Hunter Wilson of Growers Network interviews Susan Chicovsky, owner and CEO of Green Mountain Harvest, one of the oldest compliant hand-trim companies in Colorado, about using contract trimming companies to make the process of harvesting and trimming simpler on your team.

Harvesting and Curing

Could you explain how the harvesting and curing process works?

I learned to harvest by first cutting down the whole plant and hanging it to dry indoors for a few days. After drying, it should be placed in an opaque glass jar and covered for 10-20 days to cure. After a few weeks, the plant’s flavors have fully developed and the herb is ready.

Now having that said, curing in a glass jar isn’t practical for the scale that cannabis is grown on. What most good growers will do instead is place the dried cannabis in a dark room that is temperature and humidity controlled so that it can cure slowly.

What are some pitfalls when it comes to harvesting and curing?
Most of the problems surrounding harvesting and curing come up prior to the harvest:

  • If buds haven’t finished forming, it takes longer to prepare the plant.
  • Poorly trained plants take longer to prepare.
  • Powdery mildew can show up prior to a harvest.

What are businesses doing that they shouldn’t be doing?
One of the current problems is that too few growers don’t cure the cannabis long enough. They usually just chop it down and dry it. Customers will notice. The smoke is sharp and harsh. When the product is cured properly, the harsh elements tend to get removed.

Trimming

Take me through the trimming process.
We lay out the buds on our trimming table and cut off sugar leaves that are sticking out of the buds. Depending on the clients’ desires, we can cut the leaves really close to the bud, or a little further out.
Dried buds take longer because we have to be more gentle, as they are more likely to flake or break. Wet buds are strong and firm, so we can go at a much faster pace.

What are some of the difficulties running a harvesting and trimming service?
It’s a tough industry. Turnover is high because of the nature of physical labor and we run very tight profit margins in order to stay compliant.
Illegal trimming companies skip lots of time and money-consuming steps in order to save money and run a better profit margin. This puts everyone at risk just for profit. And in the end, if we want to have a legal industry, we need to follow the rules like adults.

What are your thoughts about automated trimmers?
The first time I saw automated trimmers in the early 2010s, I thought they were pretty atrocious. We tested a few and saw cannabinoid levels drop by nearly half when we compared before and after.
Nowadays, there are some truly impressive automated trimmers out there. The most effective method for using these trimmers, in my opinion, is to let them do a basic run on the product, and our hand trimmers touch up the final product to make it excellent.

What would be an ideal trimming and harvesting set up?
Just a few things, really:

  • Clean tables. I prefer stainless steel tables, but aluminum is also good.
  • Comfortable chairs.
  • Great lighting.
  • Climate control in hot or cold environments.
  • A separate table to take weight measurements on.

Philosophy

Trimming can be a high turnover business. Is that an issue for you?
The work can be really tough for someone who is new to the industry and doesn’t know what they’re getting into. We do our best to train individuals on different trimming techniques that suit different clients’ needs.

What are some trimming bad behaviors businesses engage in?
The most import one is sanitation. Some of our past clients didn’t have clean tables to work on. We definitely wouldn’t eat on their tables, so why were we preparing “medical” products on them? There were also some past clients who left open bottles of pesticides laying around the trimming room.

This article has been paraphrased with permission from Growers Network.

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