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Harvesting cannabis buds is one of the most exciting activities of the growing season, but your work is not quite done after cutting down your buds.
After harvest, most growers perform a drying and curing process to reduce moisture levels and improve bud flavor and aroma.
Why do freshly harvested cannabis buds need to be dried? Can you smoke them right after harvesting? How to dry cannabis on a budget? Our cannabis drying guide breaks down one of the most essential steps in growing quality bud.
The drying process happens after harvest and involves hanging freshly cut cannabis branches or laying them down over a screen to dry.
In a climate-controlled space, the excess moisture of cannabis plants evaporates, allowing its flavor and aroma to shine through.
How you perform the drying process directly correlates with the quality of your dried marijuana buds.
Improperly dried buds can develop mold and mildew, which is harmful to consume, producing a harsh flavor and smoke due to the high chlorophyll content. Proper drying of the plant gives you the best flavor, aroma, and potency.
Speeding through the drying process or letting the plants dry for too long can be detrimental to the bud quality. Under-drying increases the risk of mold. Overdrying can produce a crumbly and brittle flower.
Drying cannabis buds is affordable and straightforward.
Here is what you need to dry cannabis:
- Climate-controlled drying room/space
- Drying rack or drying hanger
- Exhaust venting and intake fan
- Airtight containers to store bud
- Hygrometer to monitor temperature and humidity
- Circulating fan (optional)
- Humidifier or dehumidifier (optional)
For optimal cannabis drying, dry your flowers in a clean and sanitized space. Sunlight or artificial light can speed up the evaporation of the plant’s essential oils. Drying room environments vary based on the climate in the area.
Ensure your drying room maintains the right temperature and relative humidity (RH):
- Temperature – 65º to 75º F (18º to 24º C)
- RH% – 0 to 55%
Cannabis drying rooms must be properly ventilated. Ensure your space has a regular supply of fresh air coming in to replace the stale air. As plants dry, you may need to use various odor control strategies to manage the smell of the evaporated terpenes.
How To Dry Cannabis?
Before you dry marijuana buds, you need to cut down your plant. Harvesting times usually start when most of the plant’s trichomes have turned amber. In some cases, growers may skip the drying and curing process and freeze their marijuana flower to produce live products like live resin, which have a higher concentration of terpenes.
How you dry your buds depends on whether you perform wet trimming or dry trimming techniques. Wet-trimmed buds are trimmed of their excess foliage at their peak freshness.
Dry trimming is more common in commercial settings and involves cutting off branches, hanging them upside down, and trimming its leaves when the plant is dry.
There are two main methods of drying marijuana plants. You can dry your buds on a screen if you trim your cannabis plant before drying. You can lay them down on cardboard if you do not have a screen. Just make sure to turn the buds to avoid excessively wet spots. If you trim your cannabis crop after drying it, you can remove the fan leaves and hang branches on a hanger.
If you plan to hang branches upside down on a hanger, leave a “V” in the stalk of each branch piece. Hang buds upside down in an open area with plenty of airflow. Make sure there is no direct airflow on the harvested cannabis.
How Long Does the Drying Process Take?
Cannabis buds can take anywhere from two days to two weeks to fully dry. Drying time depends on the temperature, relative humidity, light, and cleanliness of a drying room. Crop and bud size can affect the time it takes to dry buds.
Avoid speeding up the drying process with hairdryers, in ovens, or using microwaves. Not only will your buds taste and smell bad, but you will be losing out on many of its cannabinoids and terpenes. If you plan to use a fan, let it circulate air around the plant and not directly at the buds, which can risk drying them out too soon.
You know when your cannabis is done drying when the stems snap when bent instead of just bending. You can see if your branches are dry enough after four or five days. Buds will still have some moisture that will be removed when curing cannabis.
After drying cannabis, growers must perform a curing process. Usually, this involves placing their properly dried buds in an airtight container to cure over a few weeks or months. Wide mouth mason jars make great containers to cure your buds. Curing cannabis should occur in a cool and dark space with a relative humidity of 55 to 65%.
Cannabis buds should be “burped” a few times per day for about 20 minutes. When burping cannabis, you open the containers to allow fresh air to replace the stale air. Check your buds for mold. Curing can take as little as two weeks or as long as six months, depending on the plant’s genetics and your individual preference.
Drying and curing cannabis is the final step of the process before you can enjoy your cannabis flower. If you want to learn more on how to dry cannabis like a pro and extract oils from the plant to make a wide range of infusions, including edibles and topicals, enroll in CTU’s online marijuana training. Start your higher education today!
Luis Cordova is a distinguished author, and renowned expert in cannabis cultivation, who possesses a Master's degree in Plant Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Science. As a valued contributor to highly esteemed publications such as Cannabis Training University and Maximum Yield Magazine, Luis has emerged as a trusted source of guidance and knowledge in the cannabis industry. Having written thousands of informative articles, Luis is widely recognized for his comprehensive expertise on cultivating cannabis, both indoors and outdoors.