Commercial growers must harvest large amounts of marijuana crop at once as opposed to a home-grow operation, which may only have half a dozen plants. While the principles of the process remain the same, there are other variables to consider when it comes to commercial cannabis harvesting; even the most gorgeous garden can end in disaster if not harvested correctly.
There are four most common issues that can go wrong with commercial cannabis harvesting, which include:
- Lack of Planning
- Insufficient Labor
- Mold Contamination
To help you achieve successful harvest for your operation, we are going to walk you through how to moderate these common issues.
One of the key aspects of harvesting is of course, planning and timing. Knowing when your plants are mature and harvesting each crop only when they are ready. Commercial growers often have a variety of strains growing in the same space, all of which may have been planted at different times. For someone new to operating at a larger scale, it can be overwhelming and easy to lose track. One way of keeping your garden organized, is to plant the same strains together at the same time. That way, you can ensure that section of your garden will be ready to harvest all at once.
In a commercial space, sometimes the larger buds at the top of the plant will be ready for harvest but the smaller buds down below may not be. This is because large gardens often limit the light that reaches the lower stems. If this is the case, you will want to harvest the buds on top first. Leave the ones down below for an additional week or two to ensure they are able to mature fully. This will ensure you get the most from your plants, as harvesting the lower buds too early will take away from the potency and flavor. This is especially important for commercial operations where quality control far exceeds what is expected from home growers.
Managing Mold Contamination:
Proper management can easily minimize mold risks, but if not looked after, it can overrun a garden. Mold likes moisture and poor air circulation and prefers big plants and buds. Planning to harvest outdoor crops prior to rain or reducing humidity and increasing airflow for indoor crops, mold will have less chance to grow. Focusing on healthy strains and removing dying or sick plants will also assist in reducing mold contamination. These techniques will ensure minimum loss and maximum reward.
Ultraviolet light is regularly praised as a method for increasing THC potential and has recently been shown to assist in mold prevention. This type of light has the ability to break up mold spore DNA, killing them before they can spread to other plants.
As the majority of mold issues occur after harvesting when growers are less critical, a proper drying procedure is essential. While it can be difficult with larger crops, it is also important to inspect the buds as they are curing. These inspections are a great opportunity to keep an eye on mold development and remove buds from the jars for additional drying, if necessary.
Meeting Labor Needs:
As commercial growers work with a larger amount of plants and a larger harvest, it can be difficult to find enough good people. That is why large-scale growers are now looking to the use of automated trimming machine to assist with processing. There are many varieties of trimming machines available, including the CenturionPro Original and Silver Bullet, which can work with wet or dry plants depending on your preference.
If you dry your plants first, it is best to remove the larger leaves before they are hung; this will reduce humidity in the room as these large leaves tend to store moisture. If you are planning to trim wet, you can simply cut the buds from the stems and feed your machine. Then you just require an individual to take the trimmed buds and move them to a secure area for drying. Wet trimming is favored when it comes to trimming machines. Plus, trimming wet gives the buds the chance to “puff out” making them more aesthetically pleasing in the end. Additionally, wet trimming reduces the amount of trichome damage during the trimming process and using a good quality machine can result in up to 40% more trichome preservation than a lower-end model.
Whether you choose to trim wet or dry, trimming machines work best with freshly harvested buds. To maximize results, don’t harvest more than you can process in an hour; buds are easier to work with when the leaves are nice and crisp. The CenturionPro Original, for example, can process 70-80 lbs of wet product (or 14-16 lbs dry) per hour, which gives a good idea for how much product to harvest at once.
The efficiency of trimming machines not only reduces labor costs, but it also increases security. A single CenturionPro Original trimming machine can replace up to 20 workers, making it ideal for reducing the risk associated with a larger operation. In addition, a quality trimming machine can lower overhead and ensure a more efficient process. These machines only require one individual to feed the buds and another to harvest as you go. Trimmers run best on 4-hour cycles with thorough cleaning every cycle to ensure that each batch is top quality.
When it comes to harvest season, this is the time when your valuable efforts are more prone to theft. During this time, buds are out in the open on drying on racks, curing in jars or being packaged and are easier for employees to access.
As mentioned, using a trimmer can assist with this as it can replace a large number of workers. It is far easier to find 10 good workers than it is to find 50 or more. When you reduce the number of individuals required for trimming, you also reduce the amount of people handling the product. As automated trimmers only require 1-2 individuals to operate them, there is far less security risk. Plus, it is easier to find a handful of good people over dozens.
Additionally, many commercial growers throw away or compost extra leaf material. As the CenturionPro system separates the trim and kief during trimming, it becomes readily available for further processing. Thus providing an excellent opportunity to add production of edibles or concentrates to your operation.
Maintaining a properly managed garden and employing top-of-the-line resources will help you to make the most out of your operation. The repeated production of quality product and lowered costs will ensure your competitiveness in this growing marketplace.