Vintners have known for centuries that every step in the winemaking process—from cultivation and harvest techniques to fermentation, aging and bottling—has immense impact on the quality and value of the final product.
And that same level of scrutiny is now being applied to cannabis production.
Cannabis storage conditions and humidity levels are beyond the challenges of preventing mold. There’s a big effect evaporation has on quality and how this is playing out on the retail level. Here’s how moisture loss could be affecting your bottom line.
A mere 5% dip below the optimal relative humidity (RH) storage environment eliminates 6 pounds per every 1,000 pounds of cannabis flower.
At $5 per gram wholesale, that works out to upwards of $13,500 in lost revenue—and that’s with just a 5% drop in RH below the target range of 55-65% established by ASTM International, an independent industry standards organization.
Boveda purchased flower at retailers in multiple state markets and commissioned a lab to test the samples. Field tests revealed: Most strains sold today are well below the optimal RH range (55-65%).
Regardless of fluctuating wholesale prices, when you do the math it’s clear that tens of thousands of dollars in revenue are simply evaporating into thin air.
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Historically, cultivators, processors and packagers have emphasized keeping flower below a particular humidity “ceiling” for a reason: Flower that’s too moist is prone to hazardous mold and microbial growth, so it’s understandable that many operators err on the side of being overly dry.
The misconception that cannabis flower can be “rehydrated” is another cause of dryness damage. But this method irrevocably damages the quality of the flower through trichome damage.
Rehydration cannot: put terpenes back in the flower, nor can it re-attach trichomes to the flower, which is why preserving these elements is so key.
Those delicate plant structures that house the all-important cannabinoids and terpenes become brittle and fragile when stored in an overly dry environment, and are prone to breaking off from the flower; they cannot not be recovered even if the flower is later rehydrated.
When trichomes are compromised, terpenes responsible for the aroma, taste and scent of cannabis also can evaporate.
Overly dried-out cannabis doesn’t just lose weight and efficacy—it loses shelf appeal, which is particularly risky in today’s market. Today’s consumers have an appreciation for how premium flower should look, smell and taste.
Cured cannabis flower can remain in storage potentially for months prior to sale or consumption. By the time it reaches the end consumer, much of the cannabis sold in regulated environments in the U.S. and Canada has suffered from dry damage.
There are various humidity controls available for cannabis cultivators: desiccants that absorb water vapor; mechanical equipment that alters RH on a larger scale; or two-way humidity-control packets designed for storage containers.
In the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) sector, with other moisture-sensitive products such as foods and electronics, employing humidity controls will preserve quality, and cannabis flower is no different.
Saltwater-based humidity control solutions with 2-way vapor-phase osmosis technology automatically add or remove water vapor as needed to maintain a constant, predetermined RH level and ensures a consistent level of moisture weight inside the cannabis flower. Boveda is the only 2-way humidity control technology that uses natural saltwater formulations in a vapor-phase osmosis membrane.
This saltwater solution creates a monolayer of purified water molecules that naturally coats the trichomes and shields precious terpenes from evaporating into your container. Using Boveda also results in a stable level of moisture weight in cannabis flower.
Third-party lab tests commissioned by Boveda showed cannabis stored with humidity control had terpene and cannabinoid levels that were 15% higher than cannabis stored without.
Cannabis stored within the optimal humidity range with Boveda maximizes all the qualities that attract and retain customers. Similar to wine-making, when cannabis cultivators focus on quality control they need to look beyond the harvest.
-Excerpted from Cannabis Industry Journal
Boveda. The Original Terpene Shield™.
By Sean Knutsen
Sean Knutsen is President and CEO of Boveda Inc., the global leader in two-way humidity control solutions for a wide range of industries, from premium cigars and botanicals to electronics, foods, musical instruments and more. Boveda invented and patented the world’s first two-way humidity control technology for packaging and containers, made with all-natural salts and purified water.