How to harvest, trim, dry and cure your weed
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A lot can happen to a cannabis crop if it isn’t properly harvested, dried, and cured. When overexposed to air, light, or heat, terpenes can vaporize or evaporate and cannabinoids can decarboxylate, which can lead to a significant drop in the potency and flavor of your harvest. The cannabis plant’s trichomes, which are responsible for producing the protective, therapeutic, psychoactive, and intoxicating properties — are at their most vulnerable come harvest time. Without proper drying and curing, your harvest can also develop mold and fungus. Knowing how to properly harvest, dry, trim, cure, and store your cannabis will go a long way in ensuring the best possible results.
Step one in reaping the rewards of your cannabis plants is knowing when they are ripe and ready for harvest. Harvesting too early will reduce your overall yield and potency, as the last two weeks of harvest are the peak time for cannabinoid production. Yet harvesting too late can cause the trichomes to become extra-brittle when they are dried and cured, making them break off easily. Harvesting at the optimal time is crucial in ensuring you get the largest possible, highest-quality yield.
What are the signs to look for when harvesting?
As the plant completes its growth cycle, there will be many physical changes that occur. The biggest are, arguably, changing colors in the large fan leaves, a tightening of the bracts that form the colas, and a change in the color of the trichome glands. These signs can help you know when to harvest your plants:
Color change on fan leaves: During the middle of the flowering stages, the plant will naturally consume most, if not all, of the nitrogen available in the grow medium. As nitrogen is responsible for the plant’s green color, the plant’s leaves will turn into hues of purple, and ultimately a haylike yellow, after it’s consumed most of the available nitrogen. Changing colors on fan leaves aren’t enough to determine when a plant is ready to harvest, but it is the first sign that you are getting close. Once the fan leaves start to change color, start looking out for the next visible signs.
Cola morphology: When observing the size, shape, and overall look of your buds, remember that this alone is not a very reliable method for judging if your crop is ready for harvest. However, ripe buds are typically tight and firm. If your buds look overly lanky or fluffy, it could be a sign that it’s too early to harvest.
Trichome gland clarity: The most reliable method for determining if your plant is ready for harvest. Most often, harvest time comes when trichomes are milky white and a few are amber. If trichomes are still clear, it’s too early. Trichome clarity is a direct sign of how much resin is stored in the gland. Clear trichomes mean there hasn’t been enough resin production. If the majority of trichomes are amber, the buds have overripened.
When your plant starts showing signs that it is close to harvest, it is important to flush the plant of any unused nutrients. Ideally, flushing begins two weeks before harvest.
To flush your plants, flood your grow medium with water. Wait a few minutes for the water to dissolve nutrient buildup, then add more water to flush it all out. Without added nutrients, the plant will begin to feed on what’s available in the grow medium leading up to harvest. Once you’ve flushed your plants, you will likely see the fan leaves change color as a sign of nitrogen deficiency. Finally, give your plants one last flush the day before harvest.
Properly and evenly drying your bud will help preserve it’s potency, vibrancy, and color. When dried improperly or unevenly, buds can develop mold, burn unevenly, and lose fragrance or flavor. Hang-drying is the simplest and most efficient way to make sure it dries evenly, and at an optimal pace. For the best drying results, follow theese steps:
- Cut the plant, either at the base or into large branches.
- Hang the plant upside down in a room with the temperature set at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 degrees Celsius, and a dehumidifier set at 50%. Check and maintain the temperature and humidity daily.
- Once the stems are dry enough to snap slightly when bent, remove them from the lines and cut them into smaller sections.
- Place those sections inside of a large tote and close it with a lid. It isn’t necessary for the lid to be completely closed or sealed.
- For the first couple of days, turn over and rotate the cannabis in the totes to ensure even drying.
- Also “burp” the totes in the first couple of days by opening it and allowing fresh air to filter out the damp air inside.
It’s important to avoid losing trichomes during the drying process by not letting your branches hit any surfaces while hang-drying. Contact with a surface can damage trichomes and break them off of the plant. Depending on environmental conditions, the initial drying process usually takes three to seven days.
Once your bud has been properly dried, it’s time for trimming and curing. The goal with trimming is to remove the excess sugar leaves that, while consumable and excellent for making edibles or concentrates, have a lower trichome concentration than flower, and typically make for a harsher smoke.
To trim your buds, hold them by a stem and gently cut away the sugar leaves and stems surrounding them. Trim over a screen to collect trichomes that break off the plant, and handle your bud with extreme care. Try to trim the crow’s feet — the leaves around the bottom of a bud — as closely as possible without doing damage. All contact with the bud can cause trichome loss or damage. Hold your plants and branches by the stem whenever possible.
Wet Trim vs. Dry Trim
Most cultivators prefer to trim their cannabis after drying. Trimming immediately after harvest is the easier method, as sugar leaves haven’t dried up and closed in on the buds. Unfortunately, wet trimming also allows for more chlorophyll in the leaves, which may lead to a lingering grasslike aroma. Though more time- and labor-intensive, dry trimming is generally considered the better approach.
Curing is the final stage in the drying process, allowing for a controlled breakdown of residual chlorophyll in the colas so they are neither too moist nor too dry.
To cure your bud, place it in glass jars or a tote for about 4-8 weeks. During the first two weeks, open the containers daily and allow fresh oxygen to filter through the air in the container. Open the containers every 2-3 days in the last two weeks of curing. The curing process should be gradual to ensure a proper balance of air and moisture that will preserve fragrance and flavor.
In order to maintain the chemical profile of cannabis, the buds must be kept as close to their final condition as possible. Improper storage can lead to cannabinoid degradation, loss of terpenes, a harsh smoke, loss of trichomes when flower is brittle, and development of mold or fungus if cured flowers are overexposed to moisture. Proper storage after the trimming, drying, and curing process is crucial in maintaining the chemical integrity of your final product. Temperature, moisture, oxygen, and ultraviolet (UV) light can all have a negative effect on a bud’s chemical profile.
Cannabis should be kept in a cool, dark place, preferably at room temperature or slightly below. High temperature can lead to mold and mildew, dry out your flower, and turn sensitive terpenes into vapor, which will ultimately change the effects of the flower. This is why some cultivators skip drying and make live resin extracts to preserve all the monoterpenes lost during the drying process.
If the temperature is too low, THCA would be harder to decarboxylate into THC, thereby reducing the potency of the flowers when they are smoked. It can also make the trichomes brittle on the plant, which could cause them to break off when removed from the cold environment. This isn’t necessarily a huge issue, though, as those trichomes can be collected as kief and smoked.
To limit your bud’s exposure to high or low temperatures, keep it inside, away from windows, and in a cool place. If you’re traveling outside with your bud, consider storing it in a vacuum-insulated bottle.
Moisture is the amount of weight, as a percentage of the total weight, that is lost if the material is completely dried out. Water activity is the amount of water on the surface of the plant. Both are important factors in preserving the integrity of your bud. According to ASTM Internationals cannabis subcommittee , the amount of water activity on cannabis flowers should be in the range of 0.55 to 0.65.
The most precious cannabinoids in your bud will degrade if overexposed to heat or oxygen. THCA, for example, will decarboxylate into THC prematurely when exposed to heat, and therefore reduce bud potency. When exposed to oxygen, THC will degrade into CBN , a compound estimated to be one-fourth the potency of THC. Oxygen can also oxidize essential terpenes, leaving behind a grassy, sometimes haylike aroma.
To reduce exposure to oxygen, make sure to avoid air pockets in your container whenever possible. For example, don’t use a container that holds an ounce (28.35 grams) to hold a gram of flower. Vacuum-seal your flower for long-term storage, and consider getting a hand-held vacuum pump for short-term storage. Glass jars, ideally opaque and airtight for ample cannabinoid and terpene preservation, will also make adequate short-term storage.
UV light is the biggest factor in the degradation of cannabinoids, and ultimately the shelf life of cannabis. UV light will always degrade your cannabis, so that’s why cultivators are now using opaque packaging instead of clear glass. UV light is another sizable contributor to THCA degradation into THC and CBN, significantly decreasing potency before it reaches the end user. UV light will also degrade CBD .
To avoid cannabis degradation from UV light altogether, use opaque packaging or brown glass bottles to store your weed. Brown bottles allow 30% of UV light to pass through, as opposed to green and clear bottles which allow 70% and 100%, respectively.
Properly harvesting, drying, and curing cannabis is a dedicated practice that takes trial and error for home growers and professional cultivators alike. But the extra care is worth the time it takes to master these steps and preserve the integrity of your flower.
How to harvest, trim, dry and cure your weed Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Harvest Flushing Drying Trimming Curing
Complete Drying & Curing Marijuana Guide
by Nebula Haze & Alltatup
Table of Contents
This drying & curing tutorial is part of our “how to harvest cannabis” series:
Why Do Growers Dry and “Cure” Cannabis Buds?
Your buds are ready for harvest, yet your job as a grower is not quite over yet. You still need to put your newly harvested buds through the cannabis curing process.
In order to ensure the best quality for your freshly harvested buds, you must prepare your buds with a process known as curing, which involves drying your buds slowly in a controlled environment, then keeping buds in glass jars over the course of a few weeks to let certain natural plant processes occur. The drying/curing process causes buds to smell better and for effects to feel more potent. It also reduces harshness.
Optimal Drying Environment:
Room Temperature – Around 70°F (21°C)
Optimal Environment in Jars (Curing):
Room Temperature – Around 70°F ( 21°C)
Growers cure marijuana buds because they will not achieve their peak potency and quality if they’re uncured. If you started with great genetics and you’ve taken care of your marijuana plants properly during their life, then curing is what makes the difference between “just okay” and trophy-worthy buds.
Dry & Cure Cannabis Properly for Highest Quality Buds
A big part of why buds from medical marijuana dispensaries or cannabis cups often seem so special is they have been expertly dried and cured. People who have never experienced buds prepared this way are often amazed by the smooth, pleasant experience of slow cured buds. Here’s a quick review:
Why Do Growers Dry & Cure Buds After Harvest?
Here’s what drying and curing cannabis properly does for you…
Breaks down chlorophyll and dramatically improves taste / smoothness of buds
Gets rid of the unpleasant “fresh hay” or “cut grass” smell which is common on newly harvested buds
Brings out the subtle flavors and unique smell of your cannabis strain
Reduces “harshness” in buds; you’re less likely to start coughing or get a headache
Buds are less likely to cause anxiety, racing thoughts, or paranoia
Reduces the chance of mold or bacteria growing on your buds
Curing seems to actually increase potency! Read on to learn more…
In most cases, a proper cure will change the subjective effects of buds. There is something that happens during a slow curing process which changes the exact composition of cannabinoids and terpenoids. This changes how buds make you feel.
Try smoking buds directly off the plant vs smoking those same buds after they’ve been dried/cured. The best way to understand the difference is to try it for yourself! 😉
Many growers feel that drying buds slowly and proper curing will actually make buds feel more potent up to a point. Growers also report that properly cured buds are much more pleasant to smoke, vaporize, or turn into edibles. This is likely due to how cannabinoids and terpenoids are altered during the curing process.
So now you may be wondering…
How do you dry your marijuana buds slowly?
How long do you dry your buds for and what’s the best drying method?
How do you cure buds perfectly every time, without leaving anything to chance?
Get the answers right here!
Note: This article covers the tried-and-true steps for traditional curing. This is the most used and well-studied way to cure your buds. However, there are other possible methods including water curing which I personally don’t have any experience with.
Drying & Curing Marijuana: Overview
Curing begins as soon as you cut down your plant. So in order to get the most from curing, you need to master the process of drying your buds.
An important part of the curing process happens during the first few days, as you begin drying your buds. During this initial drying phase, the main goal is to let your buds dry out relatively slowly (usually 3-7 days) while protecting buds against mold and bacteria growth.
Curing starts as soon as you cut down your plant!
Most growers trim their buds and hang them upside down to dry until the outsides of buds are dry and the small stems snap when you bend them. Basically, once your buds will pop off you’re ready to go 🙂
A relatively slow drying process (along with smart curing practices) gives you the best benefits. It doesn’t need to take forever, but any time you “speed dry” your freshly harvested buds you’re losing many of the benefits of curing. However, your buds are still improved by curing even if you overdry your buds or dry them a little too quick.
Note: If you use heat to speed dry your buds (microwave, oven, etc), buds will really taste terrible.
Here’s an overview of the harvest / drying / curing cannabis process. Click for a bigger picture and keep scrolling down for more complete instructions…
Now I will walk you through a step-by-step process so you can produce a professional cure every time, with no guesswork involved.
This method will work for you even if you’re just starting out and have never cured buds before. No matter what previous experience you have curing buds, this will show you how to ensure they come out connoisseur-quality every time.
How to Perfectly Dry & Cure Your Marijuana Every Time
Wide mouthed mason jars – 1 quart size. These are sometimes labled as “32 oz” jars.
Place to Dry or Drying rack (optional) – I usually hang my buds from clothes hangers in my closet but you can hang buds from almost anything! String and creativity go a long way 🙂 It’s only recommended to use a drying rack if there’s high humidity or a lot of buds to be dried in a small space, because a drying rack can dry buds too quickly in average humidity conditions.
Hygrometer (optional) – I like the Caliber IV Hygrometer because it easily fits inside quart mason jars. This measures the humidity of the air inside your jar, so you can make sure it’s not too humid or too dry for optimal curing.
Humidipaks (optional) – Boveda Medium 62% packs are cheap and specifically formulated for storing cannabis so it does not dry out or get crispy
Step 1: Cut down your plant
Some growers cut the plant down at the base and hang the whole plant upside down to dry. Others will cut off branches and hang them to dry. Still others will cut off individual buds so they can lay them out and dry them on a mesh screen or rack.
How should you cut down your plant?
It’s tough to mess this part up! You can harvest your plant a piece at a time, and I’ve also seen growers trim their buds while they’re still on the plant so they can hang their whole plant upside down to dry.
I personally cut down branches one at a time. Here’s a plant that is halfway through being harvested.
Step 2: Trim away extra fan leaves
Before you start drying your buds, most growers will trim away extra leaves.
At the very least, you should trim away all your big fan leaves, though many growers also trim down the little leaves that grow on the buds.
This improves the appearance of your buds, and will provide a smoother experience. Too much leafy matter can make buds more harsh.
The amount of leaves you trim off is due to personal preference. However, like the last step, you want to leave more if you live in a very dry area. You want to cut off as much as you can if your area is humid, to help speed up the drying process and prevent mold. If it’s very humid where you live than you may consider removing buds from branches while drying.
If Your Humidity Is…
- Dry (Under 30% RH) – You might consider leaving more leaves on your plant while trimming to help slow down the drying process. The more plant matter left behind, the lower the buds dry. For example you could trim your buds but leave extra fan leaves, or possibly even not trim at all until after drying.
- Average Humidity – If you never really notice the humidity where you live chances are it’s perfect for hanging your cannabis upside down to dry 🙂
- Humid (Over 60% Humidity) – If it’s very humid where you live, you might consider actually separating buds from branches after trimming and put them on a drying rack or mesh to help them dry in the high humidity without running into problems with mold (here’s how one grower dried in high humidity)
I recommend trimming your buds while wearing disposable gloves, to prevent your hands from getting covered in sticky resin.
You may want to save your trim (resin-covered leaves or larfy buds you’ve trimmed off). These extra leaves are not good to smoke by themselves, but after being dried, the trim can be processed to make marijuana butter or other cannabis extracts.
Right after you harvest your plant, it’s important to start drying your buds slowly, over a couple of days to a week or more.
Step 3: Begin the slow drying process
Why should you dry your cannabis slowly? Drying your buds is the first part of the curing process, and important!
Optimal Drying Environment:
Room Temperature – Around 70°F (21°C)
Here are some ideas to adjust your environment:
- Air Conditioner – Cools Air & Lowers Humidity
- Evaporative Cooler – Cools Air & Raises Humidity
- Dehumidifier – Heats Air & Lowers Humidity
- Humidifier – Heats Air & Raises Humidity
- Heater – Heats Air & (Usually) Lowers Humidity
Buds which are quick-dried in a dehydrator/stove, via dry ice, or in a microwave taste terrible, smell even worse, and often leave you with a migraine or paranoia. When you quick-dry your buds, you are completely skipping over the most important part of the curing process!
In fact, even drying your buds in mildly hot temperatures, like 85°F (30°C), can burn off valuable smells (terpenes) & possibly certain cannabinoids.
Curing you cannabis properly makes up almost 50% of your final bud quality!
You can take the best cannabis in the whole world but if it’s not cured it’s going to be mid-quality at best!
There are many ways to dry your marijuana buds.
Hanging buds upside down to dry is considered the “standard” way of drying. You can get creative when coming up with ways to hang plants upside down.
You can dry buds by hanging them upside down from clothes hangers, string, almost anything you can think of. You can even hang the entire plant upside down. Personally, I prefer to hang buds upside down for the drying process.
However, you can dry your buds via many different ways!
Some growers place their freshly harvested buds on a drying rack as pictured to the right.
A drying rack will dry your buds faster than most of the other methods because the stems are removed from the buds (and the stems contain a bit of water). Using a drying rack is the preferred drying method if you live in a humid area where mold is a problem, if you’re drying a lot of buds in a relatively small space, or if you have huge colas or buds that you’re worried might mold.
You can leave as much or as little stem as you want. The more you leave, the slower the dry.
Some growers dry their buds in paper bags or even by laying them out on cardboard.
I usually dry my newly harvested buds in my grow tent, or a closet
If you’re laying your buds on something flat like cardboard, it can create wet spots, and will leave an imprint on the sides of your buds where they touched the flat surface. That being said, cardboard can be a way to help people dry buds if they live in a humid environment because it will quickly pull the water out of the buds.
If buds are creating wet spots, you may need to rotate them every few hours so they dry more evenly. This is one of the reasons I prefer to use a drying rack if it’s humid, or hanging buds pretty much any other time.
If buds start to seem wet/soggy, or if you live in a very humid environment, you may need to use a small fan to create extra airflow in the drying area to prevent buds from getting too wet and causing mold. Never point a fan directly at your buds, only point it at a nearby wall. Even then, be careful of drying buds too fast with a fan! You should avoid using a fan unless it’s absolutely necessary because it can easily overdry buds. I’ve overdried an entire harvest by adding a fan before, so use with caution!
For those who live in extremely humid areas (where the high humidity in the air is preventing buds from drying even with a fan), there are more resources at the bottom of this article on how to dry out your buds properly. Learn how one grower was able to dry his buds even with 85-95% relative humidity in his area.
The most important aspect of the drying process is to dry them slowly, and in such a way that it’s easy for you to check on them regularly. So don’t hide them in the back of a closet that’s hard for you to get to. You need to be able to check on your buds every day, and more often is possible (especially during your first few harvests, until you know how buds dry in your personal environment).
Step 4: Continue drying until outsides of buds feel dry to the touch, and smaller stems snap instead of bend, usually 3-7 days. Buds will “snap” off without leaving a stringy trail.
If buds are dry sooner than 3-4 days, it may mean you’ve dried your buds a little too fast, but that’s okay! Live and learn for next time. It’s difficult to get things exactly right at first because the size and density of the buds, and your environment can vary so much! Even if buds have been dried too quickly, they still benefit from the curing process, but it may take a little longer than normal for buds to be fully “cured.”
If you accidentally remove all moisture from the buds (dry your cannabis for too long), the curing process slows down dramatically, or may even come mostly to a halt. However just like buds dried too quickly, overdried buds will still cure, but it takes longer.
When to jar cannabis buds?
When hanging your buds upside down to dry, your buds are ready to be placed in jars when the outsides of all the buds are completely dry to the touch, but not brittle.The bigger stems will still be bendy but the smaller stems will snap when buds are ready to pull down.
When buds are finished drying, you’ll be able to snap off the smallest buds with your fingers without leaving a “string” of plant behind. “Stringiness” means there’s still too much moisture inside.
Although the buds may feel overdry at this point, if the bigger stems are bendy it means there’s still water hidden inside that will work its way to the outside of the buds during the curing process. This is the perfect time to pull down your buds and jar them.
If you pull down your buds before the smallest stems snap, you’ll find they tend to be too wet once you put them in jars, so you’ll end up having to dry them more anyway. But if you can find a stem that snaps, it’s better to take buds down too early since it’s a lot easier to take water away than add it back.
With drying methods where the buds have been removed from the stems, it’s important to jar buds as soon as the outsides feel dry to the touch, before the buds dry all the way through, since there won’t be any stems to “hold onto” some extra water.
If buds were completely separated from the stems during the drying process, they’re ready as soon as the outsides feel dry to the touch.
It’s ideal to pull buds down at the right time because you can slowly draw out the moisture from the middle of the buds, which allows the curing process to continue. As long as the outside of your buds feel dry to the touch, it is unlikely for mold to grow. Mold generally grows where the outsides of your buds feel moist or damp to the touch.
Some growers choose to sample some of their buds at this point, but be aware that the smell, taste, and potency are not even close to optimal yet. Buds that haven’t been cured are also usually harsh, tend to bother the back of your throat, and give some people headaches. But don’t worry, your bud quality continues to improve as you cure the buds and help break down some of the “bad stuff” that you don’t want in your buds.
Step 5: Place your buds in jars
From this point, your goal is to store your buds in a controlled environment. You want to stabilize the relative humidity at around 60-65% when the buds are placed in an enclosed container. This is the correct environment to cure your marijuana buds to perfection. If you’ve taken your buds down when the smallest stems snap, but the larger ones bend, then chances are your buds will already create the perfect humidity when they’re in the jars.
Optimal Curing Environment (in Jars):
Room Temperature – Around 70°F ( 21°C)
Place your dried cannabis buds in jars for the “curing” process
When the humidity is at 60-65%, your buds will feel completely dry on the outside, but won’t crumble or seem dusty in your hands (which usually means the humidity is too low).
Here’s how to jar your buds the right way every time, without any guesswork on your part.
The ideal storage containers for marijuana buds are wide-mouthed glass mason jars. These can be found pretty easily at big grocery stores, most craft stores, online, and at superstores (like Wal-mart). As cannabis cultivation has become more popular, these jars are appearing in more and more stores.
You want mason jars that hold 1 quart (labeled “Quart jars” or sometimes 32oz jars). Each of these jars will hold about an ounce of dried buds (usually about 0.75-1.25 ounces of bud will fit in one jar, but it can be more or less depending on the consistency of your buds).
One-quart glass mason jars have proven to be a great size for proper curing. Bigger jars are more likely to encourage mold – I’ve learned this one from experience 🙁 Other types of jars often don’t seal the right way, which can prevent buds from curing properly. For example, the type of jars that have a rubber seal don’t seem to cure buds right for me. I always use quart-sized glass mason jars, and you’ll see that the majority of growers do the same.
You want to fill each jar 75% full of buds, so there’s still a bit of air at the top. If you shake the jars, you want the buds to be able to move around. If they’re sticking together it means they’re still too wet and you should leave the lids off for a little while to help them dry out.
If buds are sticking together in clumps when you try to shake the jar, it means they still have too much moisture and need to be dried further. Just like when buds are too dry, when buds are too wet they slow down the curing process, but it’s even worse because it can cause mold. Never let buds sit in jars if they feel wet, or even moist on the outside!
Buds should always feel completely dry on the outside, and shouldn’t stick together. If you ever smell “ammonia” it means they’re too wet and bad bacteria is starting to grow
If you notice that any buds feel damp or moist, do not store them in the jars yet! Allow those buds to continue drying slowly until they start to feel dry on the outside before putting them in jars.If they’re already in jars and feel moist, make sure to leave the tops of the jars off until the buds feel dry again.
I know it’s tough to keep them from drying out all the way, yet not putting them in too wet. But if you follow these steps you’ll be able to get it perfect!
How much difference does the humidity inside the jar make?
More on curing buds in anaerobic conditions
Some growers cultivate strongly anaerobic conditions during the drying/curing process on purpose. For example, some indoor growers put their cannabis buds in jars while at least partially wet on the outside, causing extra bacterial growth. Buds cured in very wet conditions look different, smell different and produce different effects, but may be more harsh.
Another real-life example of curing buds in anearobic conditions is some outdoor growers will throw newly harvested cannabis buds in a pile while wet, leaves and all, and allowed it to sort of cook in place like a compost pile. After some amount of time, the buds are wrapped up and compressed for storage, often still partially wet, then cut up into bricks. This is considered a type of “brick weed.”
Example of “brick weed” cured in anaerobic (wet) conditions
Any curing process that involves letting buds stay wet and sealed up at the beginning produces weed with a different consistency and different effects. Buds become crumbly and they lose their green color after just a week or two, becoming more tan or golden. Many people agree that curing in anaerobic conditions can produce bud that is more “harsh” and this type of bud is generally considered “inferior.” To be fair to both sides, there are people I’ve met who prefer this type of cannabis because they like the slightly different effects.
That being said, curing buds while still wet can be unsafe by causing unwanted mold or a bad type of bacteria to grow. If you cure buds while they’re dry on the outside and moist on the inside, as stated in this tutorial, you can achieve the same mental and physical effects of anaerobic-cured weed without the harshness, simply by giving buds a little more time to cure.
If you want to safely get the effects of anaerobically cured bud, all you have to do is cure buds in jars for 2+ months. They start to slowly get a similar appearance and consistency of bud cured in anaerobic conditions, but instead of being harsh they actually get smoother over time. The mental and physical effects of long-cured buds also seems to get stronger as it’s cured longer (up to a point), giving similar heady and body effects that some describe as being a little “drunk.” Long-cured buds gives you the same benefits without the harshness or lack of safety. Because of that, I highly recommend avoiding sealing up buds that feel wet on the outside during the curing process!
Step 6: Curing (first few weeks): Open all jars regularly to inspect and air out buds
During the first few days, you may want to check even more often than once/day, especially if you are worried about mold or bacteria from too much moisture.
It’s important that you’re checking on your buds at least every 24 hours during the beginning stages, as described below. In addition to checking on your buds, it’s also important to open the jars once a day, because buds need fresh air as part of the curing process.
If you smell ammonia or the outside of buds feel moist, it means buds are too wet and need to air out before closing the jars again. If it smells more like cannabis every day, it means you’re doing it right!
For the impatient, this also gives you the opportunity to “try out” your new buds and see how they improve during the curing process 🙂
As mentioned already, the trick to a great marijuana cure is controlling the humidity of the environment. Ideally, you would like to keep your buds stored in an enclosed container with about 60-65%% relative humidity. This is the perfect amount of moist and dry to get the fastest and best curing process.
To be able to get a reading on your current humidity levels (so you can make sure they’re perfect every time), you may want to invest in a tool called a hygrometer.
I like the Caliber IV hygrometer, which is small enough to fit in your curing jars and can be found online for cheap. A hygrometer is more of a luxury than a necessity, though it will take out a lot of the guesswork.
As you can see in this pic, the Caliber IV hygrometers display both the temperature and the relative humidity in each curing jar. (click for a closer look)
Use a hygrometer for pro cannabis curing results, as it will allow you to determine exactly where you are in the curing process and spot possible humidity problems before they affect your buds. Even if you only have one, you can put it in different jars during your daily check to get an idea of the RH (relative humidity) in your jars.
Buds need some amount of time “to sweat” in the jar before you can get an accurate reading of how much moisture is really in the jars. Sometime buds which seemed dry when you put them in will feel damp and soggy when you check them a few hours later. This is because the moisture that was contained in the middle has spread out to the rest of the buds, and it means the buds need to be dried further.
A hygrometer will let you measure the relative humidity within your curing jars most precisely, but I was able to do this process for years without any extra tools just by following the general guidelines below for how buds should look/feel.
Overview of curing cannabis humidity requirements
For the first week, you want to air out your jars for a few moments at least once a day. Just open all the jars and close them again once a day. While the jars are open, check on buds to determine the current humidity levels. You may also take this time to shake the jars and move buds around, to ensure there are no moist spots, and buds aren’t sticking together in clumps.
This is what you’re checking for every time you open your jars.
Buds feel wet – Wet buds need to be placed outside the jar to dry for another 1-2 hours. Moist buds should not be touching each other! It is very important you react quickly if buds feel damp to the touch, as this is the most likely time for mold to grow.
> 70% humidity – When buds are too wet, your hygrometer will read greater than 70% relative humidity after buds are in jars with a hygrometer for 24 hours. If buds are very wet, you may see the humidity climb up this high within just a couple of hours. If you see the humidity rising on your hygrometer at a rate of 1% per hour or more, you may want open the jars early, or at least keep a close eye, as your buds are probably too moist.
Buds feel moist – If you shake the jar at this point, you may notice that some of your buds are still sticking together. You’re almost there, but buds are still a little too damp and you’re at risk for mold or anaerobic bacteria. If you live in a normal to dry climate, you may be able to get away with just leaving the top off the jars for 1-4 hours. If you live in a humid climate, you may have to take the buds out of the jars and lay them out until the outsides begin to feel dry again.
65-70% humidity – When buds are slightly moist, your hygrometer will read 65-70% relative humidity after buds are in jars with a hygrometer for 24 hours.
Buds are not wet, but also not brittle – You’re in the cure zone! Your buds may feel a bit sticky to your fingers. Buds should move independently and not clump together in big bunches when you shake the jars.
60-65% humidity – When buds are in the cure zone, your hygrometer will read 60-65% relative humidity after buds are in jars with a hygrometer for 24 hours.
Some growers prefer to keep it a little lower during curing, down to around 55%, especially if they’re curing a whole lot of cannabis, because it helps prevent the chance of mold or “moist pockets” in the jars.
At this point, some growers add a Boveda 62 Humidipak to their curing jar with the buds to help keep the humidity in the correct range during the rest of the cure. (More on Boveda 62 packs below)
Buds are too dry – Buds feel brittle and crumbly. At this point, there is not enough moisture in the jars for the curing process to continue at a normal pace, and buds tend to cure much more slowly.
Having Trouble Curing? Want to Prevent Problems During Your Cure? Get Boveda 62 Humidipaks
For those who struggle with curing even after going through all the steps in this curing tutorial, there’s a product known as a “Boveda 62” humidipaks which can help maintain the correct humidity in your jars. These are especially helpful at preventing the humidity from getting too low, even if the humidity is very low where you live. Some growers choose to use these every time they jar their buds to maintain the humidity in the 62% range.
Boveda Humidipaks (62% version) are specifically made for cannabis and can help maintain humidity at 62%, as well as rehydrate buds.
Humidipaks are used to regulate the humidity automatically. They were invented to keep cigars fresh in humidors (which is how they originally got their name), but the company now makes humidipaks that are specifically formulated for storing cannabis at the right humidity (as stated on their website). These are the Boveda Medium 62% Humidipaks.
Note: Boveda is trying to move away from the term “humidipak” these days for some reason, but it’s such a perfect name!
Here’s a picture of buds stored with a humidipak. You simply place the little pouches inside with your buds after they’ve finished drying.
Even when using Humidipaks, it’s important that you follow the rest of the steps outlined in this tutorial to ensure that your cure goes great.
Do you need to get Boveda 62 Humidipaks?
No. If you follow all the steps outlined in this article, you likely will not need Humidipaks. Most growers are able to cure their buds perfectly well without them.
However, they can be helpful if you will be curing your buds in an environment with the incorrect humidity, especially if the air is really dry where you live. They can also be helpful if you’re not used to curing and are afraid of messing it up.
Humidipaks also work very well for long-term storage. When we used them, they didn’t seem to lower the humidity when it was too high in our curing jars, but they did protect buds from drying out.
Will Boveda 62 packs reduce the smell of your buds?
We have never noticed that. Most growers seem to agree that these packs won’t reduce bud smell if they are added to the jars after the humidity has already been stabilized around 62% humidity for a few days.
Keep opening all jars at least once/day for first 1-2 weeks of curing
For the first 1-2 weeks, whether or not you’re using Boveda 62 humidipaks, you should continue checking your buds regularly and opening all the jars once a day.
Once you are sure buds have been steadily in the cure zone for a few weeks, you may start opening the jars just once/week or even less.
Re-Hydrating Overdried Buds
If you feel like you’ve overdried your buds, don’t panic! Sometimes it feels like buds are too dry even when there is still moisture inside. It’s a good idea to leave buds in jars for at least 2-3 days to see if moisture starts coming to the surface from inside. If buds still feel bone dry after a few days of being jarred, that’s when you might consider rehydrating buds.
Don’t Panic if Buds Are Too Dry!
If you’ve only got household items, trying to re-hydrate buds afterward is risky and probably not a good idea. Re-hydration increases the risk of mold, especially if using something organic, like an orange peel, so use something that’s meant to do the re-hydrating.
Boveda Humidipaks for Re-Hydrating Dry Buds
If you’ve been watching buds closely from the beginning, it is unlikely that buds will become over dry. However, if you have over-dried buds, one safe option to at least reduce the brittleness (freshen them up) is to add 62% Boveda Humidipaks to your jars, which will bring the humidity back up to 62% (they don’t work well for reducing humidity though – they can only raise the humidity and keeping it at the 62% level).
These will help slowly infuse moisture back into your buds and won’t affect the taste or increase the chances of mold.
Once the buds have been re-hydrated, you can remove the Humidipak if desired. Some growers have reported that leaving Humidipaks in jars during the first 4 weeks of curing can reduce the taste/smell of buds, though when we used Humidipaks during the curing process we didn’t notice any difference in smell or flavor.
Step 7: Long term storage
As long as buds remain consistently in the cure zone after several weeks, you can begin to open jars once/month.
Buds will continue to improve from curing for up to 6 months. After 6 months, further curing will not continue to have much effect. At this point, you want to prepare the buds for long term storage to maintain their potency for as long as possible.
For long-term storage (months), buds should be kept in air-tight containers (the wide-mouthed mason jars they’ve been curing in are perfect) and placed in a cool, dark environment.
For serious long-term storage (6 months or more), you may want to consider vacuum sealing your buds, or even better, storing them in your freezer in tightly packed mason glass jars!
Buds should feel dry and have been curing for at least 3 months before any attempt to store them long term. It is better to err on the side of buds being too dry when you’re going to store buds for a long time without checking on them. Even if buds get brittle, they can be “freshened up” later with a Humidipak.
Properly stored buds can retain a lot of their potency for years
After curing for a year or more after harvest, buds will tend to produce more of a “mellow” effect and will look a lot more beige than green, but other than that the effects stay mostly the same as long as buds are stored properly.
62% humidity – When buds are dry enough for long term storage, your hygrometer will read 62% relative humidity or slightly less. It’s important that buds are not wet at all before long-term storage, or they may mold!
A great way to make sure buds don’t contain extra moisture is to leave your cured buds in unopened jars for a few weeks first, to make sure the humidity reading is completely accurate before your store your buds somewhere you won’t be able to easily check. Adding a Boveda 62 humidipak to the jar will also help keep the humidity where it needs to be!
That’s it! Perfectly cured buds every time!
Common Questions About Curing Cannabis
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This tutorial teaches you the best way to dry and cure cannabis buds after harvest, which greatly increases bud quality. Quality drying/curing ensures the best smelling, most dense and highest potency marijuana buds!