Hemp Drying and Curing: How it Works with Cryo Cure

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Cryo Cure is celebrated for its ability to dry and cure cannabis in as little as 24 hours. Does the same process work for hemp flower? 

Here, we’ll take you through how Cryo Cure machines also work for hemp drying and curing, the reason why our system works for hemp, and uses for Cryo Cured hemp flower for both consumers and product manufacturers. 

Hemp drying vs. cannabis drying: Are there any differences?

Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis sativa plants. They are treated identically from a drying and curing perspective, even though each plant variant has differing levels of phytocannabinoids, particularly tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

Hemp goes through the same lengthy and tightly controlled process as cannabis from harvest to consumer. The two cannabis sativa variants go through the same drying and curing process: The flower spends days or weeks in a specially designed drying facility and then it’s cured according to the grower’s preferences. By extension, this means that hemp can undergo the Cryo Cure process that state-regulated cannabis plants go through.

It’s important the remember that the distinction between hemp and marijuana is mostly a legal one, and not necessarily one of phenotype or genotype (although there are differences in height, leaf shape, and levels of certain phytocannabinoids that occur between the two variants). U.S. authorities define industrial hemp as cannabis sativa bred to contain 0.3% or less delta-9 THC. Any delta-9 THC above that, and the plant is considered “marijuana” and is therefore federally illegal.

What is the traditional hemp drying and curing process?

Hemp drying follows similar procedures and timetables as high-THC cannabis. The steps as are follows:

  • Harvest: Hemp is harvested anywhere from 90 to 120 days after planting, depending on the cultivar and the intended crop use. Some growers choose to harvest by hand to best preserve the smokable hemp flower. Others use a machine if the hemp is destined for phytocannabinoid extraction, terpene extraction, or hemp biomass harvesting – cases in which perfect bud preservation does not matter.
  • Trim: The hemp is trimmed of its large fan leaves and smaller sugar leaves. Some growers complete this step after the hemp is dry. This is referred to as “wet trim” or “dry trim” depending on the stage of hemp drying at the time trimming occurs.
  • Dry: Hemp is placed in an environmentally controlled space to dry. The room should be well-ventilated with a relative humidity of 45% to 55%. Some growers hang hemp branches upside-down to dry. Some hang the entire harvested plant to dry, but that can cause issues attempting to dry the innermost parts of the plant. Others lay out the hemp flower on drying racks in a single layer. Through the traditional hemp drying methods, this stage can take a few days up to two weeks or longer.
  • Cure: Many growers choose to cure their hemp after the drying process. Hemp curing allows for flavors to intensify by playing a role in stabilizing and preserving the terpenes that give hemp its unique flavors and aromas. This process involves storing hemp flower in a dark place while strategically opening the lids at regular intervals to allow in fresh air, a process referred to by some as “burping.” 

Just like any craft, there are varying opinions and methodologies for hemp drying and curing. You may read about other procedures or methods, and each one has its benefits and drawbacks. Keep in mind that the steps and methods outlined here are not steadfast or tried-and-true, but one of many preferences and avenues a hemp grower has at their disposal.

What is the ideal moisture content for hemp flower?

Just like cannabis, hemp’s moisture content is crucial for ensuring that molds, mildew, bud rot, and other contaminants do not form. Each stage of the cultivation process requires a different level of relative humidity in the surrounding air, all of which play a part in the final product. After hemp is dry, its moisture level should be low enough to prevent these contaminants from forming without making the plant material too brittle. Cryo Cure machines bring down hemp’s moisture content to an ideal 8% to 12%.

How Cryo Cure works for hemp flower

Just how there are few differences between hemp and high-THC cannabis, so too are there few differences between the Cryo Cure process as it applies to hemp versus high THC cannabis.

One of the main appeals of Cryo Cure is its speed to market. The lengthy drying and curing process is reduced to just 24 hours, with a single “burp” to let in fresh air during the curing stage. Trimming weeks off the process gets hemp flower into customers’ hands faster than traditional drying and curing methods. Shortening drying and curing time also reduces the chance of mold and mildew forming. Simply put, the longer hemp sits around, the more time it has for crop-ruining molds and mildews to form.

The resulting flower is more vibrant, flavorful, aromatic, and potent than traditionally cured hemp. That’s because the Cryo Cure process preserves trichomes, home to the majority of hemp flower’s phytocannabinoids like Cannabidiol (CBD) and Cannabigerol (CBG). Trichomes are also home to most of the plant’s aromatic terpenes, which lends flavor, aroma, and potentially certain desirable properties like relaxation to the hemp flower consumption experience. These preserved terpenes are why customers call Cryo Cure the most flavorful smoke they have ever tried.

Cryo Cured hemp flower also offers a key differentiation point in a crowded hemp marketplace. The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill unleashed a whole new world of opportunity for farmers to grow and sell hemp. This consequentially led to a surge of hemp supply in the marketplace, a lot of which is not distinguishable in any unique way. Offering Cryo Cured hemp flower brings a unique value proposition to both consumers and business partners looking for something that will fly off the shelf.

Uses for Cryo Cured hemp flower

  • As smokable hemp flower: Cryo Cure flower is an unparalleled experience unlike any other hemp flower on the market. The buds are light and fluffy, with its vivid colors preserved as if the hemp was just plucked from the earth. The smoke is smooth and less harsh than other traditionally dried and cured hemp flower. Aromas and flavors are perfectly preserved in a way that no other method can match. The process also removes the chlorophyll taste and smell some people report experiencing with traditionally cured flower. In fact, the smokable flower is so different, that its cannabis cousin has been categorized in its own tier above top shelf.
  • Cannabinoid extraction: Cryo Cure machines can bring down the moisture content of hemp flower to an outstandingly low 1%. While this is not practical nor desirable for smokable hemp flower, this is excellent for extractors looking to maximize their yield.
  • Terpene extraction: Terpenes are among the most valuable parts of the hemp plant, retailing for up to $100 per milliliter. This translates to nearly $2 million in terpenes for every 10,000 wet pounds of hemp at 1% terpene content!

    Cryo Cure machines preserve terpenes in two different ways. One method involves keeping the terpenes intact in the flower for live resin extraction. The second involves stripping the hemp of 95% of its terpenes before the drying and curing process begins.

Cryo Cure works for all cannabis, including hemp

While the differences between the two cannabis sativa variants are significant from a legal perspective, the plants are treated the same as they make their way from the grow facility to the customers. Both hemp and “marijuana” face similar issues regarding moisture content, susceptibility to molds and mildews, and long-term stabilization of the fragile trichome structure that make the plant so vibrant and fragrant in the first place. Cryo Cure’s patent-pending system has found a way to navigate all these issues, while supporting an unforgettable hemp flower experience. Contact Cryo Cure today to learn more about how our machines can elevate your hemp drying and curing process.

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