November 5, 2012

The Harvest

Curing Cannabis Properly

When your cannabis buds are at their peak ripe and resinous it is time to harvest your plants.  This involves first trimming the buds then letting them hang and dry in a cool dark place for a few days. This will only partly dry the buds. Getting out the remaining moisture is done through the process of curing. The cure is the last step between your buds and that 3 foot bong in the living room.  This process averages about 30 days and by curing cannabis properly will have bud that has better taste, flavor and even potency.


Harvesting Cannabis

You want your buds to be taken at their absolute pinnacle of dankness. To get a general idea of when to harvest use a hand held (pocket) microscope which is really the best way in figuring out to take down your cannabis plant(s). The microscope will let you look at the color of the bud’s tiny THC crystals (Trichomes) discerning the amber crystals from the milky clear.


Trichomes progress from clear to milky white, and finally on to light amber. Higher concentrations of clear or milky trichomes will tend to cure buds with more of a “high” effect. While buds with higher concentrations of amber crystals will cause a stronger “stoned” effect. Checking the progression of trichome color on you buds you can decide when to harvest. A good general ratio is 40% to 60% amber trichomes to milky/clear.



When 40% of buds are covered in amber trichomes it is time to stop any nutrients and use water only. This will flush the plant and wash out any harsh tastes or chemical residue. When your ideal trichome ratio is reached stop watering all together and wait another 3 days. Give your plants 24 hours of complete darkness before harvesting to increase final resin production. After which you can harvest your plants all at once by cutting clean at the base an inch above the soil. 




You will need to immediately hang the plant in a place that will be cool and dark with a constant supply of fresh circulating air. This can be in a small closet or in some cases the box you grew the cannabis plants in. Once the plants are cut but not yet hung you will want to manicure and trim any large leaves away from and off the buds.

From here you can further separate individual branches from the main stem hanging them to dry. Use twine or fishing line to hang the branches secured with clothes pins or twist ties if needed. The drying room should stay in a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F | 21°C and 26.5°C with mid to low range being ideal. No light should be allowed to enter your drying space. You will also want a fan in the room to circulate air however never allow the fan’s air to directly hit the drying buds. Bounce the air current off a wall if you have to.

The ideal humidity range in your drying room is 45-55%. This range best keeps buds from either drying too fast or too slow. Your hanging cannabis flowers will take 3 to 7 days to dry to the point that the stems give a crisp “snap”. At this point your buds are almost entirely dry and your work nearly finished. The final process of curing will sweat out the last of the buds moisture. 



The art of curing cannabis and is often said to be harder to master than growing. You can cure buds in any air-tight resealable container. However opaque (non-clear) glass jars are the best as light degrades THC.  Cut off the marijuana buds from their respective stem and gently pack them inside your jars/container to about 75% full. Then store in a cool dark room (65°F to 75°F | 18°C to 24°C).


Each day for the next consecutive five open the jars completely for 15 minutes. Doing this sweats out the remaining excess moisture that has leached out inside the jars. After this time leave the buds sealed in their containers for about a month. You can periodically open the jars to whiff their curing in progress. The buds will slowly shift from a harsh leafy chlorophyll like odor to that signature cannabis aroma.

Certain strains of cannabis will take longer to smooth out than others however after about two months of curing most strains should be quite ready to smoke.

Buds can cure almost indefinitely so long as they are kept away from heat and light. The longer buds have to cure the more their flavor  potency and smoothness improve.

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