Cannabis growers often underestimate the importance of the drying and maturation process for cannabis. Passionate home growers tend to put a lot of emphasis on finding the best seeds, LED lights for growing, and the right supply of nutrients, etc., but then fall down with below-average drying and treatment methods. As a result, smoking/vaping the resultant grass can be somewhat disappointing. Read on to find out how you can improve your drying and maturing technique.
If you have ever held a properly matured and dried bud, you know that its scent is distinctive, rich, and pleasant. It is important that the terpenes that modify the effect of cannabis remain in the buds. The buds may appear sticky when pressure is exerted on them: their texture emits a slightly pasty, intoxicating scent. When buds have been properly matured, they will have lost enough moisture so that they will not mould when stored in a glass jar, and can thus retain their effectiveness for up to a year or two. The buds processed in this way have high terpene levels and their consumption provides a highly satisfying experience. After successful cannabis cultivation, it is the proper drying and maturing of the buds that is the icing on the cake. If it is done too fast, you risk losing the aromas and flavours. By following a few simple guidelines, you can become a master of perfecting the drying and maturation process. Properly dried and matured cannabis stays useable for many years with minimal loss of effectiveness.
It is up to each cannabis expert to decide whether to harvest cannabis a little early, a little late, or even at the so-called optimal time. You, too, can easily find out which timing you prefer: label cannabis samples harvested at different times, dry and mature them equally, and then decide which one you like better. Then, as soon as you start drying/maturing, you will know which is the best time for you to harvest.
Many people start the harvest by removing the branches of the plant. It is often easier at this stage to remove (or prune) the leaves before they dry out too much. If you have used good-quality feminised cannabis seeds or self-flowering seeds, you will find enough resin on the leaves and other cut parts. There are growers who preserve these pruned leaves and later make hashish or cannabis concentrate from them. Larger growers are also investing in automatic cutting machines. This is a very convenient choice, although these machines often cost thousands of dollars/euros.
Truncated twigs are often hung on a grid or hanger and dried gently, for example, with the use of a small table fan. Make sure the twigs do not touch each other. This way, the buds dry at the same rate, and you can accurately monitor the drying time. There are growers who dry in complete darkness, so that the THC is less degraded. A growing tent with an exhaust fan and a carbon filter is a suitable drying room. A good temperature is around 70ºF (approx. 20ºC). It is common knowledge that less terpene is lost during a slow and even drying process, rather than during rapid drying at higher temperatures.
Drying cannabis produces a strong odour that can already be felt from a distance, so be careful and clean the air with a carbon filter. This measured and controlled drying process can be achieved, by many, with the help of air conditioners, so that the temperature is always around that optimal 70ºF (approx. 20ºC). The humidity levels in the air should also not be too high: 50% humidity results in an even drying process.
Another useful drying tip is to maintain a moisture content of 60% over the first few days, and then gradually reduce it to 55% over the following ones. After a week (up to ten days), set the dehumidifier to 50% to dry the buds a little more. There are cannabis growers who dry their buds on bars. The buds are removed from the branches and then sprinkled on shelves made of mesh or netting. Others slow down the drying process by placing the buds peeled off the branches into a brown paper envelope for a few days. Brown paper has no bleach and, thanks to its adequate permeability, lets moisture through slowly. When even the smaller branches dry out enough and start to pop up, the moisture content of the buds also decreases enough for them to begin treatment. At this stage, the outer part of the buds becomes slightly crispy.
The buds are ready for maturation when their moisture content is significantly reduced. It is indisputable that maturation is the most important part of cannabis supply. People often use a mason jar for this. Plastic is less preferred because the sticky resin on the buds can discolour or even damage it. Place the chopped buds in the jar and always leave one or two centimetres free at the top. Ensure the bottles are closed properly and are airtight, and store them in a dark place. Then open them once or twice a day to allow any moisture to escape. The minimum treatment time is two to three weeks. Gourmets say that a one to two month treatment process is ideal. The taste of the buds treated in this way is clear and free of chlorophyll. Ripe buds should be stored in the freezer because the cold preserves the strength of the plant and maintains its quality. For long-term storage, do not store the buds at high temperatures, such as in the attic.
After the lengthy process of growing and drying the buds, opening the jars of buds to see mould due to improper drying would be most irritating. Similarly, nor would you want to see stale buds that have dried out excessively and become crisp and unpleasant tasting.
Overly dry buds look as if they are a year or two old, taste astringent and rough. The ideal is if the bud taken from the opened bottle has an optimal mood-enhancing effect, a pleasant aroma and a fresh taste. To achieve this, you can also use humidity control bags – these pouches emit moisture when the buds are too dry or absorb it when the moisture is too high.
All in all, one of the biggest benefits of home cultivation from feminised or self-flowering cannabis seeds is that you get to oversee and optimise every step of the process, from buying the best seeds online to growing them yourself in optimal conditions. When you have learned to dry and ripen the buds yourself, successfully, you can enjoy a finished product with a uniquely rich flavour and aroma, unlike potentially poorly-ripened grass bought from a street vendor.