The Best Options for Harvesting, Drying, and Curing Your Crops

Published on: 
Cannabis Science and Technology, March/April 2024, Volume 7, Issue 2
Pages: 34-35

A look at some of the top tips for cultivation when it comes to harvesting, drying, and curing your way to covetable crops.

There’s a lot more to cannabis cultivation than meets the consumer’s eye when they’re examining products on a retail shelf.

The process is complex, time-consuming, and labor-intensive, but consistent TLC is crucial if you want your plants to thrive. Thankfully, there are quite a few tips and tricks growers have established over time that help today’s generation of cultivators reach success with much more ease and insight.

For your cultivation education and benefit, I’ve rounded up some top tips for success when it comes to harvesting, drying, and curing your way to covetable crops.

How to Reach Cannabis Harvest Success

Harvesting cannabis requires extensive plant knowledge, confidence in your abilities, and tons of trial and error. A good grower has ample of experience to pull from for success, but a great grower knows they are never done learning—and they can always find ways to innovate their operations.

The most important factor when it comes to harvesting cannabis is timing. Harvest too soon and your buds will likely lack quite a bit of potency, while waiting too long can result in irreparable cannabinoid degradation.

Thankfully, cannabis plants are excellent communicators—as long as we know what to listen (and look) for. Here are a few tried-and-true harvest-time tells to be aware of when growing flower:

  • Trichomes will let you know when the time is right.

This is the most well-known tactic among growers who are trying to figure out whether or not it’s time to harvest: checking the trichomes.

Trichomes start out a clear or milky-white shade, but when your plant is ripe and ready to harvest, they’ll present as a burnt orange-red or amber color. This is usually easy enough to spot with the naked eye, but you might want to keep a magnifying glass on hand if you want to be sure.

  • Pistil color is also a strong indicator of harvest time.

Plant pistils undergo another change in color you can look out for that indicates harvest time is near.

You know those little hairy-looking organs that begin to pop up on a mature plant? Once they’ve gone from white to red to the final shade of brown, you’re ready to rock. Be prepared to act somewhat quickly, because as soon as more than 50% of your pistils have darkened, you’ve waited too long.


Expert Drying Tips

Drying cannabis sounds pretty straightforward, but like any other cultivation room endeavor, it comes with a few different practiced methods for success—and, if executed carelessly, failure.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Keep it clean

The first and most important step in any grow room process is cleanliness. The last thing you want is for your plants to come into contact with bacteria or fungus.

Keep these unwelcome microorganisms at bay by wearing gloves while trimming, using liners when collecting plant material, and encouraging an unflinching standard of cleanliness throughout your entire team.

2. Trim before the harvest begins—and opt for the dry approach

When it comes to trimming, it’s advantageous to start the process before your plants are ready to harvest. That way, you can ensure your crop is receiving even lighting and airflow as it continues to mature.

We also recommend going for a dry trim over a wet one. It’s cleaner, easier to execute, and allows you to save those excess sugar leaves for concentrates or infusions.

3. Maintain a low-temperature environment for the best results

In general, lower temperatures are ideal when it comes to terpene and cannabinoid development. We recommend turning the thermostat down to around 60°F and keeping a close eye from there.

4. Be careful when hanging up your plants

Spread love to your plants by being intentional with them—that is, make sure they’re evenly spread out and equally exposed to the elements when hanging them up for the dry. This will help prevent mold growth and ensure that your plants dry at a healthy and sustainable rate.

5. Allow your plants to dry for at least seven to 10 days

Be patient. While the average dry takes about seven to 10 days, some growers extend it to 14 days for the best results. A slower dry allows your plants to retain a stronger terpene profile, so if you can afford to wait, you should.

6. Begin the cure with a healthy sweat

At the end of the drying process, you’re about ready to cure. Begin that next step by sweating your flower out. This allows the condensed moisture living at the center of your plant to be drawn out and redistributed, which is helpful for mold prevention and terpene preservation.

The Cannabis Cure: Optimizing Your Plant’s Potency

Curing is the last stop on the cultivation train: when your flower’s flavor is optimized and preserved for long-term potency. Here are some expert tips for making the most of the process:

1. Burp your containers

If you’re using airtight jars to store and cure your buds, keep in mind they’ll be collecting excess moisture, which means they’re more susceptible to developing mold.

To prevent this, you’ll need to burp your jars: open them about two to four times per day to let out some of that moisture.

2. Invest in a hygrometer and dehumidifier

If you have the budget for some fancy tools in your cure room, I recommend purchasing a hygrometer and dehumidifier. A hygrometer will measure the exact humidity of your storage environment, while a dehumidifier is helpful to have on hand if your levels are too high.

3. Opt for humidity control storage

As technologies from other agricultural products make their way into the cannabis industry, modified atmospheric packaging (MAP) is one to watch. Finding a storage solution that can reliably create and maintain an optimal humidity level (58-62%) can help take the guesswork out of managing moisture and completely eliminate the need for a manual burping process.

About the Author

Jack Grover is the founder and CEO of Grove Bags, a provider of cannabis packaging specifically tailored for the unique physiology of the plant to create the perfect climate for cannabis preservation. After graduating from Babson College, Jack was inspired by his brother Charlie’s battle with cerebral palsy to enter the cannabis industry and create packaging that preserves the plant at its highest quality. Fast forward from March 2016, the company, Grove Bags, continues its commitment to manufacturing its packaging solutions in the United States for the global cannabis market, and has gained industry-wide praise for its proprietary TerpLoc technology. Jack has been a featured speaker at numerous cannabis conferences all over the world where audiences gather to hear his insights on material science and plant biology. While serving as CEO, Jack has helped steer the business year in and year out with tremendous growth while the products become a household name in the industry having packaged millions of pounds of product and are present in nearly every cannabis market globally.

How to Cite this Article

Grover, J., The Best Options for Harvesting, Drying, and Curing Your Crops, Cannabis Science and Technology20247(2), 34-35.