Finally your plants are fully grown and it’s time to start harvesting! The time is ripe to prepare your beautiful buds for consumption. Is it really necessary to trim your buds and what’s the best way to do this? In this blog we’ll tell you everything there is to know about trimming your cannabis buds!
Table of Contents
What Is Trimming And Why Would You Trim Your Cannabis Buds?
When you are trimming your buds, you are trying to remove all the excess plant material, like these little pointy leaves that grow from the buds. These small leaves are called sugar leaves. Cannabis buds are covered in trichomes, which produce cannabinoids and terpenes. Sugar leaves also hold some trichomes, but way less than the buds themselves. Sugar leaves aren´t always visible and some buds contain way more of these leaves than others.
But why would you want to remove them? In the end that’s a choice you have to make for yourself. Here are a couple of reasons to trim your cannabis buds:
- Less chance of mould and rotting: the more moist and dense the bud is, the bigger the chance that mould and rotting will take over. That’s why it’s very important to dry your cannabis, but you can speed up the drying process when you have already removed the sugar leaves from the buds.
- Better appearance: trimmed buds look better. In every high end shop you will only see perfectly manicured buds. Many say that nicely trimmed cannabis buds are of higher quality. Although it comes down to taste, the appearance of your buds will probably improve after trimming.
- Stronger smell: when trimming the buds before storing them in a jar to cure, will ensure that the smell will get stronger over time.
- Easier on the throat: leaving the sugar leaves on your buds can lead to a ‘harsh’ smoking experience. Trimming the buds makes the cannabis more accessible and easier on the throat when smoking it.
- Higher concentration THC: even though the sugar leaves contain some THC, the concentration THC in these leaves is way lower than the buds themselves. This means that trimming your buds and cutting away the sugar leaves will leave you with weed with a relatively higher concentration THC.\
Harvesting Cannabis, Trimming & Pruning: When To Start?
Harvesting is the last part of the life cycle of your cannabis plant. It all started with the germination stage, followed by the vegetative phase and the flowering phase and harvesting will complete the plant’s life cycle. It’s important you don’t get overenthusiastic and start too early, but not too late either!
How can you determine the right moment at which your weed plant is ready to harvest? A grower can see when a plant is nearly ready to harvest, when 75% of the pistils of the flower turned golden brown. Another way, in our opinion the best way to determine the perfect harvest moment, is to take a very close look at the trichomes on the buds. Use a magnifying glass or a macro lens and check the trichomes out. The ratio between transparent, milky white and opaque trichomes is key. Smoking weed that’s been harvested too early will probably only give you a little high, or maybe you won’t even notice any effect. On the flip side, if you wait too long, some of the most important substances of the plant will gradually go to waste. Timing is essential: in this blog you can learn how to determine the ideal moment to start harvesting!
What Equipment Do You Need?
Harvesting is way easier when you use the right tools. You can buy different kinds of pruning shears and other equipment. Read this blog for more information. For trimming your cannabis buds, it’s best to work with small scissors or pliers. With this kind of gear you can reach somewhat inside of the bud, which can be very useful when you’re trying to remove the smaller sugar leaves.
Another nice choice is a curved pruning shear, so you can cut easily around your bud. On the other hand, small scissors with straight blades are often more precise. No matter which tool you prefer, it’s important to always clean your equipment before you start cutting and trimming. Scissors can contain bacteria and mould, which can lead to a disaster if you start trimming your cannabis buds and transfer this time bomb!
Make sure to buy some latex gloves. It’s the best way to ensure a sterile cutting and trimming environment to optimally protect your cannabis. Furthermore, the gloves will prevent the resin from sticking to your hands.
Tip: get a roll of baking paper. You can use this as the perfect surface to lay down the trimmed buds without everything sticking together.
When the trimming part is over, it’s time to give your buds a nice spot to cure. You need to buy some airtight containers to do this. Remember the old-fashioned Weck jar? This is a perfect jar, but an airtight plastic container will also do the job. Finally, take a tray and cover it with baking paper, so you can collect all the excess plant material. Why? Well, why throwing away these leaves, when you can use them to make you own yummy hash or edibles?!
Clipping Cannabis: Dry Or Wet Trimming?
Before you start harvesting, you have to prepare your plant. There’s no such thing as a ‘golden method’ to do this, it comes down to personal preference.
After all, your ultimate goal is to end up with just the buds, so you can start trimming. There are two ways to trim: dry and wet. Decision time!
After you’ve harvested, a grower can choose to dry the buds first and ‘dry trim’ them, or ‘wet trim’ the nugs immediately after harvesting and let them dry afterwards. As always, both ways have pros and cons.
Wet trimming is nice and energetic: you’ve been a busy bee during harvest time, so why not start trimming in one go before hanging the plant to dry? Another pro is that you can store more buds in the same drying space. Some growers even think difficult areas are easier to reach when wet trimming, although others seriously disagree – clearly a matter of taste. In any case, mould has less chance of infecting the buds when you trim before drying, because the bud is way less dense which allows moisture to evaporate quicker. The ultimate downside of wet trimming is the resin: the plant is still very wet and the resin is awfully sticky and gooey.
Dry trimming has other pros and cons. Trimming the buds after drying gives mould a better chance. Because the buds are so dense, they can get moulded even before you can get started to clip. Also the drying process takes more time. This isn’t just a negative thing, many growers think it is an advantage: you’ll end up with extra compact ‘nugs’.
It’s also said that the taste of a strain is better when the buds dry more gently and evenly. Having said this, all of this doesn’t really matter when mould has taken a grip on your weed, so again it comes down to personal preference and choice. It greatly depends on the quality of your drying area. One thing that can help with outdoor grows: make sure you keep your plants dry in the couple of days before harvest.
Wet Trimming Cannabis Buds: Trim First, Then Dry
Wet trimming means that you start trimming your buds right after you´ve harvested them. It´s called ‘wet’, because the plant isn’t dry yet. This also means the trimming is a very gooey chore to do and the sugar leaves will stick to your hands.
Start harvesting: you can leave the plant in the pot or in the ground. Remove all the bigger leaves. After that, start cutting away the smaller leaves that grow around the buds. This way, you will end up with a ‘bare’ plant, which only holds your precious nugs. Another way to tackle the plant is to cut away branches one by one. Or you can cut the plant down straight away, lay it down and then start cutting away the branches.
Harvest your buds. Feel free to leave the buds on the branches, if you think that makes it easier to hold them while trimming. Take a bucket or container and gently put all the branches with buds. Make sure the bucket is clean!
Collect all your tools, put on some nice music or ask some of your friends to help you out! Wash and dry your hands carefully. Wearing a pair of latex gloves is not an unnecessary luxury, to protect your hand from the sticky resin. Besides protecting yourself, the gloves also protect your buds by preventing contamination.
Cutting & Trimming
Take your scissors and gently cut all the protruding sugar leaves. Some of them will be hiding a bit further inwards into the bud. Try to cut away as many leaves as possible, without damaging your nugs. It’s impossible to remove all the sugar leaves, but that’s no problem.
Dry & Cure
Your well-trimmed buds need to dry and cure before you can smoke them. Put the branches with buds in a drying rack, preferably in a heated room with a ventilator. If you don’t have a drying rack, you can hang the branches with the buds upside down. Once dried, you can cut the nugs of the branches and put them in an airtight container to cure.
Trimming Afterwards: Dry Trimming Cannabis Buds
Dry trimming means you dry the entire plant first before you trim the buds. Cut down the plant as close to the soil as possible. Hang it upside down in a heated area with a rotating fan. When the plant is dry you can start clipping. How do you know the plant is dry enough? Use the top branches as indicator: when they bend they are still too moist, when they snap they are perfectly dry.
Cut away all the branches and big leaves, so you’ll end up with just the branches and buds.
Make sure your tools are within reach, put on some gloves and some music, or even better: ask some friends to come over!
Want To Start Trimming Your Own Cannabis?
Did this blog inspire you to start trimming your own batch of fresh buds or dried nugs? It’s time to start shopping for the best cannabis seeds first and to start your next grow!