Whether you grow your own weed for personal use or you’re a cannabis farmer who cultivates high-grade buds for legal sale to dispensaries, trimming is an important part of the process. If you’re new to the process, however, you may be dreading the process. Heck, even if you’ve been growing for a while, you likely loathe the trimming process, as it can be doggone monotonous and tedious. It can take hours or even days to hand-trim weed, and it can be super painstaking.
With that said, however, no matter how much you aren’t looking forward to it, trim your buds you must! Fortunately, though, there are ways that you can make the weed trimming process easier, speed up the efficiency, and even enjoy it! If you’re wondering how, keep on reading to find out all you need to know about trimming your weed.
Why it’s important to trim marijuana
After much care and attention, your trees have fully matured and are ready to be harvested. Trimming is an important part of the trimming process. The first step of the trimming process involves bucking buds off of the branches. The second step involves removing sugar and fan leaves. But why is trimming weed important? Here’s a look at some of the key benefits and why you don’t want to skip this important process:
- Improved appearance. When you’re flipping through the latest edition of High Times magazine, you browse through the selection at your local dispensary, or you just look at photos of weed online, there’s no doubt that you’ve noticed the plants appear to be perfectly manicured – or at the very least, trimmed. This neat, tidy appearance makes buds look more visually appealing. Even if the buds are of a top-shelf strain, if they aren’t trimmed, they aren’t going to look as appealing, as they just appear unkempt and untidy.
- Enhanced aroma. When weed is trimmed before it’s packaged up into jars, it usually has a more potent scent, and that scent only becomes more powerful over time. Conversely, when untrimmed buds are jarred, they tend to have a more earthen, hay-like scent. Which would you rather smell when you open up a jar of nuggs: dank weed of hay? Yeah, that’s what we’d want to smell, too.
- It’s smoother. Untrimmed weed tends to be way harsher on the throat and the lungs. That’s because they burn a lot faster and create denser smoke, and when it hits your throat and lungs, it can end up sending you into one of those dreaded coughing fits. When cannabis is trimmed, however, the sugar and fan leaves are removed (as mentioned above), which makes the bud a lot smoother to smoke. The flower doesn’t burn as quickly and the smoke isn’t as dense; hence why it’s easier on the throat and lungs.
- Higher potency. While it is true that sugar leaves do have some trichomes, they’re minimal. By trimming your bud, parts of the flower that contain more trichomes will be exposed; hence, the bud will be a lot more potent. Not only will the smoker enjoy a better high, but they will also save more weed and more money, as they won’t have to smoke as much to achieve the same affect when they’re bud has been trimmed vs if it’s been left un-trimmed.
Wet and dry weed trimming: What’s the difference?
So, now that you know why trimming weed is important, it’s important to know that there are two different trimming methods: wet and dry. Here’s a basic overview of each:
Wet trimming involves cutting down the plant, removing the buck buds from the branches, trimming the buds, and then placing them onto a rack so that they can dry out. Also, wet trimming takes place over the course of a single sitting.
- Accessing and removing the sugar leaves and fan leaves is a lot easier during wet trimming, as they dry and shrivel during dry trimming.
- Drying will go a lot faster, as the moisture-laden foliage will be removed from the buds. Plus, removing the moisture-rich leaves will also reduce the risk of mold growth.
- Wet trimming will save you more space, as the process removes a large chunk of the plant before its set out to dry. As such, you won’t need as much room to dry your plants.
- Wet trimming offers a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, as it gives the flowers a tighter, more compact look.
- Improved flavor, as more of the trichomes remain in-tact and are exposed, and the trichomes contain the terpenes and flavors of the weed.
- It’s messy and it’s sticky. The trichomes contain a lot of sap, and that sap is going to get onto your fingers, your sheers, your clothing, the surfaces you’re working on, etc., making everything sticky.
With dry trimming, you first cut down the mature cannabis plant and then hang it up to dry over several days. Once it’s dried out, you will then buck the buds off of the branches of the plants and trim them.
- By keeping the leaves on while drying is ideal in arid climates, as it locks in some of the moisture content and slows down the drying process; hence, it prevents the buds from drying out too quickly and prevents excess loss of terpenes.
- It’s neater. When the plant dries, the trichomes also dry, and the trichomes contain that sticky sap-lick substance. When it’s dried out, less of the stickiness will get on everything, making the process a lot neater.
- While dry trimming may be neater because it’s less sticky, it also makes the buds more brittle and more prone to breakage.
- You need to use extreme care in order to preserve the trichomes and the THC levels.
- Hanging up the whole, untrimmed plant to dry will require much more space.
In all seriousness though, if you are growing commercially and consistently producing high yields then researching flower trimming machines that help semi-automate the process would be worth considering. No, machines and systems are not as perfect as human trimming, but if you’re not producing top-tier flower than the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks of machine trimming vs hand trimming.
Which should you do: wet or dry trimming?
So, now that you know the difference between wet and dry trimming, you’re probably wondering which one you should do. To determine the best approach, consider the following:
- You’re short on space
- You want the buds to dry quickly
- You’re in a humid environment
- You want highly potent buds
- You want the buds to be more sturdy
- You’re concerned about mold-growth
- You don’t mind getting messy
- You have a lot of patience
- Mold isn’t (as much of) a concern
- You’ll be drying the plants in an arid environment
- You want the buds to be denser
- You aren’t concerned about space
- You want the buds to dry slower
- You want to keep things neater
How to hand trim your cannabis buds
Once you’ve decided which process to use, it’s now time to get started. Before you do, however, you want to make sure that you set yourself up for success. By setting yourself up for success before-hand, the process will go faster and will be less frustrating.
Also, we’d like to point out that you should make sure that you choose a space where you can spread out and that you have a comfortable seat to sit on. Furthermore, we strongly recommend enlisting the help of a few friends or finding some hired hands to assist you. Many hands make light work!
Weed trimming tools
With that said, here’s a look at the tools that you’ll want to have on-hand before you start trimming your weed:
- Trimming scissors. Get yourself a high-quality cannabis trimming scissor. The blades should be super-sharp and you’ll want to make sure that they’re sterilized. Additionally, they should be ergonomically designed, so as to improve your grip and your comfort. It’s also important to note that the sheers should be easy to clean, as they will become sticky, and you’ll need to wash them off multiple times. We suggest investing in two pairs of scissors: one small and one large. The larger ones will be helpful for cutting branches, while the smaller scissors will be better for more precise trimming.
- A comfy chair. As we mentioned, you’ll also want to have a comfy chair. Trimming takes a while and you’ll be sitting in the same space for a long period of time. Opt for something that has a back and arms, that’s padded, and that’s ergonomically designed. You might also want to choose something on wheels so you can easily move around, if needed.
- Trimming trays. You’ll want to have clean, flat, shallow trimming surfaces to work on. As you snip and clip, you can place the buds directly onto the trays, making for easier storage and transport.
- Cleaning supplies. In order to clean off any resin, make sure you have a clean rag and some rubbing alcohol on-hand. The rubbing alcohol will help to break down the resin, making it easier to clean off of the scissors, your hands, and any other surfaces.
- Entertainment. As mentioned several times, weed trimming is a time-consuming process. In order to avoid going stir-crazy, you want to make sure that you have something to keep you entertained. Listening to some great upbeat tunes, chatting with friends, listening to audio books or podcasts, etc., are a few examples of ways that you can keep yourself entertained during the process.
The Trimming Process: A Step-by-Step Guide
Once you have all of your tools and supplies in place, you’re ready to start the process of trimming your weed. To do so, use the following tips:
- Wash your hands. Give your hands a good washing before you get started and make sure that they are thoroughly dried. You want to avoid exposing the buds to bacteria.
- Cut the plant and the branches. Use your scissors to cut the stalk of the plant that is closest to the soil. Next, cut off the branches to break down the plant into smaller pieces. If you’re dry trimming, you’ll then hang the plants up to dry. If you’re wet-trimming, there’s no need to dry the plants.
- Remove the fan leaves. These are those five or seven point leaves; the iconic leaves that are associated with weed. If you’re wet trimming, pluck them off with your hands or scissors. If you’re dry trimming, you’ll need to cut them off with the scissors.
- Cut the buds from the branch. After the fan leaves have been removed, cut off the individual buds from the branches. This is referred to as “bucking”.
- Trim. Once you have just the buds, start trimming until the bud is the size and shape that you desire. Keep in mind that if you’re wet trimming, you want to avoid keeping the buds too large, as it will take too long for them to dry, and the buds may not dry properly at all; plus, they will be more susceptible to mold. Trim the stem on the bottom as close as possible without breaking down the bud, as you don’t want to expose them to exposed to anywhere but the bottom. Take off the crow’s feet, the small branches that stem up from the bottom of the buds and look like bird’s feet. Trim off the excess plant matter and give the plant a good manicure. Avoid taking off parts that are densely covered with trichomes. Try to make the surface area around the buds as uniform as possible, which should include removing the red pistols to the foliage. The pistils have minimal trichomes and they really only offer aesthetic value.
- Set the buds in trays. Once you have finished trimming the buds, set them into the trays until you’re completely finished with the process.
- Store your buds. When the buds are trimmed, pop them into the air-tight jars and set them aside for storage.
Summing It Up
If you’re a home-grower who’s farming your own weed or you are planning on growing weed to sell for a profit, trimming is a very important part of the cultivation process. With the tips discussed above, you will be able to successfully trim your marijuana buds, so that they will look as appealing as possible.