You’ve successfully harvested, dried, and cured your plant. Now what? Trimming your product is an important step to a successful harvest. If it’s your first time, trimming cannabis properly requires developing your skills. Experienced trimmers will tell you that each plant is different and requires you to work intuitively. To get started, first-timers and beginner trimmers should be focusing on these important rules. 

What is Trimming, and Why Does it Matter?

Trimming impacts both the quality and appearance of your harvest. Trimming is the removal of what industry professionals call “water leaves” or fan leaves. The leaves of the plant do not produce trichomes. Trichomes, the sticky resin producing hair, excrete THC, and other cannabinoids. Trichomes form on reproductive flower tissue. Removing the excess leaf tissue from the cannabis flower tissue reduces the acidity of the smoke. It also increases the THC concentration level. Leaving leaves on the bud results in fewer trichomes per gram of product. 

In addition to improving the quality of the smoke, trimming improves shelf appeal. Trimmed buds indicate higher quality. Most cannabis buds in magazines or online are completely manicured. This is the appearance associated with good weed. Trimmed buds also cure better in the jar. Untrimmed bud takes on a “planty” or hay-like smell when stored too long. 

Trimming for Beginners

What To Focus On 

The first thing to do as a beginning trimmer is to gather your supplies. Two sharp pairs of scissors; either Chikamaska or Fiskers are industry standard. A trimming tray, isopropyl alcohol, nitrile gloves, and jars, or turkey bags for the finished product. In a pinch, use a 9 in. by 11 in. baking pan for your trimming tray.

Fill half of your tray with the product, leaving the other half to collect your trimmed leaves. Gently select a nug and remove the fan leaves by cutting at the base. Focus on using the tip of your scissors to make these cuts. Left behind fan leaves are known as “crows feet” because they resemble their namesake. Look for crows feet and remove them. If you are able to see the stem, chop apart your branch to remove the excess wood. Trim the base of each nug from the stem at an angle for a more professional appearance. 

Manicuring the flower tissue takes your trimming to the next level Depending on your preference, you can “hedge trim” the nugs for a tighter look. Rather than using the tip of your scissors, use the base. Trim any flower tissue with less than desirable trichome content off. Rookie trimmers often trim too tight at first. Learning to follow the natural structure of the bud shows you’re experienced as a trimmer. 

Photo by @christina_winter

Tips and Tricks

Your scissors will get sticky while you work. Use isopropyl alcohol to clean the resin off as often as possible. Don’t trim over top of your untrimmed product. The mess gets frustrating and slows you down. Beginning trimmers often “hunt” for the biggest nugs to trim first. Take the closest nug to you rather than searching for the best nug.

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