Curing cannabis properly is crucial for maximizing profits
By Allison Cohn
So, you’ve harvested your cannabis. Now what?
There are several crucial post harvest processing steps that will cumulatively affect the quality of your cannabis, starting with curing. Curing cannabis involves removing the excess moisture from the product in a meticulously controlled environment. Both the temperature and amount of humidity in the environment greatly impact this process. Most growers will regulate the humidity and temperature in their curing room using a dehumidifier.
When you travel someplace with high humidity, you can feel it in the air. If you’ve ever gone on vacation in the tropics, you will notice it takes forever for your towels (and hair!) to dry. If there’s less humidity in the air, things dry more quickly and evenly — including cannabis.
The goal of curing is to lower the moisture content in the plant while still keeping the flower moist and structured. The flower should stay moist enough that its terpenes remain fragrant and aromatic, which enhance its flavor — but not so moist as to potentially harvest mold or microbial problems later during storage. By properly curing cannabis, the intricacies of its flavors become enhanced and noticeable when smoking it.
Curing takes some degree of patience even though most growers want to get their product harvested as efficiently as possible. But finding that sweet spot with the perfect moisture content takes practice, skill and time. There is no exact methodology for curing, given that there are so many external variables. It’s a really personal thing, best solved through trial and — sadly — error.
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
Think about it like this: Curing your cannabis is like drying your delicate laundry on the low heat cycle. You don’t want to rush the process with high heat to simply get the job done. Too much heat could cause terpenes to degrade and evaporate. By taking the low and slow route with curing, cannabinoids can continue to go through biosynthesis, making the flower even more potent. Bud is ideally cured at temperatures averaging between 60°F and 70°F with humidity levels between 45-56% depending on the growing environment and geographical area.
Proper curing conditions also benefit the flower by allowing various undesirable enzymes and aerobic bacteria to breakdown leftover minerals or sugars that may have been produced as chlorophyll in the plant breaks down. Poorly cured cannabis may have an acrid flavor and sting your throat when smoking it. The less leftover minerals and sugars there are in the flower, the smoother your hit will be.
For a good cure, one wants to be sure to moderate the temperature and humidity, but it is also super important to make sure the flower is being kept in a cool, dry place with very little sunlight and oxygen. Oxygen creates oxidation of the plant, which deteriorates the color of flower and can have a negative effect on both the terpenes and the smell. Properly cured cannabis should then be stored in a vacuum sealed bag (remember: no oxygen!), where it should remain fresh until it reaches the consumer. Well cured cannabis can be stored for up to a year.
“With cannabis, unlike wine, there is no real quality advantage to storing it. The value of the flower doesn’t increase with age, and cannabis is sold by weight, and water weight is much of that,” explains Big Tree CEO Eric Cozens. “The longer you store cannabis, the more it dries out and oxidizes. Really dry cannabis actually loses value. The density of the flower with the correct amount of moisture is higher quality than the same flower with less moisture in it.”
GOOD CURE, GOOD PROFITS
Properly cured cannabis can be listed and marketed as a high quality product, which will yield a higher price and maximize profits for the grower. A good cure promotes terpene development and allows the smell and taste of cannabis to better mature and develop completely. These factors directly correlate with the cannabis receiving a higher grade, which will have a positive influence on its market value. The better and more vibrant the bud’s structure, color and smell are, the higher grade it will get during its qualitative analysis. Furthermore, the better the cannabis is cured, the less likely it is to develop mold. Mold growth in cannabis is considered a major disaster, so the incentive to properly cure cannabis if only to avoid mold growth is enormous.
Curing is one of the key factors being analyzed during the quantitative portion of cannabis grading, during which time the post harvest processes are scrutinized. If the cannabis has poor or crumbly structure, barely visible trichomes, dull coloring due to oxidation and/or a sour smell (often due to mold, fungus or various defects), the grader can tell that the curing process was done improperly.
According to Cozens, “You can be the best grower in the world with the fanciest equipment, but if you mess up the cure at the end, you lose all that value.”
Proper curing also helps with preserving your cannabis. More on that here.
Allison Cohn loves gold spray paint and nonsense. She also has a very difficult time sitting still and keeping quiet. She can often be found dancing like a fool when she isn’t hiding out in her mountain lair or gallivanting around the globe.