and growers should check their buds frequently for mold since they’ll be hanging closer together, which increases the risk of rapid spread.
Growers also need to be careful not to dry their buds out too fast when quick-drying their crops. Buds that dry too quickly will become brittle, which negatively affects how they smoke. The plants may need to be rotated throughout the room periodically, as well, since the increased temperature can cause them to dry at different rates.
Be prepared to make adjustments to airflow and humidity. Quick-drying marijuana is a risky process, especially if growers don’t have the time to check on their plants frequently and respond to changing environmental conditions as fast as possible. Since temperatures as low as 70 degrees Fahrenheit can cause terpenes to degrade, the resulting product may not smell or taste as strong, but it should still be just as potent and provide a smooth smoking experience.
It would be irresponsible to imply that oven-drying marijuana is a viable alternative to traditional drying methods. It’s not. However, growers who want to sample their crops before the drying process has been completed can still use their ovens to quick-dry small portions of buds for personal use.
To oven-dry a small amount of marijuana, just put the buds on a cookie sheet and place them in an oven set to between 150 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. They should be completely dry within around 10 minutes. As a quick side note, it’s never a good idea to try to quick-dry marijuana in a microwave, so don’t try it.
Since oven-drying marijuana actively removes water without giving any remaining chlorophyll in the plants time to degrade, growers shouldn’t expect buds dried using this method to taste very good. As long as growers don’t overdo it, they should retain the same level of potency as slow-dried buds, though, which allows growers to see how strong their products will be.
These days, few growers take the time to cure their marijuana after the drying stage. Curing helps buds retain their potency for longer when performed correctly and can improve the taste and aroma profiles of some strains. Cure your harvested buds in a glass jar with the lid on, and remember to burp them intermittently (at least once or twice a day) for the first few weeks of storage.
When to Trim
Growers need to dry and their buds thoroughly and trim them before they can be cured. Some like to trim wet, while others prefer to wait until the plants have finished the initial drying stage. Either solution is fine, although it’s important to note that trimming wet requires more care, as mishandling of the buds during this stage can destroy their trichomes, which reduces potency.
Once their buds have been trimmed, growers can place them in an airtight container. Most use wide-mouth canning jars, but just about any container will do. Some people even use oven bags, although it’s not wise to use ordinary plastic bags, which can degrade when they come into contact with cannabis terpenes. Don’t compact or crush the buds when packing them into containers.
Seal the containers, and keep them in a dark, dry, cool place. The minute amounts of moisture left in the buds should start rehydrating the outer portions of the flowers by the end of the first day. Make sure to open the containers every few hours to let the moisture escape and check to see how they are curing. Enjoy this opportunity to smell the terpenes developing through the curing stage. Sour Diesel seeds will yield a much different aroma than tangie seeds, and they will become more and more odorous as the days and weeks go on. White widows strain seeds also develop into flowers that smell so strong and skunky.
If the containers smell like ammonia, it means the buds are too wet to be cured. If even the outer flowers look dry and brittle from the beginning, they’re too dry. Curing marijuana takes a certain level of finesse, so pay attention to these little details to avoid losing the crop. Curing isn’t strictly necessary, so those who are nervous about their ability to identify proper moisture levels may want to skip this process entirely.
Two to three weeks of curing is enough to improve the taste and aroma profiles of most strains. Some growers cure their buds for six months or more, but there’s no need for hobby growers to wait anywhere near that long. If they don’t plan on selling their buds to medical dispensaries or entering national marijuana growing competitions, less than a month of curing should be fine.
Safe for Storage
Once buds have been dried and, if applicable, cured, they should be safe for storage. Place them in an airtight bag or glass container in a dry, dark area of the home, store them in the freezer, or get a little more creative and stash the crop in multiple locations throughout the property. If it’s been properly dried, it should be fine.
The Bottom Line
While curing marijuana is an advanced technique that requires some specialized knowledge and skill, drying is an absolutely essential process. Serious growers always slow-dry their marijuana, but those who are in a rush can also use the quick-drying method described above. Oven-drying small batches of buds is fine to sample the product, but it’s not a viable alternative to exercising patience and drying the rest of the crop the old-fashioned way. After choosing the best seeds from i49 seed bank, we want to make sure you end up with the best smokable buds!
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