First of all…
Is Curing Necessary?
You can smoke fresh (aka “green”) buds without curing them. However, you must do it quickly. It can spoil within a few days.
If you’re growing your own stash and your harvest is annual: Your buds won’t last the whole year unless you cure them.
If you’re selling to consumers or suppliers: You need to cure your buds. You might get away with selling uncured in the beginning, but you have to tell them to use it or sell it quickly.
- There is an alternative to curing that some growers do. It involves spraying the crop with chemicals.
The only advantage to this is saving time and labor. Don’t count on winning any awards, as the flavor and overall quality may suffer.
There are also “quick dry” methods, if you like crappy buds.
Here is a summary of what proper curing does for the fruits of your labor:
- Keeps mold & mildew away
- Prevents rot
- Keeps terpenes & cannabinoids from degrading or evaporating
- Allows cannabinoid production to continue after harvest
- Preserves flavor
- It’s the only good way to store your crop long-term
- Enhances potency & user enjoyment
- Smooths out the smoke & prevents harsh hits
- Eliminates excess sugars & starches
Good curing practices contribute about 50% to the quality of the final product. Top shelf growers don’t cut corners. They do it right.
Keep reading for some best practices.
How Long Does Proper Curing Take?
Curing can take a few weeks or a few months.
Curing time depends on a number of factors like:
- Whether you wet trimmed or dry trimmed
- Desired bud quality
- The strain
- Your curing method
- How well you dried the buds during the initial drying period
- Bud size
As a general rule, all other factors equal, the longer the curing process, the higher the quality.
Curing usually comes in two phases. One is a quick drying period of about one week in the open air. The other is a longer drying that can last anywhere between two weeks and six months. This phase happens in a more controlled environment.
Some strains and curing methods won’t let you get the job done in three weeks. They could take a lot longer.
How to Do Your Initial Dry
The initial drying doesn’t require containers. However, you want a good environment that you can control. Ideal temperature is 70°F (21°C). Ideal relative humidity is 50%.
Drying begins once you chop your girls down. Get them into a good environment right away.
They can get moldy and start rotting within the first three days under the wrong conditions.
On top of that, light and heat from the sun can OVERDRY them, especially in dry climates.
This phase normally lasts a week, although some growers only spend three days on it. A week is almost always better.
Handy Indoor “Weather” Control Supplies
3 Ways to Hang Your Harvest
The traditional method is to hang the whole plant upside down by the root. This causes changes to sugar and chlorophyll levels that make the smoke and flavor smoother.
Some growers hang individual branches instead of the whole plant.
Others separate the buds and put them on raised mesh racks or mesh screens. That is the fastest method. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to check up on them more often.
What do you use to hang plants and branches? Whatever you have. String, rope, clothing pins, clothing hangers, etc.
Recommended Drying Racks
The 2’ STACK!T Drying Rack w/Clips is excellent for maximizing your use of space. It’s lightweight, strong, and stacked! You can pack a lot of buds into a small room with these.
There is also a larger version with a center support strap available here at Grow Supply Shop.
Trimming & Prepping
Before you hang, trim off unnecessary leaves so they can dry properly. Always remove the big leaves.
Some desert growers may leave a few more leaves on than humid climate growers. This can help prevent overdrying.
Keep the buds protected from sunlight and rain as well.
How Do You Know When the Initial Drying is Complete?
The Stem Test
One “rule of thumb” is to test the stems to see whether they bend or snap.
If they bend without snapping, the buds are likely too wet for the second stage. In that case, they need to dry a little longer.
Bigger stems can be bendy. That’s fine.
The Touch Test
You also want to touch the buds. If they feel completely dry, they’re ready. Hopefully they’re not brittle. Just dry. Brittle buds may take longer to cure.
Try plucking off a small bud or two. Does the bud come right off entirely or is there some stringy plant matter still attached to the branch? If the latter, then it’s not dry enough.
Curing in Jars
If you don’t have a huge harvest to cure, then doing it in jars is fairly easy.
What You Need
You need sealable jars and a room in which you can control temperature and humidity. For best results get a hygrometer to monitor humidity inside the jars and learn how to use it.
Just like during your initial drying, your ideal temperature is 70°F (21°C). Ideal relative humidity is within the range of 59% to 65%.
How to Load the Jars
After your initial drying period, transfer the buds to glass jars. Mason jars are great for this. Make sure they are no more than quart size (32oz).
If the buds don’t move around when you shake the jar, you overstuffed it. ¾ full should be your max capacity. Figure about one ounce of buds per quart jar. This is just an average.
When to Let Them Breathe
You want to open each jar at least once per day for at least two to four weeks. Uncap it for a good half hour daily and let the buds breathe. After that, you can reduce this to once per week.
Some growers will open the jar more often during the first two weeks. You can’t go wrong with twice per day for 20 minutes a pop.
Inspect Your Buds
Opening the jar also lets you inspect the crop.
Do buds stick together? If so, go back to the initial drying phase.
Do they smell like ammonia or bacteria? They’re either ruined or they need more open-air drying.
How to Know When Buds Have Finished Curing
If the bud crumbles when you squeeze it or pull a piece off of it, you overdried it. That’s obvious. If it feels wet, you didn’t dry it enough.
The sweet spot is a sticky bud that pulls apart easily without feeling wet. It should smell like mouth-watering weed and not grass. Depending on the strain, you may notice multiple colors. Too brown could mean it’s too dry.
If you can’t tell whether the buds were cured properly, it won’t hurt to extend curing another week or two.