With the leaves falling and temperatures dropping, Autumn is well and truly upon us. Many of us love everything that comes with Autumn, cosy jumpers, snuggling up next to the fire and of course pumpkin spice lattes.
Autumn has been the time for harvest for many years now. The list of hardy vegetables and crops that are ripe for picking in Autumn is endless. Pumpkin, beetroots, carrots, radishes and turnips to name but a few.
However, when it comes to my favourite Autumn time crop, it is without a doubt cannabis. Many outdoor growers harvest their sweet buds in late September or early October. This is to make sure that those cannabis trees soak up every last bit of summertime sunshine. Even all those years ago I am sure the Autumn harvest brought more green vegetables than spinach for our ancestors.
It is during the Autumn time harvest that the true work begins for cannabis cultivators. Cannabis plants require a little more TLC to get the best out of your newly flowering buds.
By properly drying and curing freshly harvested cannabis buds, the true potential of the plant shines through. If you tried to smoke cannabis buds straight from the stem you would end up with a strange smoke that was like freshly cut grass.
To preserve and bring out cannabis’ delicious flavour profile, the buds must be brought through the drying and curing process. Drying and curing the buds should help to bring out all the strain’s unique terpenes.
What are Cannabis Terpenes?
Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds in cannabis. These terpenes have a major role in giving strains certain aromas, flavours and even colours that differ from one another.
How To Dry Cannabis
Just like Goldilocks and that perfect bowl of porridge, drying has to be done just right. The drying process shouldn’t be too long, so as not to develop mould on the buds. However, if the drying process is not long enough, the outsides of the buds may be dry while the insides are still wet.
On average, drying your buds should take 2-7 days. This can vary from strain to strain. Some experts like a longer drying time while others believe in a short and sweet process.
Dry Trimming or Wet Trimming Cannabis
There are two main ways that buds can be dried and this greatly depends on the trimming method.
The easiest method and most widely used is dry trimming. This is when plants are left to hang upside down directly after harvest. They are usually hung on a line or rail. This prevents the buds from losing their shape. Once dry, any excess leaves or foliage is then trimmed away. As all plant matter has to dry this dry trimming process can take a little longer compared to wet trimming.
Wet trimming is when extra matter such as leaves has been cut away directly after harvesting. From there the trimmed buds are placed on a drying rack. Wet trimming is often a shorter process as much of the extra material is cut away in advance.
A top tip is by checking the stem you will know whether your buds are dry or not. After 2 days, come back and check the stem by bending it. If the stem snaps then the plant is dry. If it bends, a little extra time is needed and the branches should be left to dry a little longer.
Much like a seamstress needs some space to sew, you will need a space to dry your weed. A good drying room requires a couple of elements to get the best out of your buds. The optimal space will be relatively humid, have no direct exposure to light, have good air circulation and ideally maintain a temperature of 15-20 °C.
How To Cure Cannabis Buds?
Curing is the process that happens after the cannabis buds have been dried out. Many overlook this process, however curing your cannabis buds properly will make all the difference in the quality of the smoke. By curing the buds, you unlock all the flavours and smells that are unique to your grown strain.
During curing, you will be storing finished buds in airtight containers. Patience is key during curing as the whole process can take anywhere between two to four weeks. Some strains can benefit from even longer curing periods of six months and even longer.
In these airtight jars, any leftover moisture continues to draw from the centre of the bud to the outside.
The ideal humidity levels are between 55-65%. If you can afford a digital hygrometer, this handy device allows you to keep an eye on the humidity levels to make sure the humidity is just right as your buds cure.
Old school cannabis aficionados keep things less technological. Some prefer to go off the look and feel of the buds. If the buds are too dry, a humidity pack is needed to rehydrate buds. If the buds are too wet, leave the lid of the jar open for a day maximum before resealing. This can be repeated until the ideal moisture is achieved.
A proper cure not only results in more flavoursome buds but you will be able to store your cannabis for much longer. If done correctly, curing means you should be able to store your buds for up to 2 years without any major loss in potency.
How To Store Cannabis Buds?
When it comes to storing your cannabis it is important not to get complacent. You’ve just spent weeks nurturing your cannabis seeds, growing, harvesting, drying and curing your buds. Be sure to store your cannabis in the perfect environment to preserve your hard work.
The three major elements you need to watch out for when storing your buds are humidity, light and temperature.
Excessive heat can completely dry out your cannabis. Both essential oils and plant material can get too dry and result in harsh and hot smoke. It is best to store your cannabis in a cool dry place.
To keep mildew and other moulds at bay, it is recommended to keep cannabis between 55-65% humidity. Usually, when stored within this kind of humidity range it helps to maintain and even enhance the consistency, aroma, colour and flavour of the stored buds.
UV rays can break down materials in cannabis. Over time these UV rays can really degrade the cannabis. It is recommended to cure your cannabis in a place out of direct sunlight or where light can be controlled.
It’s not quite as simple as picking buds off the trees and sparking up with cannabis plants. With that said, those who are willing to put in that extra bit of work and spend some extra time drying and curing their cannabis buds will reap the rewards. As well as having tastier buds to enjoy, you will be able to make that stash last for a lot longer with a good drying and curing process.