How to Trim Cannabis Buds – Wet vs. Dry

One of the last steps between harvesting your cannabis and consuming it is trimming. There are two main ways to do this: wet or dry. When trimming wet, you’ll be trimming the leaves off of the buds immediately after you cut the branch off of the main plant.
Alternatively, you can cut off the branches, leave them to dry, and come back later to trim. Before you pick up a pair of scissors, the first step of the trimming process is deciding when to start.

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Both wet and dry trimming have pros and cons:

Wet Trimming

It’s easier to trim wet because the leaves are still sturdy and stand out from the bud instead of curling around it and becoming more difficult to access.

You’re less likely to develop mold if you trim while the buds are still wet. This is because most mold often develops in between the stalk and the bud while the plant is drying.

Your buds might turn out prettier if you trim wet, because removing extra plant material ahead of time will give the buds more room to fluff out.

Without the extra moisture in the leaves, your buds may dry too quickly if you trim wet. This can trap chlorophyll in the buds and could make them harsher when smoked.

Dry Trimming

If you’re concerned about your buds drying too quickly, waiting to trim until they have dried may help. 

The THC-coated sugar leaves will adhere to your buds if you let them dry before trimming. This can smooth out the smoke.

If you wait to trim until your cannabis is dry, the process will be much less sticky, and you’ll be able to spend more time trimming and less time cleaning and re-cleaning your shears.

Once the leaves have dried, they will curl up around the bud and could be difficult to remove.

Which way is best?

Dry trimming and wet trimming both have their advocates. Which one is best depends partially on the climate you’re growing in. However, the best solution may be a combination of both: trim off the largest leaves when you harvest, dry your bud, and then trim the rest of the smaller leaves off when the bud had finished drying.

How to Trim Cannabis

Whether you finish the process with a final trim when the buds are dry or wet, the trimming should begin when the buds are still on the stalk. Fan leaves are thick and retain moisture, which usually leaves them with a harsh chlorophyll taste. On top of that, they don’t have any trichomes, so there’s no reason to keep them. Trim the fan leaves off during the final week before harvest. Take care not to confuse any sugar leaves for fan leaves! You’ll be trimming the sugar leaves off too, but you’ll want to keep them. They are harsher when smoked, and have fewer trichomes, but they can be used to make extracts and edibles.

Cannabis Trimming Tools

Nitrile Gloves – latex is another option but I prefer the heavy duty nitrile gloves for trimming. They keep the buds clean and prevent your fingers from getting all sticky.

Trimming Scissors – Spring loaded scissors are the way to go or you will end up with a very sore hand from the repetitive action.

Trim Tray / Bowl – There are some professional trimming trays available but in a lot of cases you can get by with trimming over a serving tray or large bowl.

Beer or Drink of Your Choice –  Trimming a large plant takes time, might as well enjoy an Old Style Pilsner while your working.

Entertainment – The process can become monotonous, having some background music or TV will keep you focused.

After harvest, the real trimming work begins. Gather up your shears, rubbing alcohol to dissolve the resin that builds up on the blades, a tray, and a silk apron – resin won’t stick to silk, and trimming can be messy! Then, put on an audiobook or some music and get to work.

  1. Trim off all of the fan leaves. 
  2. Next is “bucking down” – cutting buds from branches without actually trimming them. Collect the amount you plan to trim in one sitting in a paper bag, and then move to your trimming area.
  3. Remove everything that isn’t covered in trichomes. Also, trim the red pistils down to the green. These have no trichome content, but can be kept long for aesthetic purposes.

Here’s a great demonstrational video by Mr. Canucks Grow on YouTube. Matt has several series of videos that cover all aspects of home cannabis cultivation. Subscribe to his channel for video updates.

That’s it! If you’re interested in making extracts or edibles, gather up your trimmings and save them. As an added bonus, you can take the resin that has collected on your shears and add it to a bowl or a joint for a post-trim celebration.

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