How to quick-dry your cannabis harvest
Has your stash ever run out before the next crop is ready? If so you will be aware of the urge to quick-dry a few cannabis buds from the upcoming crop to ensure a smooth supply until the main harvest has been properly dried and cured. No serious cannabis grower would consider quick-drying an entire crop.
It’s better to dry and cure it properly over a few weeks. But if you do need to quick-dry a few buds to assess quality (or to get you through a supply chain crisis), then it pays to know some of the basics. Quick dried cannabis buds won’t win any admiring glances for the terpene profile or taste, but it can give you a few buds to enjoy while you are waiting for the rest of the harvest to dry and cure.
The basics of drying your cannabis crop
Before we dive into the best ways to quick dry cannabis buds it’s worth a quick review of the preferred principles for drying cannabis and the reasons for them. Many indoor cannabis growers slowly dry their buds for around 1-2 weeks. Sometimes the buds will be placed in paper bags to slow down the drying process in order to produce a more even and consistent result.
One tip for assessing if the buds are dry enough to start curing them is to see when the branches are dry enough break and snap. Usually 10-14 days are allowed, but this can vary depending on local humidity and whether buds are dried in bags or on a drying rack.
Once dry, the buds are often put in jars to cure for a further month or two. The sealed jars are opened daily initially to ‘burp’ them and allow residual moisture to escape. As the curing process continues, the jars may only need to be opened every second or third day. Eventually the buds reach an optimised cured state with a beautiful aroma. Some people store them in the freezer to preserve the perfectly cured buds.
Outdoor growers may find the following tips useful for optimised ways to harvest, dry and cure their crop.
Optimal conditions for drying weed
When drying weed the grower is trying to remove the bulk of the moisture slowly without losing too many of the terpenes which deliver the rich deep cannabis aromas as well as the delicious taste.
When cannabis is drying it’s inevitable that you will lose a lot of the terpenes as well as moisture. But a gradual drying process tends to preserve optimum amounts of terpenes.
Conversely, an ill-considered quick drying process will remove both moisture and terpenes leaving you with tasteless buds and a harsh, scorched taste. Potency may also be drastically degraded by a hasty quick-dry method. Such methods are best avoided, remember the key points for the finest quality dried/cured buds are as follows:
- Start with the best cannabis seeds for you. You may prefer hybrids, indicas or sativas. You may prefer THC rich strains, or perhaps lower THC levels with some CBD.
- Select the right harvest point for you. Some prefer clear trichomes and an energetic high. Others prefer plenty of amber trichomes and a heavy, sedated effect. Or you may prefer something in the middle. Learn more about trichomes in cannabis and find out what type of harvest best suits you and your favourite strains.
- Ensure your buds are dried in a ventilated area with a carbon filter to remove odours. Drying your harvest without addressing the inevitable pungent smell can lead to problems.
- Dry slowly at temperatures around 20ºC. The goal is gradual moisture removal with minimal terpene loss. Good things can’t always be rushed!
- Once buds are dry enough (branches will snap when bent, typically after 1-2 weeks) transfer them to jars for a slow cure. Ideally over a couple of months.
- When fully cured, many connoisseurs store their buds in the fridge or (even better) the freezer. This preserves potency and ensures no degradation of the cannabinoids. Likewise, many store their hash, edibles, cannabis oil and other cannabis concentrates in the freezer to preserve maximum quality
Of course the perfectly cured harvest isn’t always a practical possibility. Sometimes you just need some buds, quickly! But which are the best ways to quick dry cannabis buds and which quick dry methods should you avoid at all costs?
The fastest ways to dry your cannabis post-harvest
Keep in mind that none of these cannabis quick drying methods are comparable to the results you would get from traditionally dried and cured buds. But if you’re in tight spot, these are your best options.
Method 1: Dry naturally for a day or two, finish off with a small fan
If you can afford to wait for a few days you can try a hybrid quick-dry method. This involves allowing a few buds the chance to dry naturally for 2-3 days (or however long you can afford to wait). This is followed by an accelerated drying process using a small domestic fan or a USB computer fan. Ensure that the air flow isn’t too powerful and doesn’t blow the buds away!
Put your buds on a flat surface and direct the air flow from the fan over your buds.. Within a half day or so the buds will be dry enough to vape/smoke. It will take longer if your ambient air is moist and humid (e.g. tropical climate). If your local air is hot and dry (e.g. a desert climate) it will be a quicker process. USB PC fans can be bought easily online. Turn the buds over regularly to ensure even drying.
The buds won’t be as good as traditional 1-2 month cured cannabis, but if you don’t mind the indoor smells during drying this is a good way to get some buds dried quickly.
Method 2: Use the warm exhaust air from the rear of your laptop
If you are in a real hurry then you could use the hot air exhausted from the rear of your laptop or PC. This will require your laptop to be switched on with the fan expelling warm air. Usually this warm air stream is directed away from the PC, often around the back. You can place some small buds in this warm air flow and rotate them every 10-15 minutes. The buds can be ready to vape in a couple of hours. This is a fast and surprisingly effective method but will produce an aroma so don’t try it at work unless you work for an enlightened employer!
Method 3: Use a warm room inside
Some people have a warm room, e.g. where the boiler is located. Often this is the warmest room in the house. Buds can be placed on a rack (or hung up) and will lose moisture far quicker in a warm room than a cool room. The process can be expedited with a fan which will blow the warm boiler-room air over the buds removing water as it does so. Be aware that indoor smells will inevitably be produced so use a minimum of bud.
Method 4: Use un-dried cannabis and make live extracts!
Many cannabis concentrate connoisseurs enjoy live concentrates. These are often professionally extracted concentrates using process such as super critical CO2 extraction which removes the cannabinoids and terpenes from wet (non-dried) cannabis. Fans of live concentrates will explain that the terpene concentrations are higher in live extracts since none were lost to the atmosphere during the initial drying and curing process. The disadvantage of live extracts is that you will need to buy specialist equipment to make them.
Method 5: Low tech drying outdoors
The principle of quick dried cannabis is often the presence of a warm air flow to quickly remove water from the bud without drying it at a speed that severely compromises taste/potency in the way that e.g. a microwave oven might. One low-tech approach is to find a flat rock which has become hot from sunlight. If a warm breeze is present you can place a few buds on the rock and let the breeze dry them over a few hours. A small shade put over the top will allow the buds to dry without being in direct sunlight and may preserve a little more of the taste.
Avoid these ways to quick dry your cannabis buds
Learn from the mistakes of your 420 forefathers and don’t waste any buds on these higher-risk methods:
Drying cannabis in a microwave oven
One quick dry method for cannabis buds with very limited latitude is the microwave method. Microwave ovens come in a wide range of power levels and efficiencies. The microwaves will heat up moisture in the buds as well as the natural oils which contain the precious terpenes and cannabinoids.
Microwave oven technology can produce both microwave hot-spots and cold-spots in the oven which make it very unpredictable and inconsistent. For that reason, microwaving your buds is rarely recommended when there are better quick-dry methods available. Likewise, trying to quick dry cannabis in a traditional oven has severe limitations.
Drying cannabis with a radiator
Radiators can cycle between excessively hot and uselessly cold. Therefore the radiator cannabis-drying method is not generally recommended unless you have a controlled radiator on a fixed low-heat setting and can complement that with a gentle drying breeze from a fan.
For how long should you let your weed dry?
Remember that quick-dried cannabis buds can never replace the quality achievable from a traditional slow 2 week dry and a couple of months curing. At best, quick-drying will be able to deliver some buds to get you through a dry spell until the main crop is ready.
The best advice to growers is to try to plan their crops ahead of schedule and stick to a realistic growing/usage rota. Ensure that you have all the necessary items for a successful grow, and a few spares. That includes nutrients, cannabis seeds and equipment such as pH/EC meters, carbon filters etc. If you still grow with HPS, consider an upgrade to LED and in the meantime think about keeping a spare HPS bulb.
Some home growers deliberately produce a slight excess for each crop simply by planting an extra cannabis seed or two. They then convert the extra plants into cannabis concentrates such as oil, hash or BHO/shatter. These are small and convenient products to store in the freezer for emergency use in the event your weed supplies run dry. Or you may simply prefer to keep an extra jar of buds in reserve, just in case.
If you do want to plan ahead and stock up on cannabis seeds, the Dutch Passion Seed Finder is a useful online tool to suggest the best strains for you. Whether you’re looking for the heaviest yielding strains, the fastest blooming, the highest THC levels or the best outdoor strains – the Seed Finder will select precisely the best cannabis seeds for your specific requirements.
Other ideas for growers needing a fast crop
Many home growers buy and grow their cannabis seeds and hope that their harvest will last until the next crop. But what if your stash is depleting faster than expected? One option is to consider some fast growing autoflower seeds instead of your usual photoperiod feminised cannabis seeds.
Autos generally take around 10-11 weeks from autoflower seed to harvest. But some, such as Auto Blackberry Kush and Auto Blueberry can be ready in as little as 8 weeks after germination. Many growers regard autoflower seeds as the easiest and quickest way to grow cannabis. With the very high THC levels available on the latest auto strains they really are a great choice for a grower who needs a fast harvest.
Hopefully you won’t need to quick dry cannabis very often. But if you do, we hope these tips help you out. Enjoy planning your next grow!
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