Many marijuana growers do everything right in their grow op… right up to the moment they harvest their plants.
But harvesting isn’t the last thing you do with your season.
Marijuana drying and curing comes after harvest, and can improve your buds, or wreck them.
The first choice comes with how you harvest.
Do you cut the entire marijuana plant and hang it to dry, or manicure the buds off it and put them in racks or trays to dry?
If you cut down the entire cannabis plant, all you have to do is hang it upside down to dry.
The drying takes longer when you do it that way, but it’s easy to trim extra leaves and trim buds when the cannabis plant is hanging right in front of you.
Hang-drying begins the process of curing, because the moisture in the stalks and stems infuses your buds, creating a slower marijuana drying and curing process that results in smoother-burning buds.
If instead of cutting the entire plant and hanging it you cut it down by chopping buds off, you probably use a drying rack.
I don’t like drying buds on drying racks or any horizontal surface because it inevitably flattens one side of the buds and crushes resin glands.
One of the hardest things is to know when your buds are dry enough to put into sealed containers.
A lot of the time, buds that feel dry and almost crispy on the drying rack or on the hanging marijuana plant will re-moisturize in a sealed container.
When your racked or hanging buds feel near-crispy, take some from each rack space or hanging plant and seal them up in a container that has a humidor humidity gauge.
Within a few minutes, you’ll know the humidity inside the chamber.
You want it to be around 63%, unless you’re in an area where gray mold is a problem.
If gray mold is a problem, you want your bud container interior relative humidity around 56%.
If the container buds go to the right humidity and stay there, you package all the buds from that plant or that rack. They’re ready.
I package in stainless steel or glass containers.
I put humidity gauges in several of them, especially in the ones with the buds that are the most important cannabis strains for me from that season.
Every three days for the first two weeks after I package my buds I open the containers to monitor the aroma, check the humidity gauge, and let the buds “air out.”
Sometimes I pour the buds out of the container and put them back in so buds that were on the bottom are now the buds on top.
If the humidity has crept up, I leave the container open for an hour or two, re-seal it, and then check the humidity.
One thing I want to emphasize, marijuana drying and curing works best if you’re doing it in an ultra-clean, darkened, sealed, climate-controlled room.
If you do marijuana drying and curing in a non-controlled environment, you get problems.
For example, when you open your buds during curing to let them “breathe” for a little while, if your relative humidity is above 63%, the buds will rehydrate.
If your relative humidity is way low, your buds will dry out. Their resin glands and cannabinoids will desiccate. Their potency will go down.
Your best marijuana drying and curing environment is 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 63% relative humidity.
However again please note—it depends on the condition of your marijuana plants, whether there’s a risk of gray mold, and how fast you need your buds to be correctly dry.
If you have gray mold risk, or you want your buds to dry faster, you set your marijuana drying and curing room humidity lower, perhaps at 50%.
But what you don’t want to do is turn the heat up.
Short periods of low humidity by itself won’t damage your cannabis buds, but heat will. Heat degrades cannabinoids.
I also favor an ultra-clean marijuana drying and curing environment because any particulate, pests, molds, mildews or odor in your drying environment will settle into your buds… and some of that can destroy them.
After my initial every-three-days inspection period that lasts for two weeks after I bottle my buds, for 4-7 weeks after that I open their containers at least a few minutes once or twice a week.
After that, I open them at least twice a month. I keep them in the upper part of my refrigerator.
Drying should take about 5-9 days if your buds are cut and placed on drying racks, or 6-14 days if they’re left on a whole plant that’s hanging to dry.
Curing takes a lot longer than that.
Proper marijuana drying and curing begins the process of converting inactive THC and other cannabinoids into psychoactive cannabinoids, removes chlorophyll and other compounds from your buds, and makes them smooth-tasting and easy to light.
I’ve lab-tested buds that have been handled with proper marijuana drying and curing techniques and stored properly in glass containers in the upper part of my refrigerator.
The initial THC percentage was 24%. After six months, it was 21%. After a year, it was 15%, and even at 15%, those buds still got me stoned.
One essential piece of equipment you must have for proper drying and curing is a quality dehumidifier. They’re hard to find and good ones cost at least $250 if not more.
Several brands of dehumidifiers have had defective parts that caused fires, and mass recalls were issued for those models.
Other, cheaper dehumidifiers are unreliable and can’t be trusted to gauge and maintain humidity properly.
Note also that dehumidifiers remove lots of water from the air, and you either have to empty the device’s bucket sometimes twice a day depending on relative humidity, or use the device’s garden hose hookup to drain the water to waste.
One main thing to remember: marijuana drying and curing is an art and a science.
What that means is you can’t just take the instructions in this article and follow them rigidly in all circumstances.
They’re just generic guidelines to give you a solid starting point from which you can fine-tune so you get the best practices for your specific marijuana drying and curing needs.
Only by carefully monitoring your buds from the time of harvest until they’re perfectly dried and cured can you ensure buds that retain their potency and freshness, light easily and stay lit, and have high sale value.