Cannabis cultivation is an exciting endeavor for any person. It takes 2-3 months from seeing your seed germinate to collecting the bountiful yields of resin-rich, frosty buds containing therapeutic doses of THC, CBD, and terpenes. However, the path from a growing plant to a jar of dried and flavorful buds is not that simple; the science of harvesting and curing cannabis flowers is one of effort and dedication. Here we share the key tips for newbies on separating their weed buds from the plants and making them ready for convenient drying and further consumption. Read on to become a weed collection pro.
Harvesting the Autoflower Weed
The first thing you should note is that harvesting autoflower weed is much easier than it is with photoperiod plants. The latter may spend several weeks until their full maturity, and the flowering period is a delicately manipulated growth aspect that only experienced growers can conduct well. Autoflower plants don’t cause such headaches for their cultivators; they start flowering at a specified period and are ready for harvest collection at a clearly predetermined time. Thus, you won’t need to monitor your plants from day to day; the main features indicating the buds’ readiness for harvesting are:
- Fully darkened and curled-in pistils on the plant’s flowers;
- Buds look dense and thick;
- Fan leaves start turning yellow;
- The trichomes on your plants’ buds change their colors to opaque and amber;
- The pistils change their color to red, and there are no white pistils.
If you notice all these signs, it’s time to prepare your scissors and do the harvesting job.
Harvesting Cannabis: Wet vs. Dry Trimming
Once the time comes to cut the buds from your plants before drying, you can choose one of two ways to get your buds trimmed well:
- Dry trimming. This method presupposes that you cut the whole branches with bud conglomerates and hang them on a rod to dry. This way, you won’t mess with the sticky, resinous buds that are still fresh and juicy, and you will cut the dried buds from the dry branches in a week or so. It’s a no-mess process that appeals to many.
- Wet trimming. This method requires you to trim the buds during harvest collection before drying them. It ensures that you get well-shaped and tidy buds at once. Many growers also consider it easier since fresh fan and sugar leaves are easier to cut off. Besides, separated buds dry faster, so you run a lower risk of developing mold in them.
Your next steps will depend on how you have trimmed the buds, as branches and buds require different conditions in the drying room and generally take different times to dry well.
Drying the Cannabis
You should dry your buds in the natural environment to preserve their therapeutic benefits, flavors, and aromas. Putting them into an oven for a couple of hours won’t do, as you may burn all the ingredients and end up with a senseless pack of dry herbs. Thus, the optimal conditions for weed drying are 45-55% humidity and good air circulation.
The simplest option many home growers use is drying weed in cardboard boxes. The boxes should be kept in a drying room – the one where you can support stable temperatures and low humidity coupled with unrestrained air circulation. Ensure you have a hygrometer in that room so the humidity level doesn’t go too high. Otherwise, your buds can develop mold before getting fully dry.
Another option is to hang the branches on the rod, put them into a dry and warm drying room, and equip it with a ventilator for even air circulation. This way, you can achieve optimal results with minimal costs. To see whether the branches are dry enough for further weed curing, you may try to bend one of them and see whether it cracks. If it bends fine, humidity is still inside, and more time is needed for the weed to dry. If it cracks without extensive effort, you may proceed to the next stage of your weed supply preparation.
Curing Your Weed: Example of Gorilla Cookies Autoflower Seeds
The stage of weed buds’ curing starts after the buds are dry and trimmed. So, if you have used wet trimming during harvest collection, your buds will be ready for curing after they get dry. If you have been drying whole branches, you will need to trim the buds first, proceeding to the curing stage only after the trimming process is over.
Curing is a process of bacteria and enzyme elimination from the dry buds before they are ready for long-term storage and consumption. You have been drying non-sterile buds; they have been growing in the open air for many weeks. Thus, if you put them into a glass jar and insulate it for several months, the mold or rot risk increases.
Let’s examine the process in the example of Gorilla Cookies seeds, https://askgrowers.com/seeds/gorilla-cookies-seeds-autoflower, grown and harvested in line with the best recommendations. To cure your buds correctly, you should follow this algorithm:
- Place the dry buds into a large glass jaw with a wide mouth. Don’t fill them entirely; leave around one-quarter of the space empty so the buds have enough air.
- Store the jar in a dry, cool, and dark place and inspect them every day for 14 days (do it twice a day for the first two days). Open the jar for 2 minutes to ventilate the buds properly.
- Apply a hygrometer to ensure that the humidity level inside the jar is within the range of 60-65%. If humidity is lower than that, leave the lid closed for several days. If you notice higher humidity, remove the lid for 2-3 hours to let the excessive moist escape.
- Depending on the buds’ size and the strain variety, you will need to repeat this algorithm every day for 2-8 weeks. Actually, you can start using the dried buds even in 2 weeks, but the longer you cure them, the better for the harvest’s durability and overall quality.
It’s also critical to watch all buds for signs of mold. Sometimes things happen, and even properly trimmed and dried buds can develop mold. In this case, you need to isolate that bud from the rest and continue your inspection of the remaining buds. Weed with mold is absolutely non-usable, as it can infect your lungs and cause serious diseases.
As you can see, harvesting and curing your buds is a delicate art that requires diligence and patience. Yet, if you do everything right, your flavorful and THC-rich harvests will reward you with relaxation, sedation, and mood improvement for many months to come. Follow the tips we’ve outlined above to maximize the benefit of your harvested weed.
The author of this article is Lana Braslavska, an expert in cannabis cultivation and an avid cannabis industry advocate. Lana has rich experience in home growing and interacts with many reputable brands to share cultivation tips and tricks. She works as a full-time writer at AskGrowers and educates the readership about the pros of independent weed growing.