Thanks to my state finally getting with the legalization movement, I've recently started growing my own personal stash of cannabis indoors at home. I'm fairly comfortable with the actual growing part, but I could use some pointers and tips when it comes to trimming. Can you help me out?
— Farmer Jane
Happy to help! You're right, there's a lot of emphasis in the industry on the growing part, but some folks can feel like they're left hanging in the wind when it comes to the harvesting portion. Growing cannabis is all well and good, but if you can't turn it into something useable, what's the point? You're in luck! Not only do I have some solid information for you, but I also checked in with a bud trimming expert for even more great advice to get you trimming like a pro in no time!
So, you've figured out how to grow your cannabis. Now what?
The cannabis you are used to, or that you buy at a dispensary, doesn't look much like marijuana that's freshly sprung from soil, and and trimming is a big reason why. Trimming helps remove parts of the bud you don't want to smoke: dry areas, leaves, mold, the stems, and more. With about one to five pounds of cannabis produced per plant (though admittedly less if you're growing out of flower pots in your basement), you could be looking at anything from a quick cut to a more labor intensive activity when it comes to shearing your ganja.
First, you need to decide if you'll be doing a "wet" or "dry" trim. Dry trimming takes place after you've dried your cannabis. It's a process used when growing in a low humidity area, especially if you want your buds to dry more slowly after a harvest. Trimming before you cure (or dry) your cannabis is considered a "wet" trim, since the leaves are still full of moisture. Some folks consider this method easier and one that produces neater-looking buds, and is probably where you want to start as a beginner. It is definitely much easier to trim off larger leaves that are sticking out, as opposed to when they are curled up after being dried.
Also worth noting, trimmers can make around $150/lb for larger grow operations, so it's clear that this step is a necessary and important one, and something that even a home grower will want to put time and effort towards. I spoke with Eric Singleton, Managing Partner / Director of Operations of The Trimmer Store, Colorado's number one cannabis trimming and processing solutions provider.
Eric Singleton — Photo Credit: The Trimmer Store
According to Singleton, when it comes to the home grower, there are a fair amount of tools to master and utilize that will benefit your trimming game. He recommends the following hardware:
"Three good pairs of scissors (one pruner and two trimmers), large plastic tarp for the trim area, eye protection, mask, earplugs, nitrile gloves, spray bottle of denatured alcohol, spray bottle of water, spray bottle of hemp oil, stainless steel perforated baking sheets and racks for transport and storage, a good work ethic, and some music."
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Singleton also notes that the average home grower will benefit from incorporating a small wet or dry trimming machine because it cuts down on the time spent harvesting. The investment in a machine will pay off in the end, especially if you have a decent home garden. Singleton also says that the right machine can mitigate injury and ease the burden of redundant (but necessary!) manual labor.
When it comes to trimming, Singleton has three tips for somebody just learning about the process:
1. Preparation. Make sure to have a system in place and a plan of execution weeks before your actual harvest.
2. A good team. It doesn't have to be a big team, but everyone needs to know their role and be ready to work.
3. Appropriate expectations. You're not going to be an expert the first time or even the second time, but with proper coaching (like from Trimmer Store experts for example!), you can find a system that works best for your needs and capabilities.
If you have the absolute basics down and are looking to step up your trimming game, Singleton says that professional coaching might still be a really good idea. An expert will be able to help you discover what machinery might be the right fit for your particular situation, and will help you figure out operating processes to maximize goals and avoid common mistakes.
Lastly, a tip from Mother, because I'm all about using every last bit: Save the leaves and the trimming after you clean up your buds. The "waste" may be too harsh for smoking, but you can definitely use it to make some DIY edibles!
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