Understanding When and How to Harvest

Having nurtured your cannabis buds to maturity by providing them with optimum indoor environments to facilitate their growth, the next is to harvest them.  What started as a small plant has blossomed into fully grown plants, all bearing heavy buds.

Harvesting is as important as the planting process – they require the same intensity of efforts.  The first thing you need to get right with harvesting is the timing – knowing the best time to cut your plants can give you a much better yield.  Harvesting is usually after 8 to 10 weeks of planting. However, the exact time depends on the type of strain you planted and what you want as the products. 

This article will discuss the vital signs that tell you that it is time to harvest your buds, alongside the best ways to cut your plants.

The Timing of Marijuana Harvesting

Balancing and correctly timing your marijuana harvest is one of the most important steps. Waiting too long can result in rotting due to self-pollination, but if you go to soon, you end up with weak weed that doesn’t have the right effects.

Additional Tips for Timing Your Harvest

  1. Getting your timing right is crucial to harvesting your marijuana

The harvest time determines how much cannabinoids the harvested buds will contain.  The best will be to have the highest amount of THC or CBD possible in your buds, irrespective of the intended use of your yield – strong, subtle, medical, or recreational.

Harvesting too early or too late will deprive you of these vital components.  Premature harvesting takes away the yield and potency, and late harvesting will likely leave you with highly sedative marijuana.

Apply the following tips to get the best harvest time for your plants:

With the aid of a magnifier, observe the trichomes closely: a jeweler’s loupe or a similar shape indicates the readiness to harvest.  Three developmental stages of the trichomes show that the plant is mature enough for harvesting. 

  • The first is that the trichomes adopt the shape of a mushroom and/or with a flat head. This indicates that the potency is not yet at the maximum.
  • In the second stage, clear trichomes are transformed into milky or white trichomes. This indicates the presence of a maximum amount of THC, and subsequently, buds capable of producing a more energetic high.
  • During the third stage, you have light brown trichomes. Here, the CBD amount is at the highest, while the THC is relatively lower.  If you harvest your marijuana at the third stage, you will most likely have more relaxed yield or one high in narcotic.

Another common practice is the flushing of plants with plain water one or two weeks before harvesting.  The water washes out the nutrients and other constituents that may affect the taste or smell of the yield adversely.  In the case of the optimization of cannabis with a high THC level, it is advisable to wait till the last phase of the flowering stage – the stage where the THC crystals in the resins on the buds cover the buds.   However, you must be precise with the timing – the prolonged wait can lead to the degradation of the THC into CBN. This can be beneficial if you prefer more of CBD in your yield, perhaps due to its medical effects. And fortunately, CBD doesn’t degrade with time.

Wondering when your buds will be ready for harvest? Watch out for any of these practical signs:

  • The flowers come together to form huge kolas
  • Bigger ovaries and tiny crystals around the flowers
  • Intense smell, ensure to keep your carbon filters and air flow running in the case of indoor growing
  • Sticky flowers
  • The white pistils transform into red or dark brown and curl in (about 60-7-% of the white hairs)
  • A couple of large yellow leaves

Trichomes, also known as resin glands, are houses the THC.  Usually a tiny white structure on the flower, it is possible to take them for the pistil hair.  However, they are different from the hairs in length (longer) and appears to glitter.  Trichome color is another strong indicator of readiness for harvest.

Trichome Colour

The trichomes are resin-bearing glands of your plant and are considered the most reliable way to know when your cannabis is ready for harvest. Due to their tiny size, a microscope is needed for this task.

There are three color stages that trichomes go through. Clear, Cloudy and Amber. The best time to harvest your cannabis is when half of the batch has turned amber color and half is still cloudy. Waiting for all of your buds to from cloudy to amber could result in a lessened potency of THC.

  1. Do not expose your plants to light until they are free from the root ball

The next step is to separate the entire plant from the root ball by cutting.  Remove all the leaves that are not linked to the buds, and trim off the smaller ones.  Start from the outside and work slowly inwards, dealing with the big leaves before the smaller ones, and the ones far away from the buds before the ones closer. Detach the leaves that are unlinked to the trichomes first, and the sugar leaves closer to the buds last.  When you follow these simple rules, you are manicuring your marijuana plants.

  1. Your cannabis plants will lose up to 75% of its weight when you water-dry it.

  2. The big fan leaves are ready for removal a week before the actual harvest.

After trimming the plants, get strings and hang the pruned plants upside down on them, preferably in an open space with excellent ventilation.  The humidity range in your grow room should be set at 45% to 55%, to ensure that your cannabis dries steadily and slowly.  The burnability of your harvest depends on the method adopted during the drying process.  You should be done with the initial drying process in 5-7 days.

What distinguishes a master cannabis grower from a novice is the harvesting skills.  Once you get the timing right, you can rest assured of excellent taste, smell, and overall effects.  The ideal harvest options for you will depend on what you set out to get from your buds initially.  And the best way of detecting and picking the right time is by paying close attention to the trichomes.