Should cannabis buds be trimmed wet or dry? What does it mean and why does it matter? To the average cannabis consumer, it may not; for the harvester it could mean a great deal. Some growers use both methods depending on their available time and labor during harvest, while others swear vehemently by one or the other.

The goals of both are essentially the same: to produce better-looking buds that are smoother on the lungs and have higher THC concentrations. Trimmed buds are what the average consumer envisions (whether they know it or not) so part of the reason for trimming is aesthetics. Leaving the leaves on the bud, however, does have some drawbacks. Smoking cannabis leaves is rougher on the lungs than smoking just pure buds. THC levels are also higher in buds than in leaves, so an untrimmed bud will have a lower THC level overall by volume than a trimmed one.

Wet or Dry? The What and Why

Wet trimming refers to the act of trimming off the fan leaves and tips of the sugar leaves of the cannabis bud, either while still attached to the plant or shortly after the branch has been cut off for harvesting. Dry trimming, on the other hand, is the process of allowing harvested branches to dry before trimming out those same leaves or leaf tips.

Wet trimming is the method used by most novice growers simply because it's easier. When the leaves are still green and full of chlorophyll, they are easier to see and either remove entirely or at least trim the tips that protrude from the bud. In either method, the larger fan leaves below the bud are removed. This can be done up to a week before the actual harvest and/or when these leaves start to discolor or turn yellow. Dry trimming is sometimes the method used by default here if the grower doesn’t have the time to trim when the buds need to be harvested or if there are just too many buds to get to at once and not enough help to get the wet trimming done in time.

With dry trimming, the buds, with sugar leaves still intact, are hung or placed in an area to dry before being trimmed. More discriminating consumers of cannabis may prefer this method, as the taste of the bud improves over time when given ample time to dry out thoroughly and slowly. The intact leaves will actually hold some of the moisture in, slowing down the drying process. Once the buds are dry, this method requires painstaking precision, though, and patience to be able to remove the dried, curled up leaves from the buds. With growers with a lot of trimming to do, new technologies like mechanical dry trimmers are making this easier. Before getting to that point, though, the untrimmed buds need to be dried under ideal conditions.

The drying of cut stems with buds can take between one to two weeks depending on conditions. The temperature during drying should be between 15 and 22 degrees Celsius or 59 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity levels should be in the 45 to 55 percent range. Dry trimming can occur once the stems break instead of just bending when pressure is applied.

Tools of the trade

Like any other worthwhile activity, to be successful, you need the right tools. Each and every individual trimmer may have their brand favorites, but there are some consistent needs for trimming buds and some optional ones. A sharp, well-made pair of pruners and trimming shears are a must. The pruners are to cut the branch from the plant to either begin the wet trim process or to cut and hang if using the dry trim method. The shears are to trim off the leaves on and around the bud for either method. If you're looking for an efficient option that provides a high-quality trim, you can look into a mechanical dry trimmer. The latest models like those from GreenBroz closely mimic hand trimming, plus they're quick, quiet and compact.

If you're handling plants at all, disposable gloves, although optional, are highly recommended. The resin buildup from trimming buds is extremely difficult to scrub off of the hands. Those for whom discretion is important will undoubtedly take all precautions to avoid having any evidence of a trim on them and as such, disposable coveralls can come in handy as well. The trimming of buds stirs up the smell of cannabis quite intensely. If you have the luxury of doing this outside, miles away from anyone, this may not be an issue. For the majority of home based growers, however, this is an obstacle to overcome during the trimming process. All available fans, filters and odor neutralizers should be used during the trimming process.

Wet or Dry?

Dry trimming definitely involves a little more work, but many growers swear by the results of the extra effort.