Home Grow chronicles Dianna’s personal journey as a medical cannabis patient who registered and was approved by the Canadian government to grow cannabis in her home. Dianna’s experience is one grower’s point of view. Her ideas are neither the best nor the only proven methods for growing medicinal grade cannabis.
After investing time and money growing her own medicine, cannabis cultivator/Boveda blogger Dianna Donnelly wants to protect her hard work. Learn why shielding terpenes and preserving water content are key to a proper cure.
At this point in my horticultural schooling, I’ve learned how to cure. Couldn’t be easier—put dried flower in an airtight container and slip in a Boveda to regulate moisture. Done.
But I’ve only recently started to understand why growers cure cannabis. Curing cannabis preserves, ages and stabilizes flower’s organic compounds. It’s a bit like why cheesemakers age cheddar. Enzymatic processes and time deepen the flavor, aroma and taste of cheese. Similarly, curing refines the flavor, aroma, taste, and chemical compounds in cannabis.
WHY GROWERS DON’T JUST JUMP FROM HARVEST TO CURE
Post-harvest, the biomass of flower is way too moist to seal her up in an airtight container. (Mold, anyone?) Proper drying sets up flower for proper curing.
HOME GROWERS MAKE BETTER MEDICINE WHEN THEY PROPERLY CURE CANNABIS
Ever heard that you have to cough to get off? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Smoking uncured cannabis is hard on the throat. It’s an excess of chlorophyll in dried flower that causes throat irritation and cough. Even the taste of uncured plant material is off-putting. Smoking uncured cannabis is reminiscent of smoking a piece of straw as a kid. Know better; do better right?
Here’s why growers cure cannabis:
- To stop evaporation:
Some moisture is good for cannabis, but too much moisture sets the stage for mold growth. Yet left unmanaged, evaporation will deplete all organic matter of moisture. And evaporation is flower’s enemy. If the RH inside your herbal medicine containers falls below 55% RH, you’re putting the medicine you worked so hard to grow at risk. Taste and efficacy of flower relies on maintaining the perfect moisture level to protect her resinous compounds.
- To break down chlorophyll:
Chlorophyll is what makes all plants green and it’s why they can make energy from light. Again, cannabis that retains too much chlorophyll is harsh to smoke (and can cause digestive upset if eaten). Part of curing is giving plant-born bacteria and enzymes (catalysts for natural chemical reactions) time to consume and in turn, break down that chlorophyll.
- To allow further cannabis conversion and biosynthesis:
Stopping evaporation allows cannabis to fully develop numerous compounds—those terpenes and cannabinoids you all know and love. As it turns out, the mother of many cannabinoids is cannabigerolic acid or CBGA.
Did you know many cannabinoids actually begin as other compounds—check out this chart to see which ones. For example, keeping RH in a sweet spot between 58 and 62% RH allows CBGA or Cannabigerolic Acid to evolve into 3 three of cannabis’s most therapeutic compounds—THCA, CBDA, and CBCA.
HOW A HOME GROWER CAN TELL WHEN IT’S TIME TO CURE
My first batch of flower dried in just five days, which was way too fast.
Instead of taking chances with the flower I spent so much time and effort cultivating, I tested a sample of my home grow in a closed container to verify the relative humidity (RH) before I cured my flower. What’s another day to be sure?
After 24 hours, a digital hygrometer confirmed that my flower was at 46% RH! Way below 55% RH, the minimum level for safely storing flower. Thankfully, my flower was only in that too-dry environment for about 10 hours.
If I would have cured flower that dry without a terpene shield like Boveda, I would have permanently destroyed terpenes and trichomes.
I quickly transferred my green goddesses into airtight, light-proof CVault® containers stocked with Boveda 62 RH.
DON’T GAMBLE WITH RH FOR CANNABIS
Problem with curing while too dry?
Some industry growers dry cannabis to excess to guard against microorganism-growth.
Resinous compounds in cannabis evaporate in flower that’s cured and stored below 55% RH. Once compounds evaporate, they are gone forever and can never be rehydrated. The structural integrity of the trichome itself becomes fragile, breaking off prematurely. Plant terpenes are even more sensitive to the effects of over-drying.
An independent study found curing and storing with Boveda saves your terp potency by 15%!
Problem with curing while too wet?
Moisture left deep in the flower will hinder proper chemical conversion during cannabinoid biosynthesis. In addition, RH levels above 65% put flowers into the danger-zone for microorganism growth.
With Boveda, the environment inside a cannabis container cannot climb above 62% relative humidity level (RH), which is well below the level that mold can grow.
TO BURP OR NOT TO BURP CURING CANNABIS
During curing, some growers burp their cannabis by opening jars every day to allow for air exchange. Burping also releases C02, a common bi-product of the curing process. Before the advent of humidity control packets, growers had to open jars to release excess moisture.
Curing with Boveda eliminates the need to burp cannabis to regulate moisture. (Boveda automatically absorbs excess moisture, after all.) But old habits die hard, so many growers who use Boveda still open their jars daily. Full disclosure, I burped my cure every day for two weeks.
Every week, I also ground a small amount of my flower. It was after the grind that I could fully appreciate the sweet aroma I craved. After about a month, I noticed the pungency of my medicine changed.
The full terpene effect evolved, deepened and matured while it was shielded in moisture by Boveda.
SAVE YOUR TERPS: CURE FLOWER FROM 30-60 DAYS IN AN AIRTIGHT CONTAINER WITH BOVEDA, THE ORIGINAL TERPENE SHIELD.
AN AIRTIGHT CONTAINER IS NOT ENOUGH TO SAVE YOUR TERPS
Some home growers mistakenly believe that curing cannabis in an airtight container is sufficient. Considering the humidity in homes can hover between 40% and 60%, the RH inside a jar could be as low as 40%, even though your airtight container may have stopped evaporation! As discussed earlier, anything below 55% RH drastically lowers the quality, efficacy and pungency of your flower.
Even some professional growers mistakenly leave flower unprotected in airtight containers during the cure. They believe controlling humidity level inside the drying and curing rooms is enough to protect their flower. Not so.
Left unprotected against moisture loss, flower degrades immediately in bins and jars—even if these containers are tightly closed. Therapeutic terpenes micro-evaporate into a cannabis container’s head space (the air inside). Boveda’s saltwater solution creates a monolayer shield that naturally coats trichomes, preventing the degradation of THC and other cannabinoids.
Now that I’m a home grower, I’ve learned how important it is to retain the proper water content in dried flower to save terps. Thinking back to when I bought my medicine, I wonder if my flower’s potency was ever compromised if the LPs didn’t cure and store flower with a terpene shield like Boveda.
A field study of flower sold by dispensaries in the western U.S., found 90% of flower available to consumers was too dry. Makes you wonder if Canadian flower is often sold too dry, as well.
Dianna Donnelly is a cannabis educator, blogger, and freelance writer living in Kingston, Ontario. She counsels new patients on the safe and effective use of medicinal cannabis and believes that with enough time, cannabis, and coconut oil she can heal the world.
Dianna Donnelly’s posts are being provided for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Boveda or any of the products, services or opinions of Dianna Donnelly. Boveda bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of this post or links to the posts. Contact Dianna Donnelly for answers to questions regarding her content.
Home Grow #15: How to Store Cannabis Medicine (The last in the series!)