Mastering the post-harvest game: the power of proper cannabis curing
Cannabis growers worldwide understand the critical role that the curing process plays in ensuring the quality and potency of their cannabis yields. After harvesting the cannabis plants, the post-harvest phase is just as important as the growing phase itself. Cutting this phase short can lead to a decrease in the quality, potency, and overall value of the harvested cannabis. Proper drying and curing procedures are fundamental in this process, significantly impacting the final product.
Where Science Meets The Art of Curing
Curing cannabis is where the science of chemistry meets the art of crafting a high-quality product. During this process, we give the harvested cannabis time to break down certain unwanted chemical compounds. One example of this breakdown is glycolysis, which breaks down sugars and produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an important molecule for various metabolic functions, including respiration. The main compounds that break down during curing are sugars and chlorophyll. This controlled breakdown enhances the flavor and improves the smoking quality of the cannabis flower. When curing is extended, it results in a smoother smoking experience with no harshness during inhalation.
Moreover, organic acids transform into non-acidic forms during curing, leading to psychoactive effects and increased levels of compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids. A well-executed curing process also supports the development of terpenes, which give cannabis strains their distinctive aroma and flavor. Scientific reports show that the proportions of certain terpenes in a cannabis strain can change over time. In particular, sesquiterpenes play a crucial role in creating the unique terpene profiles that define different cannabis strains.
Traditional curing methods can be labor-intensive and prone to human error, often resulting in the loss of terpenes and cannabinoids. Growers have typically used large glass jars, turkey bags, and plastic containers for curing, requiring them to manually “burp” the containers multiple times a day to release excess moisture and introduce fresh air. Some have tried auto-curing buckets, which are complex to set up, and haven’t completely solved the issue of terpene loss during environmental changes.
Technology’s Role in Cannabis Curing
Technology has brought significant advancements to the cannabis curing process through Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). This innovation allows for the control of gas composition and moisture levels within the packaging, extending the shelf life of the product. MAP can be implemented actively, where humans adjust the gas mixture before sealing the package, or passively, where the package and its contents work together to maintain the ideal gas composition and moisture levels without external intervention.
Preserving the Integrity of Cannabis
Passive MAP packages automatically remove excess moisture and oxygen, creating an optimal environment for curing cannabis. The process is straightforward: dried cannabis is placed in the package, sealed, and left to cure for a duration ranging from two weeks to two months, ensuring ideal flavor and potency. This technology simplifies the curing process, eliminates the need for manual intervention, and consistently delivers superior results. Additionally, it reduces the risk of contamination by minimizing touch points during curing.
MAP packages that maintain a relative humidity level between 58% and 62% are ideal for preserving terpenes and cannabinoids while minimizing the risk of microbial growth. MAP packaging also excels at containing the strong odors associated with cannabis, making it a preferred choice for businesses looking to control these odors.
The practice of curing cannabis is a crucial part of the post-harvest process and significantly influences the quality and potency of the final product. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) simplifies and enhances the curing process by eliminating the need for manual intervention and consistently producing cannabis with superior aroma, flavor, and potency. By investing in MAP technology, growers can experiment with different curing durations while consistently achieving exceptional results.
This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The author is solely responsible for the content.