[UPDATED] Hydroponic Cannabis - How to Harvest, Dry, Cure, & Store Weed
Now that you know how to grow your green friends hydroponically, it's time to learn how to harvest cannabis and have the dankest strain ever. In my previous articles under the series "Hydroponic Cannabis", I talked about an extensive process of growing marijuana at home.
We have come halfway through the process, and the other half is a little trickier. If you are too early to harvest the weed, you won't get the desired potency. And, if you are too late to pick them, the quality would have diminished by then.
Hence, we will be discussing the best time to harvest weed, how to cure, dry, and store them for best results. So, let's get goin'.
Now, producing high-quality buds involves three crucial steps:
- Timing your Harvest
- Proper Drying of Buds
- Proper Curing of Buds
I'll walk you through each step while showing how to increase the potency of your strain so that you get high like never before!
When to harvest Weed?
Why is timing important?
Every strain that you smoke comes with cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBN, THCV, and so on. It's essential to pluck them at a definite time to get the most out of its terpenes and cannabinoids.
A little too early or too late might affect the quality of your buds, thereby, ruining all your hard work and sweat.
How to maximize THC content in Cannabis?
Every part of the cannabis plant contains compounds used for various purposes. These compounds are what we know as cannabinoids. They are responsible for all kinds of effects, whether positive or negative.
There are 144 different types of cannabinoids discovered by the researchers with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) being the two most studied and discussed ones.
THC is the most common type of compound that users associate with cannabis. Also known as a psychoactive compound, they are responsible for the "high" or the euphoric state that comes from the usage of cannabis.
Though THC is present throughout the cannabis plant, the highest concentration of it lies in the resin on the buds. The THC crystals or trichomes start developing during the initial flowering stage of the plant. However, they begin coating the bud in the last couple of weeks.
If you wait until the trichomes are perfectly developed, your strain will have the highest potency. But, if you are too late to pluck them off, the resin glands will degrade and the THC molecule will breakdown into CBN that produces substantial sedative effects and an unpleasant drug addicting sensation. Hence, your strain should contain a minimum amount of CBN.
How to maximise the CBD content in cannabis?
CBD falls under the category of a non-psychoactive compound as it is proven not to induce a "high". However, it does affect the mood and is therefore used to address anxiety and psychoses. However, despite its reputation for inducing peace, CBD can be a stimulant in small and monitored doses.
Unlike THC, CBD doesn't degrade over time. In fact, CBN enhances the medicinal effects of CBD. Which mean, if you wait for the time when some of the CBD in your strain converts to CBN, you'll get more out of it.
Now you know, why timing is important while harvesting your cannabis plants.
How to know when to harvest cannabis?
Well, most of the seedbanks will let you know the harvest time of the strain, but, it is never accurate. However, there are a few signs that your plants show to convey that it's finally the time to pluck them.
Let's look at the signs one by one:
As the cannabis plant grows, the flowers club together to form kolas. Each ovary swells up and tiny crystals get accumulated around the flowers. Also, your flowers will feel stickier with a pungent smell. As the flowers swell, the pistils turn reddish-brown from white.
You can also notice some of the leaves turning yellow and wilting off. But, there's nothing to worry about. You can pluck those leaves such that the leaves underneath receive better light. The colour of the trichomes can be one of the deciding signs to harvest the plant.
Trichomes are present on the flowers of the plant that produces resin with all the goodness of THC. You won't be able to see trichomes without a magnifying glass. Hence, you should have one in your inventory.
As the cannabis plant matures, you can see the following changes in the trichomes:
- Trichomes swell and heads flatten or ‘mushroom’
- Trichomes change from clear to milky or clouded
- Trichomes begin to turn amber or brown
Here are a few things to note:
More number of trichomes doesn't mean the higher content of THC. Every strain has its unique structure and the trichome quantity can vary. Each bud has several cannabinoids in it that mix and match to produce the required "high" in your body.
However, the colour change in the trichome can be a significant sign to decide if the harvest is ready. The THC and terpenes in the bud are produced when the trichomes are cloudy. If you want to get stoned on a lighter side, you can harvest the buds immediately.
While on the contrary, when the trichomes have turned amber brown, a considerable amount of CBD in them gets converted into CBN which means, heavy physical stone.
Hence, if you wish to get stoned lightly, pluck your harvest when the trichomes are clear. If you need a good hit with light-headedness, pluck them when the trichomes are cloudy. And, if you need a hard-stoned sesh, harvest your cannabis when 80% of the trichomes have turned amber brown.
One thing to note here is that the Indica has a heavier stone than Sativa. Hence, there's no need to wait until the trichomes get reddish-brown. Even the cloudy trichomes will give you the required high.
How to harvest cannabis?
Before plucking your plants, you should consider flushing them. When you feed the plants the nutrient-mix, some of the nutrients get accumulated in the plant as a reserve, for later use.
Hence, you should flush your plants every 10 days to get rid of these reserves to avoid 'nutrient lockout' in them. I recommend flushing your strains every day, 5-7 days before the final harvest.
How to chop down Marijuana?
Start by removing the larger fan leaves. I advise you not to remove the smaller leaves as they protect the trichomes and help to preserve the potency during the drying stage.
Next, remove each branch using a sharp pair of secateurs or Fiskars and hang them separately for drying. But, make sure that no two branches are in contact with each other. Also, you need to handle the branches delicately else the trichomes will fall off.
How to dry Cannabis?
Marijuana is the most diverse strain that contains a large variety of terpenes and flavours. While drying the plant, you should be very careful as the wrong procedure can ruin the taste and smell of your weed.
There are three ways to preserve the terpenes.
- Dry your weed slowly. Don't rush through the process just because you can't wait to get stoned. Slower the process, higher the potency and the taste will be.
- Secondly, you need to dry your weed in a properly ventilated place so that they don't get moulds or fungus. No one would like to toke smelling weed.
- Last but, not the least, you need to cure your buds for 2-4 weeks so that they taste good and produce the high that you ever dreamt of.
The drying room should be dark and ventilated to keep the air circulation going. Also, hang your branches upside down, with a decent gap in between every branch so that there's proper air circulation. You can alternatively use a weed drying rack for this process. It’s a fact; hang drying is the best method to dry your cannabis.
If you live in colder areas, a little high temperature will fasten the process. But, if you live at a warmer place, the room temperature would do. Always keep a check on your weed and turn them around so that they get proper air.
If you’re looking for how to dry the buds without hanging, there is a hack that allows you to flat-dry. This also requires attention and a good amount of space. For this, cut the branches of the plant and place them on a flat surface like a mesh board. You can use cardboard but make sure you rotate the buds to get rid of any wet spots.
Drying takes about a week. Once the leaves are dry enough to crack on your palm, you can smoke it. However, if you want to enhance the taste, I would recommend curing it.
How to cure Cannabis?
Now comes the fun part where we learn how to cure weed. Firstly, give a nice trim to your buds. Use a sharp pair of scissors to remove all the small leaves covering the bud. Try to remove as many as you can such that only the buds remain. Here’s how you cure the buds for the best taste.
Well, don't throw away these leaves! You can use them to make cannabutter or other edibles.
Separate the buds from the stem and store them in a clean glass jar. Even plastic would do, but I prefer glass jars. Open up the lid twice a day and let your buds breathe for about 15 minutes. Follow this for about 2-3 days before toking on them.
Now that you are done with all of this, it's time to puff! Take out your favourite bong or your rolling paper, and get set, puffing! You gotta trust me on this, smoking self-grown weed gives you a next-level high. Isn't it?
FAQs - Harvesting, Curing, and Storing Weed
Q. How long does it take to properly dry cannabis?
There is no one answer to this question as the drying time is dependent on many factors. Naturally, if you have larger and denser buds, it will take longer to dry when compared to a smaller one. Another factor that comes here is the way you trim your plants. Since the branches of the plant retain the most water, if you hand dry large branches, it would take longer to try. Temperature, humidity, and airflow also affects the drying process.
To sum it up, the general drying time is 7-12 days, but this can largely vary due to the above mentioned factors.
Q. How long does the curing process take?
Curing process really brings out the flavour profile of your nugs. Generally, it is recommended to cure weeds for around a month. However, some growers also cure for as long as 8 weeks to flourish the terpene profile and potency.
Q. What is the best way to store my buds after they are dried and cured?
It is important to use a good air-tight jar to store your buds as you don’t want any air entering their chambers. Remember to store them in a cool,dry, and dark place, and you won’t have to check up on them as frequently. In case of larger quantities, you can think about humidity packs or a bigger storage container specifically designed to keep these magicals buds fresh and potent.
Q. When do I know my buds are properly dried and cured?
You can make use of this very simple test to determine whether the buds are dry. Take a small branch and bend it slightly. If the branch snaps, that means it is ready to be cured. If they are bendy, you need to dry them a little longer.
Well, this was all under the series Hydroponic Cannabis. If you have any questions or suggestions, hit me up in the comments below.