Wet Trimming vs Dry Trimming Cannabis Flowers

THE PRESS CLUB WET TRIMMING VS DRY TRIMMING CANNABIS
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Todde Philips   

🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur

Trimming cannabis involves snipping away excess leaves that grow out of the buds, exposing the swollen calyxes and dense flower structure underneath. Trimming always happens after harvest, but it can take place before or after the flowers have been dried. Wet trimming takes place right after the flowers are harvested, before they’re hung to dry. Dry trimming takes place after the plants have already been hung to dry, before they go into jars for curing. 

Flowers that are grown for smoking or flower rosin production are almost always trimmed, since the small leaves that grow out of the flowers contain high amounts of chlorophyll and negatively affect flavor and smoothness. Even though this trim leaf is covered in trichomes, it’s not well-suited for smoking or rosin production. 

On the other hand, flowers that are grown for bubble hash production don’t need to be trimmed as meticulously, since the ice water extraction process can effectively remove the trichomes that exist on trim leaves. Still, the larger fan leaves should be removed. And always handle the flowers with care, to prevent damaging trichomes or causing them to drop off of the plant. 

 

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Let’s look at workflows in both wet trimming and dry trimming and uncover some pros and cons of each approach. 

Wet Trimming

Wet trimming means removing all the trim leaves from the buds before the flowers are hung upside down to dry. As soon as the plants are harvested, the largest leaves called the fan leaves are removed from the branches, and the smaller leaves that grow directly from the buds, called trim leaves, are also carefully snipped away. These trim leaves are coated with lots of trichomes, so they can be saved for dry sifting or even bubble hash. 

As soon as the plants are chopped, it’s time to manicure the flowers without any delay. Wet trimming is best to do by hand, ideally using scissors that have blades coated in anti-stick material. Remove all the trim leaves from the buds, cutting them away as close as possible to the flowers without also removing calyxes and pistils. The more meticulous you are with this task, the better the buds will look once they’re dried.

THE PRESS CLUB WET TRIMMING CANNABIS FLOWERS

Once trimmed, the flowers can be hung for drying and then curing. After fully drying, the flowers can be removed from their branches and put into sealed mason jars for curing. 

Pros

  • Helps buds to dry more quickly
  • Lowers the risk of mildew growth on the flowers by reducing the amount of moist plant material around the flowers
  • Increases air flow around the buds while they’re hanging to dry
  • More efficient because harvesting and trimming happens at the same time
  • Reduces volume of plants hanging to dry, which minimizes space needed in the drying room
  • If using trimming machines, wet buds are easier for them to cut since the leaves are not curled up around the buds
Cons
  • Trichomes are more likely to break open, making it much stickier and messier work than trimming when dry
  • More frequent stopping to clean scissors

Dry Trimming

Dry trimming takes place after the flowers have fully dried, and before they go into jars for curing. After the flowers have hung to dry until most of the moisture has evaporated and the stems are starting to get brittle, the buds are removed from the branches and the trim leaves are snipped away. 

THE PRESS CLUB WET TRIMMING DRY TRIMMING CANNABIS

By the time the flowers are mostly dried, the trim leaves are withered and curled around the buds, normally being crispy and brittle. Don’t forget that the trim leaves can be used for bubble hash or dry sift, as they’re covered in trichomes. The trichomes on dried flowers are less likely to burst open and create a greasy mess, although dry flowers still need to be handled with extreme care. 

Leaving the trim leaves on the flowers during the drying process makes it slower for the buds to fully dry. A slower drying process is better for overall quality than a quick drying process. 

Pros

  • Leaving the leaves on the buds until after they are dried can lead to a smoother smoke, because it makes the drying process more gradual
  • Can be less messy than wet trimming
  • The buds will look more dense if they’re dried with the trim leaves still in tact

Cons

  • The buds often don’t look as luscious or full if you wait to trim until after they are dried
  • Harder for trimming machines to effectively trim dry flowers
  • Leaving the trim leaves intact takes up more volume in the drying room
  • The trim leaves are smaller and curled around the buds, making them harder to cut off precisely with scissors
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Conclusion

One way is not universally better than the other, it comes down to preference and your unique circumstances. For example, if you live in a very humid environment and there’s a big risk for mildew growth, it may be best to trim while the buds are still wet so they can dry more quickly. If you live in a very dry place, it’s probably best to leave the trim leaves on while the flowers hang to dry so that they dry out more gradually. 

Weigh the pros and cons of both wet and dry trimming, and if you’ve grown high quality cannabis, either approach can lead to a fantastic final product. Handle the flowers delicately, and remember that trim leaves can be great starting material for bubble hash and dry sift. 


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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is wet trimming cannabis?
Wet trimming is when you cut away the fan and trim leaves around the cannabis flowers before hanging them to dry. 

What is dry trimming cannabis?
Dry trimming is when you cut away the trim leaves around the cannabis flowers after they've already been hung to dry. 

Is it better to wet trim or dry trim cannabis flowers?
There are pros and cons to each approach. Wet trimming is ideal if you're concerned about mildew growth while the flowers are hanging to dry. Dry trimming is ideal if you want to draw out the drying process, often making for a smoother smoke. Plus with dry trimming, you'll have slightly less resin sticking to your scissors.   

Do you have to trim cannabis?
It's not absolutely necessary in all cases. For example, if you're washing the buds for bubble hash, you can leave the trim leaves on. But for flower that's grown to be smoked, it's best to trim the leaves away from the buds, as this will make for a smoother smoke. The leaves contain high amounts of chlorophyll, which creates that harsh and burning sensation in the smoke. 

How do you trim cannabis?
Cannabis is normally trimmed by hand using scissors, but some larger operations use machines to trim. Learn more in our article Pros and Cons of Hand Trimming vs Machine Trimming. 

 

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