Here’s a controversial story. You might want to ask yourself why should drying and curing your favorite flower be controversial in any way, shape or form? After all, it’s just drying and curing. Well. as many great growers as there are out there, there are just as many opinions about how to dry and cure or whether curing is important at all! And there’s almost nothing in the nethersphere that scientifically shows what actually happens when you dry and cure.
You’re growing weed for the first time and your gorgeous plant that you raised from a teeny seed is reaching maturity. She’s flowering and those flowers are getting full and ripe. You’re looking forward to enjoying the ‘fruit’ of your garden, but you can’t consume just harvested flowers. Patience. It pays. I know from experience (and reading) that a lot of people who grow their own…or even grow for others…don’t understand how important the drying and subsequent curing are. Curing. Curing is everything. Everything. Drying is fine, at least you can smoke some chlorophyll tasting weed, but after a good cure, the aromas of the plant and its terpenes are evident and the smoke is smooth. Tobacco growers found out quickly that curing the leaves was a more important a part of the process than drying. So let’s do a short dive in to harvesting, drying and curing so make great pot.
When to harvest isn’t part of this article and you can find a lot of information, a lot of it conflicting, online and in many places. There’s evidence that an earlier harvest, although the buds might get 10% heavier, makes for a better buzz than a later harvest. I don’t understand why this might be, but it could have to do with the balance of all the THCs, CBDs, THCA, THCG, etc. etc. etc. that we still don’t know much about.
You’re plant is ready to be harvested…perhaps the scariest part of this whole process. Scary because your plant that you’ve put so much time into growing is now going to stop growing. It’s going to stop everything except giving you pleasure, which is the whole point, isn’t it? Whack that plant down. Some people like to use a big pruning clipper and just grab the plant, whack it and hang it upside down to dry. That’s it. You can take the smaller stems off, but pretty much you can leave the plant as is, if you like. You don’t have to take off the big plate leaves, but you can. The idea here is to get it drying.
Remember These Two Numbers 65 & 62
While the plant is drying and curing, there are two numbers you need to remember; 65 and 62. Dry the plant at about 65 degrees in an environment that has about 62% relative humidity. The humidity can be a little less, but the idea is not to dry the plant out too fast. You’ll know it’s dry after about a week because you’ll be able to bend the stems (not the giant middle stem, but the smaller stems. They should bend and then snap or crack when the drying process is complete. Once this is done, the hardest part (for me anyway) is coming. The cure. Not the rock band, but getting the aromatics to come to the fore along with getting the chlorophyll out of the dominant flavor in the plant. You want to be able to taste the terpenes and the THC.
Making the Cure
Curing is arguably the most important part of getting your plant’s buds ready to consume. Arguable because if the plant isn’t properly dried, it can’t be properly cured. Drying is what makes your plant ready to cure. Curing is what makes your weed more potent, pleasant to smoke and smell great. Many commercial growers don’t cure properly. Curing takes time, up to an additional six weeks. And this adds to production time, which slows the time to dollars coming in the door. Some growers just don’t have the time to cure properly as the demand for flower is too high. They need to get their product into the marketplace as quickly as possible. And…there are some who don’t think that curing adds anything to their product.
How to Cure – Basics
The curing environment is essentially the same as drying at 65 degrees and 62% or so humidity. Before you put your weed in a container, you need to trim the buds and trim all the little leaves from the buds. Now your pot is starting to look like pot and the flowers are starting to look like nugs.
There are many differences between drying and curing, but there is one important difference beyond the 65 & 62 rule. Light. The buds need to be kept in the dark. The nuances are You also need a container, preferably lightproof, but a glass jar is OK as long as it’s kept in a dark place. After you’ve trimmed your flower, it’s time to Curing is harder because you have to pay attention for the first week. The reason it’s hard is because you need to open the container two or three times a day during the first few days of curing. After about 5 days, you can open it only once a day. The concept here is to not let the buds get too moist, but to age gracefully, like wine.
The End Game (for this week)
There are many great reasons to pay attention to your cure. Taste and potency are the main reasons, but there are many others. I can tell in an instant (I think) if a bud has been cured properly or cured well. Like wine in a barrel before it’s put in a bottle, curing gives your bud an extra edge of goodness.
Next week in Part 2, I’ll write about what chemical changes happen during the cure…as much as we can find out since there’s truly a dearth of information about the changes in the chemical composition of the bud as it cures. It might be a short article, given there’s so little information about it.
I think washing after harvesting is an important step prior to drying. Who wants to smoke dirty flower. I like to have at least a 7 day dry followed by 8 week cure.
Interesting point about washing. If the plant(s) were grown indoors, they may not need to be washed. I can see that plants grown outdoors might need a rinse before drying, but depending on the climate, they might have already had a rinse…rain (and I won’t debate whether rain is clean or dirty). I like the idea of an 8 week cure as well. It could take processing time from seed/clone/whatever propagation method you use to sale over a 1/2 year. 14-16 or so weeks to get to the harvest, one week to dry and 8 weeks to cure equals 23 weeks. That’s a long time for a commercial operation to wait to sell. I’m guessing that curing is where commercial operations take shortcuts although I’ve had some cannabis lately from commercial grows (as in purchased from a dispensary) that were well cured. I’ve also noticed that sometimes getting my flower in a glass container and leaving it for several weeks actually improves it. That’s my own curing, I would think.