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Should You Hand Trim Or Machine Trim Your Cannabis?

Hand trimming cannabis typically produces higher quality buds, but takes much longer to complete than the alternative. Machine trimming weed is much more efficient and convenient, yet buds could potentially be damaged during the process. Which one you choose will depend on your resources and your expectations.

Although it often gets overshadowed by the harvest process itself, trimming is one of the most crucial steps in the growing process, especially in today’s quality-driven market. A proper trim can make the difference between an enjoyable and smooth smoking experience, and a less pleasant and harsh one. There are two ways that growers can trim their product: by machine, or by hand. Both have their advantages, disadvantages, and unique use cases. Ultimately, which one you choose will have a significant impact on the quality of the final product.

WHAT IS HAND TRIMMING?

Hand trimming is exactly what it sounds like. The leaves of each bud are individually trimmed by hand. Hand trimming is the traditional method of removing leaves and other unwanted plant material from your buds. It is a time-tested method that consistently delivers excellent results, albeit at a slow pace. However, if you have some dedicated trimmers, some time, and some patience, hand trimming will truly offer you the best result.

WHY HAND-TRIM?

The biggest advantage of using the hand trimming technique is the quality and beauty of the final product. Each unique bud gets a custom trim that allows its finest characteristics to shine. Hand trimming is more accurate than machine trimming, and can help you to really get the most out of each bud. By carefully trimming buds by hand with sharp shears, your buds will lose fewer trichomes than if processed by a machine, and will look more aesthetically pleasing to boot.

DOWNSIDES OF HAND TRIMMING

The huge downside of hand trimming is the amount of time and focus it takes to do it at a high level. If you have a large amount of bud to process, hand trimming can be incredibly tedious, time-consuming, and even costly. However, the sacrifice may be worth it in order to put the final touches on top-shelf bud. Hand trimming may work fine for a personal grow, but commercial growers often have massive amounts of product to process. In these cases, hand trimming product means dealing with the cost and hassle of having to hire and employ trimmers.

WHAT IS MACHINE TRIMMING?

As demand for marijuana has skyrocketed, processing technology has similarly advanced. Specialised machines can be used to trim your cannabis for you. These machines vary in size, speed, cost, and quality. However, newer trimming machines are capable of trimming several pounds of marijuana per hour, completely removing the need to hire hand trimmers.

WHY MACHINE-TRIM?

The main advantage of using a machine trimmer is the speed with which you can process your cannabis. Some top-of-the-line commercial trimmers can process up to 19 pounds (

8.6kg) per hour, making them much more efficient than hand trimmers. For commercial growers, this difference in processing time makes the decision between hand or machine trimming an easy one.

The need to get large amounts of cannabis to market very quickly means that machine trimming will forever be a part of the marijuana industry. Thanks to the drastic improvement of trimming technology over the past decade, superb final buds are now being produced by machines. While trichome loss is still a concern, mangled or wasted product is rare nowadays. Most machine trimmers consistently produce high-quality results that most smokers can’t recognise as being machine-trimmed.

DOWNSIDES OF MACHINE TRIMMING

Machine trimmers have an unfortunate reputation for damaging buds. Hand-trimmed bud maintains more of its trichomes and resin than machine-trimmed bud. A machine trimmer simply cannot perfectly trim cannabis without taking off too much.

Machine trimmers can sometimes also damage buds by over-trimming them. Leaving bud in a trimmer for too long can result in unnecessarily small buds. Moreover, over-trimming flower can also affect its potency and flavour.

Machine trimmers can be quite pricey. Smaller, less efficient models can be purchased for a couple hundred US dollars, but high-quality trimmers cost thousands. Depending on how much cannabis you are trimming, the up-front cost can be recouped quickly in money saved from not having to hire trimmers. However, if you are trimming a personal stash, it may be better to save your money and just do it by hand.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: DRY VS. WET TRIMMING

One other thing to consider is whether you will trim your bud while wet, or after drying. Wet trimming occurs when the bud is trimmed immediately after being cut from the stem. Dry trimming requires you to wait until your buds are dried up before trimming. Many growers prefer one or the other. However, some growers prefer to find a balance between the two, performing some trimming on the wet bud, and more after it is dried out.

Wet trimming is recommended by many growers since plant material is easier to handle when wet. Wet trimming is also more suitable for machine trimming because the buds are somewhat harder to damage. In addition, trimming wet bud is said to help reduce the chance that mould may develop during the drying process.

Dry trimming is less efficient and more time consuming than wet trimming. It is harder to trim dried buds since they are more brittle and likely to be damaged. This method is more precise than wet trimming and is considered to produce more aesthetically pleasing buds. If you are looking to produce the best quality of cannabis possible, dry trimming is probably the way to go.

Marijuana buds can be trimmed either by hand, or by machine. Which method you choose will affect the final quality of your buds and their processing time.

Choosing the Best Trimming Solutions For Your Grow Operation Big OR Small

So you’ve harvested your cannabis plants after months of taking care of them? Great! If it is a small batch or low-yielding seeds you’ve planted, you could probably trim them by hand to smaller buds that you can grind in your weed grinder and finally enjoy.

However, if you’re running a cannabis business, or just have a lot of buds that need to be trimmed this can be a very time-consuming task. This is where the bud trimmer steps in.

A bud trimmer is a cannabis grower’s best friend and you will enjoy its use to the fullest each time you use it. But depending on your requirements, a simple bud trimming by hand may not be enough to do the job. But if you’re going to ask which bud trimmer is the best, the answer depends on your needs with consideration to several factors.

Bud trimming machines fall into 3 categories: manual bud trimmers, automatic bud trimmers, and industrial bud trimmer machines. Then you also get wet and dry bud trimmers.

Wet bud is fresh flowers that have just been harvested, while dry refers to flowers that have been dried and cured. Both wet and dry trimming have advantages and disadvantages. Trimmers range from trimming scissors for trimming small amounts to big industrial machines that do the work of 75 people trimming by hand.

If you run a large operation, you should know how many pounds per hour you need to be able to process and this will in turn dictate whether you can get away with manual sheers or if you’ll be better off investing in an automated commercial solution.

Importance of Proper Trimming

  • Smoking leaf is harsh and unpleasant on the throat. Removing as much leaf matter from your weed as possible will make it smoother and taste much better.
  • Trimmed buds look way more appealing, but this comes down to personal opinion. Some folks like a less manicured look because it feels more natural. The look of clean, well-trimmed buds is a sign of a grower who cares about quality weed.
  • The leaves of your plants contain much less THC and CBD, so removing as much as possible will make your yield stronger.

What are the advantages of using automated bud trimming machines?

The biggest advantage of using a bud trimmer is efficiency and speed. Trimming by hand is a long and tedious process. Using a machine to trim will result in you losing a little more smokeable bud as the outside of the buds are trimmed. However, we think it’s worth it for awesome smooth buds and you can easily recover the trimmings to smoke or even cook with.

To Trim Wet or Dry, That is the Question

Within the cultivation community there are generally two main philosophies when it comes to trimming. One side says you should trim as soon as the flower is harvested while it is fresh and the other side says you should first try the flower out before trimming them down.

Below are some of the pros and cons of both wet and dry trimming:

Advantages of wet trimming
  • The leaves are more swollen when the branch is freshly cut which makes it easier to remove the sugar leaves
  • Wet trimmed buds take up less space when drying
  • The buds dry faster because there is less mass to dry (wet trimming can reduce drying time to as little as 3 days in the right conditions)
Disadvantages of wet trimming
  • Wet trimming can increase your chance of developing mold when drying
  • Even though your buds dry faster, if they dry too quickly the smoke can be harsh and your weed can taste bad and smell like cat piss. Expert growers avoid these issues by slowly and carefully drying and curing their buds after wet trimming.
Advantages of dry trimming
  • The smell and flavor of your weed is preserved because the leaves act as mini humidors while your buds dry
  • You can trim your buds ‘on-demand’ as you want to smoke them for optimal smell and flavor
Disadvantages of try trimming
  • The curled up dry leaves can be harder to trim – but they do break off more easily

Traditional Hand Trimming vs. Machine Trimming

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to the choice between the traditional vs. machines in bud trimming. Only you can choose what manner is right for your needs. However, machines are designed for a larger scale of operation and to make bud trimming faster without hurting or tiring your hands.

Some of the most used tools in traditional bud trimming include gloves, trimming clippers, trimming scissors, mesh rack, and cookie sheets. This method requires a lot of patience since it takes some time and the long list of supplies listed above can consume quite a bit of storage/inventory space.

If you’re growing cannabis for recreational purposes and you only got around 5-10 plants, manual trimmers or small automatic cordless trimmers may be sufficient. But when you think about planting more plants you might want to change to a decent size automatic trimmer to accommodate your growing needs.

Now, if you think about expanding and doing this growing weed to a full scale, then you might need to find the industrial type of bud trimmer machines specially designed for industrial/commercial purposes.

Best Manual Trimmers/Bud Sheers

Manual bud trimmers require manual trimming with the use of your hands and tools. Shear bud trimmers and bud bowl trimmers are ideal for small scale growers because of its light, small, and easy storage design when managing a small number of plants. The price is low compared to the other kinds of bud trimmers.

Fiskars Micro-Tip Pruner with Non-Stick Blades

The Fiskar Micro-tip pruner is the best selling pruner on the market for a reason as it marries perfectly value and quality at a price point that both gets the job done while not breaking the bank.

Fiskar is one of the most well known and trusted scissor brands in the world, not just within the cultivation community but with professional chefs and botanists as well.

  • Make quick, precise cuts when deadheading, trimming and shaping small plants with easy-to-use pruning snips
  • Easy Action spring-action design gently opens blades after each cut to help reduce hand fatigue
  • Fully hardened, precision-ground stainless steel blades stay sharp, even through heavy use
  • Non-stick coating helps reduce jamming and buildup of sticky resin

If you want to make precise cuts without spending too much time, this is a great product to consider. The spring mechanism will allow it to cut smoother while also being able to significantly reduce fatigue and the blades are coated with a non-stick material, that while not trichome-proof gets less sticky less fast compared to steel blades.

There is also a blinged-out variant, with the same “soft-touch” spring action but with titanium nitride blades, designed to keep sharp longer and essentially last a lifetime, making them great for heavy jobs like cutting thicker/harder plant stems.

  • Ideal for cutting heavy-duty materials like denim, upholstery, cardboard and more
  • Blades feature a titanium coating that is three times harder than steel for lasting durability
  • Serrated blades grip while they cut to hold materials in place
  • Length: 8 inch
  • Lifetime warranty

In an ideal world, we’d have two pair of sheers, one more heavy duty for initial pass trimming of larger branches/nodes and then a smaller more delicate non-stick pair for finishing flower off.

The non-slip grip is also a plus, allowing you to work continuously without easily complaining of discomfort.

  • Make quick, precise cuts when deadheading, trimming and shaping small plants with easy-to-use pruning snips
  • Easy Action spring-action design gently opens blades after each cut to help reduce hand fatigue
  • Fully hardened, precision-ground stainless steel blades stay sharp, even through heavy use
  • Non-stick coating helps reduce jamming and build-up of sticky resin

iPower GLTRIMBOWL16M 16-Inch Leaf Bowl Trimmer Machine

While the Fiskars mentioned above are great for home-growers and hobbyists with small yields, they can be a bit inadequate for medium-sized home grows or anyone growing enough for more than one person.

That’s where the iPower GLTrimBowl comes into the picture. This, while still a manually powered solution is semi-automated in its capacity to bulk-trim at a larger scale than individual flower tripping with sheers.

  • Material and Includes: Acrylic transparent cover, 24 black rubber strip and black rubber ring, stainless steel mesh and basin(19inch), 4 rubber column, 1 serrated blade for dry trim, 1 straight blade for wet trim, 1 scissors.
  • Visual Cutting: Transparent plastic cover with high transparency, easy to observe the cutting situation. The cover made of acrylic is strong and firm.
  • Function: Trim twigs and remove leaves (hydroponic)
  • Powerful Scissors: Harness the power of 30 scissors in 1 unit.
  • Highly Quality: Come with sharp blade make clean quality cuts and minimize the damage done to the plants.

The iPower Bowl Leaf Trimmer is one of the best bud trimming machines you will find. This trimmer bowl has a transparent acrylic cover, along with a stainless steel basin and mesh. It also comes with black rubber materials for additional security and flexibility so that you do not damage your plants.

The only downside to the iPower and the below automated solutions is there is no getting around the fact you WILL lose some trichomes in the process compared to hand trimming

For this reason, we’d advise sticking to manual trimming with hand sheers for super premium buds and only using automated solutions if your volume prevents you from manual trimming or if the product is a lower tier.

Best Electric & Automatic Trimmers for Small-Medium Volumes

Electric operated bud trimmer machines are the most popular in the ever-growing market of weed growers. These products give you the perfect speed of trimming machine with your hands’ precision.

The Magic™ Trimmer Bud Trimmer

Compared to everything below here the Magic Trimmer is probably the most precise tool you’ll get that’s still automatic.

This is because the Magic Trimmer is simply an automated trimmer that still requires human eyes and hands and dexterity to manually trim a plant, whereas other automated solutions rely more on mechanical agitation and fixed sheers to bulk process material.

  • At just 2.5 pounds it’s light and easy to maneuver
  • Comes with 3 replacement blades

Buying the Magic Trimmer will yield a good return of investment each harvest time. This is one of the bestsellers in the market today because of its design built for safety, speed, and efficient trimming. You cannot get any better offer than that on top of a very affordable price and portability.

  • Good for wet and dry trim
  • 1 yr. warranty
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Excellent precision
  • Good for small and medium growers
  • Affordable

Risentek XLE Automatic 16inch Trimmer

Everything up to this point was the minor leagues. Everything below this point is commercial-grade major leagues. There is definitely a jump in price but there is an even greater jump in the total processing capacity of the fully-automated trimming solutions like the Risentek commercial grade trimmer.

  • UPGRADED ELETRIC TRIMMER: Most efficient, time saver, commercial grade manual plexiglass lid electric bud leaf trimmer with stainless cylinder, silicone finger, large mesh bag
  • WET & DRY TRIMMING compatible with wet and dry trim. Ideal for getting rid of excess leaves and trim twigs from a variety of plants and flowers. Featured with rotor speed dial(0-70RPM) for adjust spinning speed needed, forward or reverse
  • This new, large 16-inch trimmer built with long lasting metal gearbox and CNC center grate with 5/16-inch slot for all size of flower trimming needed
  • Featured with shoot gate for easy empty out trimmed flower with effortless
  • Ideal for getting rid of excess leaves and trim twigs from a variety of plants and flowers

The Risentek Spin Cutter uses all industrial grade materials, from a plexiglass lid to a entirely stainless steel bowl to food-grade non-stick silicone fingers and heavy duty mesh collection bag.

Other features of the commercial-grade Risentek include:

  • Handles both wet and dry (cured) trimming jobs
  • Completely adjustable rotor speed, important for varying yield sizes
  • Extra large 16 inch trimmer for large yields
  • CNC’d center grate with standardized 5/16th inc slots
  • Emptying shoot with latched gate for quick and efficient emptying

In essence, this is a MACHINE. Risentek claim this machine can produce the trimming power of over 20 scissors. Clutch productivity if you’re producing at scale!

Best Industrial Trimmers for High Volume/High Yield Growers

Industrial bud trimmer machines are ideal for larger-scale operations, usually for commercial purposes. These are a good investment for your money. Each time you use these trimmers, your labor costs are reduced and the processing time is decreased.

Triminator Wet Industrial System

We are now into full-blown commercial cultivation and processing territory with price tags to match. The below systems are not for home use and would be complete overkill for anyone processing less than 100lbs of flower per day.

That said, if you ARE processing bulk volumes then automated trimming machines like the Triminator are about to make your life a whole lot easier!

If you have a large-scale commercial grow, you need a trimmer than can keep up with demand. The Triminator trims wet buds on a scale of 200lbs per day. The blade reel is so sharp and accurate that it cuts as close as the width of a human hair.

The Triminator (wet) was built from military-grade material and it can be pressure-washed with no problem. It’s covered by a 2-year warranty.

  • High Output
  • Precise Cuts at Fast Speeds
  • Gentle Bud Treatment
  • Easy Clean-Up
  • Tough Build

If you are looking to bulk trim only dry herb Triminator that is a little less mechanically complicated and also a little bit cheaper, win-win for the dry trimmers!

The Centurion Pro Mini Leaf Trimmer

If you’re looking for an automated solution that is ready for all out war on leaves then the 10-year-warranty-backed Centurion Pro Mini might be the beast for you.

When you’re growing on a large scale, you need a powerful trimmer to take care of big harvests. The Centurion Pro Mini can do both dry and wet trimming—just select the tumbler you need. This trimmer is very compact, but it can process 12-16 pounds of dry flower and up to 60-80 pounds of wet flower per hour!

The efficient dust collection system and dust collector keeps everything as neat and clean as possible. And when you’re done trimming, it’s easy to pull apart and wash. Centurion Pro covers the Mini with an excellent 5-year warranty.

  • Built-in suction power allows for a very tight trim.
  • Fully pressure washable and easy to clean.

CenturionPro 3.0 Trimmer

Finally, here we are at the end of our “best bud trimmers” roundup and we’re going out with a bang with what is perhaps the biggest, baddest, full-blown commercial-est bulk trimming solution out there, the CenturionPro 3.0.

The 3.0, Medical Grade Trimming System is the highest capacity automated trimming machine in the world, but this system also comes Health Canada/FDA ready with medical-grade anodized aluminum and stainless-steel components to meet all regulatory standards.

  • Food grade direct feed hopper
  • Unsurpassed quality
  • Durability
  • Hardened steel, 11 blade cutting reel (x3)
  • Rugged, stainless steel tumblers (x3)
  • 40% greater trichome preservation

The CenturionPro 3.0 is essentially 3 regular Centurion’s welded together to triple efficiency. If you’re weighing the Centurion Pro mini vs the Pro 3.0 it should all come down to the total projected poundage of plant you expect to process in a day. Otherwise in terms of build quality, warranty, and effectiveness they are just about equal.

Things to Remember When Choosing a Trimming Solution

Ultra-modern technology continuously changes and improves machines to make life better and easier.

Depending on your business or personal needs you can go for manual, automatic, or industrial bud trimmer machines and end up happy with your investment but be sure to consider the product’s quality, features, warranty, and your budget in your purchase.

  • Sheers for home grow and ultra-premium boutique buds
  • Semi-auto for premium buds and startup sized businesses
  • Automatic trimmers for large scale commercial operations

***Note, there are PLENTY of cultivars that process thousands of pounds of plants annually who still prefer to hire teams of manual trimmers with sheers, and we definitely respect that as providing safe, good paying jobs is just one way the cannabis industry can support their local communities.

We also understand the work supply might be tight in some areas or the buds might be for products that don’t require finesse (hello edibles) in which case automated and semi-automated solutions make perfect sense.

Keep in mind: the best machines for you are the right ones that let you run a smoother operation and help achieve your purpose after all factors are considered. Don’t get distracted by bling!

Last update on 2020-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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So you've harvested your cannabis plants after months of taking care of them? Great! If it is a small batch or low-yielding seeds you've planted, you could