Drying Hemp Prior to CBD Extraction: What’s the Best Method
Posted on November 9, 2021 by Cedarstone Industry Team
Freshly harvested hemp doesn’t go directly from the field to the CBD extraction line. It has to be dried first. How industrial hemp plants are dried partially determines how successful extraction efforts are. Note that there are multiple ways to dry plant material.
Is there a best method? No. Like everything else having to do with hemp processing and CBD extraction, drying methods are a matter of individual preference. Processors choose their methods based on their particular goals. For the purposes of this post, we will only discuss two methods: hang-drying and machine drying.
Why Hemp Is Dried
To start with, industrial hemp is dried prior to processing for several reasons. At the top of the list is preventing mold growth. If plant material goes from harvest to extraction, mold could accumulate during shipping and storage. Even the slightest bit of mold can render an entire crop worthless.
The second reason for drying hemp is to help it cure. As long as plants remain in the ground, their biological functions continue. Plant material cannot completely cure until those functions cease. Drying facilitates that. A proper drying technique results in biomass that offers a maximum volume of CBD along with optimal quality.
The easiest and most direct way to dry industrial hemp is to hang it up in a fashion similar to tobacco. Upon harvest, the plants are immediately transported to a drying facility. Plants are hung upside down in a well-ventilated area. Each plant must be given enough space to breathe.
While hang-drying is pretty easy to pull off, maximizing crops requires paying close attention to temperature and humidity. The ideal temperature should be somewhere between 60 and 70°F. As for humidity, 60% is a good target to shoot for. Both temperature and humidity levels have to be modified based on elevation and climate.
Growers also have to pay attention to how dried plants behave. As the material dries out, lower branches start to droop. This can create an umbrella effect that ends up trapping moisture. Not paying attention could lead to mold and mildew.
Overall, hang-drying is a pretty basic process. It takes some time and experience to master the technique. But once mastered, it works well enough.
The second option for drying industrial hemp is the machine-drying method. Custom-designed hemp dryers carry freshly harvested material along with a conveyor system and through the drying mechanism. What comes out of the other end is fully dried and ready for the next step, which is generally CBD extraction.
There are plenty of advantages to machine drying. First up is volume. Some of the best hemp dryers on the market can process up to a thousand pounds of material in an hour or less. Next up, machine-drying creates a more consistent end product because it stabilizes plant material more evenly. Finally, machine-drying requires considerably less labor.
The obvious downside to this method is the cost involved. Investing in an industrial hemp dryer is not a cheap exercise whatever way you look at it. But for industrial growers looking to produce large volumes of biomass for CBD extraction, a hemp-drying machine can pay for itself in short order.
Industrial hemp needs to be dried before moving on to the CBD extraction process. Hang-drying and machine-drying are two options for doing so. Is one better than the other? That depends on your needs and goals. Both types of drying get the job done. If you are looking to stay small, hang-drying is fine. If you are running an industrial operation, machine drying is the better option.