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A Guide to Harvesting and Trimming Marijuana

Justine has been a Michigan Medical Marijuana Patient since 2013 and also is a High Times Investor.


Harvesting Your Buds

It’s harvest time, and your finally ready to chop down those buds. Now that it’s ready, it’s time to dry, trim, & cure your harvest to get the best potential outcome. But drying, trimming and harvest techniques differ among growers. In this article we take a look and some different theories on how to get the best buds so you will be able to make your own decision on which techniques would work best in your current situation. I’ve been a Michigan Medical patient since 2013, and have worked in several Marijuana processing facilities assisting growers with hand trimming and harvesting for the Medical and Recreational Market. Maybe you are a patient or caregiver and have a large crop with many pounds or perhaps a small batch, we look at tips and tricks that may take your harvest to the next level. Maximizing taste and minimizing any bad outcomes, let’s look into how to harvest and trim those beautiful buds.


Wet or Dry Trimming

This has been a debate for many years within the Marijuana community. Some claim trimming while wet is the best while others claim you need to wait until the plant is completely dry. Each having their reasonings behind their decision. My answer, it depends, maybe a little bit of both and we will discuss which is best for you and why. Maybe you are a hash producer/processor and want to make fresh frozen or just trying to get the best dried buds, there are different strokes for different folks if you don’t mind my pun.


Fresh Frozen Concentrate

If you are into dab or hash making you may want to use your plants to make Fresh Frozen. This means you would use freshly cut leaves and/or buds that have not been dried. If making with trim, you will trim your fresh cut plant and freeze the trim immediately until your ready to process into concentrate. Then you would move to the drying/ curing process for your buds. If using wet buds to make fresh frozen , just remove those giant fan leafs to cut down on fatty lipids that will come out into your hash. Make sure to leave all the sugar leaves and you may just get that amazing five star concentrate you have been striving for.


Whole Plant Hang vs. Trimming Wet

In my experience, the best way to dry a plant is by hanging the whole entire plant upside down for the duration of the drying process. Depending on space, you may or may not be able to do it this way. But first, if you have the time, it’s a good idea to remove major fan leaves but harvesting is time consuming so you may choose to leave them and remove them after the plant is dry. A couple reasons why I prefer the whole plant hang method.

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  1. Chlorophyll is sucked from the buds into the leaves during the drying process, which will give you great tasting buds. Cutting the leaves while wet will leave more chlorophyll in the buds which will take away from its potential after being cured. If you want those loud nuggets, whole plant hang is the way to go. However, it is still possible to get really good bud if hung wet. Especially if you are growing a high resin producing strain, the bud might be just as good. For large scale processing, we prefer the whole plant hang unless it’s being made into fresh frozen.
  2. Many states set a limit on how much dry bud you can have. Many times it may throw you into illegal status if you don’t do whole plant hang. By hanging plants, you will keep the plants whole, counting towards your plant count. Once you cut the buds off the plant, it will count towards your processed and consumable amount. Currently in Michigan, recreationally you may keep the buds from your whole entire plant. But if you grow Medicinal, you are limited to 2.5 ounces per patient. It makes more sense to whole plant hang if you are a patient or caregiver in order to process through slowly and keep the plant count down.

Drying Time and Other Factors

The plants are now hanging whole or maybe you have the buds drying in a rack or branches hanging. How long do you let it dry? There can be different variables when dealing with dry time such as temperature and humidity, depending on time of year and where you are drying it. It’s a smart idea to purchase a temperature and humidity gage to keep an eye on those numbers. They can be found fairly cheap, or you may choose a more expensive and scientific gage. The ideal drying conditions would include these important factors:

  1. Humidity around 50% is ideal. Less humidity means dry, brittle buds while more humidity results in mold spores forming and possibly ruining your crop.
  2. Temperatures around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. Too cool of a temperature could lead to mold forming and a slow drying process, while high temperatures will lead to evaporation of terpenoids and brittle, flavorless buds.
  3. Time needed to fully dry and cure is around 5-7 days. However the facilities I’ve worked for in the past seem to dry an average of 7-10 days. After that it is sent off to a lab to be tested and immediately packaged by a processing company and on to distributors than to the shelves of local dispensaries. I see a lot of growers claim the bud needs to be jarred to cure, but in my opinion that only leads to molding. Your bud should smell just as good before you jar it, if it’s dried correctly.

Hand Trim vs. Auto Trim

Another debate within the Cannabis world is whether hand trimming is worth all the extra effort. I’ve worked for a caregiver crafted facility that was all hand trim and other big facilities that used auto trimmers. A general consensus among growers is that an auto trim machine can really beat up those beautiful buds, knocking off a good amount of hash and can only be used while the bud is still wet. So it comes down to this. If you are a big facility or have a large harvest you may need to use an auto trim to quickly process and dry the bud for wholesale. If you have a smaller harvest or care more about the bud as final product, you may want to consider hand trimming as opposed to auto trimming. All in all, there are many different things to consider when choosing which techniques will work in your current situation.



Justine Nalbach (author) from Ohio on November 10, 2020:

Thanks for your comment Jhon, happy growing!

Jhon Queu from World on November 10, 2020:

Yes it is true - general consensus among growers is that an auto trim machine can really beat up those beautiful buds -

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