Trimming Cannabis Buds

Getting your trim right is certainly the core focus on the mind of each and every grower out there. The starting point and the most crucial aspect of the entire process is adopting the most appropriate technique for you and your crop, in order to yield the highest quality end product. But do growers even need to trim their cannabis buds?

Why do growers trim buds:

  • Appearance – In magazines, at the dispensary and in pictures online nearly all the buds you’ll see are completely manicured, or at least somewhat trimmed. This is the appearance we’ve come to associate with “good weed” and so untrimmed buds tend to look less appealing to many people
  • Harshness – leaves are more “harsh” on your throat/lungs than straight bud when smoking cannabis, so trimming off extra leaf matter improves the “smoothness” of your buds when smoking
  • THC Concentration – the sugar leaves on your buds inherently have a lower concentration of THC than bud , which means that you’re “getting” less THC gram-for-gram than with bud. Many growers want trimmed buds but don’t want to waste any THC, so they process their trim to extract the THC in the leaves separately.

Trimming your cannabis before drying is known as a “wet trim” because the leaves are still wet during the trimming process. Trimming after the buds have already dried is known as a “dry trim” since your buds will already be dried before you trim off the sugar leaves.

“Wet trim”

  • Easier
  • Buds usually look better in the end

“Dry trim”

  • If the leaves haven’t been trimmed it slows down the drying process, which can be helpful in a low humidity environment since you want buds to dry slowly after harvest

What You’ll Need To Trim Your Buds

  • Sharp scissors (for trimming buds)
  • Big pruning shears, or tough scissors you don’t mind destroying (for cutting off branches)
  • Trays or Cookie Sheets
  • Disposable rubber gloves

Before you start cutting down your plant, you should set up a nice, comfortable place to trim your bud-laden branches. Trimming can take a lot longer than it might seem at first, and it’s good idea to dedicate at least an afternoon to trimming. In order to stay as comfortable as possible while trimming, make sure you get up at least once an hour, even if just to walk around the house or move to a different chair. Take a second to stretch your arms, shoulders and neck. If you don’t use gloves, get some rubbing alcohol ready, because you’ll need it to get all the resin off your fingers once you’re done trimming! Soap and water won’t cut it! You can also save the resin – it’s basically hash!

  • Cut a branch off your cannabis plant – You may want to cut just one branch down the first time so you can get a feel for trimming, instead of cutting everything down at once. That way you can get an idea of how big of a branch you want to work with at a time.This also allows you to harvest the plant in stages. If you have to stop halfway through for whatever reason, the buds will be fine for an extra day or two as long as they’re still attached to the plant
  • Remove Large Fan Leaves With Your Fingers – Most fan leaves do not have a usable amount of trichomes on them. If you plan to save your trimmings to make hash you may want to put these bigger fan leaves in a separate pile so you can throw them directly away, instead of mixing them in with your trim pile.
  • Trim Off The Sugar Leaves – you will be able to see the leaf tips, but usually not the stems. These are typically referred to as “sugar leaves” and don’t need to be removed, only trimmed with your scissors if they stick out.

If the sugar leaves are covered in a lot of trichomes, some growers will leave them on instead of trimming them.

Try not to cut off any of the actual buds as keeping them on the branches will help with a slow drying process (which we want). The people who might consider removing the buds from the stem are those struggling with high humidity (and may have a difficult time drying). Otherwise, try to keep buds on the stems if possible. You should be left with a branch with trimmed bud on it. Now that you’ve got the hang of it, repeat this process on the remainder of the branches on your cannabis plant!

Do your best to make sure that all the ‘trim’ (the leaves trimmed from your bud) falls onto the tray designated for it. Now only does that let you save more trim for hash, it will help you with cleanup later! The whole trimming process can take a while depending on how much you ended up with, but if it’s more than you can do at once, it’s perfectly okay to harvest your plant in stages over a few days.  After trimming, your scissors (and fingers) will be covered in hash. Don’t throw it away – it’s concentrated cannabis resin! You can vape, smoke or consume hash just like cannabis flowers!