Grow With Us - Trimming Your Cannabis Flower: Wet Trimming versus Dry Trimming

Trimming Your Cannabis Flower: Wet Trimming versus Dry Trimming

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  • By Kyra Kirkham-Palmer
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Trimming Your Cannabis Flower: Wet Trimming versus Dry Trimming

Trimming, frequently known to also be called manicuring, is one of the final stages of cannabis cultivation. Manicuring your buds will improve their looks, makes for a smoother smoke, greater potency, and reduces the risk of mould formation. This post is all about the why, when, what and how of trimming your cannabis buds!

Why should I trim my buds and what are the benefits? 

1. Aroma

All strains are unique - each one given their own blend of terpenes which contribute to their aroma. The terpenes will be much more apparent once you have trimmed away all excess sugar leaves. Trimming at the right time is key so you can avoid removing too many trichomes, which produce these aromas.

2. Smoothness

Sugar leaves have significantly less THC than your buds and can be extremely harsh to smoke. But don’t worry, you can still utilize your sugar leaves in other ways! Keep reading to find out how. 

3. Cannabinoid content

The flower is home to most of the trichomes that produce cannabinoids and terpenes. Even trichome-covered sugar leaves have a significantly lower concentration of THC and other cannabinoids than the buds. Therefore, trimmed buds = higher levels of THC per gram. 

Trimmed vs. Untrimmed  

 

When should I trim my buds?

Once you have harvested, it is up to you when you want to trim! Some growers prefer to trim immediately after harvesting (also known as wet trimming), whereas other growers like to dry out their buds first and trim afterwards (also known as dry trimming). Below, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages to both techniques. 

 

What do I need for the trimming process? 

1. A great pair (or 2) of trimming shears! 

You’ve probably already heard - curved trimming shears with small blades make trimming a much easier task. The small, curved blades fit perfectly around the leaf stems and leaves around the flower, allowing you to safely remove the excess. Cannabis buds also have a natural curve to them, so curved shears allow growers to remove the sugar leaves without damaging the flower. Trimming your buds can also be tough on your hands, so opting for an ergonomic design will make the process a lot more comfortable. Opting for a non-stick shear also prevents your shears from getting caked in resin right away. We recommend the following shears: Shear Perfection Platinum Stainless Trimming Shear - 2” Curved Blade (https://www.growroomcanada.ca/platinum-stainless-trimming-shear-2-straight-blade.html) or Shear Perfection Senshi Bonsai Scissor - 2” Straight Non-Stick Blades (https://www.growroomcanada.ca/senshi-bonsai-scissor-2-in-straight-non-s-27377293.html). 

Tip: Resin is much easier to remove from your shears when it is frozen. Use a mix of Isopropyl Alcohol and our Harvest More Scissor Scrubber (https://www.growroomcanada.ca/scissor-scrubber-31617199.html) to thoroughly clean your shears between uses. 

2. Collection Tray 

A collection tray such as the Harvest More Trim Bin (https://www.growroomcanada.ca/trim-bin.html) not only features an ergonomic design, but it catches all your sugar leaves and other leftover trim. Grab your tray, get set up on the couch and start trimming!  

3. Stash/Curing Jars

In order to cure and preserve your freshly trimmed buds, you will need something airtight, spacious, and convenient. Our go-to is the C-Vault (https://www.growroomcanada.ca/c-vault-small-copy.html) which preserves freshness, terpenes, and includes a Boveda pack to regulate humidity. You can also opt for a cheaper alternative and use standard airtight glass jars.

4. Drying Rack 

We recommend the Grower’s Edge Dry Rack (https://www.growroomcanada.ca/dry-rack-with-clips.html). Whether you choose to dry your cannabis before you trim, or vice versa, you will need something comparable to a dry rack in order to properly dry your buds.

How do I trim my buds? 

As mentioned above, you can either wet trim or dry trim your buds! Each grower has their own preference, but more often than not, the end product is the same. Let’s go through the differences of both to see which you prefer!

 

Wet Trimming

Wet trimming is the process of trimming away the sugar leaves directly after harvesting your flower. The buds remain wet and extra sticky since they still hold a lot of water. Trimming off leaves directly after harvesting is easier and will also speed up drying time.  

1. Harvest

Use a pair of pruning shears such as Fiskars Softgrip Floral Pruner (https://www.growroomcanada.ca/softgrip-floral-pruner.html) to cut each branch near the node. Keep your buds attached to each branch during the trimming process to make it easier.  

2. Gather Tools

Gather your shears, collection tray, and anything else you may need to help you plough through the very rewarding task ahead. Make sure you wash your hands before you begin to eliminate any contamination. Lastly, using a pair of disposable latex gloves will prevent your hands from getting covered in the resin.

3. Start Trimming!

Take each branch, one by one, and use your curved shears to carefully trim away all of the small sugar leaves on each bud. We like to start at the base and work our way upwards in a circular manner to ensure even, rounded edges. It can be tricky to get all of the sugar leaves, especially those buried inside the flower. Remove as much as possible without damaging the buds. There will almost always be traces of sugar leaves left behind, but don’t worry!

4. Dry & Cure

The last step! Undoubtedly, you’ll want to dry and cure your freshly trimmed flower before consumption. Using a drying rack such as Grower’s Edge Dry Rack, evenly spread out each branch on individual racks in a warm (16-22℃) tent or room with a fan to gently circulate air, keeping the humidity between 45-55%. Depending on the density of the flowers and the environmental conditions, it can take anywhere from 5 to 15 days for the initial drying to be complete. Once your buds are dry, remove the individual buds from their branches and place them into your jar of choice for curing! 

 

Dry trimming

Dry trimming, on the other hand, takes place between the stages of drying and curing. Dry buds can be more difficult and time consuming to trim, but are significantly less sticky. 

1. Harvest & Dry

Cut each plant at the base of the stock using a pair of pruners such as Fiskars Softgrip Floral Pruner. Hang it upside down in a warm (16-22℃) tent or room with a fan to gently circulate air, keeping the humidity between 45-55%. Depending on the density of the flowers and the environmental conditions, it can take anywhere from 5 to 15 days for the initial drying to be complete.

2. Processing

Once your buds are completely dry, cut off each individual branch for trimming and set aside.

3. Gather Tools

Gather your shears, collection tray, and anything else you may need to help you plough through the very rewarding task ahead. Make sure you wash your hands before you begin to eliminate any contamination. Lastly, using a pair of disposable latex gloves will prevent your hands from getting covered in the resin.

4. Start Trimming!

Take each branch, one by one, and use your curved shears to carefully trim away all of the small sugar leaves on each bud. We like to start at the base and work our way upwards in a circular manner to ensure even, rounded edges. It can be tricky to get all of the sugar leaves, especially those buried inside the flower. Remove as much as possible without damaging the buds. You’ll also want to cut each bud from the main branch, one at a time, making it easier to cure and store.

5. Curing

Place individual buds into your jar of choice for curing - to ensure smoother consumption and better flavour. 

Advantages & Disadvantages of each Trimming Technique:

Wet Trimming

Advantages: 
  • Easier to handle when foliage is soft and supple
  • Removing excess leaves now prevents buds from being handled again
  • Useful for preventing mould in climates with high humidity
  • Flowers dry faster without sugar leaves
  • Able to fit more flower on their drying racks 
 
Disadvantages:
  • Stickier process, making it a more tedious task 
  • Buds can potentially dry too fast, impacting the flavour profile
  • Buds can be less dense and compact

 

Dry Trimming

Advantages:
  • Ideal for environments with low humidity levels
  • Flower is aesthetically pleasing - compact, “nugget” like
  • Flower drys at a slower rate, maintaining the full flavour 
 
Disadvantages:
  • Risk of mould as sugar leaves store moisture
  • Flower can lose their initial colouring quickly 
  • Dried sugar leaves are smaller, and therefore, more difficult to trim in a clean manner

 

Utilizing Your Leftover Trim

Many new growers don’t know what they can do with the leftover trim (if anything) from their harvest, and we’re here to tell you all about it. Once completing your entire harvest, your Harvest More Trim Bin will be full of stems, stalks, fan leaves and sugar leaves. Don’t throw this away - be sure to utilize your plant in its entirety!

Your leftover trim is not meant to be smoked, but most of it is still coated with cannabinoids and terpenes, which you can use to make an assortment of homemade products. Sugar leaves are great for making cannabutter, sugar leaf tea, or infusions for therapeutic purposes. The stems can be beneficial for making a variety of extracts and concentrates such as THC butter, topicals, and bubble hash. 

Up Next: How to Dry & Cure Your Cannabis

Now that you’ve completed the trimming process, it is time to dry your cannabis (unless you dry trimmed) and cure your buds. 

Curing your buds is super important because it helps preserve your cannabis so it can be stored over time - while retaining its flavour and maximizing potency. 

Stay tuned for our next article “How to Dry & Cure Your Cannabis”!

 

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