Every year in the months of September and October cultivators around the country start pulling their hair out. Why? Because they did not plan properly for Outdoor Season. They acquired great genetics, they got the right soil and nutrients, nailed the feed cycle, and then put zero thought into how they would harvest their large crop. I have been in the trenches every year since 2015 helping cultivators scramble to get their crops down and off to market. In hopes of helping you have a more successful harvest; I’ve put together this simple list of tips so you can hopefully learn from the mistakes of countless others.
1. Have a plan.
This one may sound simple but simply sitting down with your team and discussing all the different aspects of harvesting and how you would like to attack it will get the ball rolling and honestly put you way ahead of the curve. Who is in charge of supplies? Who is in charge of organizing the work force on harvest day? What method are you going to trim? and is your cure room set up and controllable?
2. Know that EVERYTHING will go wrong.
The weather is not going to cooperate. Employees may not show up. Your trimming machine may break down. It is not your fault; its just the nature of Outdoor Season and panicking will only make things worse. When you’re in the thick of it and “the flower hits the fan” remain calm. Fall back on the next step.
3. Have a Back Up Plan
I should say have a back up of everything. If you are planning on doing a wet trim with a TWISTER T4, then you should have a TWISTER BATCHONE in place to also do a dry trim. Have back up parts for those machines in case they go down. If you think you need 20 CHIKAMASA scissors get 40. Hiring a temporary labor crew? Well you better have another company, or some friends on speed dial in case they don’t show on the big day. Did you plan to harvest on October 15th? Well guess what, the first frost is coming in on the 14th at 11:00pm, so what’s your protocol for emergency pull downs?
4. WET or DRY
You need to decide early on which trimming method is best for your cultivation. Wet trimming is by far the easiest method. You trim the flower as soon as it comes down. After which you send it off to cure then to packaging. However, wet trimming requires a large labor force and can be messy as you are trimming wet plant matter. Wet trimming also gives the flower a more “uniform” look. The TWISTER T2 and TWISTER T4 are the absolute best wet trimmers for Outdoor Season. Their versatility allows you to scale up or down as needed and can also handle a dry trim down to 13% moisture level. Dry Trimming is widely accepted as the superior trimming method to get the most natural look and produce a superior nose. Most true dry trimmers operate in a very narrow moisture window of 8.5%-5.5%. The GREEN BROZ MODEL M and TWISTER BATCHONE are the two top machines for executing a commercial dry trim and can be run with relatively small crews. Now to execute a proper dry trim you need to have enough space to hang your flower by its “wish bones” and that space needs to have ample environmental controls so you can nail that moisture window consistently.
As you have probably already noticed I’ve mentioned trimming machines. Its 2020, do not think you are going to trim 5,000 plants entirely by hand. You are going to touch up those individual plants by hand, but trimming machines are going to have to do 90% of the work. Otherwise your labor cost is going to go through the roof, along with your flower loss rate and stress level. Conveyors, Buckers, and Trim Machines can save days off a harvest along with thousands of dollars in subpar labor.
Make sure everyone has a job and knows their role on the big day. Here are examples of roles and responsibilities for a wet harvest.
- 8 Crew Members - (6 days prior to Harvest Day)
- 2 crew members: Cutting Plants on Harvest Day
- 2 crew members: Breaking down plants for Bucker machine
- 1 crew member: Compliance Officer
- 2 crew members: Trim Machine Operator
- 1 crew member: Bucking Machine Operator
- 5 crew members: Quality Control - hand trim touch up
- 1 crew member: Moves flower to cure room
A crew of this size on harvest day could trim up to 100lbs per hour with the proper set up.
7. Get Help Ahead of Time
Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you find yourself telling a store employee “I need it yesterday”, its too late. Call your local GrowGeneration store and ask to speak to one of our specialists. Ask them to help you go over your plan or come up with one for the big day. That is what we are here for. We want you to be successful and Outdoor Season has so many variables including weather, pests, labor, and genetics that its best to get a 2nd and 3rd opinion on what approach is best for you.