How To Trim Weed

How To Trim Weed

You’ve finished growing your plants, chopped them down, basked in the glory of your freshly harvested bud. Now it’s time to trim it up, make it look pretty, and throw it in some jars to cure. Set some time aside for the task, if you’ve got a lot to trim it can take you quite a while. If you’re wondering, “how long does it take to trim a pound of weed,” you’ll need between 4 to 6 hours. Even someone who knows how to trim weed would have a hard job getting more than 3 pounds done in a day. Make it a fun experience for yourself! Grab some buddies if you can, put on some tunes and get to work.

Why Trim Your Weed?

Beyond the most glaring point of turning those wild looking branches into perfectly preserved buds, there’s a number of important reasons to trim your weed. Primarily you’re doing this to have a smoother smoking finished product that’s also going to taste and smell a lot better than if you didn’t trim. Another important reason to do this is to prevent mould developing on dying leaf stems. 

Wet Trim Vs Dry Trim

Dry trim is something I’d only suggest for smaller plants. Letting the plant dry out with all of its leaves still intact slows down the time it will take for the plant to dry, so doing this with a larger crop can increase drying times quite a bit. The bonus to doing this is that a slower, gentler drying time can improve the rate of preservation for terpenes and cannabinoids. 

The difference here isn’t very substantial though, so again, with a larger crop or even just a couple really big plants, I wouldn’t recommend dry trim. Trimming your plant while it’s wet (this just means before it’s dry and brittle, it’s not actually “wet”) will be easier to manage, and much quicker. No brittle leaves breaking apart into your buds.

What Equipment Do You Need?

Scissors – Pruning shears are pretty much the industry standard when it comes to hand trimming. Some are better than others and that’s mostly due to production quality. It’s important to have a couple pairs on hand so you can alternate while the other one is being cleaned. 

Isopropyl alcohol – As you grind through hours of trimming your scissors will become very sticky from the trichomes on the sugar leaves of the plant. Have a jar with enough isopropyl alcohol in it to submerge the entire length of the blade on your scissors to remove the gummy resin easily. 

Jars – Grab some big mason jars and a couple regular sized jars too. Use the smaller ones for iso to clean your scissors, and the kief you collect from your Trim Bin. The bigger ones will be where you store all your perfectly manicured bud. 

Trim Bin -This makes trimming a sit down and relax job instead of keeping you hunched over a table for hours. You even get to lift the screen after you’re done and collect the trichomes that fall off while you’re trimming. 

Gloves – Cheap gloves from pharmacies are fine. You’ll be able to collect finger hash that builds up from all the direct contact with those super sticky nugs. This can be smoked right away or cured for a week or more to enhance flavors. 

Tarps – Making a mess while you’re trimming is unavoidable, so you might as well make the clean up a little easier for yourself. 

Machine trimmers

Electric Hand Trimmer – These are ideal for a wet trim scenario. Think hairclippers, same concept here. These are going to seriously speed up the process, but won’t be able to get the entire stem on a lot of the sugar leaves. 

Manual Trim Bowl – This one is pretty big right now. It’s best used with a dry bud, as its main function is brushing the bud with rubber brushes along a grate that separates the leaves. This will do a much better job of removing the stems of the sugar leaves, but will also brush away a lot of juicy trichomes from the brittle buds.

Step by Step Instructions

Trimming marijuana buds is something that isn’t too hard to get good at. It requires some attention to detail, but mostly patience. The main goal here is getting rid of the parts of the plant that don’t produce as much THC. The method you use for how to trim weed will make a difference with how easy it is to do this. Enjoy the process, take your time and smell the flowers

Wet Trim

Step 1 

Grab one of the branches that you’ve cut from the plant and turn the branch upside down so you’re looking at the bottom of the nugs along the branch. This will make it easier to snip off the bigger fan leaves, exposing more of the petiole that hides under the buds. Start with trimming off all of these larger leaves. Trim all this off into the bins to keep your work space nice and tidy. 

Step 2

You’ll also notice that there are some leaves that stick out directly from the bud that have a lot of crystal like trichomes growing on them, these are sugar leaves. They should be trimmed off as they don’t produce as much THC. Some of them may even have yellow tips, trim those down as far as you can without damaging the bud. If you can trace the petiole back on these smaller leaves, snip them as close to the stem of the bud as you can. This is important, leaving little nubs of stem behind is a hot spot for mould to start growing. The bright side here is that these sugar leaves can be kept and used in extractions. No reason to waste usable product, you can separate this into a different bin than the rest of the trim to use later. 

Step 3

At this point it’s all about making it pretty. Turn the branch side to side looking at each nug. This stage is almost similar to a haircut, trimming any ugly leaves off, keeping it close to the bud. Work down from big leaf to small leaf until you’re happy with the end result. Once everything’s been trimmed up and properly manicured, you can move all the finished bud into your jars. You may even want to organize your bud into jars by the grade or quality of the nugs; after spending time handling each nug you’ll notice that some are just that much nicer than others.

Dry Trim

Step 1 

Cut your plant down, and hang it up to dry for usually around 7-10 days. Once it’s reached a moisture content you’re happy with it will be ready to take down and move into your trim space. 

Step 2 

If you’re using scissors, this will take quite some time. Following more or less the same process as wet trim, but taking time to avoid having crumbly dry sugar leaves break apart into the sticky flower, you’ll be able to use the same techniques to trim away the sugar leaves and fan leaves. If you’re using a bowl trimmer like the one linked above you’ll get through it all in less time and have hardly the same mess to clean up after. 

Step 3

You’re going to have a lot more trichomes that are hiding under the screen in your trim bin if you’re doing a dry trim with scissors. This is a rough form of solventless dry sift rosin. You’ve used a manual extraction method that doesn’t involve any solvents to separate resinous trichomes. Save all of this material, you can press this resin down into hash rosin. 

Are Trimming Machines Worth It?

Trimming machines are good at being consistent and fast, and not much else. The trichomes that cover the bud are fragile, too much friction can knock them off or break them. This will absolutely reduce the potency of your final product. The trim machines are aggressive for the flower, it will end up knocking off a lot of the good stuff, and you’ve worked hard for months to get the plant to this stage! If you’re using machine trimmers with a dried out product you’re going to end up losing even more quality in the process compared to machine trimming wet product instead. All those negatives aside, if you’re trimming a room of plants you’ll probably want to speed up the job, and as legalization happens in more parts of the world we’re seeing a lot of new products designed to reduce some of the problems that are common with machine trimming. 

The other side of this conversation on how to trim weed is hand trimming. Doing everything by hand is obviously going to take a lot more time, but you’re treating your plant with a lot more care this way, preserving potency. You’re also going to notice that you have a lot more control, making it way easier to get in close to the stem with some of those trickier to reach sugar leaves. The showcase buds that you see at dispensaries or in the pictures of cannabis cup awards are almost always hand trimmed bud. In most commercial settings hand trimmed is a box that needs to be checked for product to be considered “craft” quality. Ultimately hand trimming ensures a higher grade finished product, it just takes a little more time and effort.

Zackariah Turner Written by: Zackariah Turner

Zackariah is a young professional who transitioned to a career in cannabis in 2019. He is passionate about educating cannabis consumers as well as advocating for the rights of home growers. He’s worked with a number of licensed cannabis producers in Canada, dedicated to helping shape the future of the cannabis industry.

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