Aroma is one of the first things we notice about cannabis – and it is often a deciding factor when choosing between two strains. In fact, particular aromas will appeal to certain people due to the qualities that they encompass.
When it comes to many plants (including cannabis), aroma is determined by terpenes – for instance, lavender gets its scent from the linalool terpene wherein eucalyptus can credit its healing aroma to eucalyptol – but that’s not all! Terpenes are not only responsible for smell, but can be linked to many health benefits and effects such as anti-anxiety properties, reducing inflammation and even managing pain. One benefit when it comes to cannabis is that this plant can contain multiple terpenes or be terpene specific, depending on the strain.
When producing quality cannabis, aroma should never be overlooked. To stress its importance, we have put together a list of a few key factors to help you preserve the aroma in your cannabis harvest!
Limit Contact with Trichomes
As mentioned, terpenes determine the aroma of each particular cannabis strain and batch. These terpenes are located in none other than the precious trichomes spread across the sugar leaves.
In order to preserve these trichomes – and subsequently, the valuable terpenes inside – it is important to limit your handling of the plants. We know that your cannabis garden probably smells amazing, but it is best to resist the urge to handle your plant while it grows. Too much physical contact can damage trichomes and prevent them from reaching their potential. The same goes for too much agitation during trimming, which we will touch on further below.
Flushing is Key
The next tip comes during the flushing phase, which is extremely important aspect of pre-harvest preparation. The process of flushing helps to remove excess nutrients that have built up, thereby ensuring a smoother and more even smoke with better flavor.
Depending on your set-up, there are different rules for flushing. If you grow in soil, it is ideal to flush your plants two weeks before harvest. When it comes to hydroponics, 10 days before harvest is the best time to flush. With either grow set-up, your plants will need pure water for at least one week prior to harvest to ensure that the excess has been absorbed or removed.
Once your plants are ready for harvest, trimming brings an entirely new set of challenges for preserving the aroma of your cannabis strains. In order to preserve trichomes during the trimming process, the best option is to trim your plants while wet. When cannabis is trimmed dry, the trichomes can be rubbed off much easier. Fortunately, many bud trimming machines offer a wet and dry trimming option. In fact, at CenturionPro Solutions, each of our machines now come with both a wet and dry tumbler to ensure our growers have all options at their disposal! We understand how hard you work to produce quality cannabis covered in precious trichomes, which is why we also offer a Quantanium non-stick tumbler option for our trimming systems. The use of this non-stick tumbler can help preserve trichomes up to 40% over traditional coatings without damaging the product, which can occur with sprays.
Once you have trimmed your cannabis, the next step is to dry it! Proper drying is essential to ensure that you bring out the full flavor and aroma potential of your flower. Ideally, cannabis dries best in a cool and dark environment between 15–22°C and approximately 50% humidity. If the temperature is too dry, it can cause your terpenes to evaporate, thereby exponentially reducing the aromatic qualities and potential medical benefits.
Cannabis takes approx 3-7 days to dry, but you can leave it as long as 14 days. The best way to know if your cannabis is dry is the “snap test”, whereby you check the stems or twigs. If they bend, there is still moisture in them and they are not dry enough unless they snap clean.
The last step for producing quality cannabis with the best aromatic profiles possible, is to cure it. Curing your cannabis properly is a great step to ensuring the best possible aroma your flower has to offer. In addition, proper curing improves overall potency and cannabinoid effectiveness.
One of the best ways to cure cannabis is to loosely add your buds to mason jars for an airtight seal. If you have multiple strains curing at the same time, be sure to cure each in its own separate jar for maximum potential. The jars should then be stored in a room around 21°C and humidity at 60%.
Depending on the grower, some will cure for 4 weeks while others may cure the product for months. Ideally, for the first two weeks it is a good idea to open your jars once or twice a day for inspection. After the first two weeks, the buds can cure on their own.
Taking care during each process of the grow cycle as well as pre- and post- harvest will ensure preservation of the desired strain traits, such as aroma, thereby ensuring top-shelf quality bud and smoke.