Do’s and Don’ts during harvesting, drying and curing

Do’s and Don’ts during harvesting, drying and curing

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Hi, SSSC-Growers!

In this blog-article we will focus on the harvesting, drying and curing of a cannabis plant, the last part in our series of SSSC Do’s and Don’ts.

The SSSC Do’s and Don’ts Nr.6:

Do’s and Don’ts during harvesting, drying and curing:

DO:
- Wear gloves during harvest
-  Harvest in phases
-  Use a sharp harvesting scissor with a thin blade
-  Dry cannabis plants slowly
-  ‚Burp‘ your jars during curing    
 
DON’T:
- Touch your plants too much
-  Use an oscillating fan for drying     
-  Stash your harvest before its dry enough           
- Let your weed get fermented or moldy

Wear gloves during harvest:
Once we are sure the perfect moment for harvesting has been reached (see in last blogarticle) we carefully go to work right away. The most important thing to keep in mind, is to minimize the amount of trichomes lost during the harvesting process. The trichome-heads on the plant are filled with a liquid, which is squeezed out very easily by applying pressure. In order to avoid this, it is of the utmost importance to touch the buds of your plants as little as possible during harvesting. THC can be dissolved by alcohol and/or fat, but not by water. Since the human skin always has a layer of fat/oil on it for protection, your naked fingers act like a sponge for trichomes. The liquid inside the trichomes will stick to the skin of your finger-tips right away and your fingers will feel sticky when you touch a bud directly. Therefore it is a must to wear gloves during harvesting, best suited are thin plastic surgical gloves. The thin gloves will allow you to still have enough feeling to handle the plant with care during harvesting, while protecting your skin from touching the trichomes accidentally.
 
Harvest in phases:
Sometimes the buds in the upper part of a cannabis plant develop faster than the buds in the lower parts. They can already have all brown pistils, while the lower parts still grow new white pistils. The trichomes on those buds are also further in development.  The trichome-heads will be all milky and some already turn amber, while the lower buds still have some transparent ones, which need to ripen further. In this case, it is best to harvest in phases. At first you simply cut off the top-buds and all ripe buds from the top part of the plant and hang those to dry. The rest of the plant remains under the grow-lights and can continue to flower. Mostly within a week or so all lower parts will be ripe as well. Then you can harvest the rest of the plant.
 
Use a sharp harvesting scissor with a thin blade:
The first step of the harvest is to take out the plants one by one and cut off all big fan leaves. Since those leaves have hardly any trichomes on them, they can be discarded into the trash right away. In order to avoid loosing too many trichomes, it is best to use a special harvesting scissor, which is available in any specialized gardening-shop / growshop. A harvesting scissor has a very thin blade (in order to minimize the surface to which the trichomes can stick) and is very sharp, so you can cut easily without tearing something off the plant. The second step is to cut off all leaves that are bigger than a thumbnail and safe those with plenty trichomes on them. Those so called sugar-leaves (=small leaves growing out of buds with lots of trichomes on them) are especially well suited to later make hash out of them (e.g Ice-o-lator method). After all leaves have ben cut off the plant, the main stem can be cut off right below the first side-branches growing out of the stem. At last the whole plant is hung upside down (with the tip of the plant pointing downwards) into a dark place (e.g. grow-tent with the lamps taken out) for drying.
 
Dry cannabis plants slowly and gentle:
The most critical part for the flavor and potency of your cannabis is the drying process! In order to get the full flavor it is very important to dry cannabis slow and gentle. A slow drying process means to dry it in the dark (not in the sun or under any lights!) at a moderate temperature of appr. 18 to 25 degrees Celcius (=most important is not too hot!) and a medium relative humidity (best is 58-62% relative air humidity, but most important is not too dry, not under 40 %!). A gentle drying process means to not actively blow air over the plants by using an oscillating fan inside your drying space. An exhaust fan that extracts the excess humidity out of the drying space is sufficient, no fan should blow air directly over your drying plants. At first the smell inside your drying space will be that of hay (=drying grass), that is normal and means that the chlorophyll inside the plant matter is decaying. After a few days that smell will go away and your plants will start to smell like the terpenes inside your trichomes. The different terpenes, which cannabis can create, are responsible for the array of aromas a cannabis plant can have. No matter, if you grow a fruity strain, a more earthy one or a more gasolinesmellong one.  The full potential of the aroma will only be reached when you dry your cannabis slowly and gentle.
 
Do NOT stash your harvest before its dry enough:
After 7 to 10 days of drying in a dark space the buds should be dry enough, so they can be cut off the plants and put into glass-jars for storage. A very easy method to check, if your plants are dry enough, is the ‚breaking-test‘. Simply take a thin side-branch of your plant between your fingers and try to brake it. If it brakes off with a hearable snapping sound, your plant is dry enough to take off the buds. If the side-branch hardly brakes (=without a sound) or does not brake (=only bends), your plants are still too wet inside and you have to continue drying them. It is very important to be patient here and let the buds get dry enough, because if you rush it and stash wet buds, they will get mold inside the glass-jar and then must not be smoked anymore. If the spores of mold get incinerated, they can create carcinogens (=cancer causing agents), which you do NOT want to get into your lungs. Therefore be careful and wait long enough for the buds to be dry enough to be stored safely.
 
‚Burp‘ your jars during curing:
After the dry buds are put fresh into glass-jars for storage, they still contain lots of humidity on the inside in the center of the buds. This excess humidity will only evaporate slowly and over time. This is called the ‚curing‘ process of cannabis. During the curing you have to make sure that the excess humidity can escape out of the glass-jar, otherwise it will start to ferment the weed and eventually you run the risk of getting mold inside your buds. Therefore you have to open up your glass-jars for a short time (appr. 5 to 10 mins), which is called ‚burping‘ the jar. In the beginning (the first two weeks) that has to be done every day, then only every second or third day for the following two weeks. After one month of curing inside the glass-jar with regular ‚burping‘, the buds are dry enough to be permanently stored inside the glass-jar without any need to open them. The ‚burping‘ during the curing process also ensures that your cannabis will get its full bouquet and aroma from the terpenes inside the trichomes. If you store your buds too wet, the excess humidity will start a fermentation process and the aroma and flavor of the cannabis will change and most of the times it will loose its unique aroma and flavor.

We hope the tips from our SSSC Do’s and Don’ts - article-series will help you to get the MAXIMUM out of your SSSC-seeds.

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