You have gone through all the effort to carefully cultivate your cannabis plants and now you can harvest them. Before using the harvested plants, you should cure them.
Why cure? There are several good reasons curing your crop will improve the product.
Curing is a simple process of preparing the plant and, basically, canning it. A little bit of effort will greatly enhance your product and improve the enjoyability.
Although it takes a few weeks, it is a small investment in time considering how long you waited for the crop to mature. The results you obtain will be well worth the effort.
Boost THC and Reduce CBN
Cannabinoid production is a continuous process, even after plant maturity. Transformation reactions within the plant can continue after harvest and increase the content of THC and other cannabinoids in the plant tissues.
Curing actually increases the THC content in leaf and bud material, so it is well worth your time and effort. This will ensure the maximum potency of your crop.
Over time, THC tends to degrade to cannabinol (CBN) and loses potency. Although CBN does have some psychoactive properties, it is milder in effect and the mix of effects are quite different from THC.
CBN tends to produce sedation and is found in higher content in improperly-cured cannabis. Sativa strains are favored over Indica strains for a similar reason: Indica cultivars have higher CNB concentrations at harvest.
If cured properly, CBN content in Sativa cultivars is usually less than 1% of total cannabinoid content.
Improve Aroma and Flavor
Curing allows additional time in plant tissues to process the degradation of various plant sugars and sequestration of minerals, which can affect the smoke produced by the cannabis. The result will be leaf and bud with a better aroma and flavor when burned.
One of the things that make for a harsh smoke is too much chlorophyll left in the plant material. Curing also eliminates the cut grass or fresh hay smell and taste.
Properly curing your cannabis harvest will stabilize the chemical content of the material. In addition, you can avoid any long-term issues such as mold during storage.
If dried correctly and stored under cool, dry conditions, cured cannabis can last up to two years or more and retain its potency.
Factors That Can Affect Curing
Light: Curing cannabis should be performed in darkness. Light exposure accelerates the degradation of THC and various terpenes and will adversely affect the quality of your crop.
Heat: As with light, heat can accelerate the breakdown of cannabinoids you wish to preserve in the plant tissues. Curing temperatures should be at or below 21°C.
Humidity: It goes without saying that curing, which involves drying buds, is prevented by high humidity. This can be avoided by setting up a curing room or a curing box.
A small, sealed container can be fitted with commercially-available gel packs (similar to ones you find when you buy shoes) that are filled with a hygroscopic gel. If you set up a curing room or closet, use a room dehumidifier.
Optimal curing humidity should be 45-55% relative humidity (RH). Although moisture antagonizes the drying process, flowers that are too dry will crumble.
Curing humidity should be at about 62% RH, so that means you will have to change the chamber for different phases of the process.
Be careful to spread out your buds if they appear to be too wet to assist in drying. Moist buds can clump, which sets up conditions for the blooming of anaerobic bacterial growth.
If you smell ammonia when you turn over your buds or open the drying container, then bacteria have begun to break down the plant material. This means a failed dry.
Curing Cannabis – Step by Step
As soon as you harvest your plants, hang the buds to dry. If using a drying room or closet, run some cotton strings across the chamber like clotheslines from which you can hang the plants.
Adjust the humidity of your drying chamber to 45-55% RH and do not forget to place a fan for good airflow. If the buds are properly dried, you should be able to easily snap off the small stems at about 4-10 days of drying.
Some growers advocate wet trimming of leaves, which means cutting off excess leaves just after harvest. We believe that plants should be left alone until the drying process is completed and favor dry trimming instead.
Wet trimming should be reserved for really large harvested plants that are intended to be laid out on drying racks. The instructions we provide here are more appropriate for home growers.
For curing in small containers, we recommend going with glass. and standard 1-quart Mason jars are ideal for this purpose. Remember that curing should be performed in a dark location and that the ideal humidity range is 60-65% RH.
With a little practice, you should be able to judge the condition of your buds after the drying process. If the buds seem a bit wet (>70% RH), leave them out on a table for 1-2 hours to dry in a location drier than the drying chamber.
If the buds seem moist (65-70% RH), place the buds in jars (loosely, only 2/3 full) and leave the top off the jar for 2-4 hours. In the event the buds seem brittle and prone to crumbling (<55% RH), they are too dry and need to be rehydrated.
Rehydration can be performed in a sealed plastic container (like a small storage tub) with a source of water to provide humidity. There are several options for a humidity source and we will list them here.
Moist bread, damp paper towel, fruit peels, or even better, leaves of lettuce work very well when laid on top of spread out buds. Make sure to exchange the humidification materials frequently and check the buds to prevent mold.
Each day during the 1-2 weeks of the curing process, you should exchange the air in the jars by leaving them open for 5-10 minutes. After 2-3 weeks, buds are cured but can be held in the curing chamber for longer.
Curing up to 6 months can continue to improve the quality of your crop, but beyond that, there are no benefits. During this phase, if you opt to do it, jars should be opened to breathe once a month.
If you need to store your buds for a longer period, packed the dried buds tightly in Mason jars under dry conditions and store them in the freezer.