Curing Cannabis: How To Dry and Cure Cannabis to Ensure Quality, Shelf Life
Preparation for what will happen after harvesting a cannabis crop is as crucial as producing the crop. Producers and processors of marijuana and hemp claim that the “magic is made” during the stages of drying, curing, and storage.
After harvest, newly cut plants are full of moisture or “wet,” therefore growers hang them upside down or clip the blooms off the plant to remove the natural moisture from the plants.
Preparation of The Cultivation
When plants have dried, buds are cut and preserved in containers to retain flavour and scent. Casey Flippo, CEO of hemp extraction company Natvana and marijuana maker Dark Horse Medicinals in Little Rock, Arkansas, emphasised the need of having post-harvest processes in place early, even before planting crops or purchasing inputs for the business.
When harvesting, pre-processing, drying or curing, “the space needed is nearly always larger than originally anticipated,” Flippo noted.
According to Josh Schneider, CEO of San Diego-based Cultivaris Hemp, the amount of acreage required depends on the method producers plan to use. Most people “wing it and face the consequences of terpene loss, contamination or total crop loss, all accompanied with extra stress,” the author stated.
There are a variety of ways to dry marijuana and hemp, including:
- Dehydrating the plant by hanging it up.
- Water-buckling the plant’s blossoms.
- Drying plants on food-grade drying racks or in industrial drying chambers.
- Mechanized drying can shorten drying times from weeks to hours, but it can also contribute to escalating costs.
- Traditional hanging-drying isn’t necessarily the most cost-effective method; it’s labour-intensive and can result in crop damage or loss if done incorrectly.
- It is possible for growers who choose to dry their plants this way to either leave the plants intact or break them into individual branches.
- Family Hemp Brands CEO and founder John Sedillo say that for larger harvests, whole-plant drying is the most typical method of drying.
- Wet buds can be placed close together when drying on screens or trays, although Sedillo cautioned against stacking them on top of one another.
- Choosing a drying procedure should also take into account the region in which it was grown, he said.
- Plants should be broken into individual branches or given more space between them in areas with a high risk of mould, as this will help prevent the formation of mould.
- Arid or dry environments may require whole-plant drying to slow the pace of drying, as Sedillo suggested.
- “If your normal plant is 5 feet tall and 4 feet broad before harvesting, then you will want around 75 per cent of that space to hang your plant,” he explained.
- Plants will require less drying area since the branches will draw closer to the plant centre when hung upside down.
- Plants are dried using the complete plant hanging process in a climate-controlled, specialised area by Sedillo.
- The drying process might take anywhere from three to four weeks depending on the size and shape of the blossoms.
Read More- How Much Time Does Cannabis Stay in Your System?
Curing is a key post-harvest procedure for both marijuana and hemp growers of smokable flowers, and it adds value to the final product in terms of quality.
With the help of an automated system, Cultivaris can dry and cure between 1,200 and 1,800 pounds of wet-bucked flowers in just 14 days.
“We found that properly cured flower preserves and enhances the flavour and smokability of the bloom while keeping the appropriate colour and moisture levels,” Schneider added.
- Curing requires time and effort, but it pays off in the form of increased pricing for high-quality smokable flowers.”
- As long as it’s a “big market” for growers, Flippo believes that curing smokable hemp flowers is an option.
- This is the most cost-effective harvest and drying solution available and goes that path, he said.
- Flippo explained that the typical way of curing takes 10 to 30 days to adequately cure the crop and involves a lot of labour and space.
- However, he deems it a “no-brainer” that marijuana growers should plan from the beginning.
- “Improper planning may easily turn a multimillion-dollar crop into poor goods,” Flippo warned because of mould or bacteria and overexposure to light.
- Curing and drying are often used interchangeably, but drying is “where the magic is either made or lost,” says Sedillo.
- “If you dry cannabis poorly, you can never restore it back to what it would have been otherwise,” he added.
- Sedillo dries cannabis between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit at 45-60 per cent humidity.
Read More- Cannabis Terpenes: What’s the Deal with Terpenes?
- Cannabis should be stored in accordance with volume and anticipated storage time by growers.
- Flowers can be stored in a sealed container to prevent light and dampness from damaging the product and to regulate the amount of moisture in the air.
- According to Sedillo, top-shelf cannabis flower does well when stored for an extended period of time in food-grade, sealed 50-gallon polyethene drums.
- Flippo advises the flower be kept in a climate-controlled setting, where it isn’t moved or shifted frequently.
- Flowers don’t need to be “burped,” which means the container was opened to let the gas out, according to Sedillo.
- “In contrast to usual practise, if you are needing to ‘burp’ your flowers, then you did not actually dry them adequately,” he remarked.
- Due to an oversupply of hemp-derived CBD, long-term storage is becoming increasingly significant in the market.
- It’s the same with Canada’s ambitious recreational cannabis market, which has the same goal.
- While flowers should be maintained in a climate-controlled area, biomass can be stored in unlined breathable bags or large food-grade agricultural containers.
- Sedillo recommends using sealable storage bags or crates to keep oxygen and ultraviolet light out of the environment.
- “Cannabis flowers and biomass will begin to decay if they are not properly packed,” he stated.
- Biomass can be stored for months or even years. As soon as it is picked, however, it begins decomposing, according to Flippo.
- “Even if you correctly store biomass and it is ‘runnable’ after a year, natural degradation will severely decrease yields, product quality and extraction efficiency,” Flippo added.
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