Guide Name: Low and Slow: Basic Guide to Cannabis Drying Techniques
Lesson by: Grove Bags
Topic: Basic Drying Tips and Techniques
Have patience. There are many different variables to consider when drying cannabis, but the most important tool you can possess when drying cannabis is patience. In his aptly named blog, “The Guru of Ganja,” Ed Rosenthal asserts, “for buds to be proud of, think ‘low and slow.’ Drying and curing flowers takes time and patience, but the finished buds are worth the wait.” Now that you are armed with unwavering patience, let’s look towards the elements needed to yield the greatest success: Places, People, Practices, Patience.
Keeping a Low Temperature Environment is Key in the Cannabis Drying Process
We now know “slow” refers to the amount of patience cultivators must have during the drying process. So, what does Ed Rosenthal mean when he says “low”? Low refers to temperature. The biggest predator to terpenes and cannabinoids are the elements of nature, evaporation, humidity, and friction. Terpenes evaporate at different temperatures. Some evaporate at temperatures lower than room temperature. Our first recommendation is to turn the thermostat down to 60º F (15-16º C).
Cleanliness as a Constant in Post Harvest Production
- Wear gloves when drying and trimming cannabis. Encouraging cleanliness throughout your team and maintaining a clean environment and is paramount to prevent bacterial and fungal growth.
- Use liners when collecting freshly harvest plants material. The more contaminants you introduce into the drying room, the more your cannabis will be compromised. Drying and trimming rooms can become dirty very quickly. Mold growth will contaminate and force you to destroy product. Using liners in your totes and drums will prevent cross-contamination.
- Implement cleaning procedures. Employers of large scale grows should have cleaning of these post-harvest production areas in their Standard Operating Procedures. Farms concerned with getting product out the door, and less concerned with the quality of their product have dirty, impatient drying rooms and employees. Remember, you are curating a medicine with very intentional purposes.
How to Prevent Rapid Drying
When considering the air flow in your drying room, practice patience. Focus on the air circulation of the room. Position fans to create an even air flow and distribution. Do NOT position a fan to blow directly on a plant or at a wall. Rapid drying will result in a severe drop in quality. Now, let’s dry!
- Powder-free gloves - If you are using latex gloves, make sure to opt for powder-free.
- Trimming shears and small scissors - Smaller scissors will allow you to reach smaller leaves.
- Drying rack - We’ll explain why we recommend a drying rack over trays.
- Equipment to read/control environment - A hygrometer or thermometer with humidity gauge is a necessity. A dehumidifier or cool-mist humidifier are also commonly used to control humidity in the room.
- Oscillating fan - To provide even air flow. Do not point fan directly on your plants as this runs the risk of rapid drying.
Create an optimal environment in the room. Your plants should be in a cooled temperature room with clean, cool mannered people prepared to handle the plants for further trimming. Therefore, the drying room should be a dark, cool room with temperatures of 60ºF and relative humidity of 55-60%. Higher temperatures and humidity will promote bacterial and fungal growth while lower temperatures won’t dry the cannabis fast enough.
Start trimming your plants prior to harvesting. Trimming starts before the plants are harvested. Before the end of the flowering period, you should defoliate to allow for optimal light distribution across your canopy.
Cut larger fan leaves. After harvesting, cut out any of the large fan leaves that remain and hang the whole plants or large branches from a drying rack. Keeping most of the vegetation, smaller fan leaves and the sugar leaves, on the drying plant will allow for a long, slow dry because of all the extra water you’re leaving on the plant that is locked into the vegetation. Remember, “low and slow”.
Hang your plants properly. When hanging your branches from the drying racks, make sure nugs are properly spread out and are not resting against each other to prevent mold growth. Cleanliness needs to be accounted for in every step of the drying process. Even plants can contaminate plants. Have employees checking for quality and mold/mildew growth throughout the entire drying and curing process.
Pro Tip: Use drying racks to hang cannabis instead of trays. Trays are used after wet-trimming. Wet trimming causes huge quality loss – the nugs will dry too quickly and lose terpenes. Trays limit the amount of exposed surface area and lead to an uneven dry. Trays are also more labor intensive, as the buds need to be turned constantly to prevent flattening one side.
Allow at least seven to ten days to dry. Practice that patience. You want to allow the plants at least a 7-10 day time frame to dry; some farms even allow for a 14-day dry. With a slower dry, the plant will retain a larger and wider terpene profile, preserving the fragrance and medicinal benefits of the whole plant that would be lost in a rushed dry.
Opt for dry trimming over wet trimming. Once the cannabis is dry on the outside and the stems are starting to snap, it is time to trim. We recommend a dry trim rather than the wet trimming mentioned in other cannabis drying articles. Trim all remaining fan and sugar leaf off the buds. Save the sugar leaf to be processed into concentrates or infusions.
Now, your cannabis needs to be sweat. The process of sweating cannabis is often overlooked and yet it is a crucial step in the drying and curing process. While the buds are dry on the outside, there is still condensed moisture in the core of the bud that needs to be sweat out. By allowing the moisture at the center to be drawn out and redistributed throughout the entire bud, you’ve taken an important step toward mold prevention and preserving those aromatic, flavorful terpenes.
Transition your nugs into the optimal cannabis climate. Having allowed your buds to sweat out additional moisture, you can now buck your cannabis from the branches and place your nugs into humidity control storage bags to finish out the curing process. Designed around the plants physiological properties, Grove Bags TerpLoc™ technology is crafted with several film layers to cure and preserve your cannabis, preserving the plant’s terpene profile and creating a protective storage place for your harvest from cultivation to consumption. And hey—even if you accidentally rushed during any steps of the drying process, Grove Bags makes it simple to burp out any excess moisture that may build up in the final stages of curing. Give them a try for yourself with our Build-Your-Own Variety Pack!