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Despite common perception, the cultivation process for cannabis doesn’t necessarily end with harvest. In fact, when the plant is cut from its stem and harvested for its vital flowers, one aspect of the relationship – growing the plant – comes to an abrupt end. While another, caring for what’s been produced, is just beginning.

This process, known simply as post-harvest, is replete with a set of responsibilities that are well known to growers and breeders. Similar to when growing the plant, post-harvest comes with a set of steps, standard operating procedures and best practices. Held together, these elements are rightfully done for two reasons – to protect the plant, and ensure the best possible results for patients and adult-use consumers.

Concessions need to be made to safeguard the plant against both disease and damage following its harvest. Because rough handling of the plant matter and exposure to bright light can cause irreparable problems for the cannabis plant, it is imperative that flowers be handled carefully and that strong light be minimized in the environment after the plant is cut down.1

Where cannabis is again an incredibly unique plant is in the transmogrification its most significant parts undergo after being cut off from its nutrients and removed from its roots. A phenomenon that has yet to be fully scientifically understood, this process involves the terpenes gaining a rich quality, and the cannabinoids becoming even more readily accessible for use.

Poor post-harvest techniques can undoubtedly result in a lower crop quality, namely by the time the product reaches patients and consumers. Disease can even become a factor after the cannabis plant is harvested, which underscores the absolute need for strong operating procedures and sterilization techniques.2

Subjective as the process of cannabis cultivation is, most growers have particular ways of best going about the post-harvest process. But, without fail, there are a series of processes – trimming, drying and curing – that need to be employed in order to pull a successful crop. While the growth may be complete when the plant is harvested, much of the work is only just beginning. 

  1. “How to harvest cannabis: planning ahead is critical for success.” https://www.thecannabist.co/2016/11/18/how-to-harvest-cannabis/63032/
  2. “A guide to planning a successful harvest.” http://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/a-guide-to-planning-for-a--successful-harvest/

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