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Hand-Trimming vs. Machine-Trimming: Pros and Cons

There seems to be a clear divide in the industry between those who hand-trim cannabis, and those who opt for trimming machines. Hand-trimmers argue that the process of carefully handling each flower leads to a superior shape, texture, and overall appeal, saying that trimming cannabis with machines can knock off trichomes and bruise delicate buds. Those who use machines, however, argue from the opposite perspective, stating that trimming technology has progressed to a point where machine trimmed flower is indistinguishable from that of hand-processed cannabis. 

So, who wins the debate? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer. Because every garden is different, both hand-trimmed and machine processed cannabis can benefit growers on a case-by-case basis. Want to learn more about the different ways to process your crop? Read the following passages for information on the pros and cons of hand and machine trimmed cannabis: 

The Pros and Cons of Hand-Trimming Cannabis

It’s true – trimming cannabis is one of the most monotonous jobs in the garden. So, why would anyone want to spend more time trimming their crop by hand? Simply put, hand-trimming is unique in the same way that handmade fabrics are unique: each flower or section of flower gets the same attention during this process, giving hand-trimmed cannabis incomparable features, shapes, and appeal. However, trimming by hand can be expensive, tiresome, and time-consuming, making it a luxury that some larger facilities cannot afford. If you’re unsure if hand-trimming your crop is right for you, read the following passages to learn more: 

Hand-trimmed cannabis produces incomparable features, shapes, and appeal

The Pros of Hand-Trimming

A Precise Trim

Because of the attention to detail during this process, hand-trimmed cannabis can be uniquely shaped, giving every strain an ideal and precise cut. All strains have different flowering characteristics. Some strains grow massive, doughy flowers, while others bloom small but densely packed buds. Knowing this, well-trained hand-trimmers can adjust their trimming style based on the desired look and feel of the crop. So, by hand-trimming cannabis, every single flower is processed with the same care, preciseness and attention to detail – no matter the strain. 

Using a pair of high-quality shears can help alleviate the fatigue associated with hand-trimming. Spring-loaded shears, such as the Curved and Straight Blade Trimming Shears from TNB Naturals reduce hand stress and allow growers to hand trim over a long session.

Quality Control

Not only does hand-trimmed cannabis deliver a superior and individual cut, but each flower during the hand-trimming process goes through an individual quality control inspection. Your crop might look incredible, however, pests, diseases, or seeds may have unknowingly infiltrated your garden. So, it’s highly important to set up multiple quality assurance checkpoints during the harvesting process. Because hand-trimmers have the best view of flowers passing from plants to the drying room, they can act as another level of quality control, making sure that freshly trimmed flowers are free of moulds, mildews, seeds, and pests. 

The Cons of Hand-Trimming

Organizing Trimming Crews

Organizing a highly-trained trimming crew is a challenging task. Especially for operations that require a large team, the availability of highly skilled workers is entirely dependent on market demands, supply, dependability, and profit. For example, the costs associated with paying a trimming crew can drastically decrease the profit margin of a crop – and the more skilled these workers are, the more likely they are to be expensive. Also, it’s a possibility that trimming crews will need to be equipped with scissors, trays, sanitizing material, gloves, and other protective gear during this process, all of which come at an extra cost.

Click here to view the harvesting and protective equipment available at GreenPlanet Wholesale. 

(Rosenthal, Hand-trimming Vs Machine-Trimming, @edrosenthal)

Harvesting Fatigue

Because trimming by hand is such a long-lasting, and delicate process, it’s easy for trimmers to become fatigued with the overwhelming amount of work. Anyone who’s worked as a trimmer knows the feeling when the steady clash of scissors drifts away and the drained faces of exhausted workers litter the grow room. However, there are many ways to combat the inevitable fatigue of trimming. For example, by providing your team with quality tools like fresh scissors, cleaning equipment, and posture-enhancing trays, the exhausting task of hand-trimming cannabis can be finished faster, with the same level of quality. 

Using a Trim Bin will turn any chair into a comfortable workstation. The Trim Bin’s design reduces back, shoulder and wrist fatigue over those long trimming sessions.

The Pros and Cons of Machine-Trimming Cannabis

Large-scale operators have championed machine-trimming because the method is highly effective and fast. In fact, the latest trimming technology is so effective that the level of quality is almost indistinguishable from that of hand-trimmed flower. It’s clear that automated technology has improved how our industry operates; however, automated trimming machines are not a necessary purchase for everyone. The upfront costs are expensive, and if the purchase does not pay for itself quickly, automating the trimming process can be a massive waste of resources. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of machine-trimming cannabis:

The Pros  of Machine-Trimming

Fast and Effective 

It’s an understatement to say machine trimmers are fast. The CenturionPro Original Trimmer, for example, replaces 60 hand-trimming workers and allows operators to feed 75 pounds of wet cannabis through its tumbler per hour. This means that two operators and a trimming machine can harvest a large room in hours, instead of days, saving growers time, money, and labour costs. CenturionPro also carries de-stemming solutions, allowing growers to strategically streamline the entire harvesting process. So, if you operate a multi-light garden, investing in an automated trimmer will likely be one of the best decisions you’ll make.

Wet and Dry Trimming Capabilities

Modern trimmers can process both wet and dry cannabis. There has always been a debate surrounding the superiority of either wet or dry trimmed cannabis. However, with CenturionPro’s trimming solutions, growers no longer need to side with one specific method. Even CentrionPro’s smallest trimmer, the CenturionPro TableTop, can trim wet and dry cannabis at an amazing rate. For instance, growers purchasing a tabletop trimming can expect to replace up to 16 human trimmers while processing a maximum of 20lbs of wet cannabis (4lbs of dry) per hour of use. 

Click Here to watch TableTop Trimmer Running Dry Product
(CenturionPro, TableTop Trimmer Running Dry Product, Youtube.com)

The Cons of Machine-Trimming

Large Upfront Costs

If automated trimmers were cheap, every facility would have purchased one. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The largest downside of owning a high-end automated trimmer is the purchasing cost. However, the difference between a smart investment and a frivolous one, is how fast a purchase pays for itself. If you’re interested in purchasing a trimmer, but don’t know if it’s the right business move for your operation, calculate your number of harvests per year, matched with the costs associated with hand-trimming each harvest. If the upfront cost of purchasing a trimmer comes below the annual cost of hiring a trimmer crew, it’s probably worth investing in some sort of automated trimming technology. 

Trimmer Maintenance

Like all machines, trimmers need to be consistently cleaned and maintained. If these machines are cleaned after every use, they can last a lifetime. So, soak and pressure wash your machine after every harvest to ensure your next crop is processed as efficiently as possible. Also, some parts will need to be replaced annually. The brushes on most CenturionPro trimmers, for instance, will need to be replaced once a year depending on the frequency of use. However, if you’re trimming your crop dry, the blade, brush, and tumbler will not become as dirty as they would during a wet trim. In short, keep a steady cleaning schedule in mind while processing cannabis through a machine, and regularly replace any parts and pieces that appear damaged or worn. 

Conclusion: Hand-Trimming vs Machine-Trimming

Now that you know about some of the pros and cons of processing cannabis either by hand or with machines, which method is superior? Since facilities range in size, production capabilities and quality, harvesting requirements also vary from operation to operation. So, if you’ve done your research, and considered the pros and cons of processing cannabis on both sides of the debate, make an educated decision based on the desired outcome of your operation. For example, if your facility’s goal is to produce the highest quality cannabis on the market, hand-trimming your crop might be the most suitable option. 

Happy harvesting! For more information about the products and services available at GreenPlanet Wholesale, contact your GreenPlanet sales representative, or your local garden supply store. 

Works Cited

  • CenturionPro. (2020). TableTop trimmer running dry product – raw unedited video – gimbal shoot. Retrieved May 28th, 2021 from Youtube.com
  • Rosenthal, E. (2018). Hand-trimming vs machine-trimming. Retrieved May 28th, 2021 from @edrosenthal

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