Curing by the numbersin Dry and Curing Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:10 pm
by Rosebud • | 499 Posts | 2113 Points
Not sure of the original author.
Ah yes. Harvest time has come. The buds are swollen, the trichomes are the exact color you have been waiting for. The smell is rich, and soon becomes almost overpowering as you tear into that first bud with shiney new scissors. Not too many of us really like big trim jobs, but we endure. We endure because we know that in a few short weeks we will be enjoying the fruits of our beloved labor.
Of course, we all know that this is not the finish line. On the contrary, this is only the beginning of the race...
Oh yes, the cure. Many times has this been judged the most important part of the growing experience, and with good standing reason. This is the point where all our patience and skill will shine through, or take a dive into the miserable oblivian of smoking mere mediocre herb. Botch things here and it will all be for not. Though a perfect cure can help cover up some small discrepancies during your grow, having the best growing conditions on earth will not earn you a free pass through this hallowed gate my friend.
So, how's your cure? Perfect? Consistently perfect? Are you a Cure Master? Hmm.. Prove it. What?
Did you know that your cure can be broken down into a mathematical equation? I'm willing to bet that perked a few ears. What if I told you that you can attain the perfect cure, the best cure possible, every single harvest? And what if it was as easy as painting by numbers? And what if this could totally affect the way you cure, whether you are a newbie, or an old seasoned head?
The following is not something I discovered myself. I was first introduced to of from a guy named Simon. All though he initially tailored it to cannabis he, of course, didn't really discover it either. We most likely owe that to producers of tobacco. Their techniques are somewhat different but since they are curing a plant intended for smoking..... Well, it's just simply a matter of numbers.. I have, in turn, borrowed this concept and brought it here. I have eliminated what I deemed unnecessary and added some of my own insights/experiences. I have also condensed the original information the best I could (as it was quite haphazardly introduced, and many facts/ideas were addressed in later installments) in my own words (which has, in turn, increased greatly in size), but all credit must be afforded Simon for bringing these techniques, in their raw form, to public scrutiny. This, by no means, suggests that the work (either the original, or here) is complete. There are assuredly many more facts, discoveries and techniques left to be uncovered. That said, let's begin..
Cannabis is an annual weed. It's purpose in life is singular and pure: Continued propagation. The female cannabis plant, through it's propagating qualities is naturally the ultimate focus of this forum, along with many others just like it. In order for the female cannabis plant to fulfill her destiny, and to fill our jars, like all life on earth she needs water. Her flowering buds are full of it. It is the point of drying them to release this water. The cure, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. In contrast, the cure is an attempt to delay this release of water over time. It is this juggling act that is in dire need of deciphering and it is this thread that will show exactly how it is done. It is said that the bud of a cannabis plant continues to live for a certain amount of time after it is cut from it's stem ( per Ed Rosenthal), in some cases a couple of days. I personally think this is crazy. This is akin to cutting off a chickens head. A lot of good it did the chicken.. Unless your bud has the ability to sprout instant roots and walk itself to an empty pot it is, for all intensive purposes, d, e, a, d, dead. This, by no means, insinuates that there are not living cells and processes to be found, but without the ability to replenish water, the drying has begun. Even though the bud has begun it's dry cycle, there is still plenty of water in it to allow various cells to continue to function. Since the main stem has been cut they have no choice but to pull water and nutrients (in the form of chlorophyll and other complex carbohydrates) from stores in the bud and process them into quickly consumable simple carbohydrates (simple sugars) in order to continue to function normally. The more complex carbohydrates that are broken down and the more simple carbohydrates that are used and the more moisture that is lost, the better your buds will be. Within this process is the secret to the perfect cure..
First we will break it down into phases. This seems easiest as you can refer back to any point of the cure by phase. Try to think of it like landing an airplane...
Phase one: Dry. This is kind of like preparing to land. The first thing you want to do is come to altitude and lower your landing gear. Basically, once you cut your bud, you need to decide what to do with it. Most of us go ahead and trim it now. Once it is trimmed to our liking, the bud is hung to dry.
Phase two: Pre-cure. This is somewhat like landing your airplane. The trick is to set it down on the runway at just the right angle as you begin to reduce your speed. This is where the mathematics come into play. What you are looking for here is the "feel". When your hanging bud begins to "feel" like it is drying out, but the stems are still flexible, it is time to jar. Don't worry, we will revisit this phase in more detail in a bit..
Phase three: Cure. Now your airplane is on the runway. This is where you are focusing on your instruments and applying the brakes. This is the actual part of the cure. It is a benefit to keep your bud in this stage for as long as possible. Actually, this may be a little misleading as some folks may like some cures better than others. In other words, this is the point where smells and flavors can change drastically. Depending on what it is you are after will dictate exactly how long you keep this phase in check. But only you can decide what you like.
Phase four: Storage. Well, the flight is over, time to put the airplane away. We have finally reached a point where the curing process has greatly slowed down and it is safe to store your bud.
The most important $100 you will ever spend.
Ok, so before we start looking at these phases in much closer detail, we need to take a look at a few tools that we will be using. About $100 will get this going. Now consider for a minute what kind of money we are talking about here. How much have you sunk into your grow so far? For lights, ventilation, pots, medium, system, electrical, nutrients, PG&E, ro system, genetics and on and on? Some folks can get by on a few hundred dollars, while the rest of us find that we are quickly in the $1,000's. Then why, for the sake of protecting this investment, would we skip this purchase at the end? The end that could make or, more importantly, break the time, money and effort we have put into it to get to this point? I assure you this will be money well spent. In fact, the most important purchase you will make, period. Here is what you will need:
Basically what these do is measure relative humidity (RH). In this particular case we will be focused on using the Caliber III. Luckily, through thorough testing by others, it has been predetermined that for value these are probably as accurate as you will get. They can be had for anywhere from $12 to $20 a piece. I would recommend sticking with the slightly more expensive units when buying 1 or 2 and taking advantage of any free shipping offered. If ordering in bulk, go for the cheapest while eating the shipping cost. Also I think it is a good idea to buy from more than one seller. Reason being that there is no way to tell how long a seller has had these sitting around in the warehouse. Unfortunately the batteries in these things won't last forever (1 to 3 years approx.). However, if you can find new ones changing them out shouldn't affect your hygrometers accuracy.
You can find them here..
Or, at Ebay or any other prefered webernet shopping site where available.
The prices on these fluctuates constantly. If you don't see a price you like, wait it out a few days and it may very well drop. Sometimes as much as $5.00 a piece.
Hygrometer calibrating kit
This will allow you to know exactly where you stand and, in some cases, adjust your hygrometers to the perfect reading. You can find them here...
Or, at Ebay or any other prefered webernet shopping site where available.
It has been concluded, through prior testing, that the Bovida Humidipak 75.5% would be the exact one to buy and use.
Hermetically sealed jars
This can be any jar that assures an air tight seal.
Note book and pen
Notes are vital. If you maintain a particular strain for any period of time, then you will want to "dial it in" the cure, just like anything else.
Well, now that we can see all the pieces, let's pull it all together. We'll take it from the top..
Phase one. 70%+ RH: This starts out just like any other time you have done it. Once you have harvested your bud and trimmed it to your liking, hang it in a cool dark place. This is where we will part from tradition. Allow it to hang until the buds begin to feel like they are drying (note the temps and rh as this will rarely be the same during subsequent harvests). They will start to lose their "softness" in favor of a slightly crispy texture. We don't want to allow it to dry until the stems snap. THIS IS WRONG! We want the stems to be flexible. Not totally soft, but not snapping, either. If allowed to dry until the stems snap we risk it drying too much and losing an opportunity to take full advantage of the cure window. You see once the bud reaches the 55% RH range, the cure is dead. No amount of moisture added will revive this. If you are a brown bag dryer you can still use this technique, although I no longer do. I feel it is unnecessary at this point in the drying process. Just make sure you do not over dry. Also, this is a perfect time to calibrate your hygrometers with your new calibrating kit. This phase may take anywhere from 2 to 7 days depending on ambient temp, RH and strain, etc. It is important to be right on top of this phase. Sometimes we will notice thinner stemmed buds getting done quicker. It is ok to take these first and put them in the jar. Just screw the cap on very loosely until the bulk of the bud joins it.
Phase two. 70% to 65% RH: This is where the numbers game begins to kick in. Once you have reached the crispy bud/flexible stem stage, it is time to jar it up. Now there are a few options here.. Really you can jar it up just like always. Only, fill your jar 3/4 to 4/5 full so you have room to use your hygrometer. You can leave it on the stem, stem free, whatever. I personally prefer it in it's finished state, no stems. You can leave just a few stems intact for the sake of testing stem flexibility. Also, with more stems comes more moisture. This may fit well with your style, but it also may play havoc if mold is present. Once your bud is in the jar drop in the hygrometer and cap it. Keep an eye on your meter for the next hour or so. What we are shooting for in this phase is 70% RH maximum. If you hit 71% or greater, you will have to take the bud out to dry more. If this seems a little tricky here, it is. The cure, even though we are still in the dry phase, has been happening to a small degree since the moment the bud was cut. Basically now we are juggling time with mold prevention. We want to avoid any instance of mold, but we want to get every second of cure time in that we can. The goal in this phase is to start at a 70% maximum RH and, in a timely and mold free manner, bring the RH down to about 65%. The reason I say "about" is that if there is an issue with mold (i.e. the crop was exposed to heavy mold before and/or during harvest) we may chose to take the RH even lower, like 62%. This won't leave a huge window for curing, but it will keep the bud safe. Ideally, however, 65% will do. Generally you can tell pretty quickly if the bud is still too wet as the hygrometer % will climb pretty quickly (rate: 1% per hour or faster). You will also notice, at this point, that the bud will feel "wetter". That's ok. The reason for this is that while the exposed part of the bud began to dry quicker than the inside during phase one, the inside of the bud and stems retained a good deal of their moisture. Once in the jars (phase two) that moisture can no longer be efficiently evaporated off and moved to a different area, being replaced by dryer air. Once you have determined the RH, which may take up to 24 hours, you can begin burping the jars. This can be done at a rate of one to two hours once or twice a day, depending on initial RH reading. Your room RH, temp, strain, exposure to mold and hygro readings will dictate this for you and whether to go faster or slower. Slower is always better, but precipitating factors, as stated, may trump this.. Also, at the end of this stage is where most commercial bud will hit the open market, if you are lucky. The bud at this stage should have that super sticky icky velvety feel and the 'bag appeal' will be at it's very highest.
Phase three, 65% to 60% RH: Your buds are in the jar and RH is 65% or less. Perfect. The object of the game, as stated before, is to slowly release the moisture from the jar over time. Your buds are now in the cure zone. At this point we are looking for a much slower release than phase two and will shift to a short burp once a week. Your buds will deliver a nice smoke at around 60%, so the speed at which this is done (which translates directly to duration of burpage) is entirely up to you. It is at this stage that small stems should snap in two. It is also in this stage that you will meet true stability, or equalization, in RH. What that means is that the amount of moisture in the stems is no longer disproportionate to the buds, and moisture transfer or perspiration (sweat) slows dramatically. This also means it will take much longer to get a true reading from your Hygrometer. A true reading at this point might take up to 36 hours, but that's ok.
So, do you know what your idea of a perfect smoking bud is? If you have followed the phases as you have read them, then this is the stage where you can find out. It may be as specific as a stationary RH value, or even a "window" between different values. Everyone on should know their Ideal smoking range. I prefer mine on a slightly dryer cure, say between 55 to 57%.
Phase four, 60% to 55%+ RH: Even though a true cure is far from over, your buds are truly ready to smoke if you wish. They are also ready to face long term storage. As stated before, the cure dies at -55%. It is ok for the cure to be dead if you have reached your desired cure level as later remoisturing can easily bring that bud back into your prefered smoking range. But, you can also continue the cure for long time periods and the trick to this is to stay above the 55% level. Unfortunately even claimed 'air tight' jars will allow bud to continue losing moisture over time. The trick here is to guarantee air tightness. Simon has suggested that he jars in air tight jars and double vacuum bags it as a way to ensure cure integrity. I am less picky. It is a good idea, though not necessary, to leave a hygro in the jar and check it from time to time. I would start with once a week for the first month then, if everything is stable, once every month after that should suffice.
I hope you find this work useful all enjoy the information provided as much as I do.
RE: Curing by the numbersin Dry and Curing Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:52 pm
by mr rogers • | 28 Posts | 50 Points
a good adendum to this is how to calibrate analog hygrometers. if you're going to pay $20 for a good one its important to get the correct reading. here's a c+p....Analog hygrometers are manufactured with a factory tolerance of +/- 5% points of humidity (and sometimes more) through the normal range of 40-80%. Although humidity gauge is pre-set at the factory, its calibration may be off within this range for various reasons. A simple, easy to do at home means of calibrating hygrometers uses standard salt and a sealed container. Table salt, when used properly, will maintain an exact 75% humidity in a perfectly sealed environment. So, to do this, you'll need three items. First, obtain an airtight container such as a see-through tub with a tight fitting snap-on lid (the kind usually found in most kitchens). Alternately, a heavy-duty zip-lock bag will do. Second, you'll need about a teaspoon of salt. Third, any small, shallow open container is needed (to hold the salt in) such as a screw cap from a plastic bottle. Place the salt in its small container and add a few drops of water to moisten it. Don't dissolve it yet. With just a few drops of water, you'll get what you need, which is damp salt. Next, carefully place the salt in its small container, along with your hygrometer, into the airtight container. Please do not get any moistened salt on the gauge. Also, check to see that the starting point (current reading) is anywhere in the 40% to 80% range. Seal the container tightly. Note: if you have any doubt as to whether or not it is a perfectly sealed environment, double-it-up by putting it in a second container, or into a second baggie. Do not try to remove the remaining air trapped inside. Now, wait for at least 5 or 6 hours until the environment has stabilized. Do not open the container. Read the gauge's humidity % level. It should be exactly 75%. If it is not, note the deviation as being the amount your hygrometer is out of calibration. If for example, it reads 68%, the gauge is 7% low. If on the other hand it reads 80%, the gauge is 5% high. Now, remove the gauge from the container and locate a very small jeweler’s flathead screwdriver. If it fits through the small hole in the center of the rear plate, it should work well. Put it in that hole, and turn it slowly while watching the dial on the front. If your gauge was low by 4%, turn the screwdriver clockwise and make the dial rest 4% points higher than it did previously. Conversely, if your gauge was high by 6%, turn the screwdriver counter-clockwise and make the dial rest 6% points lower than it did previously. That's it. Your gauge is now calibrated and you should feel very comfortable with its accuracy from this point on.
I live for the applause plause.
RE: Curing by the numbersin Dry and Curing Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:05 am
by Grower13 • | 513 Posts | 2013 Points
yes that gauge will work........ but I ordered 8 of the cheap ones from china via ebay......... I can stick one in each jar of pot......... knowing the humidity within each jar is important to get a good and proper cure.......... will also keep you from getting mold on your crop while its drying. I keep one in every jar of pot I got until the humidity in the jar gets and stays below 58% for a few days.
#1 Rule......... tell no one