As harvest quickly approaches, we want to share our complete guide on flower storage and harvest preservation.
If you are a hobbyist, preserving buds and storing them properly is important. If you are harvesting 3-4 plants just for personal use, it’s likely you won’t touch some of your flower for 4-6 months after harvesting.
From a commercial growers standpoint, preservation is equally important. Using the right packaging for your flower will ensure that the product can sit on the shelves for 3-4 months without loss of potency or quality.
We’ll share our advice on best practices for storing your flower. We have the products and the knowledge you need to nail this final step in the growing process!
First, let’s talk about why proper flower storage is so important, and what’ll happen if you get it wrong.
Why Proper Flower Storage Is So Important
If you don’t store your flower properly, it’ll suffer degradation over time. This reigns true not just for your buds, but really anything you grow from the ground. Veggies, fruits, tree nuts, etc.
Unlike many foods, however, your nugs don’t necessarily spoil or expire. The only thing that can happen is a loss of quality. Let’s cover the different breakdowns you could experience.
Terpene & Flavonoid Degradation
One of the first things to go when buds age is their taste and smell. The reason this happens is because the terpenes and flavonoids begin to deteriorate.
This is just a natural, inevitable breakdown of your flower over time.
But to prevent this from happening too quickly, and ensuring you enjoy the aroma and flavor profile of your buds, make sure you store your bud properly.
Compound Breakdown - Loss Of Potency
Aside from terpenes and flavonoids deteriorating over time, you can also lose the essential compounds you’ve come to know and love in your buds.
The compounds in your flower will decrease in concentration with time, the exact same way terpenes and flavonoids do.
The Physical Breakdown Of Flower
Aside from losing the compounds within your buds, you’ll also notice a blow to the physical appearance and structure of your flower if not stored properly.
For example, if you don’t store your flower in the proper environment (hot, dry air) or in direct sunlight, you can expect it to dry up and crumble in your fingers when you touch it.
Plus, it'll lose the vibrant colors it had when you originally harvested it. Your flower may have been sparkling with trichomes, with amber hairs and purple tints here and there when you put it in storage.
But if not stored correclty, it'll turn dull, brown, and unsightly months or years down the road.
How Long Does Bud Last Before Degradation?
While some breakdown of your flower is inevitable, you might be wondering how long flower lasts before this starts to occur?
In general, this depends on how well you did that drying and curing your flower. If you put it into storage still wet, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll end up with bud rot.
On the flip side, if you overdry your bud and then stick it in jars for 3-4 months, you’ll be disappointed with the flavor and aroma.
To properly cure, you need to burp your jars for the first few weeks to let out excess moisture, and let fresh air into the jars.
If you get your dry and cure right, your bud will last way longer before breaking down. You’d be surprised how long your flower stays good under the right circumstances. Here are some figures to consider, according to one study.
After one year of storage, researchers examined around a 15% loss in potency. After 2 years, there was a 25% loss in potency. Then after the third year, there was a 35% loss in potency.
The study did not account for a loss in terpene or flavonoid concentration, however, you can bet there was some loss.
How To Preserve Flower As Long As Possible
Now, let’s share some of our tips on how to preserve flower as long as possible.
We already mentioned a proper dry and cure was necessary to even consider storing product long term, so check out our complete guide if you haven’t already.
Store Your Flower In The Right Containers
Perhaps the most surefire way to make your bud last is to store it in high-quality glass or stainless steel containers.
Ball mason jars or Harvest Keeper stainless steel containers are the best way to not just cure your flower, but store it long term.
They not only protect your flower from being disturbed and prevent trichomes from falling off. They also create a completely sealed environment. Let’s cover the importance of the atmosphere more.
Glass Jars vs Stainless Steel Containers
When you look at our harvest storage section here at Hydrobuilder, you’ll see we carry both glass jars and stainless steel containers. What is the difference between these, and is one better than the other?
For the most part, it comes down to personal preference. The advantage to stainless steel containers is they block out any of the light that could otherwise affect your potency over the long term.
Don’t Use Plastic Sandwich Bags For Long Term Storage
Aside from being bad for our environment, plastic bags are also a terrible choice when it comes to storing your harvest long-term.
They agitate/damage the trichomes on your flower, and don’t protect the buds from being disturbed during storage the way a jar or container would.
Similarly, we don’t recommend using the plastic jars you may get from a dispensary. These also contain the same static charge that can fry your trichomes, and won’t be a good option in the long run.
Consider Vacuum Sealing Your Harvest
Another option for storing your flower is to vacuum seal it. This is a great option if you have a lot of flower and don’t plan on using any of it for a long period of time.
This sucks all the air out of the bag and keeps your flower more or less the same consistency and quality as when you sealed it.
Be sure to keep it in a closet or somewhere sealed off from the light, however, as it can still be degraded by UV rays.
Should I Freeze My Buds?
Many growers swear by sticking their harvest in the freezer. This is not a bad strategy when done correctly. The one thing to be aware of with frozen buds is the trichomes can be damaged very, very easily.
So, be sure to handle bags or containers with care when frozen. We recommend letting your harvest thaw a bit before handling it at all for this exact reason.
Avoid The Refrigerator At All Costs!
While the freezer is not a bad option, the refrigerator is! We do not recommend trying to use a fridge. This is because while you don’t have to worry about mold in the freezer, you do in the fridge.
So either use a freezer or keep buds at room temperature, but never go in the middle and use the refrigerator.
However, Freeze Dryers or better yet, Curing machines can be your best bet.
Add Humidicants If Needed
If you notice your flower has dried out from long-term storage, adding humidicants can help remoisturize them!
Many growers have salvaged an overdried crop by storing it in containers with Boveda packs, so keep some on hand just in case.
Creating The Ideal Harvest Storage Atmosphere
When it comes to actually storing your flower, make sure it's never in direct sunlight.
This will speed up the decay of certain compounds in your bud.
You also need to make sure that the temperature of the room you store your harvest in is mild.
If it's too hot, this will also speed up the breakdown of compounds in your bud, while drying it out and messing with the appearance.
The ideal temperate is between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, with jars stored in a dark place - such as a closet or drawer.
Don't Stuff Jars Full Of Flower When Storing
It's important that you don't cram your jars full when putting them in storage. You should aim for them to be 3/4 of the way full.
This will ensure plenty of room for moisture to dissipate and give the buds room to breathe.
If you don't fill at least 3/4 of the way full, you'll also have problems. This will lead to too much oxygen in the jars.
Final Thoughts On Proper Flower Storage
Now that you know the best way to store your flower, you can head over to the site and grab whatever containers you plan on using, or maybe even a vacuum sealer!
While you’re there, don’t forget the humidiccants. As long as you nail your dry and cure, and follow the tips we outlined above, you can store your harvest for 6-12 months with no real loss of potency, flavor, aroma, etc.
Keep everything dark, and use the right containers, and you'll be able to store product long term without degradation. Good luck!