While harvesting and extracting cannabis extracts from hemp are the most discussed topics in hemp production, the most overlooked step between these two is crucial in cannabis cultivation. This is properly drying and curing the hemp flower to prepare it for production — whether it’s destined for gummies, prerolls, or tinctures this step is a must.
Properly curing and drying hemp in a well-ventilated, climate-controlled area is what allows manufacturers to produce more potent and flavorful hemp flowers.
Why is Drying and Curing Hemp Important?
Harvesting hemp is what makes hemp farmers feel stomach butterflies. Finally, after a year, their hard work pays off, and they realize the fruits of the labor. However, before the hemp moves to the extraction process, it needs to go through a crucial step: drying and curing.
Drying and curing hemp flowers is vital for preserving compounds like cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Therefore, hemp flower needs to be dried and cured like tobacco leaves before being ready for market.
After harvesting, hemp contains up to 80% moisture, and drying is essential to preserve cannabinoids before the extraction process, per research published in the American Journal of Plant Sciences (AJPS).
Moreover, hemp’s aromatic compounds – terpenes – are volatile under high heat, and slow drying under controlled temperatures allows preserving them and enriching strains with different tastes and smells.
Curing hemp has numerous benefits, including turning blunt hemp flowers into beautiful buds, providing a smooth and tasteful smoke. In addition, the curing process allows byproducts like sugar to degrade. Therefore, the hemp flower offers smooth and pleasant smoke instead of unpleasant flavors post-curing.
Most importantly, curing hemp increases potency and allows different cannabinoids like CBD to reach desired concentrations. Besides, curing also clears buds from mold and bacteria.
Drying Hemp Flower
The drying process comes right after harvesting the hemp. Farmers put the hemp in a well-ventilated climate-controlled area for 10-13 days until the hemp loses moisture. Hemp should remain in a dry place with humidity ranging between 50-60% and temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The drying area should have several fans running to provide airflow to preserve the flavor and aroma of the hemp.
Once hemp is dried, it is ready for curing, essential to producing high-quality, potent hemp.
Farmers cure hemp in a dark place because light exposure can degrade aromatic terpenes crucial for high-quality hemp. High heat also degrades hemp compounds and reduces its potency. That’s why hemp is cured in a climate-controlled area.
And finally, humidity is also a crucial factor in the process, so farmers control the humidity in the area to produce the finest product.
Curing hemp begins with preparing flowers. Sometimes farmers dry buds and branches together, and if so, now it’s the perfect time to separate them either by hand or using a machine to free flowers from leaves.
At this step, buds will be placed in a wide-mouth airtight container like glass jars so that growers can monitor the buds in the process, but they can also use metal, wood, ceramic, or plastic containers. Buds shouldn’t be clumped together and should only fill 75% of the jar to leave enough room for air.
Farmers place the jars with hemp buds in a dark room to avoid cannabinoid degradation, with temperatures between 60- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels ranging between 45 and 55 percent. In addition, most farmers put a hygrometer inside the jars to easily monitor these conditions. In only a day, the moisture inside the buds will hydrate its outer layers, and it will no longer be crispy and dry from the outside.
Farmers check the buds twice daily for the first week to look for mold. They also open the lids of the jars for several minutes to allow ventilation. If the buds remain too dry, which is common when overdried, farmers will keep jars sealed for more extended periods. If buds still don’t moisten outside layers, farmers can put a humidity pack inside the jars.
The final curing step lasts for up to six weeks. Farmers continue monitoring the buds daily and maintaining required humidity levels. The buds are usually ready for consumption after three weeks, but four to eight weeks of curing will significantly improve the quality of buds.
Although it would be exciting to consume hemp right after harvesting, just like freshly picked apples, unfortunately, it needs to take a long road before being ready for consumption. Still, it’s the best way to ensure its potency and effectiveness.
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