It takes a lot of work to get a marijuana seed to grow and then ready for sale. A lot of behind the scenes work from many people help in creating a safe and quality product. There are essentially three steps after the growth stages that occur to get that plant out of the dirt and the flower ready for your pipe: harvesting, drying and curing and trimming and processing.
The harvesting process includes everything that happens at the end of the growth stage to prepare the cannabis plants for sale and consumption. During harvest, the plant is cut at the base and larger leaves and stalks are discarded. Individual branches are cut and the buds are hung to dry. Harvested plants are generally kept in a separate area other than the grow space. The environment required to properly dry the product must be cool and have reduced humidity to avoid the growth of molds. Drying time averages 7-10 days.
Indoor crops are grown and harvested year-round while outdoor crops are placed in the ground towards the end of May and do not reach the end of their flower cycle until September or October. While the cycle is similar, outdoor crops rely on sunshine during the summer months to provide the lighting cycle. Marijuana grown outdoors usually produces larger plants, growing to heights of ten feet or higher. Below is an image of harvested plants. All that remains are the colas and the stems.
Drying and Curing
While these may sound like two separate stages, drying and curing occur at the same time. The process in which cannabis is dried and cured after harvest is just as important as the care the plants receive during the flowering stage. If the harvested flowers are not dried and cured properly, the entire batch could be ruined.
As the product dries and moisture is removed, the flower increases in potency and taste. The ideal environment for cannabis to dry is one in which the room is well ventilated and temperature is maintained at an average of 68-73 degrees with a relative humidity of 55%. The average dry/cure time for a harvest is between 7-9 days.
During the drying/curing process, approximately 75-80% of the weight of the plant is lost as “wet weight”. The weight of the flower, once dried, is called “dry weight”. Once this process is completed, the product is then ready to be trimmed. The chart below shows the effects on cannabis if the drying/curing stage is not done correctly.
During the drying and curing process, approximately 75-80% of the weight of the plant is lost as “wet weight:’ The weight of the flower, once dried, is called “dry weight’: Once this process is completed, the product is then ready to be trimmed.
Trimming and Processing
Once dried, flower/bud is removed from the stem. Stems are generally discarded along with the larger leaves. The surrounding leaves are then trimmed from the flower with scissors and set aside. The buds are then ready to be consumed. The leaves (also known as sweet leaf or trim) that have been removed from the flower during trimming are also high in THC. Sweet leaf is often used to make concentrates such as wax, shatter, and oil.
Individual plant yields vary depending on plant cycles, growing methods, and strains. The average plant grown indoors (hydro or soil) with a 60-day flower cycle will yield upwards of 200g of flower and 100g of trim, though it is not uncommon for plants with a longer flower cycle or those grown outdoors to double this.