Properly processing the cannabis at harvest is a craft that must be mastered in order to enhance and preserve the psychoactive properties, the taste and the appearance of the finished product. Many talented growers fail to implement some of the following techniques and the result is not up to maximum potential. Inadequate or poor handling after harvest is the biggest cause of, less than top quality cannabis. This problem is compounded by the fact that most growers feel his or her pot is better than everyone else’s. Try to tell a grower whom is your friend that he or she could do a better job on trimming and curing; this will usually result in the end of a friendship. A good trim and cure can make the difference between green tasting, hard to burn nugs and pleasurable, smooth, clean burning dank nugs.
There are two basic methods used by growers, when harvesting their cannabis. Some growers prefer to cut the buds from the branches individually, while others growers may prefer to harvest the entire plant, by cutting it off at the main stalk near the bottom.
Many for a few reasons, prefer individual cola harvesting. With some cannabis plants the buds will finish at different times. For example; the top colas may be already ripe and can be removed to allow the lower branches to be exposed to light, therefore allowing the lower buds to further ripen giving a larger yield.
Individual harvesting and drying is faster than drying a whole harvested cannabis plant. When a cannabis plant is harvested the stomata on the surface of the leaves and calyxes will start closing off, allowing only a small amount of water vapors to escape through the stomata. Thus forcing the excess moisture stored within the stems/stalks to exit through the cuts you have made on the stalks/stems when harvesting. The less cuts for the water vapors to exit through, the longer the drying time will be.
For the best end results we have found that upon harvest, it is best to trim all foliage from the colas/buds while the foliage is still rigid and fully hydrated. It is very important to remove as many leaves protruding from the bud, as possible. These leaves still contain chlorophyll, which will adversely affect the taste of your finished product. Some growers prefer to leave these leaves to curl around the bud for finished appearance. We feel that it will definitely take away from the taste and smoothness of the finished product.
Trimming is a tedious job that requires a lot of patience, self-discipline, and the proper supplies. It is important to have a good pair of scissors for trimming. A good ten-dollar pair of hair cutting shears will do the job very well. It is nice to have a bowl for the shade leaves and a bowl for the sugar leaves. We like to separate the shade leaves from the sugar leaves, as we utilize the sugar leaves for hash and butter making. A table, along with a comfortable chair, and good lighting are also musts for trimming. Try to sit up straight and keep your back straight, set goals and take breaks; trimming a full crop can mean several days worth of work, even for the experienced trimmer.
Drying your buds is simply a process that precedes the end curing process, drying is merely an act of removing the excess water from the cannabis. We like to leave the buds on the stems and hang on a string or hanger of some sort. It is best to dry the buds in a place that allows for indirect lighting and also adequate air circulation. A fan is good to have in the room, but not to be directly pointed at the hanging buds. Allow the buds to dry until they are crisp on the outside and the stems will still be pliable, since the stems contain so much residual moisture it is best at this time to remove the buds from the stems and place in a large bowl, on a screen or a tray. In our climate the hanging time is about five days, but the drying time will vary due to humidity. We like the buds to dry slowly as this makes for a smoother cure, rather than drying the buds too quickly. When buds are allowed to dry slowly the humidity is closer to that of the inside of the stomata. If cannabis is dried to rapidly, the ‘green’ taste will remain present in the finished product. According to the time of year, the temperature and the type of heat in your home humidity, airflow, and the density of your buds; drying time can vary from five days to ten days.
Cannabis will continue to cure after it is harvested, while it is drying and even after it is placed into a jar. Just like a fine wine or a gourmet coffee bean, marijuana needs to be cured to achieve the rich, robust, smooth taste that lingers on your palette and in your brain. During the curing period the cannabinoid acids go through the process of decarboxylation into the psychoactive cannabinoids and the terpenes will isomerize to create new polyterpenes. Just as with any other fruit, when cannabis is harvested, the fruit or bud is not dead, it continues to metabolize. If you pick a tomato from your garden and it is still partially green, you would set it in the windowsill to further ripen or metabolize. Another example is a fresh banana, it may still show green on the peel and the fruit inside is hard and the taste is milder, as the banana ages the peel will turn darker yellow and the fruit inside will become softer and have a more rich flavor. The more robust flavors and tantalizing fragrances begin to appear as the chlorophyll and other pigments begin to break down.
When the small stems, which remain under the buds, are completely dry enough to snap and the buds are dry enough to smoke, it is time to start the end curing process. We use glass-canning jars, such as Mason, Ball or Kerr, to cure and store our finished product. Freezer bags can also be used for storage of cannabis. Do not store your cannabis in sandwich bags or anything made of a similar plastic, because the cannabis will become to dry and it will lose potency. It is important to open the jars to allow in oxygen that is needed for the curing process, and to allow gases built up from the curing process to escape. During the first three days we open the jars once a day. After the first three days, for two weeks open your jars twice a week, then one time after the first month; at which time the cure will be complete. Make sure your cannabis is completely dry before leaving it in sealed jars or containers. Leaving wet cannabis in any sealed jar or container will result in mold, and it will become unsafe to smoke.
Store your jarred, cured cannabis in a cool dark place, to help slow the break down of the cannabinoids. Although cannabis needs oxygen through the metabolizing/curing stage, oxygen plays an adverse roll on already cured cannabis causing the breakdown of THC into CBN. We store our marijuana in canning jars with lids on tight, inside of a cool dark closet.
Implementation of the simple steps listed above will make your dank a legend amongst your friends.
Calyxes… The sepals of a flower considered as a group.
Cannabinoid… Any of various organic substances, such as THC, found in cannabis.
Canna-Butter… Butter reprocessed with cannabinoids
(Cannabinol) Occurs during the breakdown of THC in the curing process.
Chlorophyll… Any of a group of green pigments that are found in the chloroplasts of plants.
Curing… To prepare, preserve, or finish (a substance) by a chemical or physical process.
Decarboxylation… Removal of a carboxyl group from a chemical compound, usually with hydrogen replacing it.
Harvest… The process of gathering a crop at the end of its season.
Hash… Purified resinous extract of the hemp plant; used as a hallucinogen. Bubble Hash
Humidity… Wetness in the atmosphere.
Isomeric… Any of two or more substances that are composed of the same elements in the same proportions but differ in properties because of differences in the arrangement of atoms.
Isomerize… To cause to change into an isomeric form.
Metabolism… The chemical processes occurring within a living cell or organism that are necessary for the maintenance of life. In metabolism some substances are broken down to yield energy for vital processes while other substances, necessary for life, are synthesized.
Metabolize… To subject (a substance) to metabolism.
(Fungi) A superficial often, woolly growth produced especially on damp or decaying organic matter or on living organisms.
Oxygen… A nonmetallic element constituting 21 percent of the atmosphere by volume that occurs as a diatomic gas, O2, and in many compounds such as water and iron ore. It combines with most elements, is essential for plant and animal respiration, and is required for nearly all combustion.
Poly… More than one; many; much
Psychoactive… Affecting the mind, mood, or other mental processes. THC is the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana
Stomata… One of the minute pores in the epidermis of a leaf or stem through which gases and water vapor pass.
Terpenes… Any of various unsaturated hydrocarbons, C10H16, found in essential oils and oleoresins of plants and used in organic syntheses.
(tetrahydrocannabinol) A compound, C21H30O2, obtained from cannabis or made synthetically, that is the primary intoxicant in marijuana and hashish.
**Written and Photographed by: MzJill of Subcool Seeds/TGA