Machine Trimmed vs Hand Trimmed Cannabis Flower: Which Is Best?

The widespread trend toward legalizing cannabis has unquestionably created a wide range of business opportunities and sprouted an entirely new industry. That’s great news for growers, who no longer have to work in secret and can finally rely on modern agricultural techniques to increase their yields and streamline their operation. 

Automated cannabis trimming machines are quickly becoming the trimming method of choice for large-scale cannabis growers, but even seriously dedicated home growers have started to play around with these new “toys”. 

For some cannabis growers, the choice is obvious. Like nearly all other branches of agriculture, they turn to automated bud trimmers because these machines lead to a more predictable and consistent harvest, and allow them to expand the scope of their business. 

best bud trimming machines

Not all growers embrace this new trend, however. Some who have always used manual trimmers and been satisfied with the results are reluctant to implement sweeping changes now. 

What are the benefits of automated bud trimming machines vs manual trimming? Does manual trimming have any advantages that you wouldn’t get from an automated trimming machine? If you’ve been pondering theses questions, this guide will help you decide whether to take your growing business (or home growing operation) into the 21st century. 

Why Do Some Growers Still Rely on Hand Trimming?

It will surprise nobody that the use of an automated bud trimming machine is a faster and more efficient way to trim cannabis— and yet, some growers actively continue to display a preference toward hand trimming. Why?

Trimming is a critical aspect of growing cannabis, and it is important to get it right. Many old-school growers believe that manual trimming produces a superior final product. Experienced manual trimmers meticulously trim the bud to leave as many trichomes as possible intact while eliminating the sugar leaves, branches, and debris that has built up over the course of the growing process.

cannabis flower texture

Hand-trimmed cannabis buds, many boutique growers believe, are aesthetically stunning and create the smoothest smoking experience (we agree). In short, some growers choose manual trimming as a result of the belief that hand-trimmed buds are the best buds. 

Hand-trimmed buds may even be a key part of these growers’ marketing strategies — and some modern consumers love the thought of artisanally-produced weed.

Other growers simply keep on hiring a team of manual trimmers and buying more trim bins and when the time comes because it is what they have always done. Their current harvesting techniques work, and they see no reason to make any changes. 

The fact that automated bud trimmers are a significant investment also has to be considered. A grower may be fully aware that they can expect a return on their investment very quickly, and yet be unwilling to make the choice to switch to automated bud trimmers. Even smaller but top-quality automated bud trimming machines such as the CenturionPro Mini cost upward of $6,000. 

Finally, hobbyist home growers who may only be producing small quantities will likely think that automated bud trimming machines are geared only toward commercial growers, and that automated trimmers are “above their pay grade”, so to speak.

The Benefits of Automated Bud Trimming Machines

After investigating the benefits of automated bud trimming machines more closely, and daring to embrace novel agricultural techniques, many growers would ultimately discover that automated trimming would offer them a significant edge. 

Automated Trimming Machines Offer Consistent Results

As you are building and expanding your brand, your customers will crave a product they’re familiar with — they’ll want buds that consistently have the same quality. While expert hand trimmers can trim cannabis with precision, growers who hire a team of manual trimmers will inevitably find that they cannot all offer the same consistent results. 

With automated trimming machines, that’s something you will never have to worry about again. No, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a consistently inferior result, either. The best automated bud trimmers on the market, like the CenturionPro bud trimming machines, exceed at preserving trichomes. An automated bud trimming machine can indeed lead to results that rival those of the most experienced hand trimmers… consistently. 

Automated Trimming Machines Are Supremely Efficient

Hand-trimming is among the most labor-intensive parts of the cannabis harvesting process. Your average hand trimmer can trim around one pound of bud each day — working hard during their entire shift. That, of course, is merely an estimate. Human beings aren’t machines, after all. Your hand trimmers will be able to process more cannabis on some days than on others, and you’ll have an entire team that will include slower workers. 

professional trimmer equipment

A quality automated bud trimming machine can, in contrast, trim around 15 pounds of dry bud (and 30 pounds of wet bud) per hour. More advanced commercial automated trimming machines can even process upward of 15 pounds of dry bud an hour. Automated bud trimming is not an entirely automated process, as the trimming machine does require human oversight. That is, however, a task a single (properly trained) person can take on. 

If you are an avid home grower, an automated trimming machine may be within your reach, as well. The smallest CenturionPro, the TableTop, can trim three pounds of dry bud per hour, and sometimes more.

Automated trimming is, compared to manual trimming, what a warp drive is to a Diesel engine. The take-home message is that investing in a high-quality commercial automated trimmer will save any professional grower time — and a lot of it. That brings us to the next part, because the cliché that time is money is one of the truest truisms ever spoken.

Automated Trimming Machines Save Money

Even the smallest high-quality automated trimmers, like the CenturionPro TableTop, are able to trim enough bud to replace 12 hand trimmers. Top-of-the-range commercial automated bud trimming machines are, in turn, able to process much more than that. 

Most growers have to pay their hand trimmers at least $15 per hour, while head trimmers often make at least $10 per hour more than that. One automated trimming machine can be operated by one person with no problems at all — and today’s top-quality automated trimming machines are going to last. You will not have to replace them every year, or even every five years. 

Do the math. Once you get over the fact that an automated trimming machine is a big-ticket upgrade, it’ll become painfully obvious that you’d have saved a lot of money, and increased your profits very quickly, if you had made the switch to automated trimming ages ago. In many cases, that return on investment can be seen even within the very first harvest.

Automated Trimming Machines Protect Your Business

Some people who have already analyzed the benefits of automated trimming machines when compared to a team of hand trimmers have pointed out that hand trimmers can pose a serious security risk to your business. These day laborers work for you during harvest time, and have no job security or loyalty to your company. 

The competition is steep in the cannabis field today, and it stands to reason that some of your hand trimmers could be working for the competition, trying to gain insights into the secrets behind your own success in order to replicate it and poach your customers. 

That may be a valid concern for large-scale growers who have gained a reputation for being the best. Even small growers face other types of security risks, however. Manual trimmers who immediately recognize the excellent quality of your product may be tempted to stash some buds away for their own use. The more trimmers you have on your harvesting team, the more sharply this unfortunately widespread practice can cut into your bottom line. 

It is undoubtedly much easier to find a small team of employees you can trust to operate your automated trimming machines. Thanks to the fact that it takes fewer people to oversee automated trimmers, which in turn trim cannabis in shorter periods of time, theft prevention will become simpler than it has ever been. 

Your Competitors Have Already Switched to Machine Trimming

You’re truly passionate about marijuana and about delivering a high-quality product that all your customers will enjoy and benefit from. At the end of the day, though, you are not a non-profit organization. You’re in it to make money. 

As the cannabis cultivation industry has been flooded by revolutionary new equipment that propels weed growing into the 21st century — a fact we can all thank the legislators who helped to make weed legal for — a lot has happened. New growers are entering the market at a significant fraction of the speed of light, hoping to be part of a new gold rush (or “green rush”). Old school growers are upgrading their equipment and embracing all the opportunities in the industry. 

As demand grows, it’s never been more important to produce as much as possible, as quickly as possible. At the same time, customers demand a consistently excellent product. 

How can you keep up? If you’re still hand-trimming in a world that has embraced automated bud trimming machines, the answer will soon be that you can’t. Unless you are a boutique grower with a niche market, you’ll have to turn to automated trimming methods just to keep up with the competition. 

hand trimmed cannabis

Dry Trimming vs Wet Trimming: What’s Best?

Once you have made the choice to switch to automated bud trimming machines, you’ll have to decide whether to opt for dry trimming or wet trimming. Modern bud trimming machines can do both. While automated bud trimming machines can trim an amazing amount of buds within just a short period of time, however, they are all faster and more efficient at wet trimming. 

Dry trimming is known to lead to higher-quality buds that are also easy on the eye. This method is most suitable for smaller growers who value quality over quantity — and who work with a customer base that shares that same vision. 

Wet trimming is faster, and although this machine trimming method is somewhat less precise, wet trimming does reduce the risk that individual buds will be damaged as they are trimmed. The wet trimming method is most appropriate for large-scale commercial cannabis growers who are attempting to maximize their outputs. In addition, wet trimming slightly reduces the odds of mold growth during the drying process. 

Centurion pro solutions

The Best Automated Bud Trimming Machines

Are you excited to dip your toes into automated trimming? Today, you have a lot of options. An automated trimming machine that seems like it was made just for you is already waiting for you. What are the best automated trimming machines on the market in 2023? That depends, to some extent, on your needs. Let’s take a look. 

CenturionPro was, and continues to be, a market leader. If you are considering investing in an automated trimming machine, the CenturionPro Original and the CenturionPro Mini will almost certainly wind up on your shortlist. 

The CenturionPro Original can process an impressive 18 to 20 pounds of dry bud an hour, while handling up to 100 pounds of wet bud each hour with ease. This marvel of modern engineering is manufactured from anodized aluminum and stainless steel and will last you for many years to come. 

Smaller and hobbyist growers could consider the CenturionPro Mini and CenturionPro TableTop, meanwhile.

The Twister T6 (or any sized model from the Twister T-Series Trimmer line) is another good option to consider for small to medium growers. This compact and durable automated trimmer can process up to 16 pounds of dry bud, and go to town on up to 70 pounds of wet bud every hour. 

The Mobius Trimmer M108S is a fantastic choice for large-scale growers. This automated wet and dry bud trimmer can process an amazing 60 pounds of dry bud, or 120 pounds of wet bud, per hour, has adjustable blade speeds, and is easy to learn to use. It ain’t cheap but the cost should be easily recouped in short fashion given the total yield this system can produce.

HerbCEO Final Thoughts

Herb CEO Summary

Keep hiring manual trimmers if you must — you might have a very good reason. Know, on the other hand, that the rest of the world has moved on. Automated trimming machines are now able to trim buds that can’t be differentiated from hand-trimmed buds. They so so more quickly, more consistently, and more efficiently. In the process, automated trimmers increase productivity and profits without sacrificing quality. 

Are trimming machines worth it?

If you’re growing smaller volumes of craft cannabis then trimming machines are not worth investing in as they are not as precise as hand-trimming. If you are running a large commercial operation and processing thousands of pounds of plant material to be used in things like extraction then investing in a trimming machine will be a smart choice.

What is hand trimmed cannabis?

It’s simply cannabis flower that has had its sugar leaves carefully cut-off with scissors by a human.

What is a trimming machine?

A trimming machine is a piece of commercial cannabis processing equipment that usually uses cylinders to and large sheers to trim cannabis flower in large volumes at a time.

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