This is the eleventh article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in
Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan
countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And
now itâ€™s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the
knowledge, everybody wins.
Last month I explained some of the best tricks for home-breeding. This month, I give
Franco's tricks on: drying and curing your crop.
The harvest is the culminating moment of all the efforts made during months of cultivation. Once the harvest is done, it is time to dry and cure the buds for maximum flavor and potency. The drying and curing is a very delicate balance of factors, which must be monitored at all times to ensure success. Drying is the easiest part, while curing requires some experience and some very controlled conditions. There are two basic ways to dry: manicured and non-manicured. And there are two basic ways of curing: airtight curing and non-airtight curing. Which systems are adopted depend mostly on the purpose of the crop: commercial growers usually manicure the buds wet, and then they dry for a short time, in order to minimize risk and increase productivity by shortening the total crop time. On the other hand, people that grow for personal use will try to maximise quality and will dry and cure the buds until maximum flavor and effect are reached.
Letâ€™s now examine each option in detail:
Wet manicuring - this technique has many advantages: it is easier and faster to manicure buds while they are still wet, because the leaves are not hanging and the resin is stickier and does not drop. Moreover this technique allows faster drying because plant juices are exposes by broken leaves; however the chlorophyll does not entirely break down with this method, and the final product can be a little bitter. Wet manicuring can be done manually (with the fingers, or using scissors) or by machine. Nowadays there are several options to manicure with machine, each of them perfect for a different setup. Large operations will require large rotatory blade systems that can handle quantity, while small operations can do well with small trimming machines that process branch by branch.
When manicuring wet, make sure that the tools stay clean by applying a small quantity of oil or food-grade grease to the blades and to all metal parts that come in contact with the resin. Wet manicuring favors potency over flavor.
Dry manicuring - this technique is preferred by some growers because the drying process is slower and smoother, allowing more chlorophyll to break down and evaporate with the water. However there is one disadvantage with dry-manicuring: the resin tends to drop from the buds as the dry leaves are crushed and removed. Dry manicuring prioritize flavor over potency.
Whatever method is used, the purpose of drying is to get buds to a water content of 12-15% as slowly as possible. If water content gets below 12% buds will be too dry and will burn too fast, resulting in harsh smoke. If too much water is left inside buds will burn poorly, and taste green and bitter.
Also the cosmetic-factor is affected by water content: the perfect buds are crispy, and break easily but do not pulverize.
Once the buds are almost dry, it is time for connoisseurs to go to the next step: curing.
Curing can be done in a variety of ways, but they all follow two basic principles: airtight or not airtight. Curing means allowing the last part of the drying to happen really slowly. Basically it involves a slow fermentation process, with some oxidation. THC will degrade into other cannabinoids, allowing for a deeper, longer-lasting, more physical effect. Terpenoids will blend and boost flavor and smell.
Letâ€™s now examine each curing option in detail:
Airtight curing - Buds that are cured in airtight environment should be fairly dry to start with (around 12-15% to begin with) and will be placed directly in a glass jar. allow the jar to be full, but do not press buds too much, just slightly. Close the jar, and rest it in a dark place, at constant temperature around 16-18 degrees and low relative humidity (between 40 and 55%). Every week or so open the jar and let it breath for 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat for several weeks, until the product is cured. Try cured buds at several stages to see what you like the most, this really is a matter of personal taste. The more you cure the more potent and strong-flavor it will be, with a maximum curing time of 6-8 months.
Non-airtight curing - This is a better way to cure large crops. It involves placing the buds in cardboard boxes, with few air-holes pierced through the sides. Buds can be slightly pressed, so the resin breaks a little. Place the boxes in a climate-controlled environment (temp around 16 degrees, relative humidity around 45-50%) and monitor every week. The curing with this system is faster and produces more oxidation, so it is advisable to cure for 2-4 months.
Other alternative ways of curing are in cupboards, or in cedar-wood boxes, or in cigar humidors. Some African tribes, in Malawi and Zambia, even cure buds underground. This can be attempted but is very tricky. The soil must be very dry, and the bud must be placed in a thin leather bag, or in the dried interiors of a large animal.
Curing bud is the key to a unique connoisseur flavor and effect, and should never be underestimated. The best bud can become average if dried too fast, while the most average bud can become a delicacy if properly cured.
Franco â€“ Green House Seed Co.
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