Harvesting your grow is every bit as important as the entire grow itself. There are many different methods to harvesting, as there are with growing. I thought I would touch on a few popular methods that I have tried over the years that have all worked for me.
Processing Your Plants For Drying
Whole Plant Drying
As I mentioned there are many different ways to dry your plants. One of the most popular methods is whole plant drying. This technique involves cutting the plant at it’s base and hanging it upside down to dry. When I use this method, I remove my light from the grow tent and suspend the plants from the poles at the top of the tent with some soft plant ties. I also try to remove some of the larger fan leaves prior to hanging the plants for drying.
You definitely want to control your humidity levels when using this method, but I will get to that a little later. The main thing is to not over dry your plants. Over drying can lead to a very dry product that is next to impossible to trim for curing. The indicator that your plants are done drying is to break one of the stems and if it snaps, that means it’s ready. Typically, the drying process takes about a week to complete.
Using Drying Racks
The next method I have had a lot of success with is using drying racks. I love using these racks because they are collapsable, which means easy to store, and hold a lot of flower for drying. Again, I hang this in my tent and fill each layer with pre-trimmed wet buds. Some people like to trim and manicure all buds from the stems with hand trimmers. I prefer to just remove the branches and most of the large fan leaves prior to placing them in to the drying racks. Every day I shake the racks to move the buds around so they don’t get flat on one side.
I like to leave the buds on the stems because I can then check the stems for the “snap” indicating dryness. From here I then manicure my buds and remove them from the stems (also known as bucking) as well as all remaining leaf material. You can save the trim to make edibles or concentrates.
Let’s Talk Humidity
Humidity levels are very important during the drying process. I live in Colorado where it is dry all the time and if I don’t maintain optimal humidity levels, my flower just turns to a crumbly dried out dusty mess that is pretty much useless. The ideal levels for your drying area should be around 65 – 75 degrees fahrenheit with humidity around 45 – 55 percent.
Now this is not something you absolutely need as one of the tools in your arsenal of grow gadgets, but a controller, humidifier and dehumidifier can be great allies in your battle for humidity mastery. The size of your grow also comes in to play when choosing your equipment. Keep in mind I am writing this with a small home grow in mind. Think 4′ x 4′ grow tent in your basement, so I can get away with a humidifier from the store and a small dehu unit.
Plug in your humidifier and dehu in to your controller, set the humidity levels you are trying to achieve and the controller will make sure it happens for you. Humidity too low? The humidifier kicks on and the dehu turns off. Too high, the dehu kicks on while the humidifier turns off. Typically, the dehu runs continuously for the first 3 days and then I introduce some humidity to prevent over-drying. I also use my grow tent as my drying area. I leave the fans running (oscillating and exhaust) and zip up the tent so it’s always dark.
Preparing Your Buds For Curing
Wet Trim Vs. Dry Trim
Earlier I mentioned trimming your fan leaves prior to drying. Now I am not going to weigh in on which is better. They are both fine to me and I honestly can’t notice a difference between the two when it comes to post cure quality. I will say that they both have some advantages in terms of the work you put in to harvesting at certain stages.
Dry trim eliminates all the manicuring after giving your plants the chop. You simply whack the plants at the base (or separate in to stems), hang them in your tent and then you are done. The down side to this is that you have to then trim all of the dry leaves from the plant once it is done with the drying process. This is a tremendously arduous task and extremely messy. Be prepared to break out the wet vac to get all the dry leaf particles off the floor and everything else.
Wet trimming is definitely a lot of work up front. trimming all the fan leaves and then manicuring your buds is time consuming. Typically, I sit down with my plants, put on a movie and start the long process of trimming. I like to have a giant bowl for trimmed buds that will go in to the drying rack, a bowl for trim and a bucket for fan leaves that will go in to the compost. I also wear latex gloves during all of this process (wet and dry). Do yourself a favor and get a box of gloves. Trichomes get on everything and don’t wash off with soap and water. I also have a bottle of isopropyl alcohol (90%) and a jar to put my hand trimmers in to to try to keep them from getting all gummed up during the trim.
Jars And Turkey bags
Curing is a process of removing excess sugars and starches from dried flower. The result is a much smoother smokeable product with increased potency. It is a relatively easy process, albeit a boring one. The first step in the curing process is to decide how you are going to cure your dried flower.
While there are many products on the market, I like 2 methods of curing that are relatively cheap and easy. The first method is curing in glass jars. More specifically, canning jars are and ideal resource for curing your flower. To start you simply take your dried bud (no stems or leaves) and fill up a jar without packing it in.
The next step is to “burp” the jars daily for the first week. Burping simply means removing the lid for about 10 minutes to release all of the excess moisture and replacing fresh oxygen in to the jar. Ideally you would want to burp the jars twice a day during this first week.
During week 2, I like to reduce the number of times I burp the jars. At this stage I open the jars about once every other day. I continue this for the remaining of week 2. On week 3 I simply leave the jars sealed completely for the entire week. After that, your buds are cured and ready to be consumed!
Another similar method involves the use of turkey bags. I now use turkey bags only because as an experienced grower, my skills have improved and I now have larger yields to contend with. Rather than purchasing dozens of half gallon jars, I find it easier to use one large turkey bag to cure. The method is the same as with jars. You open the bag twice a day. I like to take my hand and move things around in the bag before sealing it up. Follow the burping schedule I mentioned with jars and you are done in 3 weeks.
Now keep in mind there are many more ways to dry and cure your harvest. These are probably the most widely used methods, but I encourage you to do your research and see what other methods speak to you.
Got questions? email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.