How to Dry and Cure Smokable Hemp Flower for Best Results
In this post :
- Hemp drying process
- Curing smokable hemp flower
- Step by step curing guide
- FAQs about curing hemp
Growing hemp is a complex process that doesn’t end after harvest. In fact, at harvest, you’re only halfway there! When it comes to producing the best smokable hemp, curing is where the magic happens.
Curing is one of the most important steps in hemp cultivation and is also considerably time-consuming. It’s easy to get impatient with the process, but potent and flavorful buds that deliver a smooth experience will be your reward. Here’s what you need to know about drying and curing smokable hemp flower for the most flavorful, fragrant, and robust results.
How-To: Manual Hemp Drying Process
For best results, most growers dry plants in a dark room for five to fifteen days, hanging upside down or laying on racks. This time period allows the plants to release moisture from the leaves and stem and transfer it into the buds.
You have two options for hang drying: leave the plant whole or remove the largest buds and leaves first. If you leave the plant intact, it creates a slow-drying environment. If you separate the buds, it allows the plant to dry out quickly.
So, if you live in a humid climate, you’ll want to separate the largest buds to encourage faster drying, which discourages mold growth.
However you choose to dry your plant, most experts recommend trimming the leaves first while the plant is still fresh. Wet trimming makes it easier to remove the fan leaves and the sugar leaves. But if you wait to trim until the flower dries, you’ll need to expend more labor to remove the leaves that start curling around the buds.
What’s the Ideal Environment for Drying Smokable Hemp Flower?
The ideal environment for drying hemp flower is a dark room between 60 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit with no more than 55% humidity. Humid air prevents drying and can encourage bacteria and mold growth. To facilitate the drying process, circulate the air in the room with a small fan. For a larger room or harvest size, use multiple fans or a dehumidifier.
You should always keep your hemp in the dark during the drying process because direct exposure to light or heat can make it harder for the plant to dry. Moist plants can stimulate bacteria growth and degrade cannabinoids and terpenes.
Curing Smokable Hemp Flower
Once the drying process is complete, it’s time to start curing your hemp flower. This phase requires time and care, creating flavorful buds and an enjoyable inhalation experience.
The Importance of Curing Hemp
Curing is a crucial part of the hemp cultivation process. But why does it matter so much?
Uncured hemp flower creates an unpleasant experience through rough, harsh hitting smoke and a raw plant taste. By properly curing buds, you can rid them of bacteria, enhance the flavors and potency, and deliver a smoother experience.
Like a fine wine, hemp flowers get better with age and need to mature before consumers can fully appreciate their robust profile. Curing allows the terpenes and cannabinoids to age and stabilize.
Pre-cured freshly harvested hemp plants actually don’t contain much CBD. Instead, they have high levels of cannabidiolic acid (CBDa), the precursor to CBD. The presence of CBDa is what makes fresh hemp plants unpleasant to smoke. During the curing process, chemical conversions change CBDa into CBD.
Freshly harvested cannabis plants are similar, with high levels of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) that converts to THC during curing. Curing also brings out the flavors of terpenes and flavonoids, which improves the taste of your bud. For example, chemical reactions degrade compounds like chlorophyll, which removes the harsh, wet taste from the bud and creates a more enjoyable smokable flower.
The Best Way to Cure Hemp Flowers – A Step-by-Step Guide
Curing hemp flower isn’t a complicated process, but it can seem daunting for first-timers. The curing process can last from a few days to a few weeks to three-plus months (although your hemp likely won’t need to cure for that long.)
Most professional growers favor a two-to-three-week cure period, but ultimately it’s up to you. Let’s break it down into a step-by-step hemp curing guide.
Curing Equipment and Tools
- Small scissors (cosmetic scissors, children’s size, etc.)
- Wide-mouth containers with an airtight lid
- Humidity packs
Curing Hemp Flower in Five Simple Steps
- Prep the flowers.
Before you can cure the buds, you need to remove them from the stalks and eliminate leaves, if you didn’t already. While wet trimming makes leaf removal easier, dry trimming makes removing the buds from the stalks easier.
And if you skipped wet trimming, now is the perfect time to go through with a pair of small scissors or with a machine. After you’ve removed all of the leaves, go back through and carefully remove the buds from the stalks. Find the base of the bud where it joins to the stalk, and cut it off from there. Buds at the top of the stalk will be larger than buds from the bottom.
- Store the buds in a wide-mouth, airtight container.
Once you cut the buds, place them in a wide-mouth, airtight container. You want the mouth of the container to be large enough to fit your hand in so you can circulate air during the curing process.
But the container must also be airtight to protect the buds when shut. Many people favor Mason jars for this purpose, but any airtight container made of glass, plastic, ceramic, metal, or wood will work. Plastic bags will not work because they are not airtight and can degrade the terpenes.
To get started, fill the jar to 75% capacity and leave the rest open to encourage air circulation. It’s crucial to pick the right size container; too large, and it can encourage mold growth. Too small, and the buds will be clumped together and won’t cure properly.
- Place the jar in a dark place.
During the curing process, the storage environment for your hemp should be similar to that of the drying process, between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit and no more than 55% humidity. You can store your jars in a closet, cabinet, container, or any dark room. The hemp flower needs to be kept in the dark, as direct light exposure can degrade the cannabinoids and terpenes.
Since humidity can prevent the buds from curing properly, some growers will place a hygrometer in the jars to measure the moisture content and control humidity. This is not mandatory but can be helpful if you live in a humid climate.
- Inspect the buds.
During the first week of curing, monitor the hemp flower for moisture levels and possible mold. Open the jars twice a day to inspect the flowers and allow the air inside the jar to exchange with fresh air. This exchange is called “burping” your cannabis, and it allows fresh air to circulate around the buds and prevents too much moisture from building up in the jar.
Pay attention to the aromas of your curing hemp. Raw or uncured hemp smells like wet grass or lawn clippings. Bud that contains too much moisture smells like ammonia and can attract mold and mildew.
If you need to absorb excess moisture, try adding a humidity pack to the container. On the other hand, if the buds are overdried, skip circulating the air and keep the jar closed for an extended period to allow the buds to rehydrate.
- Allow hemp to sit for your preferred curing period.
Your buds should be ready for use after about three weeks. However, some experts prefer to extend the curing process to eight weeks or more.
If you have time to let your buds sit, start opening the jars and recirculating the air once weekly after week three until they’re finished. You’ll know your hemp is ready to consume when the smell changes from lawn trimmings to a classic “cannabis” aroma.
FAQs About Curing Hemp Flower
Does curing bring back smell?
Yes. Your hemp flower has finished curing when it has a pleasant cannabis aroma, similar to, but stronger than the plant’s aroma before harvest.
Can you over dry hemp?
Yes. Overdried hemp will feel crunchy to the touch and will not rehydrate easily. If you accidentally overdry your hemp flowers before curing, skip circulating the air in the jar and allow your flower to sit in the sealed jar for one to two weeks.
How long does it take to cure cannabis?
Hemp and cannabis flowers should be cured for at least three weeks to improve the cannabinoid and terpene flavors but can cure for up to three months in rare cases. Some connoisseurs consider a 60-90-day drying period ideal for high-quality smokable flowers, however, most professionals cure for two-to-three weeks.
How to properly store cannabis buds
After the curing process is done, keep the buds in an airtight container in dark storage space. You can use the same containers to store your cannabis buds. In these conditions, cannabis will stay potent for six months up to one year.
We hope you found this hemp curing guide helpful. If you have any questions about hemp harvest and testing practices, call us today or schedule a test.