Cannabis Chemistry – What to Know about Evaporation Post-Harvest

post cannabis harvest evaporation

The goal of every cultivation process is to have a high yield after cultivation. This reality is the same with cannabis cultivation and is even more important given the high demand for canna-products. Much care is then taken to ensure that all the aspects of cultivation are well regulated to ensure the right quality of cannabis flowers. One such aspect where care is needed is the treatment of the cannabis flower post-harvest. Read on as we share all there is to know about the chemistry of the cannabis plant following evaporation post-harvest.

Cannabis and Humidity

The relationship between humidity and cannabis is a special bond that every cannabis cultivator knows all too well about. The choice of whether to cure the plant totally or retain moisture is one that distinct top cannabis cultivators from others. Moisture retention is very important as it plays a huge role in determining the overall quality of the cannabis plant. Different cannabis cultivators have harnessed this knowledge to set aside their products from that of other competitors in the market.

Some cannabis cultivators are always in a rush to process harvest flowers. This leads them to quickly cure the plant and when this is done hurriedly, it affects the chemistry of the product. This impacts the identity of their product among retailers and consumers. Read on as we look into just how much evaporation post-harvest steals from the cannabis plant and how beneficial moisture retention can be.

Insufficient humidity

The cannabis plant plays host to over 100 cannabinoids which are useful for a different number of reasons. Contrary to what many cannabis users think, cannabinoids are much more than CBD and THC. The plant also contains terpenes which give different strains of cannabis plants their unique taste and aroma. Terpenes also have therapeutic uses alongside cannabinoids. Different researches are ongoing to fully elucidate the extent of the medicinal effects of the cannabinoids of cannabis and the terpenes.

The cannabinoids act in synergy to give what is known as the entourage effect. The entourage effect is the interaction of different cannabinoids to increase their effectiveness in the endocannabinoid system. This improves the medicinal effects of the plant and humidity plays a role in controlling it. When excess evaporation is done after harvesting the cannabis plants, the trichomes become fragile and can easily break off. The backlash of this is that terpenes also tend to evaporate meaning that the plant loses a lot of beneficial compounds.

Unfortunately, what is lost to evaporation cannot be recovered back. This means that even if the cannabis plant is rehydrated, the terpene content lost cannot be replaced. This invariably damages the aroma and taste of the cannabis plant and creates a situation hard to remedy. This reality is a product of insufficient humidity in the cannabis plant which occurs after excess evaporation post-harvest.

The downside of excess evaporation post-harvest

The loss of the beneficial compounds in the cannabis plant to evaporation changes the chemistry of the plant. Excess evaporation reduces the therapeutic value of the cannabis plant and can render it ineffective. This becomes a worry if it is to be used medicinally as it may bring about therapeutic failure in medical marijuana patients.

The ultimate effect of excess evaporation of cannabis plants post-harvest eventually falls on the consumers. Those with proper knowledge of the plants know the importance of moisture for determining cannabinoid and terpene content. When they discover that cannabis plants from a source have been over-dried, it is only natural that they look for another source. This ultimately results in financial losses for the cannabis cultivator. An analysis done at Boveda further shows how dry cannabis flowers can affect profit. 72 flower samples sold at five legal markets were analyzed in terms of humidity and the results used to ration losses. Resinous compounds in cannabis plants evaporate when the cannabis flower is stored below 55 percent relative humidity.

About 70 percent of the flower samples analyzed were found to be overly dry. This class of flower samples had relative humidity that was below the range of 58 to 62 percent. A mere 5 percent below optimal relative humidity means that 6 pounds of 1000 ponds of cannabis tested are lost. At a rate of $5 per gram, this sums up to about a $13,500 loss. One can imagine the financial impact of a 70 percent effect.

It is probably easy to just say since moisture is so important, then plants should not be dried. However, excess moisture bears the risk of making the plant susceptible to mold and microbial growth. This also renders the plant useless and brings about financial loss for the cultivator. This is why most cultivators are quick to dry cannabis plants and with moisture also being very important, a way forward is necessary.

Way forward

One viable solution that can attend to the issue of excess evaporation is the use of a two-way humidity control solution. A two-way humidity control solution helps to add or remove water vapor from a package or container. Think of it as a buffer solution that helps to maintain a constant predetermined RH level. This is beneficial to help producers maintain consistent moisture strength in cannabis plants thereby saving the cannabinoid and terpene content. It also removes the risk of mold or microbial growth in the plant.

A study done with a two-way humidity control solution shows that it can help improve terpene content by 18 percent and cannabinoid content by 23 percent. This ultimately improves the quality of the plant and its value which translates into profits for the cultivator.

Bottom line

Evaporation of cannabis plants post-harvest though important has to be well controlled. Excess evaporation reduces the quality and value of the cannabis plant. Excess moisture on the other hand opens up the plant to mold and microbial growth. This is why it is important to find a balance between the maintenance of moisture levels in cannabis plants. A balance can be found with a two-way humidity control solution.

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