After all the work you’ve done to grow and harvest your marijuana plants, you have two more important steps before your buds are ready to smoke or process: drying and curing.
In about 50% of the cannabis grow ops I’ve seen, growers aren’t using the best drying and curing methods.
They’re losing the full THC, taste, aroma and longevity that their buds could have had.
Before we talk about drying and curing, consider the selective harvesting method, in which you harvest individual buds as they become ripe.
This gives less-mature buds (usually they’re the buds buried lower in the canopy) the chance to more fully ripen.
You get heavier, more potent harvests when you harvest selectively rather than harvesting the entire plant all at once.
Remember also that drying is not the same as curing.
One of the mistakes I used to make was to just dry my buds and package them, without curing.
The beneficial thing about cutting and drying individual stalks or buds (as you see in the picture accompanying this article), instead of cutting and hang-drying the entire plant all at once, is you separate your buds from larger stems and stalks that contain lots of moisture.
When I use the harvesting method of cutting an entire plant at the bottom and hanging it to dry, I notice that the buds at the ends of the stems dry first, but the buds at the bottom of the stems near the main stalk take longer.
If you cut individual stalks or buds, you remove moisture-filled stalks and stems, and shorten your drying time.
I suggest investing in a drying rack.
Look here for a lot of bud drying racks to choose from.
Temperature, Humidity & Other Conditions for Drying Marijuana
Buds won’t dry properly or be clean and tasty unless they have the right environment.
The ideal marijuana drying environment has the following characteristics:
Temperature controlled between 65-70F
Relative humidity controlled to 47-55%
Absolutely no pet hairs, insects, mold/fungi, dirt, dust, cigarette smoke or other pollutants in the drying room, or coming in from air conditioning ducts or open windows.
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. Darkness is best.
Gentle air movement that does not sway hanging buds.
Total security control.
The closer you get to ideal drying environment characteristics, the better, 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 don’t dry buds in an oven or microwave.
In the ideal cannabis drying-room environment, your buds take anywhere from 4-10 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 and ready for curing.
Properly dried buds have lost 2/3 of their wet weight.
For example, if you harvest three pounds of wet buds, when the buds are properly dry, they’ll weigh a pound.
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 over-dry your buds, it’s hard if not impossible to effectively re-hydrate them.
But be aware that if you put buds in containers before the buds are properly dried, mold and other problems can develop.
Curing Marijuana For Kind Taste & Aroma
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 (RH) inside the closed 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 57-66% relative humidity.
If I put my dried buds inside a jar, seal the jar, and see the RH is higher than 66%, 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 57%, I’ve overdried my buds and am not going to get the best cure.
Some people claim you can rehydrate overdried buds. I’ve tried it, and the results were less than impressive.
While I am in the optimum 57-66% RH inside jar range, I open the jars every five days and let the buds “breathe” for a half hour to an hour.
It varies depending on the thickness of the buds, the strain, and other conditions, but I prefer that my buds inside the jar be between 60-62% as a final cure number.
It takes a lot of monitoring, and many openings and closing of your storage containers, as you work to get your buds cured just right.
From my examination of many pounds of dried and cured buds, especially the condition of resin glands, and the bud’s taste and scent, I prefer a slightly more moist bud than many growers prefer.
If you don’t intend to smoke or vape your buds but instead you’re intending only to process them into dry sift, bubblehash, or solvent extracts, you don’t really need to cure them.
You just need to dry and store them properly until you do your extract processing.
The total time for the curing method I’ve explained in this article is one to three months, depending on bud condition and other factors.
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 57-62% 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 77F, unless you plan to process your buds into dry sift, bubblehash, or extracts.
In that case, you can store the buds in your freezer.
It’s a good idea to open stored cannabis jars at least once every four months, and let the buds 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 4-14% of its potency every year.
Improperly-cured and/or poorly-stored marijuana loses much of its value and potency within a few weeks.
You hear a lot about growing marijuana, but not enough about what to do when harvest time comes.
And although drying tobacco doesn’t have all the same techniques and goals as drying and curing marijuana, take a look at the video at the end of the article. It’s interesting and useful.
If you’ve carefully read this article, clicked the links, and watched the videos, now you can harvest, dry, and cure marijuana like a pro, kick back with your friends, and inhale those tasty nugs finished to perfection!