As much as you might want to rip off a bud, grind it, roll it, and light it straight from the plant, this is not a good idea. To get the best experience possible out of your plants, buds need to be dried and cured. Drying is simply allowing the plant to slough off excess moisture; curing is allowing the bud to lose all of its moisture in a slow, drawn-out process that requires great patience.
Drying Your Buds
Before you harvest your buds, make sure you have your drying operation set up and ready to go:
- Have a dark room available with a small fan
- Have a dehumidifier ready
- Collect enough string or wire for each plant
For approximately 5-15 days, you need to hang your plants in a dark room for drying. Use a small fan to circulate the air, but do not point it directly at the plants. The optimal temperature for good drying is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also control the humidity in the room – ideally between 45% and 55% – using a dehumidifier.
Start your harvest by cutting your plants anywhere from twelve to sixteen inches from the flower tip to the stem. It’s essential that you wear gloves during the harvest as the plants will be sticky with resin.
Strip away any leaves that are getting in the way and hang the plants using string or wire. You can also remove the buds and put them on a cannabis drying rack if you choose. But, if you do use a rack, remember to flip the buds periodically to avoid them getting flat on one side.
Don’t be shocked if your plants and buds shrink while drying. This is perfectly normal as they are losing water weight. When the flowers seem crunchy or the stems break when bent, your cannabis is dry. Now it is time to cure them.
How to Cure Them
You may want to know why curing is even necessary. If you have a large crop, curing will keep your buds fresher, longer. It also improves their aroma and potency. It is also very easy for buds to grow mold if they are left with too much moisture. To start the curing process, you need to collect enough airtight containers to hold all the buds. These containers will then need to be placed in a cool, dark area for the curing process.
Start by separating the buds from the plants, if you haven’t already done this during the drying process. Place the buds into the containers, as many as you can without crushing them, and then place them in the darkened storage area.
As you are curing the buds, you will periodically open the containers to allow for fresh air. During the first week, this should be done several times per day. Once you are past the first week, open the containers just once every few days.
The minimal amount of time for during is two to three weeks. However, just as a fine wine becomes better with time, so will your cannabis buds. You can cure for four weeks, eight weeks, or even months at a time. As long as you are consistently letting the plants have fresh air every few days, the longer they cure, the more you will enjoy your experience.
Drying and curing your plants is one way to ensure that you not only maintain a healthy supply, but that you increase the flavor, potency, and pleasure you will get from using your weed. You will have a smoother toke with less coughing and have a supply ready to go at a moment’s notice.