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Having trouble choosing a grow light? Check out our article - What is the best grow light for your needs? It covers all the main factors you need to consider.

Wet Trimming Vs Dry Trimming: What You Need To Know

Dry trimming vs wet trimming

The bad news?

Whether you choose to trim dry or to trim wet, someone will tell you you're doing it wrong.

The good news?

Whichever you choose, you'll be doing it right.

Either way has advantages and disadvantages and none are so strong that one way is clearly better than the other.

Unfortunately, that makes it harder to decide.

That's where I come in.

I'll cover all the pros and cons of each method and by the end, you'll have a clear picture. You'll know which one is best for your situation.

First, we'll cover wet trimming. We'll learn what it is and what the pros and cons are. Then we'll do the same for dry trimming.

After that, you'll find a summary that lays out exactly who should go with wet and who should go with dry.

Finally, a brief section on speeding up the dry trimming process, since speed is the biggest drawback.

 

Wet Trim Vs Dry Trim: The Comparison

We'll begin with wet trimming and look at the advantages and disadvantages. Then we will cover dry trimming. By the end of this section, you should know which is best for you.

Wet Trimming

Wet cannabis flower

When you trim wet bud, you cut off the excess fan leaves and sugar leaves immediately after harvest. You then let the cannabis flowers dry without the leaves.

Fan leaves are the large outer leaves and sugar leaves are the smaller inner leaves, thus called, because they are covered in trichomes which resemble sugar.

Why Is Wet Trimming Good?

Wet trimming has several advantages:

  • Easier
  • Faster
  • Reduces risk of mold
  • Less space required for drying
  • Buds look nicer

When marijuana buds are freshly harvested, the fan leaves and sugar leaves stick out perpendicular to the bud. That makes it much easier to remove them. The are easy to see and easy to cut off. The time it takes to trim a bud is greatly reduced.

The outer leaves can trap in moisture, which could lead to molding during the drying process. The risk increases as humidity increases. If you are in a particularly humid climate, wet trimming may be your only option.

If you dry before you trim, you need to hang the buds up to dry. This takes up a lot of space. After trimming, they are much smaller and can be dried on a drying rack.

The buds puff out when they dry, which means that wet trimmed buds look more appealing.

Why Is Wet Trimming Bad?

There are two big disadvantages to trimming your buds when wet:

  • Lower quality buds
  • Need to trim all at once

The outer leaves protect the bud when drying. They hold in moisture, creating the ideal humidity level. This means that the drying process takes longer if you keep those leaves intact, but it allows the buds to dry at the correct speed.

A longer drying time means more chlorophyll fades away. Since chlorophyll gives buds a harsh "green" flavor, buds that are dry trimmed make for smoother smoking. They also smell much better.

Trimming immediately after harvest, before the buds begin to dry, means you have to process your entire harvest at once. For large operations, this can be overwhelming and even impossible.

Dry Trimming

Dry cannabis flower

When you trim dry bud, you do not cut any leaves off after harvest. Instead, you let the marijuana flowers dry and cure first. Only after they have been dried and cured do you remove the excess leaves.

Advantages of Dry Trimming

Trimming buds when dry has two big advantages:

  • Higher quality buds
  • No need to trim all at once

As already mentioned in the section above on the disadvantages of wet trimming, keeping leaves on the bud for drying slows down the process. Buds dry at their own speed and at the correct humidity. Chlorophyll has time to fade away, leading to a better smelling bud that smokes much smoother.

When buds are dry, there is no need to trim them immediately. You can keep storing them as is, until you are ready to trim them.

Disadvantages of Dry Trimming

The cons of dry trim are the reason most growers continue to trim wet:

  • More difficult
  • Slower
  • Higher risk of mold

When the leaves dry, they curl up and adhere to the bud. This makes it much more difficult to remove them.

The sugar leaves especially, can be almost impossible to find and cut off. In fact, when trimming dry buds, usually only the top parts of the sugar leaves are removed.

Since the process is more difficult, it is also much slower. You will need far more man hours to get through the same amount. An automatic trimming machine solves this problem, but even with machines, wet trim is much faster.

When marijuana is drying, there is a chance of mold. It usually forms between the stalk and the bud, so drying it after removing the stalk means a considerably lower risk of mold.

This becomes more important as humidity increases. In especially humid climates, wet trimming my be the only viable option.

 

Dry Trim Vs. Wet Trim: Final Verdict

You should now have enough information to decide whether wet or dry trim is best for you. To summarize:

You should dry trim if...

  • ...the quality of the bud is more important than anything else
  • ...you are not able to get through all the trimming in one day
  • ...you need to move your harvest off-site as quickly as possible

You should wet trim if...

  • ...you want to get trimming done quickly (to save on labor costs, for example)
  • ...you have limited drying space
  • ...you are in an especially humid climate

 

The following video also does a great job of explaining the pros and cons of each method.

 

How To Dry Trim Fast

Many growers would prefer to dry trim, because they want better smelling and better tasting buds, but they can't justify the huge increase in labor costs.

If your operation is large enough to support it, the solution is an automatic trimming machine. In the past, these could only handle wet flower, but now there are plenty of automatic dry trimmers on the market that do a great job.

Like human workers, machines have a much higher capacity for wet material than dry, but the top dry machines can still handle up to 60 pounds per hour. And remember: dry material weighs much less than wet.

Some machines can even handle both types of material. They come with two tumblers, each specialized in either wet or dry and it is simply a matter of switching out the tumblers.

Learn more about the best trimmers on the market today, from handheld shears, to industrial strength machines.


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