Trimming is essentially removing the unwanted parts of leaves and foliage from your buds and manicuring them for a better “bag appeal”. The process itself starts from defoliating your plants while they are still flowering and lasts up until we remove any leftover leaf matter, branches or stems prior to rolling a joint or loading a pipe, bong or a vaporizer.
Why trim cannabis buds
The primary reason why we trim our buds is better bag appeal and visual appearance. Removing the leaves and excess foliage from your buds makes the true flower form appear and your flowers to stand out more. As a result of trimming, your buds will also have better taste, smell and potency. Although both the bigger leaves and the smaller ones, called – sugar leaves, have THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes in them, the concentrations, or levels, of all of them are lower than in your flowers or buds.
Leaves have different composition from your buds and hold more moisture, making them more harsh to smoke and, when mixed with buds, makes your joint or bowl burn unevenly. Also, because of smaller concentrations of terpenes in them, the smell and aroma coming both from dried and smoked leaves usually isn’t very appealing.
Although, if you’re growing for yourself, you might skip trimming and just pluck the excess material before you roll one, curing your buds together with leaves isn’t recommended for various issues that may come from different humidity and moisture levels in and around your buds.
Wet trim or dry trim
When you trim your plants, is a matter of preference, whether it’s before you dry your plants or after they’ve dried, they both end up with the same or similar results. If done right in both ways, your finished product will be more or less the same in every possible way.
Trimming your plants before you hang them to dry, or while they are wet, is called wet trim and trimming your plants after they’ve been dried is called dry trim. Although growers often tend to have spirited debates and prefer one way over the other, the end results, if done correctly, won’t be that different whatever you choose.
Trimming before you hang your buds to dry is easier and more popular among growers that don’t have to trim larger volumes of buds. Because the matter isn’t dried yet, it’s easier to remove the bigger leaves as well as small, sugar leaves from your buds. After removing the excess leaves, you just manicure your buds to a desired shape, which makes wet trimming a bit faster than dry trimming. Another plus to wet trimming is that you get your buds looking nice and sharp, making them more photo friendly right after trimming.
When wet trimming you may want to leave your (bigger) buds still on branches, in order to be easier for them to be hung and dried and then before putting them to cure, just removing the buds from the branches and stems. If you plan on using drying racks or nets you should remove the buds right away and spread your buds evenly, preferably not touching each other.
Leaving your bigger leaves on your plants while they dry will additionally protect the cannabinoids and terpenes located on the trichomes. As leaves dry they will cover the flowers and keep them protected from any light or any other possible damage, leaving the trichomes intact. Another plus you get by leaving your leaves on, is a longer drying period which results in more smooth and flavorful buds. As leaves dry out, they will curl up inside the buds making them a bit harder to trim than when trimming wet.
If you’re trimming a lot of plants, you might want to consider using a mechanical or machine trimmer. With legal industry in the US and the rest of the world, they’ve become both more available and more advanced. Using multiple various blades, vacuums, separating the trim from your buds and leaving your buds looking like they’ve been hand trimmed, they are available both for rent and sale.
Available at various models, they are capable of trimming larger volumes of buds, making them a viable alternative to hiring a bunch of trimmers. Not having a bunch of different people around, some of which you’ve maybe never met, is a good security advantage and when comparing costs you’d pay for a bunch of people trimming, machine trimmers, especially renting them, make for a good choice. One machine can easily replace 50-100 people, trimming the same amount of buds in the same time as they would.
If you’ve decided to trim your buds manually, you should need the following:
- Gloves, both to cover your hands and prevent them from getting dirty and for keeping the buds intact and not spreading possible infections.
- Scissors, preferably with thin blades, to cut out the leaves and trim the buds
- Rubbing alcohol – to sterilize and clean the equipment
- Stronger gardening shears to cut the bigger branches and stems
- A tray to put the branches you’re trimming on
- Several buckets or other containers to put the trim, buds and garbage in
The main piece of equipment here are the scissors, so make sure they are sharp, comfortable and easy to work with as that will save you a lot of trouble. Having inadequate equipment will make this tedious task even longer and harder, and in some cases can even damage your buds, so it’s good to have a spare pair or two available. Due to the stickiness of the buds, scissors can often get stuck or even break, so try to trim using the tips of the blades.
What to do with leftovers
The first thing that you’ll notice is resin collecting on your hands (gloves) and your scissors as you trim. As long as there’s no mold, mildew or any pests on your buds, the resin collected is an excellent and potent smoke. Often called scissor hash or finger hash, you’ll be able to collect for at least a few joints or more, depending on the volume you trim.
When dry trimming it’s nice to use a tray with a net, similar to those that are in grinders or the ones used for sifting kief to catch all the broken trichomes. Because your buds are dried, they become much easier to break, so by placing a net below your trimming station will get you some nice and potent kief as a reward for your hard work.
When trimming, a lot of people like to separate the trimming into two categories. First, a mix of smaller, popcorn buds that are not worth the trim and trichome covered “sugar” leaves, making it for a more potent mix. And, second – bigger leaves and trim that’s not that much covered by trichomes. By having two separate batches, the more potent one can be processed into oils, edibles or hash and the less potent one can be used in tinctures, topicals or creams or something that doesn’t require a higher potency.
By sifting your trim through a number of bags with small nets, you’re able to extract and collect resin from your trim and make it into hash. By using cold water, ice or dried ice, hash collected is called bubble hash and can end up being a very tasty and potent product.
Using your trim, especially the more potent mix, you can make anything you would out of normal buds. You can use the leftover trim to make cannabutter, infuse oils and make edibles, as well as make any kind of concentrates you’d normally make with buds.
While they are still freshly harvested, leaves can be used as a salad, juiced or eaten raw to get the best out of them, in both the nutritional and medicinal way. Eating raw cannabis won’t make you (as) high because THCA, which is present in the raw form, isn’t psychoactive and by not heating it, it doesn’t become THC.
When trimming, whether it’s wet or dry, you should use the opportunity to check your buds for any pests, diseases, mold or mildew. If any signs of those are present, it’s safer and better to remove the suspicious part, either completely or isolate them from your main stash until you can confirm they are clean.
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