Harvest day has come, and we all know what that means; trim time. Also known as manicuring, trimming is a process that involves removing fan leaves and sugar leaves from cannabis plants so only the bud remains. The flowers contain the majority of the cannabinoids we are aiming to produce, so most growers tend to aim for as much bud as possible. Leaves and stems are not harmful to smoke, but they contain sugars and other compounds which are not desirable for a smooth smoke.
Most growers are on a mission to produce the purest cannabinoid product they can muster up. Depending on your level, trimming takes a fair amount of work and it's easy to get lazy or try to speed through it quickly. Most of the time, a trimmer shaves the leaves off around the bud, which means a large part of the leaves still remain in the bud. Weed still tastes perfectly nice this way, but a deeper trim could take it that step further.
Trimming cannabis is done for various reasons and it depends on how the final product is going to be consumed. If the plan is to smoke the final product, then a more thorough trim is favoured to remove anything except the flower. For edibles and other types of extract, a proper trim isn't as necessary because the goal is to collect as many trichomes as possible.
However, one can still perform a decent trim and still have plenty of trichome-rich sugar leaves to make extracts from. Although the result may not be as potent (you'll need more volume of plant material), sugar leaves are a great way to squeeze some extra juice out of your ladies.
In order to trim buds quickly and efficiently, it helps to have the proper tools. Otherwise you may unnecessarily spend way longer than you need to and the process begins to drag on. Learning to trim takes practice, but it will be much easier if you use the right equipment.
There are two main ways growers manicure their buds. Wet trimming and dry trimming are both acceptable ways of removing excess leaves, but is one better than the other? This depends on the environment you are drying/curing in, as well as how much effort you want to put in and whether you mind potency being affected over flavour.
Trimming your weed before it dries is called 'wet trimming'. Leaves still hold most of their moisture when they are freshly harvested, making them much easier to access.
When a cannabis plant is still wet, more of the leaves are exposed, and they point outwards. As the leaves dry, they curl and shrink into the bud, meaning they are trickier to remove without damaging the trichomes or breaking the flower.
On the downside, wet trimming is a sticky process and things can get pretty messy. Be ready to clean you trimming scissors regularly, otherwise you'll quickly get resin build up that becomes particularly hard to deal with. Sugar leaves get stuck everywhere.
Be sure to monitor humidity levels for drying and curing. High humidity during drying is a recipe for mold disaster so many growers prefer to wet trim. However, be careful not to dry your plants too quickly. Fast-drying plants results in a bad tasting product, so wet trimming is best performed when the humidity is not too low.
Benefits of Wet Trimming:
As you might have guessed, dry trimming is the process of removing leaves after the buds have already dried. Once the stems 'crack', usually after 10-14 days (if the buds have not dried too quickly), it is time to dry trim.
The process is much faster than wet trimming, as most the leaves just break off without trouble. Dry trimming is also cleaner and you won't be going nuts over a few sugar leaves constantly clogging up your scissors.
The ease of trimming this way comes with a price; a loss of the precious trichomes we worked so hard to create. If you have ever dry trimmed you may have noticed how easily the trichomes 'shower' off a bud with just a snip of the stem below it. The trichomes become brittle as they lose their moisture.
Although it might not make a huge difference, buds are likely to lose potency because of dry trimming. It may be necessary to dry trim if you have problems keeping the humidity levels up. Slow drying helps to remove chlorophyll and generally the final product has a better taste.
Benefits of Dry Trimming:
Harvest from KusHeavy420 from GrowDiaries.
While you're trimming, you may be wondering how you can make use of all that sparkly stuff you just chopped off. Trim can be processed in a few ways but the idea is to strip it of all the cannabinoids it has left to make other cannabis products.
It helps if you separate the sugar leaves from fan leaves during the trimming stage. There's no point trying to make extracts from leaves that don't have any resin on them.
Making kief or hash is a great way to make use out of the sugar leaves. There are loads of different ways to extract the trichomes to make all kinds of different hash. Most methods involve using a type of screen to sift or catch trichomes, which are collected and normally pressed.
For example, bubble hash is usually made by freezing sugar leaves, rinsing them in an ice cold tumbler then filtering out the water through special screens (bubble bags), which catch the trichomes. These are collected and the remaining moisture is evaporated/soaked out of the 'hash' to leave a pure cannabinoid product.
Alternatively, there are plenty of extraction techniques which allow you to cook more easily with your leftover trim. Cannabis butter, oil and tinctures are a few of the more commonly made cooking ingredients using trim. The trim can be simmered or soaked using different edible substances, which act as a base to hold the cannabinoids and help to strip the goodness off the leaves.
If you're interested in making extracts from your cannabis trim, feel free to check out our post about edibles, which has some useful recipes and tips to get you started.
Cannabinoids and Cannabinoid Receptors: The Story So Far. iScience. - Shahbazi, Fred & Grandi, Victoria & Banerjee, Abhinandan & Trant, John. (2020).
Gene Networks Underlying Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Accumulation in Cannabis. Plant Physiology. - Zager, Jordan & Lange, Iris & Srividya, Narayanan & Smith, Anthony & Lange, Bernd. (2019).
This article was updated October 2020.