It can be considered one of the most tedious aspects of cannabis cultivation, but properly trimming cannabis after (or before) it’s dried and cured can make all the difference in the dispensary. Removing excess material from your cannabis not only provides a more aesthetically pleasing flower, but it creates a higher quality product that your customers will want to keep coming back to enjoy. However, this is a notoriously tedious process done by hand; no machine has come close to the intricacy of the hand-made trimming process. Here’s how Cryo Cure makes it much easier to bring beautifully trimmed bud to market.

What is cannabis trimming?

At face value, cannabis trimming is exactly what it sounds like—it’s the process of cutting fan leaves, sugar leaves (also known as sweet leaves), and manicuring the bud to create a more aesthetically pleasing finished product.

While cannabis trimming is why our favorite cultivars look the way they do, the process is not solely done for bag appeal. Removing leaves can benefit the overall results of the final product. Trimming unnecessary moisture-holding material helps minimize the chance pathogens like mold and mildew will form, and it can also impact the taste and smell of your cannabis. The plant pieces left over from manicuring, commonly referred to as “trim” or “shake,” are also sold separately to consumers or can be used to make other types of cannabis products.

How is cannabis trimmed?

Conventionally, there are two ways that most cultivators trim their cannabis. You can either do all your trimming by hand or you can use specialized machinery to handle most of the process for you. There are good and bad aspects of both methods, so it’s important that you weigh your options before deciding on one over the other.

Hand trimmed

If you imagined someone sitting at a table with a pair of scissors carefully snipping away at a cola of cannabis, then you’re pretty much already there. Hand trimming begins first with the removal of the large fan leaves, which typically do not contain a significant amount of phytocannabinoid and terpene-containing trichomes. After removing the fan leaves, the buds can then be cut from the stem.

Only once the buds are more easily accessible can the more intensive side of hand trimming take place. Any leftover fan leaf remnants are cut away and the tiny sweet leaves are trimmed away from the buds. It’s at this stage that the buds are shaped and trimmed.

It’s important to note that cannabis is a very fickle plant that’s susceptible to contamination from bacteria, mold and other problem factors. While trimming the flower, it’s absolutely paramount that scissors used in the process are properly sterilized and that gloves and other PPE as required are worn at all times.

Benefits of hand trimming:

  • Trimming the plant by hand gives the cultivator complete control over their product, resulting in a more uniform, manicured flower.
  • Any trichomes that fall off the plant during trimming can be collected for future use.
  • Hand trimming lets the cultivator more easily check for contaminants.
  • This method does not require expensive, specialized machinery.

Disadvantages of hand trimming:

  • Trimming each bud by hand takes a significant amount of time, which only prolongs time to market.
  • If you want the hand trimming process to go faster, you’re going to need more hands, and that means hiring more people to speed up the work.
  • Cutting up any kind of plant results in a mess. Cannabis is extra messy due to the resins, leaves, and trichomes that can fall off the plant or stick to your tools and your hands.

Machine trimmed

While hand trimming cannabis gives the cultivator a level of personal control over their product, machine trimming brings speed. By removing human interaction with the plant and replacing it with raw efficiency, machine trimming removes excess plant material in less time and with lower labor-related overhead.

There are scores of machine trimmers on the market today, each with their own set of features and functionality. There are machines ranging from $170 for a hand-cranked model to several thousand dollars for a machine that can churn out 50 pounds of wet or 10 pounds of dry buds per hour — and that’s not even the most expensive or impressive trimming machine! The ultimate cost depends on how much product you intend to trim on a consistent basis.

Benefits of machine trimming:

  • These machines can be easy to use, usually requiring one or two people to operate them at any given time.
  • Machine trimming is significantly faster than hand trimming.
  • By using a machine to trim your bud, you will need fewer employees to handle this step in your cultivation process, reducing the labor needed and the human touch points that can contaminate flower.
  • Since the trimming is confined to the machine, there’s not as much mess as there would be with hand trimming.

Disadvantages of machine trimming:

  • Without any direct control over the trimming process, less-than-stellar bud can still make it to the dispensary shelf, where customers take notice.
  • Machines are not as discerning when it comes to the final aesthetics of the bud, making it possible that the result is less visually pleasing.
  • Trichomes are often lost at a much more consistent rate in machine trimming than they are when trimmed by hand.
Dry trimming vs. wet trimming

You’ll also need to consider when you trim. If you’re inclined to begin trimming immediately after harvest, that’s considered “wet trimming.” If you decide you want to wait to trim your bud until after the drying and curing process, then you’d be “dry trimming.”

When it comes to wet trimming, most people consider using this method because it allows for a more uniform drying experience. That’s because the additional leaves carry moisture that can negatively impact humidity levels in a drying room. Moisture is your enemy when drying and curing your cannabis, and that extra moisture adds time to the drying process. Removing excess plant material also means you can fit more buds onto a drying rack without crowding it.

One of the biggest benefits of wet trimming is that sugar leaves haven’t had time to dry up and curl into the bud. Since they stick straight out from the bud itself, those leaves become much easier to remove by hand. That comes at the cost of everything getting dirty and sticky, as the plant’s trichomes will get everywhere and create a mess.

Conversely, dry trimming allows for a longer and more deliberate curing time. That slower cure creates a bud that’s more flavorful, yet at the cost of potentially diminished aesthetics. Still as the leaves remain on the bud, more moisture is retained, leading to a lower rate of terpene loss. That being said, dry trimming is harder to do by hand since the leaves have wilted and curled onto the bud. Also, the longer drying and curing time means the buds themselves are significantly more brittle. Brittle bud means a higher likelihood that you will lose more trichomes in the trimming process.

How Cryo Cure improves the trimming process

While Cryo Cure is not made for trimming cannabis, our customers report back that our patented machines have a significant impact on the entire harvesting process, including trimming. The freeze drying technology at the heart of the Cryo Cure process makes cannabis trimming a much less daunting process.

Fans of dry trimming enjoy using our machines on their harvest because it makes those pesky sugar leaves much easier to remove. That’s because freeze drying essentially turns those tiny leaves into an afterthought, since they stick straight out of the flower and flake right off when touched.

If you’re an acolyte of wet trimming, Cryo Cure machines effectively reduce the number of touchpoints that your flower has to go through to get ready for sale. By simply removing everything you can before running your plant material through our machines, you essentially end up with buds that you can cut from the stem. Everything is good to go at that point.

In fact, since those sugar leaves stick out they’re much easier to identify and remove. Since they have already gone through our proprietary drying and curing process, their phytocannabinoid content levels will be stable. As a result, the excess leaves can be used to extract additional phytocannabinoids and terpenes, turning this plant waste into another avenue for revenue.

Cryo Cured cannabis simplifies trimming

At Cryo Cure, our patented process alleviates many headaches in the cannabis and drying curing process, including stabilizing the flower’s THC content, extending shelf life, and of course, simplifying the trimming process. The sugar leaves on Cryo Cured bud stick right out, making them way easier to find and remove than they would be during the dry trimming or wet trimming process. This saves precious time while minimizing human touchpoints, delivering a cleaner flower to market faster than any other technology out there.

The future of cannabis flower is here, and it can be found in Cryo Cure’s Live Resin Flower. Contact Cryo Cure to learn more about our machines and how they can be used in your facility.