After a tiring, months-long growing season, you’ve finally harvested your sweet marijuana buds. Congratulations! You’re almost there. Now, you’re ready to dry those trimmed colas. And we are here to tell you how to do it the right way, thus ensuring that you end up with the best quality smokable buds.
Why Dry Marijuana Plants?
Drying is the first step in processing buds for consumption. Mainly, it involves preparing the branches and letting them dry for several days. More than that, it also helps retain the potency, flavors, and overall quality of the final product.
At first, the idea of drying the colas might sound completely unnecessary – or even downright gimmicky. Why waste a few days hanging the buds out, when you can just blaze them up? You deserve it after all your hard work, right?
Here’s the thing. If you do that, you’ll practically waste all the time, effort, and resources spent on the plants. Instead of smoking some dank marijuana, you’ll end up with dirt weed. And it will taste like it, too.
After being trimmed, the marijuana branches remain green. It indicates that they are still full of chlorophyll, which is essential to photosynthesis and responsible for the plants’ green color.
Chlorophyll is the last thing you want. That is because it makes the buds taste like grass and harsh to smoke, making them unsuitable for consumption. It is why drying is essential during the post-cultivation stage. Primarily, that is to break down the remaining chlorophyll into sugars. Doing so brings out the distinct flavors and aromas of your chosen strain. It ensures that your homegrown weed will be just as dank as you imagined it.
How to Dry Marijuana Plants
Drying your marijuana flowers is simple. By and large, it boils down to trimming the branches and preparing the drying area. Afterward, it is a waiting game first and foremost. In general, it takes anywhere between 7 and 12 days for the buds to dry. During that time, you would have to monitor the plants and ensure that they are provided the best environmental conditions.
Step 1: Trimming Away the Unwanted Leaves
After harvesting the colas, you’ll want to “trim” or groom them. It simply means removing the non-essential plant parts – most notably, the large fan leaves. Once smoked, they will only dampen the effects and flavors of the bud.
How about the sugar leaves? You also need to remove them, but when you should do that depends on whether you’re going for wet or dry trimming.
For the wet method, you’ll have to shear off the leaves immediately after cutting down the plants. Meanwhile, dry trimming involves drying the branches first before getting rid of the sugar leaves.
Which one is better than the two? Well, it mainly comes down to personal preference.
Trimming while the colas are wet is better for beginners. That is because it is a lot faster and more straightforward. As for dry trimming, it is more commonly used in commercial operations. Seasoned growers also claim that it helps enhance the potency, smell, and flavor of the flowers. The downside is that the small leaves are trickier to remove since they stick to the buds after being dried.
Note that local conditions may also play a role in the number of leaves you need to trim off (or leave intact). In general, those who live in overly humid areas (humidity levels over 60%) should snip off as much plant material as possible. Doing so speeds up the drying process and helps prevent mold formation. On the other hand, if you live in a place where the climate is arid, consider leaving more leaves to slow down the drying process.
Step 2: Drying the Branches
How should you dry the colas? For most, hanging the stalks upside down is the “standard” way of doing things. Start by fixing a wire across the room. Afterward, you can attach and secure the buds as you see fit. Clothespins, twine, and hangers are some of the most commonly used materials.
But, hanging is not the only way to dry the plants. This step allows for some creativity, so feel free to devise a setup that works best based on your needs and circumstances.
You can, for instance, use an herb drying rack net. Mostly, it resembles a mesh laundry basket – except that it consists of several layers, and can be hung from above. Since a mesh rack facilitates fast drying, it is ideal if you live in humid areas – or if you’re just worried about molds in general. And, it is also perfect if you have a restricted drying space.
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure that the chosen room is dark and away from direct sunlight. That is because UV light could cause the cannabinoids to break down faster.
- If you prefer using a drying rack, remove the stems before positioning the buds.
- Ensure there is enough space between the colas when hanging or laying the buds on the rack to boost airflow and prevent the growth of mold and fungi.
Step 3: Providing the Right Conditions
Aside from sticking to a dark location and improving air circulation, there are additional things you need to do for an optimal drying environment. Mainly, what you’re concerned with are temperature and humidity.
Ideally, you want to keep the temperature at around 70°F (21°C) and the relative humidity at 50%. A good-quality digital thermometer and hygrometer, in this case, are must-have tools for quick and easy monitoring. Opt for a unit that already measures both. And if the temperature and humidity are out of balance, make sure to immediately adjust them to suitable levels.
Here are some devices you could use to manipulate the environmental conditions:
- Air conditioner – lowers temperature and humidity
- Evaporative cooler – lowers the temperature and raises humidity
- Heater – raises the temperature and raises humidity
- Humidifier – raises temperature and humidity
- Dehumidifier – raises the temperature and reduces humidity
Step 4: Waiting for the Buds to Dry Fully
Now comes the waiting game. As mentioned, it generally takes 7 to 12 days for the branches to dry properly. But, several factors could affect the drying time, including:
- Bud size, density, and quantity
- Temperature, humidity, and airflow in the drying area
While waiting, ensure that the environmental conditions are at optimal levels at all times. And, check the branches every day. Be on the lookout for hints of molds and signs that they are not drying correctly.
If you live in an intensely humid area, the nugs may start looking damp and soggy. If so, consider adding a small fan in the room to improve air circulation. Point it at a nearby wall – not directly at the buds. Be careful, though, as fans also run the risk of over-drying the plants.
Meanwhile, if you’re drying the colas on a flat surface, such as cardboard, watch for wet spots. When this happens, you would have to rotate the stalks every few hours for a more even drying. That should not be an issue if you’re using a drying rack, which is made of mesh fabric and facilitates air access.
During this time, it might be tempting to increase the temperature to accelerate the drying process – but don’t. Excess heat could cause the terpenes, as well as some cannabinoids, to evaporate. In other words, quick-drying could compromise the quality, smell, and flavors of the flowers. To make matters worse, they tend to induce headaches or migraines when consumed.
Here’s how to know if the colas are ready:
- The buds’ exterior should feel dry to touch, but not to the point that they are brittle. Typically, this should take 3 to 7 days. If you complete the process earlier than that, then you might have dried the branches a bit too quickly. But that is okay. Don’t beat yourself over it – you’ll get it right next time. The downside is that you would have to extend the curing period.
- Do the “snap” test. Simply take a small stalk and try to bend it. If the stem snaps instead of bending, then the flowers are sufficiently dry. And, it also should not leave a thin trail of sap behind. If so, there is likely too much moisture inside the plant.
- If the above conditions are met, then the buds are all set for curing. Otherwise, let the buds dry a bit more.
Once done, separate the stems from the buds if you still haven’t.
After Drying the Buds, What’s Next?
Drying is a critical post-cultivation process. Without it, the buds become harsh-hitting and unpleasant to consume. Even worse, you could get persistent headaches. By slow drying, you significantly enhance the aroma, flavor, and overall quality of your marijuana buds.
But, you can’t attain your desired dank weed with drying alone. Remember, it’s just the first step. You need to follow it up with the curing process, which can take anywhere between a few weeks to several months. The duration might be discouraging, but trust us – dried, and cured cannabis is the only way to enjoy the fruits of your labor. With proper curing, the buds can reach their maximum potential, ensuring that your coveted consumption experience is just within arm’s reach.