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How to Trim Cannabis: Wet vs. Dry Methods

By Lee G Lyzit | Last updated: May 25, 2021
Key Takeaways

What's the best way to trim marijuana plants? Wet? Dry? Fast? Slow? Hand? Machine? Ask 20 different people and you’ll get 20 different preferences. Lee G. Lyzit explores the delicate art of trimming.

After waiting patiently for cannabis trichomes to reach their peak cannabinoid content, which indicates the crop has finished flowering, it’s finally time to harvest. Just like many other areas of cannabis cultivation, there is more than one right way to harvest a marijuana crop.

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After cutting down a cannabis plant, a grower must decide whether to begin the trimming process immediately (while the plant is still wet) or to dry the plant before trimming. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.

What works for one grower in his or her particular situation may not be the best option for another grower. Growers should approach this choice knowing that neither method is definitively right or wrong.

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In other words, the advantages and disadvantages of each method should be examined by a gardener to determine which choice fits best.

Grower trimming fan leavesFan leaves only contain trace amounts of cannabinoids.

Cannabis Fan Leaf Removal

The first stage of the harvest process is to remove the large fan leaves. This should be done before implementing either a wet or dry trimming method. These leaves can be plucked by hand, cut with scissors, or removed with an automatic trimmer, such as a hand-held hedge trimmer.

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(Read also: Managing Cannabis Fan Leaves)

The concentration of cannabinoids is not as high in the fan leaves and, therefore, many growers find them expendable. The fan leaves are not to be confused with the sugar leaves, which are found close to the flowers and contain a fair amount of cannabinoids. Sugar leaves should be saved for making cannabinoid extractions.

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Wet Cannabis Trimming

A grower begins wet trimming as soon as the cannabis plants are cut down. The biggest advantage of wet trimming, assuming the trimming will be done by hand, is that it can be done more quickly than dry trimming. Wet trimming is faster than dry trimming because most the plant material that will be removed is perpendicular to the flowers.

This makes it easy to access and trim with scissors. Sugar leaves close to the flowers are easier to access when they are wet because they are not stuck to the flowers. Although most trim machines are made for dry flowers, there are automated tools for wet trimming. Some marijuana growers utilize the same hand-held hedge trimmers used for fan leaf removal to speed up the wet trimming process.

Grower trimming cannabis by hand.Most cannabis trimming is done by hand.

Dry Cannabis Trimming

Dry trimming occurs after the cannabis plants have been hung and dried. When done by hand, dry trimming can be a tedious and slow process. This is because the leaves that need to be removed are now stuck against the sides of the flowers.

Large grow operations may require a plethora of hired hands to help during the trimming process. Hired hands are not only costly, but also require micromanagement and increased security measures. This is why many serious marijuana growers invest in commercial trim machines, which automatically trim cannabis flowers.

(Read also: The Art of Curing Your Cannabis Crop)

Most of these devices require the flowers to be dried. Remember, though, not all trim machines are created equal. Some trim machines operate at radically high RPMs, which not only creates a lot of noise, but can potentially damage the quality of the finished product.

Other trim machines “over cut” and leave the final product looking less than desirable. As can be imagined, a trim machine can also quickly become gummed up with resin from the cannabis. The best trim machines are easily dismantled and cleaned for quick and effective maintenance.

It is a good idea for a grower to demo, or at least watch demos on the internet, of the trim machine being considered. Seeing the trim machine in action is the only way to gauge how effective and fast it really is.

Leftover trim materialLeftover trim material can be easily converted into usable extracts.

Cannabis Trim Material

After the wet or dry trimming of cannabis flowers, a grower will be left with a pile of leftover trim material. This material can be easily converted into usable extracts using little more than household items. There are also more complex methods.

A quick search of our website can provide a grower with detailed instructions on how to turn trim material into usable products. Of course, a grower should consider his or her limitations before making extracts.

In other words, if you are not familiar with the proper safety procedures required to make solvent extractions, choose a different, less combustible, method. It is not worth blowing up over an extraction.

Choosing between wet or dry trimming ultimately comes down to the personal preferences of the cannabis grower. For many hobbyist growers, hand trimming is no big deal and can actually be fun.

These growers can easily experiment with both wet and dry trimming methods and see which they prefer. For most commercial growers, trimming is a tedious and time-consuming task that needs to be streamlined as much as possible.

For these growers, automation is an important component in the harvesting process. In many cases, the automation devices available to the grower will determine the trimming process.

At the end of the day, wet or dry trimming techniques, when done correctly, can produce a high-quality finished product.

(Read next: 6 Ways To Use Your Cannabis Trim)

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Written by Lee G Lyzit | Grower, Writer

Profile Picture of Lee G Lyzit

Lee G. Lyzit has been involved in the cannabis industry for nearly 20 years. His passion for natural healing motivates him to learn as much as he can about the miraculous cannabis plant. Lee’s knowledge of cannabis gardening stems from his own extensive cultivation experiences and his past work as a hydroponic shop owner and manager.

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