The cannabis growing process doesn’t end at cutting down the plant. Before cannabis gets to your dispensary, carefully-harvested buds must also be dried and cured.
Drying removes moisture from the flowers under controlled environmental conditions, and it should always be followed by curing, which puts the finishing touches on the final product. Some cannabis producers consider curing as an optional step – it's often overlooked, but it’s important for a few reasons.
What Goes into Drying and Curing?
We’ll cover the easiest, most effective method here.
First, the initial drying. This step depends on how the grower harvests the flower. Growers will usually either cut buds from the plant’s branches and place them on drying racks, or cut entire branches from the plant and hang these from wire, waiting to snip individual buds until curing. Either way, the harvested cannabis needs to be kept in a dark room at a temperature between 60-70°F with humidity of 45-55 percent. A fan is also necessary to circulate the air.
When the buds feel a little crunchy on the outside and the smallest branches snap rather than fold when bent, the cannabis is mostly dry and ready to cure. After the buds are trimmed off (if not done before drying), they are best packed loosely into an airtight container. Then they go back into the cool, dry, and dark to be observed over several weeks.
- Week One: Within the first day, moisture from within the flower should re-moisten the crunchy outer side of the buds. The build-up of moisture and carbon dioxide needs to escape from the container. For the flowers to “breathe,” the container should be opened several times per day for up to 30 minutes.
- Week Two: Now the container only needs to be opened once every few days.
- Week Three: After at least two or three weeks, the buds should be cured enough to provide quality results.
Drying takes up to 15 days depending on the density of the flowers or environmental conditions. The longer the flower is cured, the better. Some strains can benefit from four to eight weeks – or even r more – of cure time. It’s a prolonged process, especially when done by hand, but it’s how a good product turns into a great one.
How Does Curing Play into the Final Product?
Drying and curing under optimal conditions is crucial to preserving the potency, flavor, aroma and longevity of the plant.
Even after the plant is harvested, it continues to undergo important metabolic processes. For example, biosynthesis converts non-psychoactive compounds (like THCA) to psychoactive ones (THC) at the right temperature, which increases potency over time. Low temperatures also help preserve the terpenes that give each strain its unique flavor and aroma, shifting the plant’s taste from an overly earthy flavor to one that’s more palatable.
Finally, curing allows you to store your cannabis for longer periods of time. Well-cured flowers are less likely to grow mold or lose potency if kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
As any grower would agree – whether at the growing, curing, or storage stage – it’s all about proper conditions and a little extra patience for the best results.