Dry herbs in drying tray

In order to preserve its medicinal value and to ensure that the crop can be delivered to consumers at its full weight and potency, cannabis crops must be dried thoroughly. But what drying method should commercial cannabis growers employ to achieve the best possible results? To answer this question, we’re comparing the benefits of hanging herb drying racks vs tray drying racks; highlighting the various advantages of both approaches.

Cannabis: it’s that magical crop that keeps on growing. Indeed, according to
some projections for the United States, the medicinal market alone will reach a size of over $11 billion by 2024 (double the amount reported for 2019). Whilst the development of agricultural and hydroponic technology has been crucial to the growth of this market, the use of supporting equipment has been equally important – particularly in the processing, drying and storage of the crop.

Why is Herb Drying so Important for High Quality Cannabis?

Dry cannabis being cut with a scissor

Before we look at the main drying methods (herb drying racks vs herb drying trays), let’s examine why it’s so important to dry the crop in the first place. Also known as ‘curing’, the drying of cannabis forms a vital element of the post-harvest process. Here’s just a few reason why drying your cannabis crop is essential:

  • Preserve your crop’s properties: By properly drying your harvested flowers, you can ensure that you’re preserving their natural properties (and all of their benefits) as much as possible. This includes halting the degradation process, preserving those terpenes and cannabinoids that make the product so popular.
  • Improve your flower’s profile: Today’s cannabis strains are registered as profiles on online markets, which are often ‘rated’ according to various criteria including appearance, flavour and smell. By drying your cannabis crop properly, you can ensure it excels in these areas.
  • Control your product: Depending on whether you’re cultivating cannabis for medicinal, recreational or industrial purposes, you’ll want to have as much control as possible over variables like smoothness; THC levels, terpene levels, cannabinoid levels – you name it. By drying your harvest properly, you can exert greater control over these measurables and, by extension, the quality of your final product.
  • Reduced risk to your product: Drying your herbs represents a crucial element of post-harvest cannabis care. By drying your crop thoroughly, you can reduce the risk of mould and the unusable end product it creates; helping you make savings on potentially costly product losses.

Unlike many other herbs, plants and textiles; the cultivation of cannabis requires meticulous care and attention throughout its harvest cycle – especially when it comes to drying the flowers post-harvest. But what are the best drying approaches for industrial-scale cannabis growing operations, and how do the methods compare? Keep reading to find out!

Cannabis Drying Processes: Herb Drying Racks vs Herb Drying Trays

Cannabis hanging and being dried

Whilst the environment you decide to dry your cannabis crop in (ie. heat, light levels, humidity) is important to how the end result will look, smell and taste; your choice of drying equipment will play an equally significant role. When it comes to drying your ‘buds’, there are two main methods which are described below:

  • Hanging Herb Drying Racks: Also known as overhead cannabis drying racks (pictured above), these products are used as hanging drying lines. Often chosen as a way of getting quick results, these are often cited as the more cost-effective way of drying cannabis.
  • Herb Drying Trays: A useful way of keeping your various cannabis strains organised as they cure, herb drying trays are more of a ‘shelf-like’ product that typically command a higher price due to their industrial-production benefits.

In the next section of this blog, we compare the various benefits of these methodologies, helping our customers decide on the ideal product for their growing operation. Check it out!

Herb Drying Trays vs Overhead Herb Drying Racks: Comparing the Benefits

Herb Drying Tray with inspector standing alongside, writing using a clipboard

So – you understand the two main drying processes. But how do they differ, and what approach is ideal for companies growing cannabis on an industrial scale? Let’s compare the benefits of herb drying trays versus overhead hanging trays, starting with herb drying trays!

The Pros & Cons of Overhead Herb Drying Racks

As the ‘traditional’ way of drying & curing cannabis, overhead herb drying racks facilitate a process known as ‘line drying’. The benefits of this method include:

  • Affordability: Overhead herb drying racks are an extremely affordable way to dry a cannabis harvest. Due to their simple construction, cannabis growers can expect to pay a far lower price for these products compared to herb drying trays, which are more complex and contain more components.
  • Faster process: Due to the fact that line drying works at its best with full branches, overhead herb drying racks provide a quick and convenient path towards getting your plants tied down & drying.
  • Saves on effort: If you don’t have the time to set up a dedicated space for herb trying trays, opting for an overhead drying rack is far simpler. Just hang your herbs and watch them dry!

As with any drying method, overhead herb drying racks also have their disadvantages:

  • Space requirements: Because overhead herb drying racks typically run from end-to-end in a room, plant material will rapidly fill any open space that you may have. Furthermore, once you decide to use a space for overhead drying racks, you won’t be able to use that space for anything else.
  • Quality management: If you opt for overhead cannabis drying racks, you will encounter more difficulties when it comes to checking the moisture consistency of your crop – particularly in those corners and outer reaches of your room.
  • Air exposure: Unlike the ‘shelf-like’ approach offered by herb drying trays, overhead drying racks will typically expose your plants to more air. This can impact the end quality of your product; from THC levels to aroma.

The Pros & Cons of Herb Drying Trays

For cannabis companies who are seeking to grow the crop on an industrial scale, herb trying trays are often seen as the more commercially viable option. The advantages of this process include:

  • Product protection: Unlike the hanging rack method, the shelves of a herb drying tray provide an extra layer of protection which maintains the quality and integrity of your end product. Adopting the tray drying method reduces air exposure. What’s more, the medical grade stainless steel used to manufacture your rack will inhibit the growth of microorganisms like mould, mildew & bacteria.
  • Scent containment: In the vast majority of cases, commercial cannabis growers will take steps to reduce the presence of the crop’s pungent aroma; particularly where residential or commercial spaces may be nearby. Tray drying is far more beneficial when it comes to limiting the spread of that strong aroma of cannabis.
  • Production speed: Using herb drying racks in your growing operation will lead to increased production volume. Because you’ll have to lay individual buds onto your rack before trimming away excess plant matter, your buds will be manicured before drying. This means that the drying process will progress significantly faster. What’s more, you can stack your trays on top of eachother, making the most out of your space.

It’s true: herb drying trays are far more beneficial in any instance where production volume and cycle-speed are a top priority. As ever, however, there are a few drawbacks:

  • Higher cost: Herb drying tray racks come at a typically higher price, and there’s a few reasons why. Firstly, tray racks are a more complex design, requiring more material and more welding. They’re a more substantial product suited to industrial production processes. If you get your grow process right, your drying tray rack will pay for itself in no time.
  • Labor during harvest: Unlike the line drying method, buds must be picked off the branches before drying. This requires more investment of labor during harvest time.

That concludes our comparison of overhead herb drying racks vs herb drying tray racks. Our advice for commercial growers? Opt for a herb trying tray rack if you can afford it!

Improve Your Cannabis Harvest: Order Your Herb Drying Equipment Now

Here at Schaumburg Specialties, we’re passionate about using our decades of metal fabrication experience to support America’s budding cannabis farming industry. From seed germination racks to processing tables and herb drying tray racks, we can create the perfect product for your growing needs. To get started, view our full
cannabis product range or contact us to discuss your requirements.