In the process of cultivating quality cannabis, the first priority is sourcing quality genetics. Then, it’s all about taking care of the plants, tending to their needs, then finally, comes the crucial part of harvesting, drying and curing, which can make or break the product.
Even great genetics don’t stand a chance in the market without a proper curing process after harvest. All things considered, cannabis flowers which have not undergone careful curing will lose in potency, taste and terpene profile, and will, therefore, be less valuable. But why does that happen?
Why Curing is Important
Curing of foods and herbs is as old as human history, existing for as long as people wanted to preserve the precious fruits of their labor. Although there are many different types of curing, the overarching philosophy is to slowly dry the moisture trapped inside plant material to bring out the full terpenoid profile and avoid problems caused by mold.
Different plants require different curing processes to retain all the natural compounds that make them favorable (like terpenes) or valuable (like cannabinoids). Even tobacco is usually sun-cured to reduce its chlorophyll content.
The degradation of plant matter begins when the plant is harvested, and bacteria is formed as moisture breaks down excess sugars. When it comes to cannabis, this can lead to harsher smoke, decreased potency, or even rot forming inside the flower.
Drying, curing, and cannabinoids
Although it might sound counter-intuitive, cannabis buds must be dried in a stable environment with 50-55% humidity and temperatures of up to 21ºC. Terpenoids are especially volatile compounds and can evaporate at higher temperatures (hence the drying of cannabis by exposing it to heat won’t work). Generally, marijuana should not be dried too quickly as this will have a negative impact on taste.
Curing is a slightly more complicated process that is often mistaken for drying. Proper curing of cannabis should be done in air-tight environments which are vented at just the right time. This process of letting out air is commonly known as “burping.” As cannabis slowly dries, the terpene and cannabinoid profiles are more pronounced, leading to a better quality product. The curing process sets off a process called decarboxylation, which promotes the production of THC and CBD (depending on genetics), the compounds which make products valuable. Each plant has a genetic profile, and you are just helping it reach its ultimate potential!
Commercial-grade Cannabis Curing
When producing quality cannabis flower, whether at home or commercially, the process of drying and curing must be given an appropriate window of time. Casual growers typically store their harvested and trimmed buds inside mason jars and leave them to dry over a couple of weeks.
In large commercial growing facilities, however, things are not so simple. First of all, mason jars in a commercial environment, with commercial-sized harvests, is clearly an inefficient method. Most cultivation facilities in the commercial market require a dedicated facility with the proper equipment and curing environment ready for tons of harvested bud from thousands of plants. Second, commercial operations don’t have the luxury of waiting too long. Supply chain activities need to be completed, and orders need to be fulfilled. As such, many producers may likely attempt to take a shortcut and quick-dry the harvest, to the detriment of quality.
The cannabis industry is quickly becoming a saturated market and therefore, less forgiving to those who offer a sub-optimal product. However, the need for a balance between speed and quality has given birth to many services which can take this burden off your hands. Companies like AutoCure and iDryWeed will handle all of the post-harvest needs of your business (like drying, curing and storage) by using automated technology and specially designed chambers.
For those who’d prefer an in-house solution, Darwin Chambers offers custom walk-in and reach-in drying and curing rooms that can be tailored to your business’ needs.
As the cannabis industry expands and becomes part of the mainstream, more specialized services will appear on the market. Curing is the last step of a complicated, albeit necessary process, if you want your business to stand out from the crowd with a superior-quality product. Investing time and funds in proper drying and curing methods is a move with a very high return on investment, as more people will trust your product for medicinal or recreational purposes.