by Seshata on 12/01/2015 | Cultivation

How to trim and manicure cannabis flowers

Cultivation There are two main schools of thought when it comes to trimming your mature, harvested cannabis flowers. Some believe that trimming should occur prior to drying, while others believe that it should occur once the flowers have dried. Here, we will take a look at the pros and cons of each method.


How to trim and manicure cannabis flowers

What you will need

Before starting the trimming process, it is important to ensure that you prepare correctly. You will need a set of clean, sharp scissors or shears, a plastic tray or tub to catch leaves and fallen trichomes, twine or string and a clothes line (or similar) to hang the branches from, and a good set of rubber or powder-free latex gloves. The gloves will ensure that your hands remain resin-free (cannabis resin is notoriously difficult to remove from skin) as well as allowing for efficient collection of any resin you collect that can later be turned into hashish.

Before you start, you will need a clean, sharp pair of scissors or shears and a plastic tray to catch trichomes
Before you start, you will need a clean, sharp pair of scissors or shears and a plastic tray to catch trichomes

As well as the above equipment, it is vital to ensure that your working environment is suitably prepared. The temperature of your trimming room should be maintained at a comfortable 18-24°C (65-75°F) and the relative humidity at 45-55%. Using an oscillating fan on a low setting will ensure good circulation of air—do not use fans on high settings while trimming, as you could end up losing trichomes in the breeze.

Lastly, it is highly advisable to set up a carbon filter and extract fan to ensure that the powerful aroma of cannabis does not become apparent to neighbours or passing police officers. Most growers understand the necessity for maintaining an odour-filtration system while their plants grow, but it is surprising how many still fail to understand the importance of using filters while trimming—which is arguably the time cannabis smells the most powerful.

Trimming cannabis flowers before drying

The vast majority of cannabis growers will trim off the outer fan leaves and some of the smaller leaves prior to drying, as this ensures good airflow around the flowers as they dry. However, the question of when to trim and manicure your flowers so that the majority of leaf matter is removed is somewhat trickier.

Some growers will trim off everything prior to drying, leaving the flowers looking as they will eventually look when ready for consumption or sale (although obviously much larger, as the moisture content is still present!). This technique is known as ‘wet trimming’. Others will only trim what is necessary to ensure good airflow, and will leave the remaining leaves to dry along with the flowers; this technique is somewhat unsurprisingly known as ‘dry trimming’.

When ‘wet trimming’ leaves, great care must be taken to avoid damaging the flowers and their delicate trichomes. Expert trimmers develop a steady, careful technique whereby the leaves are removed at the petiole (the small stalk that attaches the leaf to the main stem) and the blade tips used to gently lift the leaf away from the flower. The trichome-coated inner leaves can be put aside and kept to make water hash or solvent extracts.

Wet trimming is considered easier and quicker, although it can negatively affect taste and aroma
Wet trimming is considered easier and quicker, although it can negatively affect taste and aroma

Wet trimming is often considered ‘easier’ than dry trimming, and is often favoured by large-scale commercial growers for this reason. It also reduces the possibility of mould growth, and increases airflow around the flowers themselves as they are not surrounded by leaves. Wet trimming also allows flowers to dry quickly, although the downside of this is that drying may occur unevenly. Many growers complain that the overall quality of the flower—in terms of taste and aroma—is severely impacted compared to the end result of dry trimming.

Trimming cannabis flowers after drying

The process of dry trimming is straightforward. First, the large fan leaves and some of the smaller (but still mostly trichome-free) leaves are removed. Then, the branches are hung with the remaining leaves still in place and left for at least 3-4 days (although some may leave them for as long as 7-10 days) so that the majority of the moisture in the flowers has evaporated.

Once the crop is dry, the process of trimming the remaining leaves can commence. As the branches are dry at this point, it is very important to trim while holding the branches over a tray or tub to catch the leaves as they fall, along with any loose trichomes or fragments of bud that may be dislodged by the movement of the scissors. When trimming wet, the trichomes are far less likely to be dislodged.

To successfully dry trim cannabis without dislodging too much flower material it is necessary to employ a kind of ‘skimming’ motion with the scissors. The leaves are so fragile when dry that it is often unnecessary to close the blades of the scissors fully to cut them away from the flower; instead, the sharp edge of the blade is enough to break through the delicate leaf matter. Experienced dry trimmers will utilize this skimming motion so effectively that it appears that the leaves are simply being ‘brushed’ off the flowers, leaving the flowers themselves intact.

Dry trimming allows for better retention of flavour and aroma
Dry trimming allows for better retention of flavour and aroma

The dry trimming method is preferred by many growers, and is often used in favour of wet trimming for smaller grows where quality is more important than quantity. Dry trimming allows for more even drying of the flowers, although it may take a day or so longer than wet trimming. It also results in superior flavours and aromas compared to wet trimming, possibly as the leaves act as a conduit for the flowers and allow for gradual, even loss of moisture—but total retention of terpenes. The downside of dry trimming is the increased loss of trichomes from the flowers, as well as the untidier appearance of the finished flowers.

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CAREBEAR-666

I don't believe it!
It's my birthday tomorrow and I'm starting my first grow, YAAAYZZZZZ!
Thanks for the wisdom, I will be back for more.
P.S. you are cute!

12/01/2015

David

"As well as the above equipment, it is vital to ensure that your working environment is suitably prepared. The temperature of your trimming room should be maintained at a comfortable 18-24°C (65-75°F) and the relative humidity at 45-55%. Using an oscillating fan on a low setting will ensure good circulation of air—do not use fans on high settings while trimming, as you could end up losing trichomes in the breeze."

Completely unnecessary, fresh trichomes do not come off easily. Besides, in tropical settings natural humidity is far greater, and still don't pose harm to drying plants, even untrimmed ones.

"Lastly, it is highly advisable to set up a carbon filter and extract fan to ensure that the powerful aroma of cannabis does not become apparent to neighbours or passing police officers. Most growers understand the necessity for maintaining an odour-filtration system while their plants grow, but it is surprising how many still fail to understand the importance of using filters while trimming—which is arguably the time cannabis smells the most powerful."

Filters won't make odor come off clothes, hair or skin.

14/01/2015

JJ

"Filters won't make odor come off clothes, hair or skin." While this is correct, the author never stated or insinuated that a filter does this. If you have a properly filtered grow room then no odors should be escaping at all; unless you're walking up to police officers & offering them a whiff then everything should be fine. It's the grow room that people are trying to mask, clothing/hair/skin is more common sense and/or hygiene than anything else. As far as the fans not on high setting while trimming plants goes: While fresh, wet trichomes do not come off easily, dry ones do. Plus, why would you want a fan blasting at you while you're attempting to carefully trim very small leaves that are extremely close to the buds? Does adding a strong wind to the equation sound like something that will make trimming easier? Not likely, not to mention that you'll end up with crispy buds on the outside pretty quickly, while the insides remain full of moisture. It's evident from your comments that you were attempting to somehow poke holes in this article; unfortunately the examples cited don't hold water, just like the buds that are stuck in front of your blasting fan.

23/08/2016

Sean

Hi Seshata i think you are bang on there is far better flavour when dry cut
Have you are tried Bruce banner if so could let.me know where they can be bought and why sensi doesn't stock them thanks.Sean

15/01/2015

Michael B

Great Posts Keep Up good work Thank You Michael

29/01/2015

trimming machine cannabis

few things catch me and bring me to a new understanding of what i thought i know about dry trimming method. thanku for providing such a great examples.

23/05/2015

Jennifer

I wanted to thank you profoundly for saving my (mind) today! I just finished up harvesting in a hurry Friday night because they announced a big storm was coming. 50 mile an hour winds hit and a chair blew into my girls. A small lower branch broke and I was off to buy a carbon filter to put in my garage along with some plastic to make a room. ($200 later) I had 3 beautiful indica girls I hung up in a hurry and had no time to trim before hanging (besides the larger fan leaves). Your article made me realize my intuition was right in thinking the leaves left on will also protect the trichomes while curing. Thank goodness I found your article!! Now let's hope this medicine helps my seizures!! --Seizing in Seattle --

17/10/2016

Patrick Mitton

I like what you have to say about trimming,both wet and dry trimming methods I agree with. If I have to wet trim, it's because of storms or damage of some kind. A dehumidifier is your friend just like red bull can be also. You are spot on regarding dry trim. Sharp scissors are a must, rubbing alcohol is handy too. Parking at a trim is getting harder since some have decided it's easier to take than it is to grow your own...

18/08/2017

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