In cannabis cultivation, trimming is far more than making cannabis buds look pretty. Sure, trimming will make cannabis buds look more photogenic, but this process aims to remove excess plant material with low concentrations of trichomes. Although there are uses for fan leaves (e.g., compost) and sugar leaves (e.g., extraction), they aren’t as smooth or potent as the colas. Therefore, every cannabis cultivator needs to trim their cannabis plants post-harvest.
Wet Trimming vs. Dry Trimming: Tips For Choosing The Best Trimming Technique
However, that doesn’t mean everyone needs to trim their cannabis nugs on harvest day. In fact, there are two schools of thought on when’s the best time to cut weed. “Wet trimming” and “dry trimming” are both acceptable for manicuring marijuana, but there are significant distinctions between these methods. Anyone new to cannabis trimming needs to know the pros & cons of wet vs. dry trimming to understand what works best for their grow space.
Sticky, Yet Simple — A Definition Of Wet Trimming
In cannabis cultivation, “wet trimming” means cutting fan leaves and sugar leaves off the cannabis plant before putting them in a drying room. People use the word “wet” because of the sticky texture of the buds at this time. Since you need to “wet trim” cannabis immediately after harvest, the resinous coating of trichomes on buds will cling to a cultivator’s hands. For this reason, it’s imperative to use a pair of disposable gloves if you choose to use this technique.
Many cultivators argue wet trimming is the more “mistake-proof” method since the sticky, resinous coating serves as a natural protective layer. Therefore, even if you make a few bad cuts while snipping your cannabis flowers, there’s less chance of doing too much damage to the trichomes. Also, it’s usually easier to distinguish sugar leaves immediately post-harvest because they will stick out around the cannabis plant’s colas. Remember that you have to set aside time to work fast when wet trimming because you need to get all this work done immediately after harvesting your plants.
Later & Labor-Intensive — Defining Dry Trimming
When people “dry trim” their cannabis plants, they first hang their cannabis flowers in a drying chamber and start trimming buds after they’re sufficiently dry. Most people wait a few days before dry trimming, but the timing for this method is more flexible than wet trimming. Cultivators don’t have to feel “rushed” to get their dry trim done in a few hours. Indeed, many fans of this method spread their trimming sessions over a few days.
Remember that cannabis plants will become more fragile as they dry out. Although you have more time to make your cuts, there’s a greater risk of damaging buds with a few wrong moves. Cultivators must be extra cautious when cutting fan and sugar leaves from their dried plant to avoid inadvertently destroying trichomes.
What Are The Pros & Cons Of Wet vs. Dry Trimming?
There’s nothing “wrong” with using wet trimming over dry trimming, or vice versa. However, many cultivators have strong opinions on which method produces better tasting buds. Also, there are clear distinctions in how much space and time each technique takes.
Wet Trimming Pros
- Great for small spaces: Because wet trimming removes extra plant material before drying, cannabis plants naturally take up less space. Therefore, people who don’t have space constraints tend to prefer wet trimming because it improves aeration in their drying room.
- Less chance of damage to trichomes: The sticky coating on freshly harvested plants provides a natural barrier from sharp shears. Also, beginners tend to have an easier time spotting sugar leaves while wet trimming, which results in fewer mistakes.
- May have less risk of mold: With less plant material covering cannabis buds, it’s easier for air to hit flowers directly and speed up the drying process. Some argue the faster drying period for wet-trimmed cannabis reduces the incidence of mold.
Wet Trimming Cons
- Extremely time sensitive: People who want to wet trim their cannabis need to know precisely when they want to harvest and set aside a few hours solely for trimming. Once you start harvesting cannabis, you cannot wait to start wet trimming, so time preparation is critical.
- Potentially lower quality taste: Some cannasseurs claim they can tell the difference in the taste of wet vs. dry harvested buds. Allegedly, wet-trimmed buds have higher traces of chlorophyll versus dry-trimmed buds because the bacteria on cannabis plants didn’t have enough time to break down this grassy compound. Some smokers believe the excess chlorophyll in wet-trimmed weed makes them feel harsh and taste excessively earthy.
- Notoriously sticky to handle: Wet trimmers must be prepared to work with incredibly sticky nugs. Be prepared with a few pairs of disposable gloves while cutting your strains.
Dry Trimming Pros
- Less time-sensitive: With dry trimming, you don’t have to worry about cutting every leaf off your plant immediately after harvest. You can spread your dry trimming sessions over a few days, which gives you more time to manicure each bud carefully.
- May lead to better-tasting buds: Although there’s no scientific evidence to support this theory, some cannabis fans believe dry-trimmed buds have a better taste and smoother feel. Supposedly, the natural compounds in sugar and fan leaves promote a decrease in the cannabis plant’s chlorophyll while drying, which may lead to a more flavorful final product.
Dry Trimming Cons
- More fragile: Understandably, “dry” buds are more brittle than newly harvested colas. Therefore, cannabis cultivators need extra concentration and skill to avoid accidentally destroying usable plant material.
- More space required: To dry trim cannabis, you need more space to accommodate the additional plant material you’re leaving on your strains. Therefore, dry trimming isn’t the best option if you have a cramped drying room.
- Longer drying time: The extra plant material on these strains also tends to extend the drying time. You’ll need to tack on a few extra days or a week to your post-harvest schedule.
How To Choose Between Wet Trimming vs. Dry Trimming
Although some cannabis users swear dry trimming produces a smoother and more flavorful experience, most cultivators consider timing and space requirements when deciding which trimming method to use. As mentioned above, wet trimming is the preferred choice for people with small spaces who want to speed up their drying process. By contrast, dry trimming is a good option for people who have more space and don’t want to feel rushed trimming their buds post-harvest. Also, since wet trimming tends to be more “mistake-proof,” it’s usually the better option for beginner growers.
All that being said, the only way to “know” which trimming technique is better for you is to experiment with both. After beginners get familiar with wet trimming a strain of cannabis, it’s a good idea to try dry trimming the same cultivar. Make a note of any differences in timing, mold issues, and taste when comparing these wet vs. dry-trimmed buds. After using both methods, you should have a solid idea of which trimming style better suits your preferences.
Don’t Forget To Gear Up Before Trimming Cannabis!
No matter which trimming method you choose, you’ll need the same equipment to snip the leaves on your cannabis flowers. At a minimum, cannabis cultivators need high-quality manual pruning snips to clip fan leaves and sugar leaves. Also, gloves are always helpful when dealing with cannabis nugs, especially if you opt for the super sticky wet trimming technique.
While you could get by with just shears and gloves, there are machine cannabis-specific trimmers that may be of use for some cultivators. Although these machines can’t achieve the same level of precision as manually trimming, they are a good option for people who prioritize time and quantity over aesthetics. However, it’s always better to use machine trimmers with wet trimming as there’s less risk of damaging the trichomes.