Drying and curing cannabis is a crucial part of producing great cannabis flower. Properly drying and curing your marijuana not only preserves its cannabinoid and terpene content, but also reduces its chlorophyll content. So, a well-done dry and cure will ensure a better tasting, more potent yield.
Drying and curing your marijuana plants is important, but these processes can also be tricky. A poorly executed dry and/or cure can lead to marijuana that has a lackluster taste, a bad taste, diminished potency, or even molding. But if you’re wondering how to properly dry and cure your marijuana plants, we’re here to help. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to dry and cure marijuana.
About the Drying and Curing Process
People often talk about drying and curing as one step of the post-harvest process, but note these processes are done separately. They are done back-to-back, but each process has its own slightly different goal and its unique own steps.
Drying and curing are two processes that remove moisture from harvested cannabis plants in an optimal way. Drying is done first to remove moisture from the outer layers of cannabis flower. Then, curing is done second to get rid of moisture inside the flower while also making sure the flower doesn’t become excessively dry. When done well, drying and curing not only eliminates unwanted moisture, but also optimizes the taste, smell, and performance of marijuana flower.
Removing moisture from cannabis before smoking or storing it is very important. While the water in a freshly harvested cannabis plant was needed during the growing process, it’s not good for smoking. It’s challenging to get fresh, still-moist cannabis buds to ignite at all and, even if you can get them to light, damp buds are quite harsh with little flavor. Then, the moisture in freshly harvested cannabis is also not good for long-term storage. Mold and bacteria thrive in the dark and damp, so you don’t want to store damp cannabis buds, since they’ll just be a breeding ground for dangerous microorganisms.
While removing moisture is the main goal of drying and curing cannabis, top notch growers know that drying and curing can also make a world of difference in terms of quality. Certain drying and curing methods will preserve terpenes, which enhance the flavor and aroma of your flower, and reduce chlorophyll, which is responsible for the undesirable “vegetal” taste in some lower quality cannabis. Expert drying, curing, and storing methods can also ensure that the cannabinoids in your cannabis flower are preserved, so you don’t lose any of its valuable THC or CBD content.
How to Dry Marijuana
There are two cannabis cultivation strategies for trimming cannabis flower from harvested marijuana: dry trimming and wet trimming. With the dry trimming method, you dry your plants first, then trim off your buds. With the wet trimming method, you trim your buds off your “wet,” not yet dried plants, then dry the buds. Depending on your preferred method, you’ll need to use a slightly different drying technique. However, the general drying process will be the same.
Whether you’re dry trimming or wet trimming, you need to have your cannabis in the same conditions. Harvested cannabis should be dried in a dark room that’s around 60 degrees Fahrenheit and in between 55 and 60 percent humidity. You can measure the heat and humidity of your room using a hygrometer. If you need to adjust your room temperature or humidity levels, you can do so using an air conditioning unit, a heater, a humidifier, and/or a dehumidifier. In addition to keeping your drying room at a certain temperature and humidity, you need to move the airflow around in your room, which you can do using a small fan. You don’t want to blow air directly on your marijuana, since that could dry it out too quickly. You just want to promote fresh air circulation in your room.
Time is a key element in the drying process, but your ideal drying time can vary depending whether you’re dry trimming or wet trimming.
How to Dry Cannabis When Dry Trimming
If you’re using the dry trimming method, you’ll dry your cannabis by hanging your cut branches upside down on a drying line. Hanging your marijuana plant branches upside down helps your flowers maintain a good shape while they dry. When you hang your branches, make sure not to create crowded conditions. Leave some space between your branches to allow for airflow.
Once you hang your branches, let them slowly dry in your temperature and humidity controlled drying room. How long does drying cannabis take? Generally, drying cannabis branches takes around 7 to 10 days. Slowly drying cannabis, rather than trying to rush the process using higher heats and lower humidity, is extremely important for the quality of your final product. Exposing your marijuana to even mildly dry or slightly hot temperatures can make a dramatic impact on the quality of your flower, since dry or hot conditions can degrade both cannabinoids and terpenes.
Note that many growers cut off all of their marijuana plant’s fan leaves at harvest time before hanging them to dry, while others leave some fan leaves on their branches for the drying process. This is because leaving fan leaves on your harvested cannabis branches can slow down your dry time. Whether or not you think that would be advantageous is up to you.
Check for dryness periodically throughout the drying process. The drying process is finished when your flower feels dry on the outside and your stems are starting to snap.
Once your cannabis flower is dry, do your final trimming. Trim off any remaining fan leaves and sugar leaves. Retain the sugar leaves, since they contain trichomes and can be used to make concentrates or infusions. Then, take your dry cannabis buds and move forward with the curing process.
How to Dry Cannabis When Wet Trimming
If you’re using the wet trimming method, you’ll dry your ready-cut buds on a flat drying rack. There are specially-made drying racks available for cannabis buds. Typically circular with mesh racks, these cannabis bud drying racks are designed to promote proper airflow. Another option for drying buds is to create a DIY bud-drying line using one or more hangers.
Drying cannabis buds is faster than drying buds on cannabis branches. Usually, it takes around 2 to 3 days to dry wet-trimmed buds. So, after around 2 to 3 days, touch your buds and see if they’re still wet. If they’re not dry to the touch when you lightly squish them, check for dryness again the next day.
How to Cure Marijuana
Once your marijuana buds are dried on the outside, it’s time to move forward with the curing process.
To cure your cannabis, you need some equipment: airtight jars and a hygrometer for each jar. Most people use glass jars (such as mason jars) to cure cannabis, but you can also use metal, ceramic, or wood jars. Plastic containers (and plastic bags in particular) are not good for curing cannabis, since plastics are permeable to oxygen.
Curing cannabis starts with placing your dried and trimmed buds and in your airtight containers alongside your hygrometers. Fill each container around three quarters full and don’t compact your buds; allow your buds to sit in your containers loosely. Then, seal your containers tightly and store them in a cool, dark, and dry place.
Now, it’s time to monitor the moisture content in your jars. Check the hygrometers in your jars the next day. You want the humidity level in your jars to be between 55 and 65 percent. This humidity level creates a controlled environment that slightly rehydrates the outside of your buds, without also fostering mold or mildew. If your relative humidity level is too high when you check your jars, take their lids off for a half or full day, then reseal them. Do this whenever your moisture level is too high.
Even if your moisture level is perfect during the first week of curing your cannabis, you want to take their lids of once or twice every day, just for a couple of minutes. This process is called burping. It’s essential to burp your buds during the first week of curing cannabis, as it replenishes oxygen in your jars and lets some moisture escape.
After the first week of curing your buds, switch to burping your jars once every several days. Continue to monitor your humidity levels in the coming weeks and watch out for an ammonia smell. If your cannabis lets off an ammonia smell (even if your humidity levels are optimal on your hygrometer), this means it is harboring anaerobic bacteria because it is too wet. If you smell ammonia when opening a jar, leave the jar’s lid off for a full day before resealing.
Curing buds takes longer than drying them, but how long you cure your cannabis comes down to personal preference. Many people find that curing cannabis for 2 to 4 weeks creates a quality final product, while others prefer the results of curing their cannabis for closer to 4 to 8 weeks. Ultimately, how long you cure your cannabis is up to you. Finding the perfect time for your strain and preference may require some trial and error.
Storing Dried and Cured Cannabis
Once cannabis is dried and cured, it’s ready to be sold or used. Professional cannabis cultivators can send their dried and cured cannabis flower off to a dispensary to be sold, while home-growers can store their dried and cured flower in well-sealed containers for later personal use.
Dried and cured cannabis can be stored for around two years in the right conditions. Much like fine wine, cannabis flower is best stored in cool, dark places. Keeping your flower in a cool environment is ideal because warmth can dry out cannabis terpenes, creating a harsh smoke. Over time, warmth can also cause THCA to convert to THC and then degrade into CBN, hurting the potency of your flower. Ultraviolet (UV) rays also promote the degradation of cannabinoids, which is why it’s ideal to store your cannabis in the dark. On top of that, UV rays can create heat, which could dry out or overly humidify your cannabis flower— neither of which you want.
If you’ll be storing a significant amount of dried and cured cannabis for a long period of time, you may also want to invest in some equipment that can help you maintain and monitor humidity levels. Things like a hygrometer or Boveda humidity packs can help you keep your flower fresh and mold-free in long-term storage.
Last but not least, we have a final storage tip: label your strains if you’re storing more than one. It’s easy to forget which strain is in which container or when you sealed up a particular batch of cured flower. So, save yourself from irritating mix ups and uncertainty. Label your strains with their strain name and packaging date as soon as you close up their container.