For outdoor growers we have arrived at that magical time we’ve been working so hard for, harvest! As we get closer to harvest, all the care you put into your plants and feeding regimen should provide you with flowers that are heavily laden with trichomes and resin. They will start to weigh down the branches and will need to be supported. There are a few techniques, bamboo stakes are a great way to support individual branches. Use agricultural tape to keep the heavy branches from drooping and possibly breaking off the plant.
Well before the flowers are done it is a good idea to start removing any yellowing leaves, and thinning the plant. As the the days shorten in the fall and the sun is lower in the sky temps will drop, and powdery mildew and bud rot (fungus) can be an issue with many strains. Thinning the plant helps this and also give you a head start on breaking down the plant for harvest and curing.
If you have several outdoor plants, (or even one large one) it can take many hours to break down and trim up the flowers into nice buds ready for curing. Enlist some help from your friends and family! Turn the event into a trimming party, set up chairs outside, put on some music and serve some Tonix seltzer!
Trimming hints. You may find trimming shears with springs to tire out your hand, try using shears that do not use a spring to open the handle, our even remove the spring from the shears. Use rubbing alcohol or simply green to soak the shears in to clean them. Alternatively, you can use a razor blade to scrape off the resin as it accumulates, and save your own balls of “scissors hash!”
To save or not to save?
The larger fan leaves and sugar leaves contain very little cannabinoids or terpenes and can simply be composted, but when you are trimming up the flowers you can save the trimmings and use them to make cannabis butter or cannabis milk. Trimming over a tray is a good way to collect it and save them in a paper bag so it doesn’t mildew until you are ready to use it. There are a ton of good recipes available online.
Curing is truly an art from, there are almost as many techniques for curing cannabis as there are growers! The important things to consider are to avoid post harvest powdery mildew and fugal issues, and avoid light contamination. To mitigate mildew and fungus ensure you have moving air around your flowers as they dry. A common approach is to leave the trimmed buds on a branch section and hang those from a drying line or you can also use clothes hangers. Have a fan indirectly oscillating air around the flowers as they cure. Ensure there is no or very little light when curing and storing cannabis flower.
It is important to dry the flower consistently, but also to not over dry it. When the flower is very close to being ready you can test by trying to snap the branch, if it still bends it still has moisture when it gets close to snapping that’s a good indication that the flowers are ready for curing in a “burb bag” or jar. When curing a larger amount of flour, turkey baster bags which are oven safe and culinary quality are a great choice. Check your flower every 12 hours and leave the bag or jar open for 2-3 hours a day (burping), until the desired moisture content is reached. It is always better to be slightly over dry, and avoid mildew and mold. But if you dry out the flower too much it does not smoke well, can be quite harsh.
Finding that balance of moisture is key to properly curing cannabis flower.
Not only is cultivating your own cannabis rewarding in terms of the flower it give you, it is also an education with the plant. You can find some interesting things about the horticultural world; Natural pest control, photoperiods, and the rhizosphere, which is in the plants root system where the chemistry and microbiology influences the growth by respiration and nutrient exchange. It is an amazing example of symbiosis in the natural world that allows the magic of photosynthesis and the plant that is key to all we do here at Sespe Creek!
Written by Scott T
Scott is a Delivery Specialist and Clone & Seedling Expert at Sespe Creek, and has been cultivating cannabis at home for nearly two decades.