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The key to incredible weed lies in effective post-harvest technique

September 28, 2023  By James Strain

At harvest, cut down whole plants and hang them upside down in a dry room. Don’t trim any leaves or branches, this will allow the plant to die slowly and evenly, keeping more moisture and flavour.

Harvest time is a critical moment for any cannabis grower. You have invested a lot of time, effort and money into your crop, so you want to make sure you do it justice. One of the worst things you can do is rush the finishing process.

It reminds me of the old days in the early ’90s when I was involved in the black market. We would harvest a large grow, trim it on the spot, and hang it in a hot room to dry it in three days. We just wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible, which I guess makes sense when you are risking your freedom. But then I discovered the secret to much better weed.

If you want to enjoy the best quality of your cannabis crop, you need to pay attention to how you dry and cure it. In this article, I will show you the seven simple steps to achieve a smooth, tasty and potent product.

1. Flushing

One week before harvest, start flushing your plants with pure water. This means no nutrients or additives. This will remove any excess salts or chemicals from the plant tissues, giving you a cleaner burn and a better flavour. 


2. Lower the temperature

During the last week, lower the temperature of your grow room and water system, especially at night. This will bring out the natural colours of your plants and increase the production of terpenes and cannabinoids. I love seeing the plants go purple, greens of all shades, yellows, blues and reds. Autumn indoors!

3. Going dark

One or two days before harvest, I typically turn off the lights and let the plants rest in darkness. This will boost resin production and preserve the terpenes. It will also prevent the plants from producing more chlorophyll, which can make the weed taste harsher.

4. Whole plant harvesting

When it’s time to harvest, cut down whole plants and hang them upside down in a dry room. Don’t trim any leaves or branches. This will allow the plant to die slowly and evenly, keeping more moisture and flavour.

5. Drying

For the first day of the drying process, I set the temperature to 22°C (72°F) and the relative   humidity (RH) to 50 per cent, with some fans and air movement. This helps to remove some of the initial water content more quickly. After that, lower the temperature to 18°C (64°F) and raise the RH to 60 per cent. Reduce the air movement to a gentle breeze. This will set you up for a 12-to-14-day drying cycle.

To check if the buds are dry enough for trimming, I use a water activity meter or check the branches (keep this number at 0.55 to 0.65 water activity). If you don’t have a water meter, the old-school technique is that it’s ready for trimming when the thinnest branches near the bottom have a snap when bent. The leaves should be dry and crispy, but the main stems should still be a bit pliable. 

6. Dry room trim

Your buds should be looking nice and frosty, with a spongy texture and a fantastic smell. Trim the buds by hand or by machine. I prefer hand trimming because it preserves more trichomes and gives a better appearance. Appreciate your trimmers because trimming is a hard and tedious process. A pro trimmer can do the work of four amateurs – at least! Try to maintain the same environment in the trim room as in the dry room: 18°C (64°F) to 20°C (68°F) temperature and 55 per cent to 60 per cent RH.

7. Slow cure

It’s good to store your buds in sealed containers for several weeks or months. This will let them mature and develop their full potential in terms of flavour, aroma and potency. I use barrels that can hold five to eight kg (11 to 18 lbs) of weed each. I open and burp them regularly. I also monitor their moisture level and smell. I give them a spin and toss them gently to prevent mould formation. After about four weeks, they are ready to enjoy!

Putting it all together

As you can see, harvesting, drying and curing your cannabis is not a complicated process, but it requires some patience and attention to detail. 

After about four weeks, your cheeba is ready to enjoy! It should have a great smell, taste, burn and effect. Get the most out of your crop without compromising its safety or quality. You will be rewarded with a smooth, tasty and potent product that you can be proud of.  Happy harvesting! 

James Strain is the director of cultivation and master grower at Dycar Pharmaceuticals, home to up-and-coming cannabis brands like J.R. Strain, Lamplighter & Legend Chocolates. With 33 years of experience, Jim delights customers by blending time-honoured techniques with the latest in genetics, science and technology.

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