Curing hemp is one of the most vital steps in cannabis cultivation. Curing ensures the buds produced are potent and of the highest quality possible. This critical process begins essential reactions that improve and alter the chemical compounds responsible for the effects of hemp. A proper curing process is key to producing that flavorful, smooth, and more potent hemp flower.
Read on to find out more about curing hemp and how to do it like a pro.
Importance of Curing Hemp
There are several benefits of curing hemp. Curing turns harsh-hitting flowers into buds with smooth and delicious smoke. During the curing process, byproducts like sugars (produced during the drying process) degrade. Consequently, buttery-smooth smoke replaces the harsh and unpleasant taste.
Additionally, terpenes, which gives cannabis the intense and unique flavors, are volatile under high heat. Slow drying and curing improve the taste of hemp flowers and bring out the subtle flavors of various terpenes.
Properly curing hemp flower also increases potency. During biosynthesis, cannabis plants produce tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and other cannabinoids. When cannabis dries at a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level of 45 to 55 percent, the biosynthesis process continues. Over time, THCA gradually converts to THC, the primary psychoactive element in cannabis. As aging continues, THC eventually degrades to CBN, a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid.
Additionally, properly curing cannabis buds reduces the likelihood of experiencing anxiety, racing thoughts, and paranoia and minimizes the chance of developing mold. Curing also rids buds of bacteria. Farmers can even store hemp for long periods without them losing potency. Hemp buds can retain their flavors and nutrients in airtight containers for up to two years.
Initial Hemp Drying Process
Farmers must dry hemp flowers after harvest. Some growers cut 12- to 16-inch branches from the cannabis plants, remove sugar leaves, and then hang the branches from a wire or string. Other growers cut and hang the whole plant. Some growers snip buds from plant branches and put them on drying racks. Regardless of the method used, the buds should stay in a dry room with humidity of 45 to 55 percent and temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The area should have a small fan circulating air to preserve the flavor and aroma of the hemp flower. Drying can take 5 to 15 days, depending on the density of the buds and environmental factors.
After drying, the hemp flowers are finally ready for curing.
The Best Way to Cure Your Hemp Flowers – A Step by Step Guide
To successfully cure cannabis, a farmer must understand the do’s and don’ts of proper curing.
First, growers must avoid light exposure. Light can degrade valuable terpenes and cannabinoids. Therefore, farmers must store buds in a dark place. Heat also degrades cannabinoids reducing the potency of the buds. The recommended temperature for curing is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Humidity is also a vital factor in curing hemp. The buds must not be too dry or too wet before curing. The following steps should help farmers produce the finest product.
The first step in curing hemp is to prepare the flowers accordingly. If the grower dried the buds together with branches, this is the time to trim them. Growers can trim either by hand or using a machine to separate the flowers from unwanted leaves. Too much leafy matter can make the buds hit harshly when smoked. Buds dried individually are good to go.
Next, growers should loosely place the buds into a wide-mouth and airtight container. One-quart glass mason jars are ideal as they are sturdy and allow the growers to monitor the buds during the curing process. Note that bigger jars can increase the likelihood of molds.
Growers can also use metal, ceramic, wood, or plastic containers. Some use plastic bags, but they are unsuitable for curing as they are not impervious to oxygen and can degrade when they come in contact with some terpenes. When placing the buds into the container, it is good to fill to 75 percent capacity to give room for air. If the buds clump together in the jars, they require further drying.
Next, farmers should place jars in a dark room with temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level between 45 and 55 percent. Most growers place a hygrometer inside the jars to help monitor these conditions. Within a day, the buds will stop being crunchy and dry on the outside as moisture from inside the buds hydrates the outer portions. If the flowers are still crunchy, then they were over dried.
For the first week, growers must check on the buds twice per day to look for mold. In doing, they should open the lids of the jars for some minutes each time to allow air exchange. An odor of ammonia means the buds are still too wet for curing. If the buds are too dry, growers should keep jars sealed for a more extended period. If there is no change, growers can put a humidity pack inside the affected jars.
Growers should continue to open jars once per day for the next two weeks while taking measures to maintain the required humidity levels. The buds should be ready for consumption after three about three weeks of performing this step. However, four to eight weeks of cure will improve the quality of the buds. Note that, in some strains, the buds’ quality may increase for up to six months of curing.
Final Thoughts on Curing Hemp
Drying and curing are essential in producing hemp of the highest quality. The process requires patience, but the benefits reaped will be well worth the wait. Growers who adequately cure hemp will produce a product that is smooth, potent, and full of flavor.
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