For anyone who has been growing cannabis plants outdoors, this is a very exciting month. After nurturing those little darlings since the early summer it's payback time! But even the best harvests can be spoiled if you don't pay attention to the cannabis trimming process.
As with everything in cannabis cultivation, each grower has their own 'best way' which works for them and this is just the same with cannabis trimming. Essentially there are two ways to trim cannabis - wet trim and dry trim - and each has its own advantages.
Cannabis Trimming: The Dry Trim Technique
The grower will cut off the plant's branches and hang them up in a drying space. After these branches have dried out, the buds will then be given a close manicure. One of the biggest arguments for cannabis trimming this way is that this method produces a better quality product, more matured with enhanced smell, taste and effect. The disadvantage is that it takes longer and if the drying conditions aren't right, all that foliage can attract mold.
Cannabis Trimming: The Wet Trim Technique
The grower will harvest and manicure the buds down to size immediately. It means the trimming process is a one shot deal and this method will also speed up the drying process as there is less surface matter and the drying buds will also take up less space.
Regardless of trimming method, both require the same set of tools and preparation stages.
While this essential guide to trimming cannabis is useful for the beginner, it is also a handy checklist for the experienced!
Cannabis Trimming Essential Tools
- One set of sterilized scissors (or two if you are inviting a friend over for a trim party!). A bottle of surgical spirit (rubbing alcohol) on hand is a good idea for sterilization and also for helping to clean accumulated gunk off the scissors as they tend to get clogged up pretty quickly.
- Latex gloves (or alternative). Handling all that bud will lead to THC being absorbed through the skin according to a study which backs up a lot of anecdotal evidence. 'Great!' some trimmers might say, but trimming is a time consuming job already and much longer still if you're absorbing high levels of THC... Anyone new to trimming is always astonished by how quickly and how sticky their fingers become. One of these days someone will make a killing from bud residue glue
- Newspaper. Newspaper is a multi -purpose friend - one sheet for tossing trimmed buds, another for tossing trimmed leaf, another for wiping down your scissors, another for reading if you get bored or want a break...
- Change of clothes. This is optional, but if you are working in a confined space with a newly culled cannabis plant oozing terpenes, you will stink and everything you wear will stink. If you have to go to meet your granny for dinner, or drive somewhere after the job, you will want to ditch those cutting clothes! A hat is especially recommended. Nothing clings to the hair like the smell of fresh cut bud!
- Plan for disposal. A wet trim of cannabis produces a lot of leaf! Once the job is done, that leaf needs to go somewhere. For the country mouse this is not such a problem, but for the town mouse it can be a real headache. Leaving the house with a bag full of trim will set the paranoia flowing, even for those who haven't been cutting away all night with no gloves. Common places to avoid dumping the waste - your own trash, a neighbor's trash, a pond, lake or small river (it will just float), a park (you never know who is coming around the corner).
- Plan for drying. Once the bud is cut - wet or dry trim - it needs to hang in a space with good airflow and a constant temperature of approximately 18 - 20 degrees centigrade (64 - 68 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first three days before dropping down a couple of degrees until the drying process is completed. This is easier for the indoor grower because they can use their grow space, but the outdoor grower has to plan for this crucial stage of the crop. Compromising on this will affect the final product quite significantly so using a fan and a small heater (on a thermostat timing switch) to achieve ideal temperature and airflow is highly recommended. There are many cannabis drying rack and net products on the market, but equally effective is a hammock made from garden mesh or horizontal strings of cotton (using the drawing pins to fix between two points!) from which buds can hang on a bit of stalk acting like a hook.
- Plan for the big stink! It's going to be a smelly few days so factor this into your plans. Having a drying space in the attic is good and so is a room with a window and lots of fresh air flowing in and out. However if that window backs onto the neighbor's house, not so good... Consider external factors too - for example a weekend will bring less chance of delivery people and telephone engineers coming to your door. If you can see a couple of days of bad weather coming on the horizon, that's a good time too (as your neighbors will be staying inside and you can open the window wider!
As with all cannabis cultivation, trimming post-harvest requires a bit of thinking and some planning to minimize the risk of being discovered. While it is inevitably a tense few days, the best way to get through it is to make sure you have sufficiently prepared! God luck and happy harvesting!