Growing Marijuana: Drying & Curing for Perfect Buds


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By Gary Anderson

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Drying and curing can make or break your buds!
(Click to enlarge)

" After you’ve grown and harvested your marijuana, there are two more steps you need to take. "

After watering, fertilizing, caring for, and harvesting your finished marijuana plants, you still have two more important steps before your buds are ready to smoke: drying and curing.

You can do everything right during the growing season and harvest your plants at just the right time for peak THC, taste, and aroma, but if your drying and curing are wrong, you lose marijuana potency and value.

And I have to tell you, it's sad that in about 50% of the cannabis grow ops I’ve seen, growers are not using the best drying and curing methods, thus robbing themselves of the full THC, taste, aroma and longevity that their buds could have had. It’s a waste of money, high, and time.

Before we talk about drying and curing, let’s first take a moment to recall the selective harvesting method we talked about before, in which you have the option of harvesting individual buds as they become ripe.

This gives immature buds (usually they’re the buds buried lower in the canopy) the chance to more fully ripen. You get heavier and more potent harvests when you harvest selectively rather than harvesting the entire plant all at once.

After your buds are cut, drying and curing are the final but crucial steps in the journey from clone or seedling to tasty, potent marijuana ready for you to smoke.

In the past, people hung their buds from clothes hangers to dry them. Nowadays, more and more growers put their buds in a portable, marijuana-specific drying rack such as the "Quick Cure." The name is a bit misleading…you don’t cure your buds in the Quick Cure. You dry them, and then you cure them in a different setting.

What I'm trying to emphasize is that drying is not the same as curing, but one of the mistakes I used to make was to just dry my buds and package them, without curing. 

Now, as regards, how you do your actual harvest and how that affects drying and curing, the beneficial thing about cutting and drying individual buds, instead of cutting and hang-drying the entire plant all at once, is that you separate your buds from stems and stalks that contain lots of moisture. This shortens your drying time.

Buds won't dry properly unless they have the right environment. The ideal marijuana drying environment has the following characteristics:

  • Temperature controlled between 72-76F
  • Relative humidity controlled to 46-55%
  • Absolutely no pet hairs, insects, mold/fungi, dirt, dust, cigarette smoke or other pollutants.
  • Exhaust venting and air exchange to remove and renew the entire volume of drying-room air at least once every hour.
  • No sunlight or other direct intense light
  • Gentle air movement that does not sway hanging buds
  • Total security control

The closer you get to these ideal drying environment characteristics, the better. And some of these characteristics are absolutely required, if you want to protect your buds from molds, mildews, overdrying, THC deterioration, etc.

For example, high humidity or heat, and/or the presence of molds and mildews, will seriously damage if not ruin your harvested marijuana. And of course, don't dry your buds in an oven or microwave. 

In the ideal cannabis drying-room environment, your buds take anywhere from 2-14 days to dry properly, depending on how much water content they start with, and the size, density and shape of your buds.

When the bud itself is dry but not crispy, and its stalk bends but does not easily or quickly break when you’re bending it, that’s when it’s properly dried.

Many growers overdry their buds, which harms the crucial second step (curing), because buds need to retain an adequate level of moisture to make curing successful. So remember, if you slightly under-dry your buds, you can at least fix that by drying them more. If you overdry your buds, it's hard if not impossible to effectively re-hydrate them.

Curing marijuana is a longer and more complex process than drying it, but curing is essential if you want to lock in optimum potency, taste, and aroma. Curing creates a smoother, more pleasing smoke.

If you overdry during the drying phase, you don’t have nearly as much latitude for proper curing.

People cure in shopping bags, shoe boxes, plastic containers, and many other methods. For the sake of cleanliness (I don't trust plastic containers because they can release poison into your buds), I cure my marijuana in Kerr wide-mouth, 32-ounce jars in a temperature-controlled room that’s as ultra-clean, climate-controlled, vented and secure as the drying room.

For curing, it’s the relative humidity INSIDE the jars that counts the most.

That’s why I put a small but accurate relative humidity meter inside the jars with my marijuana. I want my buds curing at 56-65% relative humidity. If I put my dried buds inside a jar, seal the jar, and see the RH is higher than 65%, that’s too wet, so I open the jar and let the buds dry out a bit.

If the RH inside a closed jar with buds is less than 55%, I have overdried my buds and am not going to get the best cure. Some people say you can rehydrate overdried buds. I’ve tried it, and the results were less than impressive.

While I am in the optimum 56-64% RH inside jar range, I open the jars every five days and let the buds “breathe” for a half hour to an hour.

The total curing time for this curing method is one to three months, depending on bud condition and RH. I find curing to be very enjoyable. You’ll see the color, taste and aroma of your marijuana change during the curing process, as your buds age toward perfection.

When your sealed jars show relative humidity that’s consistently 55% or lower after a month or more of curing, that’s a sure sign you’ve reached the end of the cure.

Your buds should then be just right: tight, not too dry or wet, full of flavor, aroma, and THC.

Store these buds in their jars in the non-freezer part of your refrigerator, or any other cool, dark, climate-controlled, clean, secure place. You don’t want your stored buds in temperatures below 40F and above 80F.

It's a good idea to open those stored jars at least once every four months, and let them breathe for half an hour. It's fun to just sit there with those jars and inhale the kind aroma!

Properly-cured and stored marijuana loses 5-14% of its potency every year. Improperly-cured and/or poorly-stored marijuana loses much of its value and potency within a few weeks.

Yes, when you learn how to cultivate marijuana, you hear a lot about growing marijuana, but not enough about what to do when harvest time comes. BigBudsMag.com has now fixed that for you...

Now you can harvest, dry, and cure marijuana like a pro, kick back with your friends, and inhale those tasty nugs that are finished to perfection!

 

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Photography by (c) Copyright, 2012, Gary Anderson
Article by Gary Anderson, on Dec. 17th 2012

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