You grew your weed to maturity and now it’s time to tackle trimming. Surely you already know the why: Getting rid of fan leaves (the larger leaves with stems connecting straight to branches or stalks) and removing excess sugar leaves (the smaller ones that protrude from flower clusters) ensures a smoother smoke.
But what about the age-old question of when? Do you trim wet, when it’s freshly harvested, or dry, after you’ve hung your plants for a week or two? Is there an in-between? (Spoiler: There is!)
Any approach has pros, cons, and a group of fanatics telling you their way is right. Read on to decide what’s best for you, or better yet, experiment with all methods. Note that with any method, trim—the stuff you cut off—can be saved and used for edibles, tinctures, or hash.
When you trim your weed wet, you do it immediately after you cut down a plant and before you dry and cure.
- With less moisture-filled foliage attached to the flowers, the dry will naturally speed up. This can be helpful in a humid climate in which you’re fighting mold problems and need to keep things moving along quickly.
- Tight on space? Wet trimming is the way to go. Once you’ve removed all that extra greenery, stems, and stalks, the remaining buds will have a lot less volume and take up a lot less room.
- While plants are still this fresh, trichomes, a.k.a. the THC-filled glands that get you high, are super sticky. Handled at this time, that stickiness helps them stay better connected to the plants, preserving them for later enjoyment.
- Wet trimming is probably the easiest for novices. Before leaves dry up and curl inward, it’s easy to navigate your snips inside buds to remove full stems of leaves.
Did we mention how sticky plants are at this time? In addition to sticking to the plants, trichomes will also get on your fingers, your trimming shears, your everything. You’ll need to plan ahead.
- Keep a jar of rubbing alcohol and a rag at the ready to clean both your hands and your tools. Many trimmers wear latex gloves they can slip off to not get covered with the mess.
- It’s a lot of work to clump harvesting and trimming together. Depending on your stamina and what else you’ve got going on, wet trimming can make your cannabis hobby all-encompassing for a stretch of time, depending on how many plants you’ve got to process.
Another option is to hang your freshly harvested cannabis plants to dry straight after cutting them down. Once flowers are dry and stems snap—ideally 10 to 14 days later—you clip off the excess plant material that won’t get you high.
- Keeping on more leaves initially increases humidity around the flowers and slows down the dry. In an extremely arid climate, this can be a godsend, as too quick of a dry causes excess terpene loss.
- Trichomes harden as weed dries, reducing the amount of get-on-everything stickiness. Dry trimming is a lot less messy.
- Those less-sticky, less-messy trichomes are also more brittle and prone to breakage. You’ll have to handle your crop with care to preserve THC levels.
- While the bounty will eventually dry up and shrink down in volume, hanging flowers—leaves and all—takes up a significantly larger amount of space than if you chopped it off in the first place. Make sure you have adequate drying space before going this route.
As-needed—the best of both worlds?
It doesn’t have to be so cut-and-dry (see what we did there?) when it comes to cannabis trimming. There’s a middle-of-the-road path that is a great option for the homegrower. In the as-needed method, you’ll remove the fan leaves while leaving the smaller sugar leaves intact.
When buds are dry, cut them from their main stalk into smaller nuggets—a process known as bucking—and store, sugar leaves and all. When you are ready to dip into your stash, gently trim the excess sugar leaves.
- This splits the labor into parts. There’s no one moment—either after harvest or after drying—when you’ve got a mountain of buds that need trimming.
- The sugar leaves serve as built-in trichome protectors. Snip away to reveal beautiful, uncrushed flowers full of THC.
- If you can get past the unconventional look, untrimmed flowers are actually quite a beautiful thing stored in a glass jar or metal container. Think: less turd, more dried flower.
It can be a pain to find the trimming shears and spend a few minutes giving a haircut when really all you want to do is smoke some weed.