Curing Your Marijuana Buds
First comes harvest, then comes drying, then comes another important process in the life cycle of your marijuana plant – curing. If you want to dine out on your most recent cannabis crop for as long as possible, you need to take the process of curing your plants seriously.
Why curing marijuana is key to potent pot
It seems like just another roadblock in the way of perfect pot, but the curing process can produce the kind of smooth, flavorful marijuana you expect to purchase from ganja growing experts.
Any seasoned gardener knows you don’t want to go from harvest to joint in a day, even if you can fast track drying your buds. Curing cannabis not only preserves the flower for long term (despite your affinity for weed, you really don’t want to burn through all that bud in a day… at least we hope you don’t), when done right, it can improve the flavor and quality of your smoke, not to mention prevent:
- The build-up of bacteria
- The degradation of compounds like terpenes (flavor and aroma) and cannabinoids
- A harsh, flavorless smoking experience
Some bacteria is good, but the kind that can multiply on your marijuana plants is not the kind you want to invite to the party. Not only will it make you sick, but it can bring about mold and mildew that can render your precious harvest unsmokable.
What would cannabis be without terpenes? Fragrant compounds produced by the resin glands of the marijuana plant, terpenes like pinene and limonene not only lend each strain its unique flavor/aroma profile but are being credited with medically beneficial effects. When exposed to oxygen, they can be degraded, resulting in a less intense flavor and aroma profile.
You may have terpenes, but if you don’t have cannabinoids like THC and CBD, is there even a point to cannabis? (We’re being facetious – hemp is marijuana that has little to no THC and has been cultivated for its fibres, which can be turned into all kinds of products like clothing, topicals, and more.) Cannabis plants don’t start out with THC and CBD in the leaves, these compounds occur over time, as molecules like tetrahydrocannabolic acid (THC-A) and cannabidiolic acid (CBD-A) are exposed to heat and a process called decarboxylation occurs. This process continues throughout curing, though can be hindered when exposed to extreme temperatures or light.
We’ll take a moment here to mention in some cases, marijuana plants will retain chemicals and compounds like vital nutrients and fertilizer that were taken in and stored during the growth phase. We practice flushing to remove most of these compounds before the plants are harvested but there is guaranteed to be something left over. Curing your plants properly will ensure that any residual material disappears, resulting in a smoother, less harsh smoke.
Is my marijuana ready for curing?
Cultivating marijuana is kind of a guessing game. Without a boatload of experience, it can be hard to know the signs but as a general rule of thumb, if your flowers start to feel a little “crunchy” and your smallest branches snap rather than bend, you’re ready to move from the drying phase to curing. The big cure can take anywhere from 5 to 15 days but is all dependent on the strain and the environment.
Whether you’ve hung your branches or laid them out flat to dry, carefully move them to a clean workspace where you can trim and prune in peace in prep for curing.
- Snip the buds away from the branches, removing any unwanted fan leaves if necessary.
- Place these trimmed buds into an airtight container, but don’t pack them in too tight so that you’re crushing them – providing room for air to circulate is important. Most breeders prefer wide-mouth canning jars, although anything with a secure, airtight seal will do. NB: we don’t recommend plastic bags as they can leak oxygen into what should be a hermetically sealed environment.
- Seal your containers and store them somewhere cool, dry, and dark. After a first day you may notice a change in your flowers. It’s fine if the buds no longer appear crisp, this is simply a sign that moisture from within the flower is rehydrating the exterior, and that the curing process is working. If you don’t notice this change, your drying process may have been overzealous.
- Over the course of the next week, you’ll want to open and close your containers several times a day to give the buds a chance to breathe and allow moisture to escape. You’ll also be able to troubleshoot common concerns: i.e., an ammonia-like odor means your buds weren’t dry enough to begin the curing process and they’re being consumed by bacteria, which will result in rotten cannabis.
When is my cured cannabis ready to go?
In general, your cannabis is cured enough to smoke after 2 to 3 weeks in the closet. Of course, marijuana buds age like fine wine and the longer you leave them the more likely you are to enjoy the end result. Give your marijuana anywhere from four to eight weeks and upwards of six months in the dark and you’ll be a happy camper indeed.
If you want potent marijuana, start with superior genetics and high-quality marijuana seeds – shop online with Pacific Choice Seed Bank for all your cannabis needs.