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Dry Trimming vs. Wet Trimming: Benfits and Drawbacks

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The harvest season can come with just as many stressors as the growing season, even for the most seasoned of growers. All year growers bend their backs and dirty their hands to grow a beautiful, potent bud that will provide a smooth smoke, a unique high, and hopefully, looks good on the shelves of a dispensary. Once you begin harvesting, the plants no longer have a use for all of the water they are retaining, therefore the risk for mold/mildew within the cultivated buds, increases. Even though there are a lot of factors that go into determining what is considered a primo bud, more and more these days the aesthetic appeal is what determines the quality in the public’s eyes. This “required” aesthetic appeal can be obtained during the drying and trimming process, if you are particular about the way the bud is handled.

Now that the buds are harvested and ready to trim, you might find yourself wondering which is the better method; wet trimming or dry trimming? The amount of moisture left in the buds when you begin trimming determines whether it’s a wet trim or a dry trim. In the past, dry trimming has been the norm however there are benefits to both, but whether you trim your bud wet or dry really comes down to the amount of space and time you have available.

Using the wet trim method, once the buds have been separated from the stalk, they are then immediately put into the hands of the trimmers or the trimming machine. Many people claim that wet trimming is easier, because the sugar leaves are still erected and easily clipped at the stem. Another benefit often cited is that there’s a lot less risk when it comes to mold/mildew as there will be less moisture build up during the drying process.

However, at this point, the trichomes have not quite formed into a compact crystalling and are still full of water, leaving the bud more vulnerable during the removal of leaves. This means the trimmer has to take extra care not to split the trichomes and end up with an unusable rub that’s a mix of watery trichomes, cytoplasm and other cellular contents.

Once the buds are trimmed they are hung if left on the stem, or laid on mesh racks to dry. You will have to take extra care not to let the buds sit for too long, as they will dry incredibly fast after being trimmed, which could result in uneven drying or crumbly buds. And even with a wet trim, once the buds have dried, there is still a chance you will have to go through the buds again and trim up crows feet that have become prominent now that the buds have shrunk.

Using a dry trim method, you will harvest your plants, leaving a hook in the branch to allow for them to hang. Make sure to remove all big fan leaves before hanging to dry to lessen the risk of too much moisture and humidity build up. Let the buds hang in a cool, dark, dry place for a chunk of time normally around 4-10 days, to dry out. This time allows for all of the trichomes to harden up and form the compact crystals associated with potent weed. A good test to determine if the bud is dry enough to trim is to break the stem below the buds, if the stem snaps rather than bends, you are ready to begin trimming.

At this point, the sugar leaves have dried and curled up towards the bud making them more difficult to clip, which is the main complaint about dry trimming. However, because the leaves are dry and brittle, a good portion of them should just brush off with the force of a finger or scissor edge, but take care not to brush off crystals on the bud as much as possible. At this stage the buds are easier to crumble, but since it has had time for the trichomes to fully form, any additional shake or popcorn buds will be a great potency for making hash or oils, and all of your brushed off crystals can be collected for kief. Once your buds are fully trimmed, you will want to put them into a jar or air tight container, to cure them. Using this method, the buds are often left with a better auroma and well formed, potent trichomes.

If you are looking to add a level of automation to your harvesting process, a trimming machine could be a beneficial investment. Although there are both wet and dry trimmers, usually, a dry trim is a smoother process for machines. When using a machine with wet bud, it can easily become a gummy mess, requiring more stops for cleaning and maintenance. Dry trimming with a machine can be effective and efficient with the right machine, even though the buds seem much more tender after drying, in actuality, the fully formed trichomes are better protected and the trim you catch from the machine will be usable for making oils, butter, or just scraping for kief.

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