Cultivation is a long and arduous process, but there’s nothing better than seeing the fruits of your labor come together. With that said, it’s easy to ignore one of the most important parts of growing quality cannabis: The Post-Harvest Process.
Post harvest refers to just about everything that happens to the plant after it has been cut and removed from the cultivation room. Some even say it’s the most important part of the cultivation process. When handled improperly, it can degrade or even ruin your entire harvest. That’s because the important compounds in cannabis like cannabinoids and terpenes are extremely volatile. Therefore, proper drying, trimming, and curing are imperative to maximizing the flavor and potency of your harvest.
As important a department as post-harvest is, it is also a very challenging one to staff. The work is redundant and the pay is low making it THE entry-level position for workers entering the cannabis industry. This, in combination with executives being recruited from the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry where automation is prevalent, we are seeing a trend toward automating much of the department.
We’ll tell you how to stay ahead of the curve by streamlining your operation with proper technology and equipment.
Start by Auditing your existing post-harvest process
The first step in streamlining your post-harvest system is to assess the process that’s already in place. That means identifying all of the individual steps and components to look for any pain points or inefficiencies. We recommend looking at everything from harvesting, trimming and drying to weighing, packaging and labeling.
Questions To Ask When Assessing Post-Harvest Efficiency
- Are there any specific steps in the process that you can pinpoint as degrading flower quality?
- Are there any unnecessary steps in the process that can be eliminated?
- Is your operation producing too much post-harvest waste?
- What steps in the process can be automated?
Once you find areas for improvement, the next step is developing post-harvest solutions that allow you to scale across your operation. You can attempt to do this by yourself or you can get a custom integrated solution from RMJ Supply.
Implement Post-Harvest Automation techniques
Automating costly and time-consuming procedures is a must for any commercial grower looking to scale their operation. The up-front costs of upgrading to today’s best machinery and technology more than pay for themselves. That’s because automation helps you save on labor while ensuring a quick harvest with reduced risk of buds drying out or growing mold.
With all this in mind, it’s important to purchase the right equipment for the size and scale of your operation in order to maximize the ROI.
When it comes to drying flower, there are two common methods. The first is hang drying and the other involves laying the plants over a mesh drying rack. The process of actually hanging to dry doesn’t leave room for too much automation. That’s where room temperature and humidity come into play.
It’s generally recommended to keep the humidity between 45 and 55% with a temperature in the range of 60 to 70°. Keeping these numbers in precise ranges can be difficult, but automation and control systems can help you reach the perfect conditions. IOGRU, a leading Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) automation system, allows you to monitor humidity, temperature, soil, lighting, and more.
Some consumers prefer the craft quality of hand-trimmed flower, but doing so at a commercial scale is expensive and requires hiring a large crew. For example, an employee can, on average, only trim around one pound of dry cannabis in a typical 8-hour shift. When trying to scale, choosing the right machine can help you achieve a hand-trimmed look while saving money and time. Most trimming machines can also process either wet or dry flower and RMJ can help you source from the top brands with manufacturer direct pricing across all systems.
Some operators attempt to get the best of both worlds by hand trimming part of the harvest and using a trimming machine for the rest. The hand-trimmed flower can then be sold as a premium and craft offering compared to the machine-trimmed variety. At the end of the day, the decision between machine and hand trimming depends on your facility’s budget, scale, and product offerings.
Sorting is the final step before it comes to curing your harvest. Just like trimming, buds can be hand sorted, but this is expensive and takes up a considerable amount of time. Large cultivation operations and those looking to scale, should consider the investment of an automated cannabis bud sorter. These machines are well worth the initial investment because they help your team reduce the damage to any trichomes and terpenes, decrease labor costs, minimize waste, and speed up the operation.
Once your harvest has been dried and trimmed, it’s imperative to store the buds in a controlled environment to cure. Hobbyist growers have been curing their buds in mason jars for years, today new curing techniques including cryogenic curing through freezing flower are compressing further the post harvest process. With the growing trend of automation in CEA, new innovations will help cultivators streamline the curing process. RMJ can advise on the newest technologies and assist in ROI calculations for any equipment investment.
Invest in a fully integrated & automated post-harvest system
Now that the flower is cured, it’s time to decide on the final product form. We partner with brands like Paxiom to provide fully integrated & automated packaging machines. These automated systems are an invaluable way to speed up the final stages of the post-harvest process. After drying and bucking (removing the flower from the stem), the flower is placed in the machine and process starts with a check weigher. It is then automatically jarred or bagged to your specific specifications where it is labeled for tamper evidence and placed in boxes for distribution.
At RMJ, we have capability and know-how to build out complete automation from weighing through packaged product. Our relationships with suppliers result in your negotiating power. Our team of experts will make sure you always get the right equipment at the right price. Contact us to learn more!
How to source and implement Post-Harvest Equipment
Once again the post-harvest process is arguably the most labor-intensive process in the facility, which makes post-harvest tools and equipment invaluable. By investing in them sooner rather than later, you can streamline your workflow and reduce operating expenses.
RMJ Supply’s team of cultivation experts can help you source and integrate batchers, labeling equipment, packaging automation, rollers, sorters, trim extractors, and more. Our comprehensive platform improves overall performance through access to our trusted supplier network, a diverse team of industry experts, and a reduced total cost to build, expand, and operate commercial CEA facilities. RMJ streamlines the design and delivery of cultivation projects by integrating horticultural equipment and custom-engineered systems within the facility plans.
Contact us to get started with a custom plan and proposal!