If it is your first time growing marijuana, the drying process will be something you want to get right. The drying process, and subsequent ‘curing’, is often the most integral and fundamental practice to get good quality marijuana.
In other words, the drying and curing process is pivotal to getting the most out of your grow. This drying and curing will ultimately decide the THC content of your marijuana, its pungency, strength, and overall quality.
This practice is often one that matures as the grower gains more experience with growing, but in this article we will lay out the science and motivation behind optimizing your drying, as well as curing, process.
An Overview Of Drying And Curing
When you first harvest your buds from the plant they will have been fed water from the plant as you water it.
As a result the buds will be ‘wet’ to a degree, and in order to be smoked and used in general they need to reach a certain level of dryness.
Moreover, when your buds come straight off the plant they aren’t necessarily ready for consumption just yet. Often, the buds will not have developed the crystals of THC that we all know and love on our marijuana.
In order to achieve this high crystallization, the curing and drying process must be refined.
Drying your buds for too long will mean they lose potency, curing them for too long will result in marijuana that still isn’t dry.
The best practice is to find a medium between the two to achieve the highest level of THC crystallization and thus THC potency.
Benefits of Proper Drying And Curing Process
Many growers fall short of high quality buds because they often neglect this part of the growing process, or don’t do it properly.
Correctly cured and dried marijuana will result in marijuana that is higher potency, more pronounced flavors, less vegetal flavors, higher pungency, better aesthetics, and better color.
When you see the top shelf bud at your local head shop the amber hairs, frosty buds, pungent smell, and pronounced flavors, are all a result of a quality curing and drying process.
If you want to achieve marijuana that is this level of quality, then the drying and curing process is pivotal.
How To Dry Marijuana
Once your buds have reached your desired size and maturity, it will be time to harvest them.
Once you have harvested you will realize they will be quite ‘wet’ and ‘squishy’ which is natural because the plant system has been feeding them water. The next step is to harvest and dry.
The first step in the drying process is to trim plants of their external leaves and stems, where necessary. You can do what’s called a ‘wet trim’, or a ‘dry trim’.
Remember, your marijuana bud will lose about 75% of its whole weight throughout the drying, curing, and trimming process.
A wet trim is simply trimming the plant while still wet, the idea is that in the drying process the buds won’t be misshapen by leaves or stems that are in their way and it makes the shape of the bud better, although different growers may dispute this.
A dry trim is waiting for the buds to dry before you trim them, this is a little less work and can be a good idea if you want to dry and cure the ‘shake’ (superfluous plant parts that aren’t the bud, but still contain some THC) so you can use them for edibles or consumption.
A wet trim will mean the buds dry more quickly as there is less plant material to dry, the inverse is true of a dry trim. It all depends on how you want to use your marijuana in the long run.
You want to initially dry your bud until most of their moisture has evaporated, this can take anywhere from 2-7 days depending on your climate.
A common practice is to hang the marijuana upside down from a length of string, like you are drying them on a washing line.
This means the buds won’t get misshapen due to gravity or other ailments. Keep multiple buds on one branch for ease.
One way to tell when your buds have reached a good level of ‘dryness’ is to attempt to snap a piece of the stem. If the stem bends and doesn’t have a snap when force is applied, it will need longer.
When you get this snap as you pull stems off, your bud should be dry.
Although, be careful not to take this too far. Buds that are too dry won’t cure properly, although they can be rehydrated with humidity packs, while not ideal.
Buds should still be a little wet on the inside so they rehydrate on a small scale, from the inside out, while curing.
How To Cure Your Buds
Curing for marijuana is similar to curing meats or fruit, but for different purposes. Curing meat is for preservation, but curing marijuana helps bring out the pungent elements that are actually desirable.
The curing process is often overlooked as it can be lengthy, potentially taking 2-4 weeks.
Curing is a tough process to get perfect, but any level of curing will result in better quality buds, period.
Essentially, you will be moving your buds from air tight containers into the air, and then back into airtight containers.
As mentioned, the main goal is to crystallize the THC, making the marijuana more potent, but also results in great flavor and smell as well as other features. Well cured flowers could potentially last up to two years in airtight containers.
You essentially want to pack your bud up and leave it in an area that is not too humid or damp, but somewhere that maintains a decent temperature without much temperature loss.
Moreover, light can also affect the terpenes in your marijuana, which give it its smell and flavors, so a dark place is recommended.
Once dry, split up your yield into airtight containers, the most preferred vessel is the quart mason jar. You should need around four jars per quarter ounce of marijuana.
Try not to pack the bud too tight, they will need some air.
This is basically a job done, all you need to do is to maintain your buds like any other cure.
This means burping your jars every now and again. Burping allows new oxygen in and releases any potential moisture build up that could lead to mold.
During the first week try and leave the airtight container closed for up to four days before burping. After the first week start reducing this until you eventually do it every day in the final weeks.
This will also help you keep an eye, and nose, on how the buds are doing.
Hopefully by the fourth week, although many growers look to take it further to see how far they can cure, you should be greeted with an eye watering pungent smell as you open the jar – this is an indicator of success.
Yet, a smell that is of ammonia, or just doesn’t smell like weed, is most likely mold.
The longer and more optimized your curing process, the higher quality bud. Those frosty, amber haired, buds on the top shelf will have been cured for a long time to develop that level of crystallization and pungency.
As you can see, curing and drying cannabis is a seriously important part of the growing process. No matter how well you grow your marijuana, or the strain, if you don’t cure or dry it properly you can ruin a whole yield.
With the right cure, a basic Blue Dream grow can be better quality and higher THC content than someone who has cured Stardawg incorrectly.
Understanding the effect and importance of a good curing and drying process is the next step to becoming a master marijuana grower.