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Trim Job: How to Effectively Trim Large Cannabis Harvests

Marijuana flower hangs to dry before trimming in a commercial cultivation facility.
Marijuana flower hangs to dry before trimming in a commercial cultivation facility. Scott Lentz
Trimming is one of the final steps in yielding a successful cannabis harvest, and proper technique and equipment is critical to the process. With the marijuana industry on the rise and plenty of new transplants seeking a piece of the plant-based pie, trimming is one of the most sought-after entry-level gigs in the business.

According to The Trimmer Store managing partner Eric Singleton, the consequences of improper trimming techniques can be catastrophic. “You can lose too much weight, damage your extractable trim, spend more money and end up doing twice the work than necessary,” he says. “It would be like sending someone into an Olympic 100-meter freestyle event with no swimming lessons.”

Singleton, a former mountain athlete, now spends his days providing hands-on technical support and one-on-one consultations to help professionals looking to automate some of their business through harvesting and trimming. “You need to have wet and dry options for trimming machines. You can focus on one or the other, but you need to have both to cover a wide array of scenarios," he adds. Singleton recommends the Twister T4 Trimmer, which he credits as being the backbone of automated harvesting, with the capability of doing a wet or a semi-dry trim.

click to enlarge Eric Singleton goes over which trimming machines are best for certain scales of operation. - COURTESY OF THE TRIMMER STORE
Eric Singleton goes over which trimming machines are best for certain scales of operation.
Courtesy of The Trimmer Store
For those who have the popular Greenbroz, Inc. 215 or 420 models, this machine provides coverage of the entire spectrum of the moisture level for trimming, according to Singleton; conveyor systems (also offered by Twister) are ideal for those running large amounts of flower per day. Singleton says these machines limit wasted movement, keeping work areas more efficient while acting as secondary stations for necessary quality control. In addition to Singleton’s choice products, we spoke to the trimmer expert to divulge some of his secrets to successful trimming.

Hash out a plan
Like any lucrative project, a well-crafted plan surrounding your grow is crucial to a healthy harvest, but Singleton says a lot of new trimmers don’t necessary have a plan in place. “This results in wasted time, money and effort. This can be easily avoided by seeking professional guidance and doing a lot of research.”

Hard workers are just as important as great machines
It takes intelligent, trained workers to keep the automated system moving along properly. “People need machines, and machines need people who work like machines to truly see productivity go through the roof. And I mean hard workers — Navy Seal kind of hard workers!”

Work with older, more reliable brands
“This is definitely a buyer-beware moment, as there are a lot of companies churning out untested product in the hopes of capitalizing on the emerging cannabis market.” Singleton highly encourages his customers to stick with reliable brands that have been around long enough to have the proper infrastructure in place.

Grassy smells mean something is wrong
If you detect a grassy smell from your product, according to Singleton, you've lost too much flower and have too much trim, so you're losing volume. “We have some of the largest producers in Colorado on our client list, plus thousands of caregivers. We’ve seen these systems work extremely well, so if they don’t work well, it's usually a user error.”

Practice on hemp
For those new to the trimming game, practice makes perfect. Singleton suggests practicing on hemp: “It’s relatively low-cost, and lets your facility test the process before putting money-making flower into the system. You can have the whole team do several test runs before the actual harvest comes down.”

Keywords from The Trimmer Store

Wet trimming: “The key to wet trimming is having your systems in place, so there are no delays to this fast harvesting style.”

Dry trimming: “For dry trimmers, you have to have good, dense flower, and you have to nail the moisture level. Otherwise, you’re in for a frustrating day.”

Handheld trimming: “The big secret of hand trimmers is to not expect faster results than with scissors. Hand trimmers just make it easier to do the same amount of work.”

Bowl trimming: “[Do] not use them unless you have to. Very few on the market are good for your flower.”

Trimming accessories: “Get the right tools for the job, and don’t skimp on the good stuff. You get what you pay for — and you have to take good care of them.”
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Tracy Block hails from Miami, and transplanted to Colorado in 2015. After a long-enough stint in the mountains, she knew it was time to reenter city civilization, and decided to settle in the progressive arms of Denver. A gluten-free foodie and a self-proclaimed wine snob, Block is always up for the next-best happy hour – dollar oysters and rosé, anyone?
Contact: Tracy Block