Author: Bruce Coetzee If growing good quality cannabis is an art, then drying and curing cannabis can be considered the Mona Lisa of successful herb preparation. With all the focus on specialised cultivation methods, it stands to reason that the failure to correctly dry and cure your bud can and will undermine the months of unwavering dedication and commitment that goes into nurturing your ladies. A good grow and a beautiful potent strain quickly falls by the wayside when we fail to follow some straightforward do's and don'ts in the final stages of our plant's life cycle!
The first step in ensuring your weed gets off on the right foot starts with the harvest and drying process. A general rule of thumb regarding harvesting leans on two very crucial elements. The first of which is a matter of preference. Once the plant is cut, you have the option of wet trimming or later dry trimming. Wet trimming entails removing all excess leaves when the bud has just been harvested. This is significantly easier than the latter and provides you with an opportunity to carefully inspect your bud for any signs of disease or pests." Trim", and in particular sugar, leaves can be dried separately and later used for making edibles, or depending on the potency, can be utilised in the production of hash.

The second option is to dry trim once your bud has lost most of its moisture content. Although leaving excess leaves intact seems like a shortcut, dry trimming can be tiresome as removing dried leaves from bud can diminish a considerable amount of usable herb. It becomes pretty difficult to discern trim from bud when it's dry; however, leaving the leaves intact during the drying process does assist in retaining the aroma, and more specifically, the taste, which is due to the natural terpene profile.

Many growers will facilitate a "bud wash" directly after a harvest. This is a process that aims to remove any dust or unseen contaminants. It involves a bucket filled with clean filtered water and adding bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice and 3% hydrogen peroxide. The first of your four buckets will contain the highest concentration of these additives, usually hydrogen peroxide. In contrast, the second contains lemon and bicarb, diluted with clean filtered water. The remaining buckets contain just water and essentially act as a rinse station. Be sure to use tepid water as trichomes can easily break when exposed to freezing temperatures.
The preparation of a dry, cool and most importantly, dark drying area and the means to adequately hang stalks can make the exercise more manageable. Planning is key, and many growers fail simply due to delays caused by last-minute "make a plan" scenarios. The principal elements when properly drying bud is a two-fold endeavour. Humidity and light, coupled with your bud's density and physical attributes, will determine the time it takes to reach the "dry bud" status. Adequate air circulation helps alleviate high humidity problems whilst drying in a dark area will ensure that cannabinoids remain intact. Light has a detrimental effect on THC and CBD and can easily turn high-quality herb into mundane average bud.

Cannabis dries relatively fast, but snapping a small twig or branch is an excellent method to check its readiness. Use multiple sites to gauge an average and be sure to avoid the "need for weed" urge by pre-rolling a suitable alleviator. Patience is not just a virtue in producing good quality herb; it is the single most important quality ensued by the cannabis enthusiast. The stalks should echo a resounding crack when bent and should not retain the elastic properties of live specimens. This crackling sound indicates that your weed is indeed ready to cure!

Once again, preparation is key, and ensuring that you have clean, adequately sized, airtight containers on hand will simplify the process. Console glass bottles make for an excellent choice, while many growers utilise old coffee jars with homemade seals as an affordable alternative. Select containers that are not oversized and be sure to remove all desired buds with extreme caution. Start by dropping in larger sections and then add according to size, working up to the smaller "popcorn buds" at the top. 
Excessive handling is not advisable due to the delicate nature of trichomes. Air exchange is vital in the first few days and is relatively simple. Bottles should be periodically opened to allow for gaseous exchange at intervals of eight hours. You want to take special note of the aroma and any strong hint of ammonia that may indicate mould development. Store your curing bottles away from direct light and be sure to tip your bottles every so often.
Drying and curing marijuana is a delicate and complex process, which requires a skill set that can only develop and grow with first-hand experience. Every grower has a method of their own, but by following these few sound principles, you too can ensure a high-end stash worth the dash!