MJ Business Daily Article 2016: Interview With The Founder of EZTRIM Joe Black

Joe Black founded EZTRIM in 2010, knowing there had to be a better way to harvest and trim cannabis.  Frustrated with the technology that was currently on the market, Joe began developing the Satellite trimmer out of his garage.  Six years later, EZTRIM is an industry leader offering a number of trimming and processing solutions to growers of all sizes.

Marijuana Business Daily sat down with Joe Black to learn more about the current state of commercial cannabis harvesting and processing.


Q: Given the wholesale price compression we’ve seen in mature markets like Colorado, do you think the days of “hand trimming” are over?

A: Without a doubt.  While there will always be a few die-hard hand trimmers out there looking to serve the boutique market, as a whole, commercial cannabis cultivation has already shifted and will continue to shift toward machine trimming. Back in July of this year, Cannabase reported that the average asking price of wholesale recreational flower in Colorado had dipped to just over $1,000 a pound. Last winter, prices were around $2,000 per pound. At those prices, paying $150-$200 to trim a pound just doesn’t make sense.

There are a number of other problems that commercial cultivation facilities face by hiring people to hand trim: high turnover, people not showing up to work, personality conflicts, inexperience resulting in damage to the product, theft, and the list goes on and on.

Q: Exactly how much money could a commercial cultivation facility, producing 1,000 pounds a year, save by switching from hand trimming to machine trimming?

A: Well, assuming $150 a pound to hand trim and $35 a pound to machine trim (wet flowers), hand trimming would cost $150,000 a year while machine trimming would only cost $35,000 a year.  This company would save $115,000 a year in labor costs by switching to a machine trimmer.  If this company were to machine trim dry flowers, which is much faster, its savings would be even greater.

Q: How does the quality of the final product compare to hand trimming?

A: There is no reason why you cannot achieve hand trim looking bud with a machine trimmer.  We have a number of customers who are regularly complimented on the look of their “hand trimmed” bud, when in fact, it was all machine trimmed by the Satellite.

Adjustability is key:  The Satellite allows you to adjust the cycle time, airflow, depth of the blade, etc., to accommodate different shapes and sizes of the buds.

Prep is also very important.  Keeping your stems short and cutting off any fan leaves at the base of the bud, before they have a chance to turn into “crow’s feet”, will result in a cleaner looking product.  Frayed stems and “crow’s feet” are a dead giveaway that your product was machine trimmed.

Q: Recently, many commercial cultivators have made the switch to machine trimming dry.  Which do you prefer: wet trim or dry trim?

A: Both have their advantages and disadvantages.  That’s why I designed a machine that can do both.

Wet trimming is great for perpetual grow.  When trimming wet, the bud is a little more durable resulting in a greater ratio of sellable flower to trim.  However, when trimming wet, the curing process requires a little extra love.  Being cognizant of your temperature and humidity during the curing process is key. If the product dries too fast, the plant, which is still alive, will not have time to metabolize the chlorophyll and other pigments, which negatively impact taste and flavor.  We recommend: 4 days of drying, in the dark, on racks, inside a climate-controlled room, with temperatures around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, a relative humidity around 50-55 percent, then placing the buds in sealable food-grade containers, “burping and sweating” daily for an additional 7 days.

Dry Trimming is much faster. With the Satellite we can trim around 200 grams of dried flower per 40-60 second batch. The speed of dry trimming benefits large outdoor grows who harvest all at once, including any commercial facility needing to harvest large quantities of flower in a short period of time. Dry trimming with the Satellite also leaves more of the High Times “Cali cut” look.  The only downside of trimming dry is that the flowers are more brittle. Occasionally, there will be a strain that develops a large bud with an auxiliary bud loosely connected.  When dry trimming a small percentage of these auxiliary buds, some will dislodge and be pushed off to processing. These buds are far more likely to stay attached when trimming wet, increasing your ratio of sellable flower to trim.

Interestingly, one thing that does not appear to change much between wet trim and dry trim, is potency.  You would think that dry trimmed bud would test much lower but that simply isn’t the case.

Q: With 9 states voting on cannabis legislation this November including huge markets like California and Florida, there are likely to be hundreds of new cultivation facilities popping up across the country.  What advice would you give these new cannabis companies, in general and in relation to harvesting and curing?

A: Be aware of your cost of goods sold.  Even though prices may start out high due to the lack of supply in an emerging market, they will not stay that way too long.  These days, there are a lot of well-capitalized, experienced companies out there who are willing to drop a lot of cash up front to keep their COGS as low as possible.

When it comes time to harvest, do not hire temp workers.  Keep your staff on full-time, treat them well, and pay them a little more than the competition.  They will stick around longer and take greater pride in their work.  You will see the difference in the quality of your product.

When purchasing equipment, choose companies who are established and who are willing to demonstrate their technology in action.  There is a lot of B.S. in the industry; hold people accountable for the product claims they make.

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