Trimming is one of the least appreciated aspects of cannabis; it’s also one of the least understood. The average person may think of trimming as a simple snip job that removes the buds from the stems—but there’s a lot more that goes into it.
There are two typical methods of trimming: wet and dry. If you ask growers which is better, you’ll find a roughly 50/50 split in responses. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll need to decide for yourself which one works best for your business.
Keep in mind that there’s little science behind which method produces the best buds. Most folks can’t tell the difference between buds trimmed wet and buds trimmed dry. Some people will claim that trimming dry retains more cannabinoids and terpenes, but there are no studies proving that.
Wet trimming is done when we trim the buds before they’re completely cured. Some businesses will trim as soon as the harvest is ready to uproot.
When trimming wet, the plant material is much easier to handle. It won’t crumble or flake, and the cannabinoid-rich trichomes, for the most part, won’t fall all over the place. Larger leaves are easier to handle this way, too, because when they’re dry the leaves will wrap around the buds.
And because you have trimmed buds going into a cure, there’s less space needed. You can immediately dispose of the trim or send it off for further processing as hash, edibles, butter and so on.
Some businesses like to trim at or near the grow site. If that’s the case, then wet trimming is best, because you can remove the buds from the branches right then and there.
If you’re running a recreational retail store, wet trimming may be better. It’s the fastest method, hands down. With limited space for hanging entire branches, you’ll want to do a wet trim.
Dry trimming is done after the buds are cured. This means the buds are hung or set to cure while they’re still on the branches.
Dry trimming should be done only by skilled, experienced trimmers. If trimming is done after the cure, the buds are more fragile. Careless handling can lead to a loss of trichomes, and otherwise beautiful buds may be crushed or damaged in the process.
Trimmers who take on dry product will discover that the larger leaves will have dried and wrapped around the buds. Some trimmers claim this leaf-wrapping effect protects the trichomes. Other trimmers will say it’s just an extra step that creates more headaches than necessary.
However, the smaller leaves at the heads will come off with a simple swipe of the finger. For many trimmers, this one fact is enough to prioritize dry trimming over wet. That’s because plucking or snipping these tiny leaves when wet can become incredibly meticulous, especially if we’re talking about pounds and pounds of product.
If you prefer to trim off-site—either because of space or because you want to keep your grow site a secret—then dry trimming may be your best option.
This may shock some trimmers, but it’s possible to combine these methods. It may take more time and more careful planning, but some grow operations use the “damp” method.
When trimming damp, we combine the best parts of the dry and wet trimming. Remove the larger leaves while the product is still wet. Then hang the stems to dry until the cure is about complete. When that happens, swipe off the little leaves from the heads.
If you have a loyal team of trimmers and no overwhelming workload, this may be the best option. Your trimmers will love it because their hands won’t be constantly sore, and you’ll still get quality buds in the end.
Again, every grower or trimmer will have a different opinion on this. You may need to experiment with this yourself to see what happens.
Some people will claim that certain strains respond better to wet or dry trimming. Other strains may produce the same kinds of buds, regardless if they’re trimmed wet or dry. But some strains may absolutely require dry trimming if you want to preserve their characteristic scents or flavors.
To test this, split your harvest into two groups. One half of your strain will get the wet trim treatment, and the other half will get trimmed dry. Label the buds so you can keep track of which ones went through which method. Have some trusted cannabis connoisseurs sample them, and note the results.
In the end, none of this advice matters if it doesn’t work for you. Your business, your brand and what your customers expect should be what dictates your business practices. In other words, your bottom line should determine which method you go with. If people come to your shop because you’ve got the best smelling flowers in town, go dry. Or if people come to you because you sell the most affordable ounces, then go wet.
Or toss it up. It’s your business, after all.
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