Wet Trimming vs. Dry Trimming Cannabis

After your mature cannabis plants have bloomed and flowered, it’s finally time to reap the fruits of your labor. And by “fruit,” we mean those aromatic buds covered in glistening trichomes. When trimming cannabis, the conversation often revolves around wet trimming and dry trimming techniques.

In this article, we discuss the basics behind both methods. Each has its merits and is worth considering, especially if you are starting to scale your cultivation business.

A Quick Note on Cannabis Plant Anatomy

To discuss wet and dry trimming methods we should first define a bit of plant terminology. Since most of these terms are common knowledge, we’ll just breeze through the essentials needed prior to trimming:

General Terms for Trimming Cannabis

  • Main stem or stalk – This is the primary structure of the plant. The stalk grows above ground to provide structural support for the branches and carries nutrients from the roots to the branches and leaves.
  • Nodes – Nodes are the location where the first signs of the cannabis plant’s sex appear and are located along the stalk or branch where another branch has begun to grow outward.
  • Branches – These extend from the main stem or stalk of the cannabis plant. Branches grow outward from the nodes.
  • Fan leaves – The primary function of fan leaves is to collect light for energy production. Fan leaves display the iconic shape of between 5 to 9 leaves that fan out like fingers. There can be more or fewer leaves depending on the cannabis plant’s genetics.
  • Sugar leaves – Sugar leaves form close to your plant’s buds and help provide structural support. These leaves are aptly called “sugar” leaves because they are often covered in cannabinoid-filled trichomes. The crystals give the leaves a “sugar-coated” appearance.
  • Buds – Also popular by the name “flower,” buds grow during the flowering stage of female cannabis plants. As cannabis flowers are essential for reproduction, they cover themselves in trichomes to help protect the flowers from insects, UV radiation, and other environmental threats.
  • Cola – This is just a group of buds hanging out on a flowering stem!
  • Stem – These grow from a cannabis branch and become the location for groups of flowers.

Most of these terms likely come as no surprise. So let’s cut to the chase and discuss the two most popular trimming methods, starting with wet trimming!

What Is Wet Trimming?

When cannabis cultivators trim the fan leaves and sugar leaves from their buds immediately after harvest, this is called “wet trimming.” The use of the word “wet” is because a freshly cut cannabis branch is still full of water and life. The leaves are still reaching for light, making it much easier to trim them from your buds.

The buds are then ready to be dried using drying trays and racks. Wet trimming helps expedite the drying and curing of the buds. If you live in a humid region, trimming your buds directly after harvest can help give you a head start in drying your flower.

Applications for Wet Trimming

There are a several common reasons that cannabis cultivators trim their buds directly after harvest.

If you specialize in farming high-quality bud intended to be sold as flower for joints and pipes, then the bud’s presentation may be important to you. Wet trimming while the sugar leaves are still vibrant, allows you to give your buds a more refined trim. This adds to your nug’s visual appeal, showing off its glistening trichomes. The end result is a manicured nug that boasts showroom quality presentation.

Wet trimming allows your flower to dry sooner by allowing more airflow around the buds. This helps mitigate the growth of mold and gets your harvest ready to cure sooner. With increasing regulation and product testing, commercial cultivators are willing to burn off a few terpenes if it means passing safety tests and increasing throughput.

What Tools Do I Need for Wet Trimming?

If wet trimming cannabis is your preferred style, you’ll need to pick up supplies. Below are a few you may want to consider.

Commercial Plant Trimming Scissors

If you’re hand trimming cannabis, then you need several high-quality trimming scissors. Unlike the standard scissors you find in drawers around the house, the Chikamasa TP-500SF is designed for the commercial use of trimming cannabis.

The TP-500SF’s fluorine coating resists sap, making them easier to clean. And the spring-loaded handle reduces hand-crunching fatigue associated with extended trimming sessions. Chikamasa trimming scissors are engineered with Japanese steel and have made a name for themselves in the cannabis cultivation community. Lightweight. Sharp. Perfect for commercial trimming stations.

Chikamasa TP-500SF
The Chikamasa TP-500SF is perfect for wet trimming and dry trimming cannabis These trimming scissors have sap-resistant blades and are engineered with Japanese steel.

Don’t forget to have several pairs handy so when it’s time to send those scissors off for cleaning, you can continue manicuring buds! And if you’re looking for a quick way to easily clean your cannabis trimming scissors, check out scissor fix products for convenient, one-handed scissor cleaning.

Cannabis Trimming Stations and Work Tables

When hand trimming cannabis and manicuring your buds, you’ll want a food-safe surface while you trim. Stainless steel worktables are practical, as most manufactured for the food-service industry are already NSF certified.

If you are hand-trimming large crops of marijuana, the Metro PrepMate workstation greatly boosts productivity. The PrepMate workstation combines the sterile surface of NSF approved stainless steel with functional design elements such as:

  • Multi-level surface provides dedicated areas for supplies and plant material.
  • Trays for holding pre-trimmed bud and post-trimmed bud.
  • Tools and supplies are conveniently within reach.
  • Easy to move with included industrial casters.
Metro PrepMate Workstation for Trimming Cannabis
The Metro PrepMate workstation combines the cleanliness of stainless steel with design enhancements to maximize space and improve trimming efficiency.

Hand trimming results in the finest looking nugs. Consider this commercial-grade workstation if you are looking to maximize your work area while increasing trimming output.

Shop All Trimming Supplies

What Is Dry Trimming?

If you are farming marijuana, you have probably seen entire cannabis branches hanging in a climate-controlled room. This indicates a cultivator’s intention to dry trim. The actual process of dry trimming cannabis occurs when the cultivator trims the cannabis buds from branches that are already dried.

Dry trimming cannabis can be more challenging because the sugar leaves are withered and closer to the flower. However, those who choose the dry trim technique are often facing arid climates that are notorious for causing terpene burnoff during the drying process. This problem is mitigated when whole branches are hung to dry.

Benefits of Dry Trimming

When you hang harvested branches to dry, two biological processes are at work to benefit the cultivator:

  1. The fan and sugar leaves help contribute to slowing the drying process by reducing airflow around the buds.
  2. Freshly cut branches are still alive. This allows the branch to temporarily continue to support the flower until it is dried and drained of nutrients. This can increase potency because the trichomes continue THCA synthase for a longer period of time, however so slight.

Whether you operate in a dry environment or are trying to maximize yields, dry trimming can help benefit both.

Applications for Dry Trimming

If your business primarily sells bulk flower and trim to a cannabis processor who plans to manufacture extracts and concentrates, then dry trimming is a great option to consider. This is especially true if the primary product is a THC or CBD isolate. When processing crystalline or CBD powders, potency outranks aroma.

You will still need to trim your hang-dried cannabis before tossing it in a grinder. However, no one will notice if you missed a few sugar leaves when your buds are about to become preroll fill or extract material. If you operate a large-scale cannabis farm, then mechanical trimmers can save you a significant amount of time over hand-precision trimming.

What Tools Do I Need for Dry Trimming?

When you operate a cultivation business that sells large quantities of flower to manufacturers, it can be difficult to scale hand trimming to meet demand. Nothing can surpass the pristine aesthetics of hand-trimmed bud. However, if you’re looking to get bulk amounts of flower trimmed for commercial cannabis manufacturing, rotary cannabis trimmers get the job done fast and effectively.

Centurion Pro Wet-Dry Rotary Cannabis Trimmer

The Centurion Pro Silver Bullet rotary trimmer is designed to trim bulk amounts of cannabis at considerable cost savings to the cultivator.

Centurion Pro Silver Bullet
The Centurion Pro Silver Bullet is designed to perform the work of up to 20 human laborers with minimal loss of trim quality. Great for both wet and dry trimming cannabis.

The Centurion Pro Silver Bullet engineers built this model to do the work of up to 20 human laborers with minimal loss of trim quality. Sure you won’t get perfectly manicured buds, but you will get tremendous product throughput, reduced labor costs, and bulk yields of great quality bud ready to cure.

The Silver Bullet is designed for both wet and dry trim cannabis material and is manufactured with stainless steel tumbler blades. If you are looking to ramp up your crop size and need bulk flower trimmed quickly and efficiently, consider if this beast of a rotary trimmer is right for your cannabis operation.

TrimPro Rotary Cannabis Trimmer

For a cannabis farmer that has traditionally hand-trimmed their bud and is not quite ready to invest in large, bulk trimming equipment, the TrimPro rotary cannabis trimmer balances lower cost with a commercial, bulk trimming solution.

TrimPro Rotary Cannabis Trimmer
TrimPro rotary cannabis trimmer balances lower cost with a commercial solution for trimming cannabis.

The TrimPro rotary trimmer can trim cannabis at a rate of over 10 lbs. per hour and leaves your buds tidy and ready for shredding or grinding. Leather “fingers” agitate the cannabis while the sharp, non-stick steel blades remove sugar leaves and stems. If you are looking for a good way to trim more flower without ramping up labor costs – the TrimPro cannabis trimmer is a good place to start.

Should You Wet Trim or Dry Trim Cannabis?

As with most things in the commercial cannabis industry, the decision on which trimming style works best for you comes down to preference. For example, you can use high-output, wet-dry mechanical trimmers for freshly harvested cannabis. And you can hand-trim cannabis that has already been dried. With so many hybrid methods of trimming cannabis available, there are solutions available for every cultivation business model.

Regardless of how you roll, we have the tools and supplies you need to trim cannabis plants, wet or dry. And don’t forget, there are a lot of additional supplies that come in handy. Face masks to reduce contamination, eye protection from UV lights, gloves – and if you don’t see what you need, reach out to our team of experts. We’ll help you source everything needed to start or upgrade your trimming capabilities.

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