GREAT TO BE HERE AGAIN to share some cool stuff with you all, I’m The Rev. I get a lot of emails from growers saying their herbs have little or no smells and flavors, or they smell and taste like hay or lawn grass. After months of growing beautiful plants, you can sure screw things up bad in the drying and curing stages. I have seen a few ways different growers dry and cure, some employ vacuum sealing and other moves that just aren’t necessary in my experience. We’re going KISS style (Keep It Simple Stupid) for this article and in my experience, it still works thee best of all. It really comes down to timing here and while there are genetics out there that actually are low smelling without much taste, they are rare. Let’s get into this and give it a try my way if you have troubles at this stage.
Trimming at Harvest
In my experience, it’s a lot easier to do quality trimming in two stages. At the time of harvest while leaves are fresh and still standing out from the stem, first. At this point I take off like 90% of everything that needs to be trimmed from the buds before I hang them. Once they are dry, I then do a final more critical trim/manicure on them to remove things like petioles etc. Of course, you could do all your trimming during the first trim if you like, but I prefer the two-stage methodology.
I always trim them at harvest for ease of trimming for sure, but also because I believe that removing most excess vegetable matter (leaves etc.) before hanging them to dry keeps any of that green grass/big green leaf smells from the leaves “rubbing off” on the floral matter (buds/flowers). This is especially important with exotic sativas. Get a good quality pair of trimmers with long slender blades allowing you to dive into the buds to trim any petioles, cutting them as close to the stem as possible. Petioles FYI are the little stems that connect the leaves to the stems. Removing any of these you can, will greatly help with the smoothness and elegance of your final product. Petioles burn harsh just like stems would, because, they are stems. It’s a connoisseur move (Druid move).
Buds Hang in Dim or No Lighting Air Exchange Is Essential
The Hanging Environment
There must be both, air circulating and air exchange. The humidity should be between 40-60 percent optimally, don’t stray from those guidelines. Temperatures should be mild; 70-80 degrees F. is beautiful. Dim lighting on the hanging buds is fine but no intense lighting—this makes a pretty big difference and more lighting tends to enhance any “green” smells and flavors in my experience. The air should be moving but you never want to point any static fans directly at drying plants. And just to repeat this important part…You will also need air exchange along with air movement; obviously.
How Long to Hang Them?
Now you can hang branches or whole plants, whole plants take longer by about a week or ten days. Asking me or anyone else how long you need to let them hang is like asking someone how often you should water your plants; the only real true answer is: “It depends.” They absolutely need to hang drying for at least two weeks, and some of mine take 4 or 5 weeks, depending on my drying area environment and ambient weather conditions. As in, they will dry slower if it is raining outside everyday unless you have some control over the humidity and will dry faster if it is hot outside (and dry) and you cannot control the temperatures. Let’s do this KISS style, shall we?
This is so simple my friends, simply wait until the medium thick branches snap (make a cracking sound) when you bend them; it’s a pretty sharp crack. If you are hanging whole plants you want to wait until the medium thick axial branches snap when bent. Additionally, before harvesting your plants, while they are still in their containers, try to let them get a little dry, not like drought stress levels, but on the dry side, this accelerates drying time and I’m convinced it enhances smells and flavors towards the stronger side.
Rev’s Tip: It’s always better to have them be a little too dry rather than a little too moist before sealing them up, so err on the side of caution.
A Good Dry and Cure Really Brings Out the Elegance of Organically Grown Herbs of All Kinds
Once you confirm they are dry enough, and don’t be fooled here because they will “seem” dry to you, way before the stems will snap. I do my second serious manicure at this point as I said above. I would recommend removing as many buds as possible from the stems using good trimmers, avoid handling the flowers if you can. So, if doing the final (second) trim, do it before removing the buds from the stem.
At this point you will want to seal them up, airtight, and in the dark; I like Mason Jars here but I have seen plastic (food grade plastic) also work well. Seal up the buds for about 2 days, 36 hours at least. Then open the containers and squeeze and smell test them, all should be well at this point and you can reseal them up and let them stay sealed and in the dark (cooler temperatures are best here and above 85 degrees is not recommended) at around 65-75 degrees F. I like to let them cure (remain sealed and unopened) for at least two weeks; and a whole month is all good. Myself, I like to use a greater number of smaller jars for my personal cannabis. Cured herbs are something like ice cream, and once their containers start being opened and closed often they slightly degrade from their pristine state starting a few weeks after the jar is opened.
If when you check them at the 2-day mark, they seem too moist or you can detect a musty odor in the background, take them out and spread them out exposed to the air, and darkness is best here but for sure you will need it at least dim. Put a fan on them for about 6 hours, let them sit without the fan on them for a few more hours, then check them. If they are good, reseal them up, as above. If not, then fan them again, until they are dried. This is a skill for sure so get good at it yooze guys. See ya next time, Rev out.
I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for about a decade now. I hail from Southern California, spent mucho time in Northern California, and now reside in Southern Oregon; always coastal. I am an all natural style cannabis grower and I have written a couple books on the subject - check out True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon - I have been growing for over 45 years, and I have been breeding cannabis for over 30 years. Check out kingdomorganicseeds.com to see some exotic selections. Growing connoisseur cannabis is what I teach mostly, growing it in living soil without using liquid organic nutrients to feed the plant. I am also a highly skilled synthetics grower, hydroponics, aeroponics, DWC/SWC/NFT, Ebb and Flow, and soilless, but I cringe when smoking synthetic grown herbs, so for the last 15 years or so I preach the artisan style of all natural growing, specializing in container growing. Cheers and welcome aboard.