How To Trim Cannabis the Right Way

With the legalization of cannabis in the United States and across many other countries, growing your own cannabis is now part of a rapidly growing culture. The good news is that marijuana is a hardy plant with a number of strains to choose from to suit various preferences and tolerance levels. But like all gardening, cannabis growing can take a lifetime to master. It is a skill that can be developed through practice and experience.

And as harvest time comes, it is finally time to finish and enjoy what you started. Many people, however, dread the process of trimming their cannabis buds as it can be a very tedious task. Knowing how to trim cannabis also requires skill and patience to ensure that the flowers look just right, and the flavors are easier to smoke or vape.

What is Cannabis Bud Trimming?

Bud trimming is basically manicuring around your buds to remove all excess plant materials. It entails a lot of work, but luckily there are steps to make the whole process more efficient and enjoyable. Knowing the basics of bud trimming serves the following purposes:

Aesthetics

When you try to conjure up an image of a good weed, what instantly comes to mind are those perfectly manicured buds you often see published in online cannabis publications or at your local dispensaries. When the buds are trimmed, they take on a tighter and more uniform appearance. Untrimmed buds, on the other hand, look a lot less appealing with their excess foliage.

Smoother Product

Leaves protruding from the buds often leave a harsher smoke on your throat and lungs. This is because the leaves are thicker and wicking away; the moisture becomes a lot more difficult. Thus, trimming these excess leaf matters will create a much smoother product to consume and a much more pleasant and flavorful smoking experience.

THC Concentration

The highest concentration of trichomes is found on the cannabis buds and much less on the sugar leaves surrounding them. By removing these protruding leaves, you will expose the much potent nugs, and you will also enjoy maximum trichomes concentration gram for gram.

How to Trim Cannabis Buds?

Trimming your cannabis buds is inevitable if you want to enjoy all the months of hard work. There are a few ground rules to get the job done more efficiently. First, you should always start trimming your buds several days leading up to harvest season, when the larger fan leaves begin withering away.

Hand or Machine-trimmed Cannabis

Many experts suggest that trimming should be done by hand instead of using a trimming machine. You should only consider using a machine if you have a large-scale grow and if there is too much weight to effectively trim by hand. Trimming machines, however, are not only expensive, but they have not been designed to fit the varying shapes and densities of the flowers. These machines trim the buds in a standardized manner, resulting in damaged trichomes. As a result, they have not replaced hand trimming in the cannabis world.

Wet or Dry Trimming

There are two windows when bud trimming can take place. The first one is directly after harvesting them, when the plant is still on the vine, and before they are dried. This method of trimming is commonly referred to as “wet trimming.” The second window is after the plants have been dried, and this is, of course, called “dry trimming.”

Between the two methods, the first option is the most widely preferred method for trimming buds. Many growers prefer to remove most, if not all, of the big fan leaves before drying because the leaves tend to curl closer to the buds once dried, making it a bit more challenging to trim them off. In addition, wet trimming will almost always result in a faster drying process. All the extra foliage present in a dry trim will help retain more moisture within the buds and will result in a much slower drying process.

A Step-by-step Guide to Doing a Wet Trim

  1. Use big pruning shears to cut through the thicker branches with buds. Place these in a container gently or hang them from a line, similar to hanging wet clothes.
  2. Next, remove the larger fan leaves that are usually bright green in color with your fingers. Most of these leaves do not have a usable amount of trichomes on them.
  3. Using a pair of sharp trimming scissors, start trimming the sugar leaves that stick out of the buds. Always use the tips of the scissors when trimming to reduce stickiness. How much you want to clip off is pretty much up to you. The more trichome-covered leaves you leave behind, the more potent your product will be and the harsher the smoke.
  4. Remember to swap out your scissors as they become covered in sweet, sticky resin. 
  5. Make sure that you still have enough stem attached to your buds so you can use this to hang your buds to dry. The ideal conditions needed for drying would be a humidity level of around 45% to 55% RH.
  6. Store your trimmed buds in airtight containers for the next process, which is curing. 

Both methods, however, have their own pros and cons. There are still several cannabis growers who prefer dry trimming over wet trimming because the latter tends to be easier on the tools or shears. Some gardeners also want their buds to dry more slowly because buds which are dried too fast tend to smell like hay. Slow drying also often makes for a smoother and cleaner smoking experience.

A Step-by-step Guide to Doing a Dry Trim

  1. Similar to wet trimming, start by using large pruning shears to cut through the thicker branches with buds. Make sure the branches are not too long nor too short for easy handling.
  2. Remove the fan leaves without the trichomes.
  3. Hang to dry and follow the same humidity levels of around 45% to 55% to dry them effectively. Once the stems snap is crisp-sounding, then your buds are dried and ready to be trimmed.
  4. Manicure the buds by trimming out the sugar leaves until your buds are the desired shape. 
  5. The final step is to seal the buds in an airtight container like glass Mason jars. 

Trimming cannabis can take a lot of time and effort, but it serves a number of important purposes. The steps between a wet trim and a dry trim are pretty much the same as the main difference is only the timing of when to trim or dry the buds. Both methods have their own advantages and drawbacks, and there is no right and wrong way to trim cannabis. 

At the end of the day, deciding on how to trim cannabis boils down to personal preference. Your local weather and even the particular cannabis plant that you have could also determine which route you should take. For example, if you live in a place with high humidity (above 60% RH), then wet trimming should work well for you.