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Harvesting and Drying Cannabis in a Commercial Grow Operation

Harvesting and drying cannabis the right way is a vital part of a commercial grow operation, just as important as the way you grow the plants themselves. Why go through all the effort to grow beautiful plants, if you’re not going to give the same care to the harvesting and drying? Harvesting and drying correctly will preserve your buds, improve your products, and increase your bottom line.

After years of trial and error, here is the process I’ve found works best for harvesting and drying cannabis.

Of course, first you need a dedicated place for drying. If you haven’t already, check out my Dry and Cure Room Setup walkthrough. 

Harvesting Cannabis and Hanging Your Yield

Harvesting the right way will make drying and curing your cannabis much easier. Here are a few pointers on the method that I found works best.

Cut at the base of the stalk and gently remove from the nets. Hang them upside down as soon as possible to avoid any damage to the wet buds. Weigh each individual plant and remove any large fan leaves. Take them to the dry room as soon as possible.   

Hang plants upside down by the stalk, then rinse and repeat. Don’t forget, keep all your buds grouped together by table so you can figure out your yields by table. This will come into play later on, which we will talk about at the end of the article. This will help you figure out if there are any parts of the room that have microclimates or any other environmental issues that are adversely affecting production. 

Again, remove any large fan leaves; we want to make sure that air gets in between the plants.  If you skip this process, you will have potential mold issues, which is a nightmare after all the work you did to grow the plants. Move your fans around and make sure you have some excellent, but indirect airflow. We want all that moisture moving around the room so that the dehumidifiers can do their job and pull it out of the plants. Time to turn the lights off and WAIT.  

Drying Cannabis: The Process

Adjusting The Environment – Days 3 – 14+

After about two days without interruption, the plants should start to look like they are drying up.  Be patient and keep the relative humidity at 55%. Now it is time to drop that temperature down to 62F.  While the plants should be starting to look dryer, we want to keep the plants in this cold environment for 10 to 14 days. 

Don’t forget to keep the lights off as much as possible, as the lights will cause the buds to dry too quickly to achieve the maximum results. We are looking for a very slow drying process for the best results. When you flash dry a plant you lose all those terpenes that you were so proud of when you harvested.

At this point your plants are really starting to lose their smell and you might be worried.  Rest assured that smell will come back when we cure, only this time it will be more complex.  

Dry Bud Collection – Days 9 – 14+

Around day 9, start going into your room and see where the plants are and if they are getting close to being ready. Take a larger stem and bend it. If it cracks, and the sugar leaves are brittle it is time to take it down and get it into a storage tote. 

Make sure to check the whole room, as you will need to make sure that there are not any areas where the buds are still wet. Sometimes it takes a little longer than 14 days for the whole room to dry, but let your climate control run its course and do not rush this process. When taking down the plants make sure that you still keep them organized by table and put them into a sealed tote to halt the drying process. 

After Drying Cannabis, On to Trimming and Curing

Once you’ve gotten through the drying process, it’s time to trim your buds and start curing. We’re about halfway through the process, and those buyers are waiting!

Related Glossary Terms

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