Let's Talk About Drying
Such a crucial, but often skipped step
Five days ago, I cut my AK47 and White Widow plants and started the drying process. Proper drying is one of the easiest and most overlooked steps in the cannabis growing process. In order to get the highest quality cannabis, you need to make sure to dry your cannabis properly.
Proper drying is an art that takes practice. If you do not dry your cannabis properly, it can spoil, essentially ruining nearly six months of work to get to this point. I have tried a bunch of different techniques, but there is one technique that has proven to give the best results.
I like to cut the main stem and hang the entire plant upside down. Then I aim for a drying time of 10-12 days. This long drying time ensures that your cannabis will have a good flavor and higher quality effects.
During the drying process, there is a lot going on inside the entire plant and rushing your drying time causes you to miss out on so many beneficial effects that will enhance everything about your harvest.
When your cannabis is dried properly, it reduces the chlorophyl content within the plant, which can make it taste like hay and give it a harsh smoke. Drying too fast can cause the outside of the buds to become very dry, while the inside of the bud is still wet. This can cause your buds to mold when you are curing them. You get a better flavor when you dry for a longer time because you are preserving the cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant.
When I dry, I hang the entire plant in the grow tent and make sure to keep it as dark as possible. This keeps your bud more potent and reduces the chance of the THC being converted into CBN. Then I place a small oscillating fan at the bottom of the grow tent to give some indirect airflow just to circulate air inside the tent. The exhaust fan circulates air a little bit, but I still like to add a bit of airflow with the smaller fan.
Then after about 5 days, I turn the fan off so that the only fan in the tent is the exhaust fan that is also controlling the odor of the plants. Speaking of odor, after a few days of drying, the terpenes in the plant really start to come through and give off their strain specific smells.
I also try and keep the temperatures in the room as low as possible. 60-65 degrees F is what I aim for. If the temps are too high, it can degrade the cannabinoids and lower THC. It is easy to keep the temps low when the lights aren't running.
To help the plants dry slower, I keep the humidity in the room as close to 60% as possible. I do this by using a humidifier. When the humidity levels are getting too high, which happens after a rain or something, I turn on my house fan that circulates air throughout my entire home. That pushes fresh air into the room and ensures that there is no stagnant air sitting in the room. Even when the humidity isn't too high, I run the fan for at least an hour in the morning and at night, just so fresh air is being pumped into the room.
Once my cannabis is dry, then I begin the trimming process. I have tried wet trimming, which is when you begin trimming right after harvest. I was not a fan of wet trimming because it made my drying process way too short for my liking. I like to keep all the leaves on the plant while it dries. This makes the leaves form some sort of a cocoon on around the buds. The leaves hug the buds which helps to keep them from drying out too fast. It is also a lot easier to trim them later because once your plant is ready for trim, the leaves pretty much just break off and dont take much effort to cut them with scissors.
So how do you know when your plants are dry and ready for trimming? This is a bit tricky and comes with a lot of trial and error. You can check the branches to see if your plant is dry. You do this by bending a branch and if it snaps, then that branch is ready. The thicker branches do seem to take a day or two longer before they are ready, but once I have several branches ready, I begin the trimming process on the entire plant.
Trimming is an art form as well. Everyone likes a nicely shaped bud. Once I begin trimming these up, I will do a post on that as well and give some insight on my trimming process. So many people hate trimming, but I mostly enjoy it. That is when I really get to see how good the buds have turned out and it gets me excited to begin the curing process.
Drying is such an important part of the growing process and it sucks that so many people skip it because they are impatient. I don't understand why you would take 5-7 months to grow a plant, just to rush the drying process in order to save a couple days. Proper drying is the first step in ensuring that you have the highest quality cannabis that your plant can provide.
I hope that this post helped anyone that was struggling with drying. There are many different techniques, but low temp and slow drying of the entire plant is the best way that I have found.