Which is right for you and your buds?
Every grower has an opinion on dry or wet trimming marijuana. The age-old “machine trimming versus wet trimming” debate leads to some lively conversation, but the universal aspect—regardless of automation preference—is when to trim.
Whether you’re employing machines or human bud trimmers, the moisture status of your bud matters on trim day. Dry trimming and wet trimming both have some advantages, and each school of thought can be zealous about using one method over the other.
We here at Triminator don’t discriminate—we design wet bud trimmers and dry bud trimmers. So, it makes sense for us to share the pros and cons of each method—objectively—to see which technique best fits the needs of your operation. And, beyond that, we’d like to share some thoughts on machine-trimming wet and machine-trimming dry.
Wet Trimming Pros
Those who prefer wet trimming have a “git-r-done” mentality that makes sense in many situations. Time is money; finishing the trimming and getting the product dried quickly saves both.
Wet trimming and drying-rack dehydration make for a fast combination. Triminator’s wet trimmer processes 18 to 20 pounds of bud per hour, and the drying time of wet-trimmed bud is shorter. So, wet trimming is an excellent choice for large grows that are harvesting on a weekly basis.
That high-bandwidth, streamlined workflow especially benefits oil producers who aren’t bringing the product to market in flower form. If you have the philosophy that you’re growing cannabinoids more so than growing buds, wet trimming is definitely your choice.
Easier on the trichromes?
Additionally, some cultivators believe machine trimming when wet is easier on the buds. The thinking goes that dried trichromes detach and break more easily, so pre-drying is the best opportunity to tumble them around. That logic doesn’t necessarily pan out. Industrial bud trimmers that are specifically designed to trim dry have little impact on trichromes or potency.
A wet trimmer is versatile
We find our growers using their wet trimmers in crafty ways. Some put their crop through a wet trimmer just to take off the fan leaves, then hand trim to meet boutique-level expectations. Others use a mechanical bud trimmer just for just the smaller buds, reserving the top colas for the hand trim treatment.
Wet trimming creates a unique design opportunity. Triminator’s wet trimmer is self-cleaning. That means it can process 200 pounds of material—without stopping for a bath. Water-atomizing nozzles provide a constant, ultra-fine moisture barrier, and resin can’t adhere to the blades. That’s not possible with pre-dried bud.
Wet Trimming Cons
Of course, there are drawbacks to wet trimming, and you probably know them already. Lost ‘nose’ is a common compliant against wet trimming—whether it’s by hand or machine. But why is this?
Pre-bucked drying sacrifices terpenes, the fragrant oils that give a cannabis strain its unique smell and flavor. Dismembered buds naturally dry more quickly than if left on the plant and, unfortunately, the faster drying process diffuses some of the terpenes. Some growers may see a ‘quick and dirty’ dry as a benefit, but most report it impacts the buds’ curb appeal.
When intact plants dry, buds are surrounded by a micro-environment of moist sugar leaves. The drying buds share moisture and secondary metabolites with the drying stalks too. When the entire plant dries like that, it brings a more natural end to the plant’s lifecycle, and that holistic end seems to affect the end product for the better. In general, a pre-trim drying process is gentler than a trim-then-dry approach.
Lost “bag appeal”
The aesthetics of a wet machine trim can sometimes turnoff consumers. The telltale uniformity of a wet trim may carry a taboo—and draw some criticism. For concentrate and distillate products, however, wet trimming is likely best.
Dry Trimming Pros
Trimming dry resolves the drawbacks of wet trimming, and while it’s a more involved post-harvest process, it’s the best option for those seeking boutique bud.
The biggest advantage of dry trimming is quality. Or maybe that’s better stated as ‘the biggest advantage of dry trimming is a plant-intact drying period.’ Dry trimming—whether with a machine or by hand—maintains the terpene profile that’s a must for high-quality bud. For uncompromising growers it’s usually the choice.
Easy harvest day
Dry trimming allows some flexibility when it comes to harvest time too. With wet trimming, bud must be processed immediately. Dry trimming buys some time. Pencil in your trim for two to three weeks from harvest and reduce your chop day flurry.
Dry Trimming Cons
Timing the right trim day
Waiting to trim—though it allows some flexibility at harvest—creates scheduling uncertainty. The length of the drying period can be affected by weather, changes to your drying room, or differences in strain. We here at Triminator recommend dry trimming when the bud measures at 9-10% moisture. Knowing when you’ll hit that number is a little tricky, even with a moisture meter. Staffing for a trim day or scheduling a machine rental is more doubtful than busting out the trim the same day the plants come down.
Not ideal for humid climates
Dry trimmers may struggle in humid climates. Customers in warmer coastal areas, like Hawaii, would do better to trim wet. Unless you’ve got a climate-controlled area with robust dehumidification, drying intact plants will be difficult in humid locales. A more-humid drying period is slower too (and gentler on bucked buds) which would usually dry more quickly.
And a whole-plant drying setup takes up space. Rack-drying trimmed buds creates some vertical density that can’t be achieved with clotheslines of buds on stalks. Space-constricted growers or those with a large crop may decide against dry trimming to free up some real estate.
What’s best depends on the situation. Your grow may benefit from a wet trimmer, a dry trimmer, both machines in tandem—or a combination of hand- and machine-trimming. We see customers trimming part of their crop on chop day and dry trimming the rest later. Or sometimes, they use a wet trimmer just to remove just the water leaves. Others may take the tops off the plants, hang them to dry, then let the rest flower a little longer and wet trim those.
While dry trimming will remain the quality standard, the speed of wet trimming is important to high-speed production. And as the marijuana market leans toward concentrates and oils, some growers will go 100% wet trim. Those looking to compete on quality and brand reputation will stick with dry. But, whatever the case, make sure you’re using a quality industrial bud trimmer—or a qualified staff of hand trimmers.
For more information on finding a trimming system that fits your needs, give us a call at (530) 265-4277.