Curing is the final phase of cannabis cultivation and is a critical step in ensuring quality, potent medical marijuana.
Agricultural technology is helping growers perfect a myriad of processes to improve quality, yields, and potency of their cannabis crops. During the growing processes, advanced lighting systems help enhance cannabinoid and terpene production, but building potency doesn’t end there. Another key element is to simplify the critical and difficult process of curing cannabis.
What is Curing?
After cannabis has been harvested and hung to dry, quality cannabis requires a slower, more controlled drying process to bring out a superior cannabinoid profile. Curing allows bacteria to break down the chlorophyll in the plant material. Chlorophyll contributes to a harsh smoking experience. In addition, when a plant is harvested, the process of producing cannabinoids doesn’t just cease immediately, it continues until all the water is dried from the plant.
Therefore, the grower’s climate and ability to control the environment can affect the overall quality of the end-product. If conditions are too moist, the product can grow mold and rot, while if the conditions are too dry, the material dries too quickly and prevents full cannabinoid expression.
With the curing process being difficult to manage, cultivation facilities, and even some home growers are starting to look to technology to make the process easier. Fortunately, two companies have emerged to help simplify the art of curing cannabis.
Yofumo’s patented technology was created to simplify post-harvest operations and provide unparalleled results across the entire post-harvest spectrum. This curing equipment can speed up the drying process by 300% while providing a high-quality product. With a non-residual decontamination process which enables complete control over curing and finishing, Yofumo’s devices ensure a quality, clean product, and increased value for the crop.
According to Yofumo, their commercial curing equipment can provide the following benefits:
- Accelerates cure time by up to 300%
- 5% to 8% increases in yield recovery
- Complete product decontamination
- More than $100 price increases per pound
- Increased product consistency
- Decrease in overall operating costs
A Denver, Colorado-based company, Yofumo curing equipment helps cannabis cultivators make the curing process easier to control. Whether a small commercial operation or a big, industrial grow, Yofumo has a product to suit the size of the operation. In addition to adding an Outdoor Line to accommodate large industrial cultivation operations, Yofumo is expected to release a smaller, personal storage and curing device for home growers and cannabis consumers, in the near future as well. Currently, the company offers two models:
- Pro – Designed for small producers with high rotation and diverse crop harvests. Curing capacity – 3 to 6 pounds depending on the strain.
- Pro+ – Ideal for mid-size and large commercial operations with diverse crop harvests. Curing capacity – 30 to 60 pounds.
Curing And Drying
Proper drying and curing procedures are essential in producing the highest quality, as well as healthiest to consume, marijuana flowers.
As per drying, experts recommend that flowers are dried in a dark room with low humidity and temperatures around 75 deg. F. Once flowers are almost completely dry, yet a bit “springy” to the touch, they are ready for curing. While this process may not seem too difficult, one would be amazed at how many growers nearly destroy their products by over-drying or under-drying their flowers.
While explaining the fine nuances of the curing process is beyond the scope of this work, there are a couple of important points to note in the relationship of curing processes and health issues surrounding marijuana smoking. According to renowned marijuana authority Kyle Kushman, curing cannabis flowers causes “aerobic bacteria to come to life. They will consume chlorophyll and make your buds smoke … less harsh on the throat.”
When marijuana flowers are properly dried and cured, these processes make for the healthiest flowers to consume. Smoking fresh or improperly cured buds can not only lead to a sore throat for users—due to water and chlorophyll levels in the plant—but can also cause chronic lung problems with incessant coughing. For asthmatic cannabis users, this notion is greatly heightened.
CBG And THC
The marijuana plant harbors a number of chemical compounds which, altogether, present a vast array of potential medical applications for human beings. However, how these chemical compounds express themselves varies with the life-cycles of the plants, even after harvest. For example, the cannabinoid CBG, or “cannabigerol,” actually acts as the precursor chemical compound to THC.
Studies have shown that CBG continues to break down into THC for a good amount of time after the plant is harvested—this chemical process is promoted by proper curing practices. As such, thorough curing practice ensures that cannabis flowers “express” their THC levels to their maximum capacity. Therefore, properly cured cannabis flowers present an attractive medicine for those medical marijuana patients whose ailments respond favorably to THC.
A company based in San Diego, California, AutoCure has also entered the market with advanced technology curing equipment. Their automated curing technology uses proprietary software and specially designed robotics to create the perfect drying environment, thereby eliminating mold.
AutoCure discusses the importance of proper curing on their website stating,
“…true curing must be executed in an air-tight environment that is separate from ambient humidity conditions. This allows the harvested material to mature in an environment that will not dry the product too fast and stay mold free, if the air within the curing environment is vented (burped) at the right time.”
Their equipment and software are designed to provide this perfect combination of airflow and humidity to create a consistently quality product.
Auto Cure’s airtight curing chamber, made from lab-grade acrylic which produces no off-gassing, is welded together without the use of toxic glues or adhesives. A sealed door creates an air-locked interior environment. Within the chamber, two sensors monitor RH% and temperature. The posterior of the unit has two separate flow chambers for intake and exhaust and houses two servos and four fans which turn on and off to create or stop air ventilation while removing all humidity.
AutoCure currently has two sizes available to suit the size of the cultivation operation, medium and large, which handle 8-12 pounds or 75-80 pounds respectively. AutoCure is expecting to release a smaller model, about the size of a microwave, with a capacity of 5-7 pounds for home grows.
Once again, legalization has allowed the cannabis market to advance with technology to continually provide a better, quality product. Science and technology are not only improving the grower’s bottom line, but producing a more consistent, medicinal product for the patients who are turning to cannabis in the hope of treating some chronic ailment.