Tips for Handling Fresh Cannabis at Harvest Time
It’s harvest time and your plants are showing some impressive yields. While exciting, this is the time to be methodical and careful so the trichomes and terpenes are nicely preserved.
With harvest season upon us, there is excitement buzzing in the air. No matter the size of your cannabis garden, growing another crop of beautiful flowers is always a cause for celebration. Yet, before you can pack your flowers away to be enjoyed over the next year, there are a few additional steps that you need to follow.
How you handle fresh cannabis during harvest can have a major impact on overall flower quality. You might not believe it, but seemingly minor choices like how you cut down plants or organize strains in the drying room can impact both bag appeal and potency. Having the right tools to handle and care for fresh flowers is also essential.
Ways That Flowers are Damaged While Harvesting
A commonly overlooked part of cannabis cultivation is the physical act of harvesting plants. While the picking process might seem simple, being too rough on flowers can have lasting negative impacts.
Because people tend to overhandle fresh flowers during harvest, they jeopardize the potency and bag appeal of cannabis. If your hands, tools, and equipment tend to get coated in resin during harvest, you are likely touching flowers too much. In fact, this resin is comprised of trichomes that, in turn, house both cannabinoids and terpenes.
Another common mistake that people make during harvest is piling fresh flowers inside deep bins for transport. When flowers are stacked in this fashion, they are easily squashed beneath the weight of one another. In other instances, you might break the tips off buds or disfigure them entirely.
Common Drying Room Mistakes
Many home growers also tend to overlook conditions in their drying rooms. Yet, the failure to keep things dialed during this important step can have detrimental effects on your crop.
If your cannabis dries too quickly, chlorophyll doesn't fully break down and flowers become increasingly brittle. Not only does this lead to harsh smoke, but your whole harvest can potentially turn to shake if you aren’t careful!
By drying cannabis too slowly, you create overly humid conditions in the drying room where pathogens like botrytis have the chance to ruin an entire harvest. In other cases, drying too slowly causes a “hay-like” aroma that ruins the aesthetic appeal of your flowers.
Tips for Handling Flowers During the Harvest Process
To avoid damaging cannabis during harvest time, there are some strategic steps that you can implement with your standard processes. These measures include cutting plants down in the correct way, to having the right tools for your drying room.
The most efficient way to harvest cannabis plants is to cut the whole plant at the stem right above the soil. By holding the stem and chopping the base, you can bring the plant down without making contact with a single flower. Next, hang the whole plant on a hook or hanger in preparation for processing.
Bucking & Big Leafing
To cut off excess fan leaves, work your way around the hanging plant with a nice pair of trimming scissors. Removing this extra biomass not only helps regulate moisture levels in your drying room, but also creates more space to dry valuable flowers. After you have trimmed most of the big leaves, gently buck flowers off stems to be placed into drying racks.
Hanging Fresh Plant Material
A dedicated drying system like the Hanging Herb Drying Rack from AC Infinity is critical for protecting the integrity of delicate flowers during harvest. These multi-tiered hangers are constructed of a flexible steel wireframe encased with quality polyester mesh. Not only are drying racks extremely gentle on fresh flowers, but they allow for ample airflow between different tiers.
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Tricks for Getting Your Drying Room Dialed In
To avoid drying cannabis too quickly or slowly, you must arrange fresh flowers in the right fashion, while also tracking moisture content.
Correct Space for Drying Flowers
Rather than piling flowers high on the drying rack, you should arrange them side-by-side on each shelf so they are just touching. As the flowers dry, they will rapidly shrink and create more space for airflow within the room. In the end, the goal with your drying room is to maximize the amount of fresh plant material, while also creating ideal atmospheric conditions for balanced moisture removal.
Monitoring Moisture Levels
To accurately assess the water content in drying flowers, you should always use a dedicated moisture meter. While it is common practice among growers to test the consistency of drying flowers simply by touch, this practice doesn’t come close to giving you the full-picture of water activity. Conversely, a meter will give you an extract reading of moisture levels of each strain in the drying room. When moisture reaches about 15%, flowers are ready to be trimmed.
Organizing Strains in Your Drying Room
Another great way to ensure even moisture removal in your drying room is to organize strains in a fashion that accounts for the different densities of flowers. For example, Indica strains like Granddaddy Purple have dense flowers that should be situated closer to the dehumidifier. Conversely, Sativa strains like Silver Haze are lighter and airier, so they should be placed further from the dehumidifier.
Due to the fact that cannabis flowers are inherently fragile, there are many ways they can be damaged during harvest time. While many growers are okay with spending large sums of money on growroom equipment and nutrients, they often overlook proper flower care during the important harvest phase.
In order to correctly harvest and dry cannabis, you also need to have the right tools on hand. Important pieces of equipment to remember for proper flower care include quality shears and scissors, as well as a quality harvest rack like those from AC Infinity. Even more, having a thermohygrometer and moisture meter on hand will help you keep careful tabs on the drying process.
All things considered, properly handling fresh flowers during harvest is a great way to preserve the overall integrity of your crop. By ensuring that flowers aren’t overhandled during harvest, and moisture is removed at the correct rate in the drying room, you protect both the potency and bag appeal of precious flowers.
AC Infinity is the foremost name in air delivery systems, designing and developing the latest innovations in cooling and ventilation technology. They offer a suite of quiet inline fans that automate the growing progress and track key metrics. Visit acinfinity.com or contact [email protected] to learn more.