The Goldilocks Trimming Method for Industrial Trimmers

By Jack Bohannan
Published: December 8, 2021
Presented by Triminator
Key Takeaways

Do you trim wet? Or do you trim dry? There’s never been any middle ground between the two — until now.

These days, leading growers are using a new "Goldilocks Method" for cannabis trimming, and trimmer manufacturers are designing equipment to support the method.


They call it “semi-dry trimming,” and some say it’s the best of both worlds: it combines the convenience of wet trimming with the quality-boosting benefits of dry trimming.

So, what’s the secret to the new technique?


You hang-dry your cannabis plants for a few days but trim them before the drying process is complete. The flowers aren’t too dry or delicate, and they aren’t too wet either. As Goldilocks would say, they’re “just right.”

But you’ll need a special trimmer to pull off the method at an industrial scale. Traditional cannabis trimmers simply weren’t designed for semi-dry trimming, but that’s changing.

trimmer sorting trimmed cannabis


Why Trim “Semi-Dry”?

The first question growers have when they hear about the new method is “Why should I bother trying something new? What I’m doing now works fine.”

And it’s true. Wet trimmers work fine. Dry trimmers work fine. But both methods have natural drawbacks based on how trimmers work and how cannabis naturally dries.


Fortunately, a semi-dry trimmer can help growers overcome most of those drawbacks. Here’s how semi-dry trimming can avoid the cons of wet and dry trimming while giving you the pros of each:

Pros and Cons of Wet Trimming

Wet trimming can sacrifice quality. When you detach the flowers from the stalk and trim them before drying, they dry more quickly than if they were left attached to the stalk (as is the case with dry trimming).

More of the terpenes and cannabinoids evaporate when the flowers dry quickly, leaving a final product that’s not quite as good as it could have been. If done incorrectly or with the wrong equipment, wet-trimmed flowers can lack “nose” and take on a brown hue.

Of course, there are benefits to wet trimming too. Growers choose wet trimming because it’s simple and gets all the work done on harvest day, even though it sacrifices a little potency, flavor, and aesthetic appeal.

Wet trimming is good because you can pull down flowers quickly, especially if bad weather is moving in and you don’t have much drying space. On the other hand, it can also add stress to the harvest process for the same reason; it all needs to be done quickly and at one time.

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Pros and Cons of Dry Trimming

Dry trimming, on the other hand, sacrifices speed. It complicates your workflow because you have to estimate your trimming day based on the moisture content of your flowers. Flowers must be completely dry or the machine won’t run properly.

Moreover, it’s tricky to use a mechanical bucking machine to separate (or buck) the dry flowers from the stalks. The flowers are too delicate and break to pieces if you use a bucker. Without a mechanical bucker, your labor costs are higher.

Despite the slower processing of trimming dry, cultivators prefer it for a few reasons. Dry trimming sets the quality benchmark because it lets the plants dry intact, as nature intended.

When you hang the plants for drying without detaching the flowers, the flowers dry more evenly and slowly, pulling moisture from the stalks and leaves.

You get better terpene retention, higher cannabinoid content, and a rounder-looking dried flower. Some people also prefer dry trimming because it makes harvest day easier; there’s no need to trim, all you have to do is hang the plants in the drying room.

dry cannabis buds

Combining the Best of Both Worlds

The new method of “semi-dry” trimming promises growers both quality and speed.

Semi-dry trimming starts off with about seven days of whole-plant drying. That period ensures maximum terpene and cannabinoid retention, and lets the flowers retain their natural color and shape.

Then, after bucking and trimming, the detached flowers head back to the drying room until they’re completely dry — usually another three days.

Because the plants aren’t as delicate when they’re semi-dry, you can process and trim them faster, whether you’re using a mechanical bucker or doing it by hand. You don’t need to worry so much about trichome detachment like you would with normal dried material.

The finished product looks, feels, and tastes like a dry-trimmed flower, yet it’s easier and faster to process.

Wet, Dry, and Semi-Dry Workflows

Just so we’re clear, here’s a rundown of what we mean by dry trimming, wet trimming, and semi-dry trimming in terms of workflow.

Wet Trimming Workflow

  1. Buck the newly harvested flowers with a mechanical bucker (or by hand).
  2. Use a wet trimmer to process the flowers.
  3. Arrange the flowers on mesh screens and dry them for 10-14 days until moisture content drops to 10-11%. Be sure to “bump” or move the flowers on the screens to avoid flat spots.

Dry Trimming Workflow

  1. Hang the newly harvested plants upside down without bucking the flowers from stalks.
  2. When the moisture content of the flowers drops to 10-11%, buck them from the stalks by hand.
  3. Use a dry trimmer to process the dry flowers.

Semi-Dry Trimming Workflow

  1. Hang the newly harvested plants upside down without bucking the flowers from stalks. This whole-plant drying period improves quality.
  2. After 5-7 days, buck the flowers from the stalks using a mechanical bucker. (The moisture content matters less than it does with dry trimming but, after 5-7 days in the drying room, it’s usually around 15-20%.)
  3. Use a semi-dry trimmer to process the flowers.
  4. Arrange the flowers on mesh screens and dry them for another 3-4 days until moisture content drops to 10-11%.

collage of trimming machine stages

Why Haven’t Growers Done This Before?

Until now, mechanical cannabis trimmers simply haven’t been designed for semi-dry trimming.

Wet trimmers were too rough on semi-dry flowers, and dry trimmers were too gentle to get the job done. Cutting wet plant material requires more mechanical force than semi-dry flowers can handle. Mechanical dry trimming is a very delicate process — too delicate to be effective for semi-dry flowers.

What’s more, using the wrong machine caused a sticky mess and sub-par trimming. Dry trimmers aren’t designed for wet flower; and wet trimmers can’t trim dry material without losses.

But now, Triminator, an equipment manufacturer based in Northern California, is introducing a new type of trimmer capable of semi-dry processing, in addition to wet and dry trimming.

The new machine, dubbed the Hybrid, is highly adjustable, and trims at twice the speed of similarly priced machines. Operators can adjust the speed of the tumbler, vacuum, and cutting blade, thus creating the perfect amount of force and speed for all types of trimming — wet, dry, and everything in between.

Does the new trimmer handle dry flower? Yes. All you have to do is turn down the tumbler speed or vacuum power. Need to trim wet or semi-dry? Just increase the speed or vacuum power to get the perfect cutting power and optimal processing speed.

But the crux of the design — and what makes it capable of semi-dry trimming — is the helical cutting blade which rides extremely close to the tumbler.

The metal-on-metal cutting system works like scissors, so it doesn’t need to run as fast or as long to get the cutting done. It's as gentle as a dry trimmer yet sharply effective like a wet trimmer. That’s what makes semi-dry trimming possible on an industrial scale, and what makes this trimmer so fast.

grower operating a trimming machine

Try Semi-Dry Trimming for Yourself

It’s easy to test drive the semi-dry technique to see how it can improve your quality. Just trim a few plants by hand.

If you’re using a wet trimmer, hang dry a couple of plants and, after seven days, buck them as you normally would for wet trimming.

But don’t run them through your machine! A normal wet trimmer may damage the semi-dry material.

Then, hand trim the flowers and return them to your drying room on racks. When they’re dry and cured, you’ll experience the flavor and aroma you might expect from dry-trimmed flower — and you’ll probably want to order a semi-dry trimmer to scale up the process soon!

triminator logoEverything they do at Triminator starts with the cannabis farmer. Their story began in Northern California when a few grower friends asked them to create a machine that could trim their premium flower at a commercial scale. From their humble start, they worked tirelessly to engineer equipment to help fulfill the increasing needs of the grower, expanding their product line to encompass the entire process from the field to the final dried product. To learn more, visit or contact [email protected] .


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Written by Jack Bohannan | Denver-based freelance writer specializing in technical cannabis subjects

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Jack Bohannan is a Denver-based freelance writer specializing in technical cannabis subjects ranging from cultivation to extraction. He brings a research-first orientation to content creation with special emphasis on clear communication.

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