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Drying and Curing: Best Practices for a Great Harvest

August 10, 2016

Harvest begins when you cut down the plants and let them dry. Once dried, the buds should finish in curing jars so that the full potential of the plant can be released.

In ideal conditions, harvesting plants requires pre-trimming the larger fan and water leaves. This technique directs the last of the water to help fill out the bud. Cut as many of the bigger leaves as you can in the hours before you take down the whole plant. Once you have cut down the plant, trim each branch of all the leaves you can get as close to the buds as possible.

Then hang each of the long branches on a string in your drying area. Use a dark room that has multiple strings, crossing from one end of the room to the other. Dark conditions during drying let plants continue converting chlorophyll to sugar, so that your plant get sweeter and stronger over time.

After attaching your plants to a secure line, turn off the lights…and wait.

Preparing the plant before drying

Preparing the plant before drying

Best practices for drying

Use fans, humidifiers or dehumidifiers in the room, depending on the climate and the place you are drying. Constant air movement is crucial for equal drying. This movement of air will also keep pests and mold from finding more suitable conditions.

In general, drying too slowly can cause mildew to form, while drying too quickly can produce harsh-tasting flower. If possible, slow dry as long as you can. But even though the plant is hanging to dry, it’s still susceptible to problems that may have existed during the grow. In that case, you’ll want to dry faster.

The room should be set at a temperature of 65°F for slow drying or 75°F for a little faster drying. Humidity should be 55% for slow drying or 45% for faster drying. Slow drying requires letting the plants hang for up to a month, while fast drying takes a week to 10 days. If you use fast drying, cure longer for a smoother smoke.

If you’ve followed safe and clean growing habits, you shouldn’t have to worry about mold or pests at this time. But check the plants each day for signs of trouble, such as mites that might hatch in the dark as you slow dry your plants. If you see any signs, you’ll want to dry closer to 75°F and lower the humidity to get the job done as quickly as possible.

Starting to cure

When the stalk snaps without crumbling the bud, the buds are ready to be put in a container for curing. Some professional growers use jars, while others use plastic containers. Gallon-sized glass jars with secure lids are best. Even though the plant snaps when dry and can be smoked in a bowl or joint, it is best to cure for a few weeks minimum for potency and flavor.

Curing slows the drying of the final 10 to 12 percent of internal water vapor so the plant uses that last energy to become stronger. During slow curing, the plant will continue to break down chlorophyll and other pigments. This slow decline leaves behind a more flavorful, smoother and stronger bud. Always cure for as long as you can. The amount of time your buds are left to cure can be from one month to a year. This time is totally up to you, your patience and what total flavor you seek. Periodically test the curing buds as a way to track progress.

Curing in glass jars

Curing in glass jars

Best practices for curing

Fill each jar two-thirds full to allow for a small amount of air to stay behind in the jar. This air will help oxidize the pigments and bring out the flavonoids. Once you are sure the cannabis is less than 10% dry, leave the lids on the jars and just check on them every week or 10 days.

Keeping notes on each strain lets you to know when it is ready and what to expect next time. Curing cannabis correctly can help you offer a cleaner, more solid product.

But the No. 1 secret to dry and cure properly is patience. Patience waiting to cut the plants and patience to leave the buds in jars for a few months are crucial to a complete finished cannabis product. Improving with age, cannabis is like a fine wine—except better, because it’s cannabis.


By Eric Stone
Cannabis Cultivation Today articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal guidance or advice on grow practices. You should contact an attorney or a qualified cultivation consultant for specific compliance and cultivation advice.





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