Take two pot growers and give them both similar equipment and the same strains. Check back after harvest time, and you’ll often see dramatically different results in the final quality of their buds and how they smoke.
While some of the differences may occur due to growing practices and management, much has to do with whether the buds were harvested at peak ripeness, and how they were handled, processed, dried, stored and cured.
Think of a properly ripened cannabis bud like a perfect moment in time—to be patiently waited for and worked toward, then finally captured and preserved. Any experienced toker knows that a well-ripened, -cured and -stored bud will smoke like a masterpiece over the same strain that’s clumsily processed and winds up with qualities more like hay than distinctive cannabis.
Winding Down the Crop
Tasty buds begin with winding down the crop—rather than killing it on the spot when it comes to harvest time. After buds stop swelling and growing, there is still plenty going on, biologically speaking.
Cannabis plants will spend the final days of their life cycle transferring stored energy into swelling calyxes with a healthy matting of trichomes (the tiny hair-like structures found in abundance on female cannabis flowers).
Trichomes and the resin-filled gland heads they form are your key to identifying peak maturity to determine the optimal time to chop your crop. The process of winding your crop down to mature the buds should start 7-10 days before your anticipated harvest date.
Cannabis Maturity Triggers
- Lower day-night temperatures—ideally 75°F during light hours and 62-65°F during dark hours.
- Maintain dry air in the growing environment, both during light and dark cycles, i.e., 40-45% RH (relative humidity).
- Reduce or stop using nutrients or fertilizers, especially base fertilizers containing nitrogen.
- Reducing light intensity can promote tighter buds in some strains at this stage, i.e., raise the lights a foot or use your dimmer function.
- Increasing dark hours by decreasing light hours—i.e.,10 hours lights on, 14 hours lights off—can help speed up maturity.
- Remove remaining large fan or water leaves from plants for firmer buds; this will reduce your trim time later too.
Identifying Peak Maturity and When to Harvest
There’s an old grower’s adage: “Once you think your buds are ready, wait a week.” While patience pays, it’s also possible to let your buds go too long, resulting in a decline in quality. Harvest before senescence, the period after peak maturity when plants start to go downhill.
To capture quality at its finest, look inside the resin-gland heads on top of your trichomes at different heights on different plants in the garden. A magnifying glass works great—as does taking a clear close-up photo and zooming in on the screen for a closer look.
Look to see if the majority of the glands are milky-white and opaque. Less-mature glands will appear clear, and are often not as large. If they’re past their peak, the oil inside will start to turn amber—before the head breaks off altogether.
Harvesting: A Well-Planned Attack
As a small-scale hobby grower, you might be able to approach your harvest with some level of ease and relaxation—it’s a rewarding time and it can be therapeutic. For larger harvests, you need the right tools and number of hands on deck to take down and dry your crop.
- Five to 10 days before you expect to start cutting down buds, remove all the remaining large fan or water leaves.
- During harvest, will you be hang-drying entire plants or branches, machine-trimming (fresh) buds individually, or hand-trimming for racks and/or hanging? Decide ahead of time, because it will influence your material-handling process and what you need on hand.
- Ensure that your handling, trimming and drying areas are clean, sanitary, and free of obstructions or debris. You don’t want to be running shop vacs after sticky buds are already hanging.
- Make sure you have clean and sanitary bins or totes that are easy to handle. You’ll need some for moving cut branches, capturing trim (small bud leaves are often worth keeping for processing) and handling trimmed buds. Tip: In a pinch, clear and tall 1020 propagation-tray domes make great handling bins.
Harvest Whole, or Trim as You Go?
There is no right or wrong way to trim buds—the final product is the benchmark of your growing and harvesting process. That said, how you trim will weigh heavily on final bud quality.
Once dried, the trichome stalks that support the bulbous glands become more brittle, so resins are lost more easily during handling and trimming. For this reason, it makes sense to do the bulk of the handling that is required while the plant material is fresh.
Harvesting branches is easier than lugging around entire plants. If machine-trimming fresh buds, the stems can be shucked of any remaining fan leaves before individual flowers are removed for the trimming machines. Alternatively, fresh branches can be hand-trimmed of any remaining fan leaves (making sure to collect any “sugar” leaves). Hand-trimmed branches can be hung to dry, or you can remove the buds for drying screens.
Mature fresh-cut cannabis is very sticky. Make sure to wear gloves, keep your hair covered and avoid introducing debris from your clothing such as fibers or pet hair.
Handling freshly harvested buds will produce strong smells, so be prepared to manage the extra odor levels—and consider that they may noticeable in places where air-purification equipment isn’t installed. Depending on your need for odor neutralization, you may do fine with some good masking agents or odor neutralizers distributed along the outside perimeter of your area. Activated-carbon filters with fans set to scrub the air perform well at keeping industrial-size smells under control.
Chopping down this much biomass with almost 80% water content is going to release a lot of moisture into the surrounding atmosphere very quickly. Dehumidifiers can prevent things from getting too swampy while also creating a better environment to dry the flowers into tantalizing crystallized nugs. For smaller-size hobby crops, the extra moisture in the air should dissipate quickly enough on its own.
Nose tip: Activated-carbon filters perform poorly at capturing odors in moist air, so keeping the air drier during harvest offers several benefits.
Machine vs. Hand Trimming
Luckily for the modern cannabis grower, there are a wide selection of bud-trimming machines available to choose from. Trimming can be very tedious and labor-intensive—some trim jobs may be too big to do manually, even with a lot of people on deck. Machine trimmers can be big time-savers and, in some instances, can even improve the look of smaller buds compared with those that were hand-trimmed.
All trimming machines are going to knock off some of the resin—on average of up to 10% of your total resin content. However, that resin is often well captured by the trimming-machine system, so it can be used for processing into hash.
Trimming Wet vs. Dry
As the number of companies that offer “dry trim” machines increases, so does the debate as to what is best: trimming the buds fresh or dry. There’s good logic on both sides of that coin. However, the fact remains that trichomes become more brittle after drying, so it may be best to do most of the handling and trimming when the plant material is fresh, before the drying stage begins.
The Drying Process
If you don’t do this right, you can seriously damage the aroma, flavor and smoothness of your final bud quality. Don’t be hasty—patience pays in the drying process.
Consider that your final air-dried weight will be around 20% of your fresh harvest weight. Your buds need to lose a lot of moisture before they’re ready for the next step in the harvest process, the curing stage.
If you dry your buds too quickly—for example, in just a day or two in very hot and dry air—they’ll likely lose their aroma and flavor and wind up smelling like hay. Furthermore, when buds are dried too quickly, they often wind up smoking harsh and not burning properly. Smooth-toking and high-quality dried flowers aren’t rushed.
Conversely, wet plant material needs sufficient air exchange and moisture loss to prevent harvest diseases like rot or mildew. Ideally, in the first 24 hours after being chopped and trimmed, buds can be coaxed into losing a high percentage of their original water content, after which the rate of drying and water loss is slowed for the remainder of the process. This will keep quality high while reducing the chances for diseases that thrive in moist plant material.
You don’t want buds drying in air warmer than 85°F or cooler than 65°F, with an ideal humidity range of 30-45%.
Buds are considered to be dry and ready for the next step, curing, once the stems break rather than fold over. Usually this occurs 5-8 days after cutting plants down and drying. Be careful how you handle the buds, especially after they’ve dried—rough handling can reduce your final quality and resin content.
Tip: Don’t rush to put dried buds into plastic bags or storage containers—just because the flowers feel dry after a few days doesn’t mean they are! Once in plastic, moisture that was inside the bud will “sweat” its way out too fast—leading to mold or undesirable aromas and flavors.
Never put your buds directly in front of a hot-air source like a heater or dehumidifier, and never use the oven or microwave to dry them.
Curing & Storing Flowers for Quality
Curing is an important biological process that brings out your flowers’ best qualities. After air-drying, closed containers are used to wick out the remaining moisture from inside the stem to the outer surface of the flowers.
After gently placing your flowers into jars or bins, avoiding compaction, seal the lids for just a few hours. You’ll find that the flowers at the bottom will feel moist again. Gently rearrange the buds so that the contents from the bottom are now on top, and repeat this process until the buds no longer feel moist after the jar is closed for a day at a time.
Indica strains tend to mature and decline quickly when it comes to quality and short-term storage conditions. Sativas will often improve after several months and hold their kick for longer, given the same storage conditions versus indica-dominant strains.
Factors that will degrade stored buds more quickly include exposure to light, temperature fluctuations, exposure to air and, of course, if they were dried and cured properly to begin with.
Glass mason jars are still great for keeping buds at their peak if kept out of light and maintained at or under 65°F. Turkey and Foodsaver bags are superior to regular food-storage bags, which do little to protect weed quality.
Cannabis aficionados may seek out specialty bud humidors or specialty storage containers and/or bags that can regulate the internal humidity of your stash.
For long-term storage, airtight locking containers blasted with nitrogen gas or CO2 can preserve that picture-perfect moment at which you captured your cannabis crop.
This feature was published in the April 2018 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.
The post The High Times Pro Guide to Harvesting appeared first on High Times.
1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.
CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.
2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?
Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.
3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. Typically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!
99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.
In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?
The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.
5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?
We feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.
6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?
Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.
7. What is the best method of use?
For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.
8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?
There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.
9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?
Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative side effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.
10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?
As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.
When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.
The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.
For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.
THOSE WHO SUSPECT THEY MAY HAVE A DISEASE OR ARE SEEKING HELP FOR A DISEASE SHOULD CONSULT A QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?
In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.
12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?
Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.
13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?
No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.
We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor there, Cannawell.
14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?
Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†
Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.
15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?
We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. We also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.
16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?
We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.
17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?
CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.
Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.
18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?
“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia
There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).
For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.