As harvest season winds down and growers gear up for The Emerald Cup, everyone is immersed in that middle ground, preparing their buds for presentation. This means trimming, give-or-take one of the more straightforward processes in cultivation, and curing, yet another opportunity to customize the output using any number of techniques according to each individual grower. Taking the time to cure will help your cannabis stand out from the competition.
Patrick Smith, owner of Grean Bicycles, specializes in maintaining the well-being of a crop at every stage. Self-described as “an agricultural and technology company utilizing research and development to maximize plant health,” Grean Bicycles is known for their flower mix, and much of how they got their start was in producing fertilizer, but Smith has since broadened his scope and is currently devoting his time to developing an instrument that measures respiration in a plant. Essentially a smart grow room that can change temperature, CO2 levels, light distance and light intensity in real time, Smith thinks it’s going to be a big deal, and hopes to unveil the project at Emerald Cup.
Given his years of experience and expertise in the field, we turned to him for some advice on what to prioritize when it comes times to cure. From the jump, Smith stressed looking at things a little differently: “Instead of putting something in the ground that’s gonna make it smell better, you just have to let the genetics do their job, you just have to make a healthy plant, a healthy factory and let the genetics make those molecules. (terpenes)”
Of course, what you’re trying to do is bring out the terpenes as best you can, but there are numerous methods to facilitate the terpenes in a more impactful way. And there are factors to consider before you even begin to cure: “A lot of people trim too close in my opinion. I would like to do some tests, but I truly believe you’d have better terpene profiles and better THC quality if you don’t trim so tight.” Terpenes are centralized in the trichomes, those hair-like appendages at the edge of the bud. If you trim those trichomes, you’re essentially sacrificing smell for look. Not only that, taking a more measured approach to trimming could potentially save invaluable time.
Smith also advocates curing for any grade of genetics, simply because “no matter what you have it’s going to enhance it because you’re breaking down the chlorophyl. Whatever you start with is gonna end up better using the curing process.” Though some spend as long as a full year curing their weed, Smith recommends at least a week for any strain. After that, he’s comfortable sitting on it for a month or two before it’s old. The bottom line is: “If you can have sticky, smelly, crystally weed, it sells itself.”
He also suggests researching a cross-section of strains and examining the terpene profiles of each. It’s not as straightforward as one might think—strains that would fall under the Fruity category might have much the same build-up in terms of terpenes as a Floral or Fuel strain.
Other tricks include increasing a strain’s anaerobic efficiency through the removal of oxygen: “Some people will even purge it with nitrogen to get rid of all the oxygen, or use oxygen absorbers which are really just iron filings that rust and absorb it”; Using glass over plastic: “ I’ve always used jars. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’ve never opened up a plastic bag where it hits you like a jar”; And playing with light deprivation: “Keeping it dark for multiple days, you get a lot of terpenes being produced but not released. But it’s not real easy unless you’re indoors.”
Terpene profiles are just one of many research topics that are rapidly evolving in the industry. While primarily harnessed for their capacity to enhance the scent of a bud, there is evidence that it could directly affect the high as well. Again, it’s important to keep in perspective what terpenes are: “They all come from gas. The plants are just factories that breath and take that air and make molecules. That’s true whether it’s nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, morphine, it’s all gasses that come from the air. That’s fascinating to me, that all these psychoactive things are from the atmosphere, not the ground. When we take a breath of air, we have everything in that breath of air that makes any drug that we know about.”
No one knows the full potential of curing in the grand scheme of things, but plenty like Smith understand it’s well worth exploring with so much still to discover.