After watching your marijuana plants grow and flower, harvesting finally begins. This is the time to reap the rewards - juicy cannabis buds. Before you are able to enjoy your homegrown weed, you will need to dry and, importantly, cure your freshly harvested buds.
The difference between drying and curing?
The drying process is just that: it is simply the drying of your freshly harvested cannabis buds in order for them to contain less moisture. This allows your bud to be smoked or vaporized properly.
The curing process consists of storing your marijuana flowers in sealed containers for a period of at least two weeks. Storage in sealed containers allows the full flavours and aromas to develop as they begin to mature.
Why should I dry and cure my weed?
The drying of your cannabis buds serves many important roles that will increase the quality and shelf-life of the flower, at the end of the day.
Freshly harvested buds consist of a substantial amount of moisture, which needs to be addressed before you are able to smoke your marijuana. You may be asking, “Why?” Firstly, smoking freshly harvested buds will provide a harsh hit that has very little flavor (and that’s if you are even able to ignite them at all). Removing moisture will help to tone down any harshness and will allow the terpene profile to shine through. Secondly, fungi flourish in a dark and moist environment. By drying your cannabis buds correctly, you reduce any potential chances of mold attacking your harvest.
Hanging your plants in a drying room or placing your bud individually on a drying rack will reduce the water content by 10–15%. Both these techniques will remove water from the outer layers. However, you will still need to cure your bud to ensure you remove any moisture deep within.
The curing process is vital as it helps preserve your cannabis buds and this, in turn, allows you to keep them for longer while retaining their unique flavour and potency. Once harvested, the flowers contain excess sugars and starches, which come under attack from airborne bacteria and enzymes. The curing process encourages these nutrients to break down and allows for a smoother, better-tasting end product.
After harvesting and trimming, how do I best dry my buds?
In order to ensure your buds dry evenly, it is important to ensure air flows freely. The best-recommended way to ensure this is to string up your whole plants or trimmed cannabis branches. Alternatively, you can use wire racks, if you are working with individual buds or small branches. If you use wire racks you will need to flip your marijuana flowers regularly to ensure they do not flatten on one side.
What humidity level should be used when drying?
For optimum results, it is recommended to hang or otherwise position your trimmed buds in a dark room, with very good air circulation and relative humidity of about 45–55%. Be careful to not “blast” your harvest dry by using a dehumidifier on a low setting, as this could compromise the quality and flavour of the final product.
How long does it take to dry cannabis?
There are many factors that play an active role in the drying time. The average drying stage takes about 7–12 days, depending on bud size, harvest method, and the environmental conditions in the drying room. During this process, your plants will lose a lot of moisture, therefore they will shrink in size and lose weight.
Firstly, larger, denser cannabis flowers will take longer to dry. Secondly, the way you trim your cannabis plants will also play a role. It is important to remember that the branches contain the most water. Hanging large branches will take longer to dry than smaller branches or individual buds. Also, the temperature, humidity, and airflow in your drying space have a big impact on the time it takes for your marijuana to dry.
How do I know my bud’s dried properly and ready to cure?
The easiest and simplest test to check if your cannabis flowers are dry is to take a small branch and try to bend it. If it snaps easily your, plants are dry. You can then begin the curing process. If the branches just bend and do not snap, they need a little longer to dry.
How do I cure my buds?
If you chose to trim your marijuana plants when they were wet, you can simply move on to the curing process once they have dried. If you chose to “dry trim”, you should do this before moving on to curing.
Once your cannabis buds are dry and trimmed, you can place them in big, wide-mouthed jars. You can fill the jars about ¾ of the way, leaving enough room for additional air and reducing any chance of mold or mildew ruining your harvest. Once your jars have been filled, store them in a dry, dark environment.
You should check on your bud at least once per day for two weeks. During these daily check-ups, keep your jars open as this will allow air to be exchanged. You should inspect each flower individually for any signs of mold. If you notice an infected bud, ensure it is removed from the jar immediately in order to avoid the fungus from spreading.
This process of consistently checking your cannabis buds will remove excess moisture from your jars and allow fresh air to hit your bud. It is referred to as “burping”. After two weeks, you can start enjoying your harvest. However, like a good wine, the longer you wait, the better your end product will be.
What is the best humidity level for curing cannabis?
You should aim for a roughly 62% humidity level when curing your marijuana flowers. This increase in moisture content will to some extent rehydrate your cannabis buds, thus improving their taste and smoothness while preventing any possible mold formation.
How long does the curing process take?
On average, most growers cure their weed for a month. However, curing for 4–8 weeks will enhance the flavour and aroma and you will get the best end product from your cannabis buds.
How do I store my buds once dried and cured?
Once you have completed the curing process, you can simply keep your stash in the same jars. They need to be kept in a cool, dark, and dry place. At this point, you will no longer need to check on your cannabis buds daily. Just ensure that your jars are well-sealed to prevent your weed from drying out too much.
At Overgrow, we understand that harvesting can be a daunting task. If this is your first time harvesting, take a look at our guide to a successful harvest. In an upcoming article, we will discuss the cannabis terpene profile and how to enhance these flavourful, medicinal compounds.