FUNDEMENTALS OF DRY CURING

Mastering Techniques for Preserving and Enhancing Flavor

You’ve finally reached the final stages after the long and tedious process of cultivating! Now, it’s time to dry and cure. Drying and curing can be an intimidating process considering so much time, money and work has already gone into getting your plants this far. Completing these final steps properly is the key to quality bud and happy customers.


Everything that happens between the harvest and consumption phase is considered the dry/cure process. Plants must properly be dried before being cured. In a nutshell, this process unlocks potency and allows the terpene profile of your crop to reach full potential.


Well cured buds are less likely to cause headaches, provide a smoother smokable product, contain more flavor and are less likely to develop mold when stored correctly. Every grower has their own style when it comes to the dry and cure phase. There also happen to be many individual factors that affect this process such as the size of facility, equipment available and environment.


Buds that are homogeneous in size allow for a more consistent product and ease when it comes to drying and curing.


DRYING FLOWER: 


Plants must be dried immediately after harvesting. Drying areas will depend on the facility space; however, growing tents, closets, and rooms with mesh wire racks are commonly used. The dry room should be able to accommodate one room worth of harvest for a minimum of two weeks, especially if the facility is running a perpetual grow (pulling down a new harvest every 2 weeks). 


Do not exceed a 14 day dry time. This increases the risk for mold and pathogen growth, leading to destroyed product


The buds should not be dried too fast or too slow. On average, the total dry and cure phase should last about 10-14 days. Keep in mind that the product cannot be rehydrated if dried too quickly. It’s best to dry slowly and speed up drying towards the end, only if necessary. To increase the rate of drying, growers have the option of either lowering the humidity or increasing the temperature. 


Dry rooms should maintain an ideal temperature of 55-65 degrees fahrenheit


CURING FLOWER:


Curing is the process of distributing moisture from the inside to the outside of the bud. Curing = moisture distribution! 


The buds will build up moisture as they sit in the containers. To evenly distribute moisture amongst the buds, it needs to be “burped” or “sweated”. This is when lids are removed from jars or containers, releasing the built-up moisture and allowing it to travel to the outside area of the bud. Lids should be opened for at least 1 hour per day during the first week that buds are held in the containers. The amount of time required for bud to be kept in the containers will largely depend on environmental factors such as geographic location, temperature and humidity levels. The ideal humidity level inside the jars is 62%.


Types of containers commonly used for curing cannabis:


  • Buckets with a tight rubber seal 
  • Turkey bags 
  • Airtight glass jars 


Sometimes, the product can be ready to trim even though the moisture content has not reached an ideal level. Strains should be dry enough to hold structure but still be able to be trimmed. This may require letting the product breathe and dry out even more. It is important to note that the outside of the bud will be dryer than the inside. Also, different strains and cultivars require different handling times and different minor adjustments. For example, a chem dog has buds that are big but not densely packed and may require a higher moisture content. Cookies on the other hand are densely packed, but 12% moisture content may be too hard to break, grind and consume.


  • The ideal moisture content is ~12%.
  • Moisture content below 10% will likely crumble.
  • Moisture content above 13% may be too moist and too difficult to grind.


If buds are sticking to each other inside of the jars, this means they are too moist and need to be separated from each other by hand to avoid pathogen growth. If the buds crumble too easily, the moisture content is likely too low and the drying process cannot be reversed.


Humidity packs can be placed inside of jars to help maintain moisture levels. These packs are not meant to fix any drying mistakes! They are solely meant to hold the current state and condition of the product. Hygrometers can also be used to measure the moisture content of buds/jars.


Another key factor to consider is lead time. The product should not be held for too long before being sent to the shelves. The goal is to shorten the overall lead time, especially when working in large scale commercial settings. The entire process of drying, curing, distribution and consumption should take no more than 3-4 weeks.


Takeaway...


It is important to understand why and how these processes work together so all of the hard labor, time and resources spent getting the plants to this point doesn’t go to waste. Consulting with an experienced cultivator who has experience in this field can save time, money and headaches in the long run. At the end of the day, drying and curing is one of the most important steps to ensure that a quality product is produced.

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