Hand Trimmed vs Machine Trimmed: What are the Differences?

Hand Trimmed vs Machine Trimmed: What are the Differences?

If you’re fairly new to the world of cannabis, seeing specific flower options labeled as “hand-trimmed” or “machine trimmed” might leave you with more questions than answers.

By Sophia Schivone

If you’re fairly new to the world of cannabis, seeing specific flower options labeled as “hand-trimmed” or “machine trimmed” might leave you with more questions than answers. At FLUENT, one of the most common questions we hear is, “What is the difference between hand-trimmed and machine trimmed flower?”

When it comes down to hand-trimmed vs. machine trimmed flower, it’s not so much about which one is better – instead, choosing between the two simply involves weighing each one’s pros and cons against your personal preferences. Budget, preferred quality, and availability are all factors that are usually considered by cannabis consumers deciding between machine trimmed and hand-trimmed flower. Keep reading for a useful breakdown of the most important differences between the two, making it simple for you to choose the one that best suits your ideal cannabis experience.

What is Trimming?

During the cannabis growing process, several steps must be completed before a consumable flower is ready for sale. One of the final steps in this process is trimming, which involves the cannabis buds being removed from the branches of the plant and then properly shaped. Trimming is one of the more tedious and labor-intensive parts of cannabis production, motivating many producers to create innovative new ways to get the job done more efficiently. As a result, machine trimming has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially as demand for products steadily grows.

Hand Trimming

Trimming cannabis by hand is the more traditional method of the two, and has long been the only way to obtain the buds for use. For centuries, hand trimming has been the method of choice, requiring only a pair of trimmers, some time, and a significant amount of effort. Many discerning cannabis consumers believe that hand trimming is valuable not only for its longstanding legacy but also for the pristine results it typically produces.

Pros of Hand Trimming Cannabis

Hand trimmed cannabis is unique much in the same way that a handmade sweater might be – because it requires a highly customized approach and a certain element of human judgment, hand trimming can deliver beautifully-crafted cannabis buds.

High-quality hand-trimming is extremely precise, ensuring that every cannabis bud is trimmed in a way that highlights its most special strain characteristics. Because every cannabis strain is unique in its appearance, a specialized approach to trimming can bring out its most desirable qualities, including distinct bud structures and calyxes.

For example, certain strains can be trimmed to enhance their fragile structures, while others may be specifically cut to celebrate its fluffiness. When the trimming is completed by a human as opposed to a machine, buds are handled on a case by case basis. Additionally, hand trimming maximizes the terpenes and plant-based properties preserved at this stage of the process.

One of the benefits of hand trimming is that every single bud can be closely inspected for seeds and stems, as well as contamination issues like bugs or mold. Only the minimal amount of bud will be lost during trimming, in contrast to machine trimming, which can sometimes be slightly wasteful if not properly done.

Last (but certainly not least), hand-trimmed cannabis offers a boost to the larger cannabis industry and the job market. By creating entry-level jobs, it opens the door for individuals to break into the flourishing cannabis market and do their part to support the industry.

Cons of Hand Trimming Cannabis

As you’d probably guess, hand trimming takes a significant amount of time to complete. Because the job can only be completed by a live person who must be paid fairly for their work, it’s also more expensive. Depending on the skill and experience level of the trimmer, one worker might complete anywhere between one and three pounds of cannabis per day.

For producers that consistently bring in large harvests, the process of hand trimming can be extremely costly and time-consuming. Furthermore, organizing a trimming team can be challenging, especially when the product supply depends on trimmers’ dependability and quality of work.

Hand Trimming is Ideal for…

Usually, producers opt for hand trimming of their very best cannabis crops. By making a smart investment in top-shelf cannabis flower, they can ensure that its treasured characteristics are properly accentuated and appreciated by the discerning consumer. Because high-quality cannabis usually possesses very dense, large colas and only minimal leaf material, hand trimming is actually easier for these crops. If you’re searching for the ultimate in premium cannabis, you may want to consider spending the extra money for a hand-trimmed product to see if you notice any major differences.

Machine Trimming

Machine trimming is a method that utilizes a specialized system to complete the task of trimming cannabis buds. New advancements in machinery have provided producers with a wealth of options when it comes to streamlining the process, speeding up their trimming speed from 1-3 pounds per day (for hand trimming) to as much as 19 pounds per hour. There are trimming systems available for large-scale producers, as well as affordable options for home growers (in states where it is legal).

Pros of Machine Trimming

Machine trimming can save an incredible amount of time by dramatically shortening the wait between the drying room and the curing jars. After making the initial investment in the trimming machine, cannabis growers and producers save a considerable amount of money. In turn, they are able to transfer their savings to the consumers, offering more affordable options for cannabis flower.

Also, machine trimming is completed in a sterile, highly efficient environment. Trimmings are saved for use in concentrates, and the cleanly trimmed buds still provide excellent quality.

Cons of Machine Trimming

Until recently, machine trimming was considered a lower quality method in comparison to hand trimming. Seasoned cannabis consumers used to complain that machine trimmed buds always ended up in the same, generic shape and that too much flower material was lost in the process. Sometimes, trichomes fall off during machine trimming, which can affect not just the appeal of the final product, but also its flavor.

However, machine trimmers have come a long way over the years. Significant improvements have been made to the various pieces of machinery, resulting in an impressively high-quality final product. Particularly when you’re purchasing from a highly reputable dispensary who works closely with dedicated growers and producers, machine trimmed cannabis can be the ideal balance between quality and affordability.

Machine Trimming is Ideal for…

Large-scale growers and producers frequently use machine trimming because the method is so much more efficient and affordable. If you’re shopping for cannabis that’s budget-friendly but doesn’t sacrifice quality, machine trimmed might be right for you. Machine trimmed cannabis goes through an inspection process from human employees, which can combine the best of both worlds.

By Sophia Schivone