If you have ever grown cannabis at home, you know how strong the connection between the grower and the plant can be. Cherishing the herb from the very beginning up until it is the time for harvesting makes you really think of your weed more as about a live person than “just a plant.”
That is why the problems you may face at the last stage, when you need to trim, dry, and cure the buds, may be a real tragedy for you. And unfortunately, there are lots of risks waiting for a farmer who wants to get high-quality weed. And most of these risks are associated with different kinds of mold.
You may already be familiar with the concept of root rot that develops in flooded soil and can ruin the root system completely if you do not delete the damaged area on time. Meanwhile, “bud rot” (Botrytis cinerea) appears if the climate is too humid, and if it is not detected immediately, it can kill the whole plant.
Humid air is not the reason why bud rot occurs, but it creates the perfect conditions for its development. It can appear on the stem, leaves, or inside the buds. That is why, in the beginning, it is really difficult to detect the damage without closely inspecting the whole plant. However, by the time the mold is big and easy to recognize, it can mean that the entire branch or cola is already ruined from the inside.
On some occasions, removing the damaged area can save the rest of the cola, but you should not expect that the bud rot will be deleted completely. Once the mold starts to develop inside the plant, it can release spores and damage other buds and colas that are present in the same room.
If the infection damages the plant completely, it cannot be saved. Bud rot changes the structure of the buds; they become loose, gooey, and after a while, they turn into a slimy substance that leaves infectious spores on everything it has contact with.
The bad thing is that you cannot prevent your plants from getting infected with mold spores. Unless you operate in absolutely ideal sterile conditions, there is always a chance you have them somewhere. It has been reported that mold spores can be found absolutely everywhere, from Antarctica to the sand deserts, from far away uninhabited islands to the International Space Station.
But it is not the reason to fall into despair because the good thing is, the presence of these spores does not mean that the mold will develop. For growing, it requires special conditions: lack of ventilation, high level of humidity, and hot temperature. These are the key facts that a grower can use to save their harvest from this danger.
Before curing, cannabis should be fully trimmed and dried. The buds should look exactly the way you see them before consuming. All the excess stems and leaves should be removed; the stems should not crumble or arch (which means you have overdried or have not dried them enough) when you bend them. At this stage, it is also recommended to cut the buds into the desirable size.
If you prepare your cannabis correctly, you can store it in containers or totes without the fear that it will be covered with bud rot. If the buds are not dried completely, the moisture will concentrate inside the locked space, and the mold spores will grow.
If you are not sure whether the buds are absolutely ready for the curing phase, here are some tips that can help you keep the mold away from your harvest.
The easiest method you can use to avoid extra humidity in the containers with marijuana is to put two-way humidity regulator packets there. They can belong to different labels, but the most famous are Boveda and Integra Boost. You can easily find them on Amazon or in a local flower store. They can maintain 55%, 62%, or 72% of relative humidity (RH).
The 72% will probably be useful only at the first stages of curing. You can replace them with the packets with a smaller RH index as the curing progresses. To know when exactly you need to put new packets, you can use a hygrometer to measure the RH or buy packets with replacement indicators that will show you when it is time to remove them. Depending on the climate and the amount of moisture in the buds, one packet can work for weeks or even months before the change.
The more difficult method is opening the curing containers and letting the humidity evaporate. This method is definitely cheaper, but it requires your daily attention. To maintain a consistent level of RH, you need to open the containers at least twice a day. And that is quite time- and energy-consuming since you need to do it every single day for quite a long time.
The biggest disadvantage of the last method is that it is not universal: if you live in the area with high humidity, every time you open the container, you will let the humid air in and not out, so it will simply not work.
If you open the jar with cannabis and smell ammonia, it means that the buds are too wet for curing, and you need to leave them to dry outside for at least a couple of hours.
Some growers try to smoke their harvest at this stage, but the taste, aroma, and effect of this kind of buds are not even close to what they should be. They are usually more harsh in taste and can irritate your throat, not to mention they provide users with more negative side-effects that the final bud.
Curing cannabis provides almost 50% of the bud quality, so it is really worth your attention. Cure your buds safely, and the result will please you!