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Innovations in Trimming Tech Will Propel Cannabis Industry Forward

The foundation of the cannabis industry is the cannabis plant itself. 

Every product, service, and company in the cannabis space owes its existence to the cannabis plant being cultivated and harvested.

One of the main components of harvesting cannabis is trimming the plant to separate the stems and leaves from the buds.

Proper trimming ensures that the cannabis plant dries correctly, that the buds are as potent as possible, and that the dried flower is appealing to the eye when it makes it to the market.

Trimming cannabis can be time-consuming, especially when a lot of cannabis plants are involved. 

Innovators are working hard to make the trimming process faster and more efficient via the use of technology and the profit potential for inventors who find the best solutions will be enormous.

Trimming by Hand is Rudimentary, Yet Still Popular

For many years the most popular way to trim cannabis during the harvest process is trimming by hand. It’s a rudimentary, time-consuming task.

Improvements in scissor blade design are about the only technological advancement that has occurred in the past several decades regarding hand trimming.

Scissor blades are now designed to cut through the cannabis plant easier.

Springs were added to harvest scissors to reduce the amount of effort involved, and curved blades were incorporated to make it easier to get into tight spaces.

With that being said, the hand trimming process leaves a lot to be desired despite the improvements in blade design.

That is unfortunate because trimming by hand is what many cultivation operations still rely on around the globe.

Trimming Machine Technology Still Has a Ways to Go

In recent decades the cannabis industry has seen a wave of trimming machines enter the space.

These devices definitely make the trimming process faster, with one machine operator matching the output of several hand trimmers.

The machines have a downside, however, in that they almost always result in a significant loss of trichomes.

Also, trimming machines are not able to trim with the same precision that a human with scissors can achieve, which results in too much leaf being left on the bud, or a lack of leaf-coverage uniformity.

Trimming machine technology is very efficient when it comes to removing buds from the larger branches, however, in order to trim the water leaves off of the bud properly it requires human intervention via the use of a pair of trimming scissors.

The Cannabis Plant is not ‘Trim Friendly’

The cannabis plant is made up of a significant amount of soft tissue, especially the buds which are the most desirable part of the plant. That makes it difficult to harvest with machines.

Cannabis has to be handled with care due to trichomes being so delicate. It does not take much for trichomes to be separated from the cannabis flower.

Technology that is used to harvest other agriculture crops cannot be harnessed by the cannabis industry because of how delicate the cannabis plant is.

To make matters even more difficult, the cannabis plant does not grow as uniformly as other crops. Some cannabis plants are short and bushy and others are tall with the buds spaced out.

That makes it very tricky to design a trimming machine that works for a majority of cannabis strains that are popular with cultivators around the world.

Innovators and inventors who can create a trimming machine that keeps trichomes intact while comprehensively trimming the plant from start to finish will be greatly rewarded by the industry.

It’s not an easy task, but certainly a worthwhile one. Once such a machine is created, it will revolutionize the cannabis industry.


  • Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference and has blogged about cannabis since January 2010.

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