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How to Trim Cannabis Flowers like an Expert

Sustained the long process of maintaining your cannabis garden? Take a look at our take on how to gracefully finish what you started and trim cannabis flowers like a pro.

Anyone who has a cannabis garden knows that it is a tedious process that involves attention, care, and a lot of effort. When you are considering when you should harvest your cannabis, trimming the buds can be distressing, but fortunately we will cover some ways to make it as fun and efficient as possible. It is important you trim cannabis flowers to preserve trichome enrichment, avoid harsh smoke resulting from protruding leaves, and to ensure a visually appealing end-product. Smoking marijuana is an enjoyable, therapeutic experience, thus preparation leading up to that experience should be pleasant as well.

Before we get into how to execute your trimming, let's delve into the different techniques that can be employed. 

Would you rather practice hand trimming or machine trimming?

When you begin to think about trimming your cannabis flowers, you must tailor your trimming method around certain aspects of your production. The decision between these two options rests in conditions such as production volume, time sensitivity, and desired quality of the cannabis buds. Hand trimming is the traditional way of manicuring your cannabis, and there is a reason it is still the more preferred option today. Though time consuming, trimming by hand ensures that you are getting the most out of your cannabis plant (if done well). People tend to adopt automated-trimming in circumstances of high volume and time-sensitive production. Using a trimming machine may compromise the quality of the bud, damaging trichomes and other essential components of the marijuana plant. It is also an expensive alternative, and brings the burden of maintenance. In brief, this is a circumstantial preference, but hand-trimming provides the best quality for your cannabis.

Would you rather practice dry trimming or wet trimming?

The difference between wet and dry trimming lies in the time in which you decide to begin to trim your cannabis flowers. Wet trimming refers to the immediate trimming of the marijuana plant after it has been cut down and it is still wet. Dry trimming takes place after drying leaves of the marijuana plant. The decision between these two options rests in similar conditions as the decision to hand trim or machine trim. Wet trimming is a faster process and is usually adopted when trimming is done manually. This is due to the accessibility of the removable plant material when it is wet; sugar leaves are less sticky when wet and are more easily trimmed in isolation. Dry trimming is adopted in circumstances of high volume, as plants cannot be immediately trimmed and must be hung to dry (and the jury is still out on the best way to dry cannabis, though some theories pervade others). It is common for harvesters to use machine trimming when the marijuana is dried, this speeds up the process and also avoids the burden of hiring a myriad of hand trimmers.

The Necessities You Will Need for Trimming

Here is a brief list of tools and supplies to kickoff your trimming process:

  • Scissors/Pruning shears for trimming—Should be clean, sharp, and comfortable. You may want to have multiple pairs of small and large scissors for varying purposes, as well as to sustain heavy usage.
  • An easily cleaned tray and trimming space—Trays provide ease of mobility as you go about the trimming process. We also recommend buying a tray with a kief collecting compartment to preserve all parts of your cannabis. Cleaning supplies such as rubbing alcohol are essential to avoid resin buildup, and to preserve the quality of the end-product.
  • Silk apron and gloves—Silk aprons will help keep your clothes free of resin. In like manner, gloves will keep your hands clean and will help you sustain tedious trimming sessions.
  • Keep it fun—As we’ve previously said, you should try to keep yourself focused and satisfied when trimming. Thus, we recommend bumping some of your favorite tunes and songs. If you feel the need to be entertained or interested in a different way, we recommend listening to stand up comedy or podcasts, so long as you are utilizing anything that does not require your visual attention.

Now that we have gone over the must-have's, we're ready to get into the how-to's.

Cut a branch off the cannabis plant.

Using your larger, more durable scissors, cut a reasonably sized branch down. Our personal preference is to start small and get a feel for the average sized branch you plan on trimming per sitting. Additionally, trimming branch by branch can preserve the rest of your cannabis for a day or two if you cannot do it all at once. If buds are still attached to the plant, they will be perfectly fine to cut the following day.

Remove large fan leaves.

Fan leaves are the long, protruding leaves on the cannabis plant. Fan leaves do not serve much of a purpose, as they contain a minimal amount of trichomes and are very harsh to smoke; though some people save large fan leaves to make hash. Fan leaf removal can be easily performed by simply pulling off the leaves along the stem with your fingers.

Trim, trim, trim!

Now, we finally get to trim buds! First, fill your tray with a reasonable amount of buds, not too many because it can get messy and disorganized that way. Next, we like to trim the stem at the bottom of the branch as closely as possible, but be careful, you don't want to dismantle the buds from the plant. 

Following that step, we need to remove what we call the "crow's feet." These are little branches that resemble birds' feet, and are found at the bottom of the nugget.

Finally, trim all sugar leaves and remaining plant matter. Unlike fan leaves, sugar leaves do not need to be completely removed from the plant. These leaves protrude a bit, but the stems of these leaves are usually not visible, thus you must trim the sugar leaves flush with the outsides of the cannabis buds. You should avoid cutting any actual buds because that will hamper the drying process and waste cannabis.

Since sugar leaves tend to have a lot of trichomes on them, people tend to save the trims for hash or other purposes, so make sure you have a specific tray for these trimmings. We don't recommend leaving large pieces of the sugar leaves on the plant because this makes for harsh smoke and a less pure pull. We implore you to look up ways to make use of trimmings and resin resulting from this process, because it can provide a creative way to get high.

Dispose of waste and clean.

When all of the branches of the plant have been cut down and trimmed to perfection, all that is left is to dispose of the remaining plant material and clean your area for future use. Since the plants tend to be pretty large, we recommend you cut up the plant into small pieces and then dispose of it using two garbage bags. Additionally, clean up your area as best as possible for future use. You don't want to have left over resin on supplies or attire.

Remember these quick tips for your trimming session.

  • Never trim with the sides of your scissors, always use the tips. This will preserve the cleanliness of your tools and reduce stickiness that can impede the effectiveness of your trimming.
  • Like previously mentioned, save any remains that can be reused in a different manner. This goes back to the days of using every part of an animal when hunted. You want to get the most out of your cannabis in general; plus, it can make for a creative/fun post-harvest project. You can learn how to make cannabutter, hash, tinctures, and more!
  • Make sure the container that is used for storage is airtight. This keeps the cannabis fresh and untainted.
  • Celebrate with finger hash. This is one of the easiest ways to treat yourself after a long session of trimming. Use hash leftover on scissors or other supplies to top a bowl pack or take a dab with.

Lastly, enjoy!

Remember, trimming your plants takes practice and you will get better as you go along. So long as you pay close attention close attention when you trim cannabis flowers though, your weaknesses will soon become your strengths, and you can improve future trimming sessions through time and patience. If not for any other reason than remembering why you are doing this, it is also important to remember to have fun!

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