The cannabis cultivation process wouldn’t be complete without the drying and curing process, which should be done correctly if growers want to have thriving marijuana plants which will yield potent buds.
If this is your first time growing weed, you certainly have a list of questions, and how to dry the cannabis flower will definitely be at the top of that list. When starting with cannabis cultivation, growers should aim to cultivate juicy buds with a large number of trichomes by maintaining adequate humidity, temperature, and light in the grow rooms. Come harvest time, they need to focus on how best to dry and cure their buds to get a better price for their final product.
So without further ado, let’s talk all about cannabis drying – how it’s done and how long it takes, as well as how to cure it.
Drying Weed as an Important Step in Cannabis Cultivation
Seasoned cannabis cultivators know that the key to producing potent cannabis buds comes down to the type of strain they cultivate, but more importantly, the drying and curing processes. This is what makes your buds go from mediocre to high-quality.
Drying the cannabis is essential after harvesting as it removes the excess moisture from the buds, which can make them prone to developing mold and mildew. Furthermore, slowly drying and later curing your buds will enable maximum cannabinoid and terpene retention which is extremely important if you want to sell your cannabis at top dollar (and preserve your buds for a longer time).
How to Dry Cannabis?
To get buds of the highest quality at the end of the drying process, it’s best to take your time with it since speed drying the buds can affect their overall quality.
Depending on the relative humidity levels where you live, you can choose to either dry your whole plant upside down (which can take a longer time) or cut away smaller branches and only dry the buds. If you opt for the latter method, you should remove the larger and smaller branches, as well as the sugar leaves during harvest. Depending on your environment and humidity levels, you can either choose to leave the fan leaves to retain moisture and prevent the buds from drying too quickly, or cut them off altogether.
Relative Humidity Levels
Before you start drying marijuana, you need to keep adequate moisture content and relative humidity levels in mind. As we’ve mentioned above, you’d want to dry the buds at a relatively slow pace. Essentially, you should dry the cannabis buds to about 60% moisture before curing.
Depending on the relative humidity where you live, you can choose how to trim and dry your cannabis plant. We’ll go over the 3 general scenarios for relative humidity (RH) levels:
- Dry (RH under 30%) – to slow down the drying process, leave more leaves to allow the plant more time to dry.
- Average RH levels – just hang your cannabis upside-down and let it dry.
- Humid (Over 60% RH) – to prevent mold and mildew from developing in areas with high RH, separate the buds from the branches, trim them, and place them on a drying rack.
How to Prepare Before Drying Your Cannabis Plants?
Before you proceed to trimming and drying your weed, you’ll need to purchase a few essentials, such as:
- A drying rack or a paper bag (if drying just the buds).
After you have all your essentials on hand, you can start trimming your plant to prepare it for the drying process.
The drying rack should be placed in a dark room to prevent sunlight exposure which reduces cannabinoid content (THC, CBD, and others). Drying your buds in darkness also helps to reduce the chlorophyll in cannabis which makes for a harsher smoke.
The optimal conditions in the dark room include a temperature between 60-70°F (15-21°C) and relative humidity levels that vary between 45% and 55%. It’s useful to have a small fan that provides good air circulation and an even airflow (though you shouldn’t aim the fan directly at the buds as it can overdry them), a dehumidifier which will maintain optimal RH levels, a humidifier which will increase the humidity, and/or an air conditioner which will cool or heat the air in the grow room.
The Cannabis Drying Process
After trimming your cannabis, it’s time to start drying it. Place your weed on hangers on the drying rack if you’ve opted for a trim which includes some of the stems and fan leaves, or on a paper bag or cardboard if you only have the buds.
It’s essential to maintain optimal conditions in the grow room to prevent your buds from over-drying or becoming moldy. You’ll know that your buds are ready for curing if the small stems of weed snap when you try to break them.
During this process, your buds will go through several levels of drying which will affect the RH levels of the bud:
- 70+% RH – this level of RH isn’t enough for you to start curing since you can end up with mold on your buds;
- 65-69% RH – this level of RH is good if you want to start curing, though you need to keep the lid off for a few hours;
- 60-64% RH – this level of RH is the ideal one for curing;
- 59% RH or less – this level of RH isn’t that good and if it drops below 55%, you can use a Boveda humidity pack to increase the humidity levels to at least 60%.
How Long Does It Take to Dry Weed?
The length of the cannabis drying process depends on the trim before drying. For example, individual buds will dry faster compared to weed dried with its stems and fan leaves. The process can last between 5-10 days during which you should check your weed daily and ensure it has optimal drying conditions.
To check if the weed is properly dried, bend the larger stems. If they snap, the buds are ready for curing, if they bend, they need a bit more time. Just make sure to not overdry the buds, since the curing process will take a longer time (and your weed may not even cure properly). What you should do in that situation is introduce Boveda humidity packs to re-introduce some humidity to your buds.
How to Cure Cannabis?
After the weed has dried adequately, it’s time to start curing it and increase the overall bud quality so you can get a good price when selling to a dispensary.
The Difference Between Drying Cannabis and Curing Cannabis
The drying and curing processes are very different from one another. The former aims to remove moisture from the buds to ensure an even burn, while the latter develops a better terpene profile, a higher potency of the cannabinoids, and reduces the harshness of the weed.
So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how you can best cure your weed to complement the drying process.
Essentials for Curing Cannabis
Curing cannabis also requires a few essentials which will make the process easier for you. Those include:
- Glass mason jars (32 oz ones);
- Hygrometer (fits inside the mason jar and measures the RH which is extremely important while curing);
- Boveda humidity packs (extremely important for maintaining RH levels, especially if you’ve dried your weed too much).
The Curing Process
Curing can take anywhere between 2 weeks to up to 6 months, depending on what type of strain you’re curing. Some strains develop an even better taste when they’re cured for longer, while others don’t. Make sure you research the strain you’re planning to cultivate, cure, and dry, so you know how long the curing process will take.
The ideal containers for curing cannabis are the wide-mouthed glass mason jars. The 32 oz ones will be enough for weed from about 2 cannabis plants, which means you’ll fill the jar about 75%. This will ensure the buds have enough room to cure and will prevent mold development. Also, make sure the buds are adequately dry before placing them in jars – if they stick together in the jar, they need to be dried further.
Throughout the whole curing process, it’s important to maintain the relative humidity levels between 60-65% which can be done by placing a hygrometer in the jar and checking it often.
During the first 2 weeks of curing, it’s important to open the mason jars twice a day for a few minutes. This procedure is called “burping” and it allows excess moisture to escape the jar, as well as fresh air to get in. After the first few weeks, you can open the jar once a week or less. The curing process will be complete in about 2 weeks to 6 months, depending on the strain.
Final Thoughts on Drying Weed and Storing Cannabis Long-Term
To sum up, the drying process is the one that requires the least amount of time in the whole process of cannabis cultivation, harvesting, drying, and curing. It can take your buds between 5 and 10 days to fully dry, though that doesn’t mean that you already have the final product. After you’ve dried the cannabis buds, you need to cure the buds to ensure a good terpene and cannabinoid profile.
Once you’re done curing, you can proceed to storing your buds so as to maintain long-term bud potency. For this, you’ll need to store your buds in air-tight containers like the mason jars you’ve been using for curing and place them in a cool and dark environment. For long-term storage, you can use a vacuum seal to retain the potency and terpene profile for years to come. Now you can enjoy your perfectly dried and cured buds by grinding them in your grinder, and adding them to your favorite bong.