By Rasta Ronnie, High-Grade Specialist at SevenFive Farm
Marijuana Trimming Machines vs. Hand-Trimming
What’s the best way to trim weed? It’s a familiar question for most of us working in the cannabis cultivation space. And as you can probably guess (or maybe not), it’s a hotly debated topic of conversation these days. Especially as advances in trimming technology present new and improved options for growers.
So does it make sense to invest in a marijuana trimming machine for your grow? There are lots of factors to consider. But for most cannabis cultivators out there, and especially for those growing at commercial scale, hand trimming is stupid. OK, maybe that’s a little harsh. And it’s not entirely true, depending on your product lines. But most commercial growers would be foolish not to consider automated trimming options.
The way I see it, hand trimming only makes sense for craft growers who can sell their flower at premium prices.
That said, let’s take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of hand trimming and automated trimming systems for commercial cannabis cultivators.
Who’s Trimming Your Weed?
Trimming cannabis by hand—and doing it well—simply requires a basic pair of trimming scissors and a skilled set of hands. And among connoisseurs, hand-trimmed cannabis is widely considered the highest-quality flower. With skilled hand trimming, each and every bud is cut precisely to perfection and the trichomes are preserved. There’s definitely an art to trimming different strains for their best presentation and highest quality.
Depending on who’s doing the trimming, and how skilled (or unskilled) they are, your hand-trimmed bud can turn out really nice and even, or it can wind up weird and inconsistent. That’s why labor is one of the biggest factors to consider in your trimming equation.
Skilled trimmers develop their expertise over years of hands-on experience. But if you want trimmers like that—the kind of trimmers who can produce consistently high-quality bud trimmed for top-shelf appeal—you’ll have to pay them well. Those labor costs can quickly balloon for cultivators growing at scale.
On the other hand, hiring trimmers on the cheap isn’t a great option, either. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for here. You can’t expect poorly paid, inexperienced trimmers—who are often used on a temporary basis—to do great work. You’ll almost certainly lose all of the benefits to be had from hand trimming if your trimmers are unskilled or poorly paid.
If you do opt for low-rate trimmers, I highly recommend implementing some sort of performance-based pay.
Does Automated Trimming Impact Quality?
Marijuana trimming machines tend to get a bad rap among seasoned connoisseurs. But in all honesty, marijuana trimmers are a lot better than they used to be. The rapid growth of this industry has sparked tons of innovation around automated trimming, and there are a bunch of different options for marijuana trimming machines today—from highly efficient systems designed for large-scale grows, to lower-priced machines designed for smaller harvests, and even super-affordable trim bags that anyone can use to expedite the process.
Since today’s marijuana trimming machines and tools work much better than their older counterparts, growers no longer need to sacrifice quality for speed. Integrating new machinery and equipment to streamline the trimming process makes sense for most growers today. That said, I find that most marijuana trimming machines work best in tandem with a bit of hand finishing for a perfectly manicured result.
A Blended Approach to Cannabis Trimming
The benefits of marijuana trimming machines go beyond maximizing output and efficiency. For example, certain trimming systems can also sort out your trimmed flower by size, separating your trim from popcorn buds and full buds—a tedious and time-consuming task when done by hand.
Highly automated trimming systems offer large-scale growers unparalleled efficiency and cost savings, but they don’t always do the best job of separating things like stems and occasional seeds from the buds. They also don’t always trim buds into the most desirable shape. To get the best quality out of machine-trimmed cannabis flower, I recommend doing your final manicure and quality control check by hand before packaging.