Wet trimming is an excellent way to save time and effort when harvesting cannabis, but you shouldn’t just discard your excess plant material as waste once you’ve gathered your buds. Wet trim—also known as live trim—is a terpene-rich product with a lot of potential value, and there’s plenty you can do with it. But in order to preserve the quality, there’s a lot you still have to do before processing those sugar leaves.
The Wet/Live Trimming Process
In its simplest terms, wet trimming involves cutting the leaves from your cannabis plant without going through the drying process first. Wet trimming has become very popular because it’s easier than dry-trimming cannabis and because it’s easier to remove the leaves while they are alive and perky as opposed to shrunken and wrapped around buds. Wet trimming also saves you a lot of space in the drying room when you do ultimately dry your cannabis buds (since the leaves have already been separated). Perhaps most importantly, wet trimming minimizes terpene loss, giving you a richer flavor and aroma profile if you decide to repurpose those discarded sugar leaves—and you absolutely should.
But there are precise and imprecise ways to harvest wet trim. The traditional method is to trim by hand, and many commercial growers still swear by this method—even if it requires far more time and labor than machine trimming, and even though it’s a much messier process.
Although legacy mindset and market perception certainly play a role, the problem is that most automated trimmers have sharp blades that damage the leaves and create a mess of chlorophyll and other plant particulate all sliced up throughout your trim clippings, which makes for decreased-quality extracts. Plus, a lot of machines aren’t cut out for wet trimming because there is no cooling mechanism and the resin from the biomass accumulates on the blades and components—gumming up machine trimmers. Residuals from oils required to clean bladed trimmers can end up contaminating the finished product.
If you want to achieve wet trim in less time but without compromising the quality, The Original Resinator is your best solution. This state-of-the-art trimmer uses Cryo-Trim® technology to separate the leaves from the flowers without blades. The plant material is inserted into a tumbling chamber and frozen with the help of liquid CO2 (the cold temperature control helps prevent the essence of the plant from degrading). The leaves become brittle and separate from the flowers with no cutting required. They’re then filtered through a 1/4″ or 1/2” mesh screen. The Resinator can trim a pound of weed per minute, leaving behind a beautiful, whole-bodied trim.
What Is Whole-Bodied Trim?
A major benefit of using The Original Resinator is the whole-bodied, high-quality trim that remains after a CO2 separation of the sugar leaves. Resinator trim is preferred over scissor or blader trim because it doesn’t contain the chlorophyll and plant particulates that are so common on blade-cut clippings—making for better extracts and pre-rolls. Resinator trim is sought after by processors and extraction artists alike.
What to Do With Wet Trim Immediately After Harvest
Once you’ve collected your live trim, the first step is to preserve it. This involves maintaining the optimal temperature and storage conditions—referred to as “maintaining the cold chain.” Once you have that sorted out, you can determine how to best transform your trim into a marketable product.
Keep It Cold
A deep freezer can be used as a staging area for your biomass for up to a year or more without compromising quality, so long as sub-zero conditions are maintained. Once you remove your live trim from its frozen environment, the quality immediately starts to degrade. Discoloration and terpene loss occur due to oxidation and warmer temperatures, and suddenly your “live” product seems more like the walking dead. That’s why it’s so essential to maintain the cold chain when you remove your frozen biomass from its chamber. The leaves (and the buds, if you’re producing live concentrates) should be placed into a pre-frozen scientific freeze dryer for about 18 to 24 hours. This is what’s known as the Crop-to-Cure® process.
Store Your Cannabis Trim After Freeze Drying
Once the Crop-to-Cure® process is complete, you’re left with stable biomass that can be safely removed from the freeze dryer. You can then store it in a cool, dark place until it’s time for further processing, testing, or packaging. To maintain optimal quality, try to store your biomass in a cool, dry, and dark environment with about 40-60% relative humidity and a temperature of about 60-70°F—especially if you’re looking to produce and sell a marketable product.
Sort Your Sugar Leaves & Fan Leaves
Your trim consists of both fan leaves (the larger leaves that extend from the branches) and sugar leaves (the small leaves that extend from the buds). The large fan leaves have very few trichomes and are basically worthless. So before you start any kind of trim processing, you’ll want to separate your leaves and discard the fan leaves. The cannabinoids and terpenes will be found primarily in the sugar leaves.
What to Do With Wet Trim That’s Ready for Processing
While live trim won’t give you a whole lot in the way of yield, it can increase the yield of your total product while providing the highest-quality live concentrates. In other words, you’re letting less of your product go to waste while optimizing the final result. The increased output can really add up, especially if you’re working with large volumes of product. The question is what to do with it.
Sell It to Processors
If your own operation doesn’t involve cannabis processing, there are other processors out there who may find value in your trim—especially if the trim is in good shape. As previously noted, the Resinator’s bladeless technology creates a clean, whole-bodied trim that processors love. There are no blades to cut into the leaves, and the whole-bodied trichomes appear perfectly intact under a microscope. This opens up a world of opportunity, as cannabis trim has been known to fetch up to $400 per pound in some markets.
Create Hash or Sift
One of the simplest ways to transform your trim into a marketable concentrate is to make ice water hash. You can use a three-chamber herb grinder, micron bags and dry ice, or a pollen box if you’re seeking a cost-effective solution. If you’re already using the Resinator OG or Resinator XL to trim cannabis buds, you can use the same machine to further process your live dried leaves into sift. It’s all possible thanks to our cutting-edge Cryo-Sieve® process. All you have to do is swap out the original 1/4″ mesh screen for one of our micron (µm) rated screens. Use a 75µm to 150µm drum screen to make really high-quality sift in a single cycle. You can also make premium ice water hash in the Resinator chamber.
You can also use your fresh-frozen sugar leaves to create solvent extracts like wax, shatter, and crumble. You would just insert the leaves into the tank of your closed-loop system right along with your flower. This is an easy way to get more mileage from your extraction, as the solvent dissolution process leaves you with concentrated trichomes from your buds and biomass alike. You can also use your trim to make solventless rosin extracts with a rosin press.
There are numerous ways to produce edibles with sugar leaves. The simplest and most basic way is to use the leaves to create cannabutter and then incorporate the butter into your favorite edibles recipes. Of course, using a concentrated collection of resin glands is preferred when cooking as opposed to whole leafy greens. The live essence of the trichome-rich kief or trim will provide rich flavors and aromas.
Trimming Wet Cannabis Provides Real Opportunity
If you’re still trying to decide between wet and dry trimming, know that wet trim is a potential goldmine for the industrious cannabis processor. As long as you have plenty of trim to work with and the tools to ensure an efficient operation, there’s no reason you should let your trim go to waste.
And best of all, wet trim puts you at an inherent advantage because you’re working with a live product. So if your goal is to create high-value SKUs that connoisseurs will pay handsomely for, wet trim fits perfectly into that business plan.