CONSIDERATIONS JUST BEFORE HARVEST
BY ADAM JACQUES
SO, You’ve done everything right: You’ve fussed and fretted to make sure your plants were always happy, keeping issues at bay and fighting the good fight throughout the entire growth cycle. Now, it’s time to give your plants their rite of passage, allowing them to transform into the amazing flower that you and your loved ones will consume for medical benefits and recreation. These final steps are arguably the most important part of your journey. A bad dry and cure can turn your months of hard work into a nightmare if not properly done. If you have ever had harsh smoking flower that tasted like hay and sadness, you know what I am talking about. So how do we make sure our finished flower is the best it can be? I will share some simple tricks and methods of insuring you have success and show your plants the respect they deserve.
There is a debated theory where leaving them in the dark 48 to 72 hours before harvest will force your plants to make a final push to create more trichomes and thereby more resin. Plants burn their food in the light and reload their flowers with sugars in the night cycle. The idea is that the plants react as if this is their absolute last chance to get pollinated. I have found that a dark cycle before harvesting versus cutting when lights turn on for the final day has the same results, but it is worth an experiment to try for your own benefit.
There is another debated theory about letting your plants fully dry out before harvest. I have tried this method, and personally feel it adds extra stress to your plant at its most fragile point. I water normally with flushing until ready to harvest. If your harvest day lines up with your watering day, there is no reason to water before the chop. To be clear, these are the methods I prefer for the best smoking herb, but your experience may vary.
During harvest, cut your branches from the main stem (there is no need to waste time drying the stick weight). If necessary, cut them off of the branching to lengths of 12 to 16 inches. I prefer to leave my fan leaves on during the dry as I have found they help protect the flowers and balance the moisture being sucked out of the buds. Fan leaves also minimize the amount of oxygen that reaches your buds, decreasing the likelihood of your THC degrading into CBN. I also feel like losing all of the moisture in the plant through just the flowers alters the final taste.
Hang your branches by a crotch in the branches on a drying line set up where you can control the light, temperature, and humidity. When hanging your branches, put in your best effort to avoid branch overlap or buds laying together. Give them their own space so air can freely move around the flowers. Keep the room dark at all times after you have hung your branches to dry. Running the temperature in the 60- to 70-degree Fahrenheit range with a humidity range of 45 to 55 percent will allow for a proper slow dry. Keep fans running low to circulate the air gently throughout your space. When the flowers begin to feel a little crispy and the branches snap rather than bend when you flex them, you are at an optimal dryness. The amount of time this takes depends on many factors, but in a perfect room, you can expect anything from five to 15 days.
At this time, you will want to remove your flowers from their branches and trim them. There is no right or wrong way to trim, it is absolutely based on preference. I know people who love untrimmed nugs, people who love it trimmed as tight as possible, and people who like it anywhere in between. I prefer to leave a little sugar leaf. If your cannabis is going to market, though, it’s important to keep in mind that most purchasers enjoy a nice tight trim.
So, we are harvested, we are dried, and we are trimmed. But slow down, don’t shove it in your pipe just yet. We still have to cure our flower. Be sure to follow Brook C’s guide to the perfect cure in this issue, so you don’t waste your efforts at this critical last stage of the game. By following these seemingly simple steps, you will end up with an end product to be proud of and one that people will love. Remember to love your plants all the way through your time with them and to thank them for their sacrifice to make our lives better.