You’ve spent months cultivating your cannabis plant and you’re now ready to do the harvest. This is the moment of truth. You’ve carefully nurtured those leaves and buds, checked the soil pH every other day, got your light just right.
Has all that effort been worth it?
The truth is that the drying and curing weed is just as important as all the work you put into growing your crop. This is no time to lose focus.
Get everything right at this stage and you’ll have buds that have great flavor, get it wrong and you could lose a good deal of your crop. You may even have to start again. Drying and curing your weed is also essential if you want to avoid problems with mold contamination.
And, just like growing, this part of the process is an art form in itself. Let’s take a closer look at the rules for curing weed.
What is Mold Contamination?
The trouble with fresh cuts of cannabis is that they are normally pretty wet and sticky. This kind of environment essentially provides the perfect breeding ground for mold or mildew.
The key here is that you need to remove that moisture as quickly but as effectively as possible without compromising the flavor and potency. If your cannabis crop is allowed to remain wet, then you are just asking for mold to take hold and ruin everything.
First, you need to make sure you don’t have this problem to begin with.
It’s wise to invest in a black light and use it to look for some of the telltale signs: One is little black spores or a white, brown or grey fuzz material around the bud and the stems. Sometimes it can look like a web of sorts and there’s often a musty, sweaty smell that goes with it. If you lift the plant out of the soil you may also find that the roots are discolored.
Should you find there’s a problem, ensure you remove any moldy cannabis plants from the rest because it really spreads quickly. If it does, you’re whole crop may well be ruined.
Needless to say, you should under no account be using it!
What is Curing?
Assuming you’ve managed to avoid this mold or mildew problem, after you harvest your plants you will need to implement a curing process.
Curing is a way of getting every last ounce of moisture out of your cannabis – think of it as drying plus – and there are a number of ways that you can do this which we list below.
The drying and curing also break down the chlorophyll in the plant so that you get a much better taste that isn’t so harsh. It’s also the main way that you lengthen the shelf-life of your cannabis crop.
Should you Dry Trim or Wet Trim?
Your initial job is to cut down your plants and begin to trim the buds away. If you’ve never done this before, the first thing you’ll notice is that you get a sticky residue on your hands, so it’s a good idea to wear gloves.
The more sticky it is often indicates how powerful the crop will end up being but that’s not always the case with different strains. The key here is not to cut your plants and then leave everything lying around. You need to head into the trimming, drying and curing process straight away.
Trimming can be carried out in two ways.
This is done the moment you think your plants are ripe for harvesting. You’ll cut the branches and then use sharp scissors or a pair of secateurs to remove the buds and some of the leaves. The majority of growers tend to prefer this method because it is relatively quick and simple and it’s one all beginners should always use. Quickly removing the buds after harvest will prevent mold developing.
Advocates of this method say that it produces a better flavor. The plant is a little harder to trim after it’s been dried for a while and the longer process can help produce a higher quality end product. The leaves are also often dried to the bud which also can affect the flavor.
Some people opt for a mix of the two methods, taking off the bigger cannabis leaves and keeping the smaller ones and the buds on the branch as everything dries out.
A lot comes down to personal preference and, as you become more expert, you may well move from wet trimming to dry trimming. Our advice is to explore all the methods and choose the one that you find the easiest, at least to begin with.
How to Dry Your Cannabis
First of all, the slower and more naturally you can dry your cannabis buds the better. You will need to separate the buds and place them on a surface that is well aerated. That means you should avid putting them down on materials like card or paper that can absorb and hold the moisture. A rack with some fine netting works well and ensures that the air can get in and around the buds.
Go for plenty of room rather than cramping everything up. If the buds are too close together they’re not going to dry so well and then there’s the risk of mold or mildew developing. You need somewhere for the moisture to escape to so make sure that your buds are raised up and not on a flat surface.
You should store the buds in a place where there is relatively low humidity. Yes, you can speed up the drying processes by placing them somewhere warm but this can be counterproductive and affect the flavor and power of you cannabis.
Why Taking It Slow Works
The slower you can dry things, the better. Of course, there’s a limit but ideally you should try to keep the temperature around 20 or 21°C and the humidity no more than 50%. Many growers use equipment like a dehumidifier or a even a heater placed some distance away from the crop to create the right environment.
A lot will depend on what the local conditions are where you are storing the crop. If you’re in a hot dry country, you’re not going to face too many problems.
Check your buds regularly for both mold and their dryness. You’ll know they are dry enough when the snap under your fingertips. If you can bend your harvested cannabis plants, it means they still have moisture in them and are not yet ready.
Curing Weed: All You Need is Patience
The curing phase is basically a way of getting every last ounce of moisture out of your cannabis. This is done by placing your buds in an airtight jar. You can fill each jar up with about two thirds of your crop but leave enough air at the top. Again, keep the temperature around 21°C but the humidity can be a little higher as the cannabis is now in sealed jars.
You should check the jars a few times a day for the first week and again make sure that no mold has begun to grow as this can still be a problem. If you do notice signs, remove the affected bud and continue to monitor – hopefully it won’t spread. Checking also allows some fresh air into your jars every so often to aid the curing process.
Once you weed has had at least a couple of weeks of curing you can begin to sample it for taste and potency. What you’ll find is that the longer you leave it the better the flavor should get.
Common Mistakes When Drying and Curing Weed
As you might expect with such a long, drawn out process, errors can be made. Here are the top 7 novices tend to make:
- Your crop is harvested at the wrong time, usually far too soon, so it’s not quite ready.
- You start cutting your plants when you have just watered the soil. This can mean they take much longer to dry out.
- You handle the buds too much while you are trimming them and prepare for drying. Try to touch them as little as possible.
- Another mistake is failing to spot mold or mildew and not removing it from the harvest.
- The drying process can be hampered if you are doing it in a room that is far too humid.
- Another rookie mistake is not ensuring the harvest has plenty of ventilation around it so that it has a chance to dry out.
- Finally, many new growers don’t dry or cure for long enough – it can take as long as 8 weeks and the longer you leave things the better your cannabis will taste.
Drying and curing weed is not rocket science but it does require a good deal of love, care and attention. Before you get to the harvesting stage, make sure that you read up on this area so that you are prepared and feel confident when your crop is ripe. Once you’ve done it a few times, however, curing weed should become second nature.