Harvesting cannabis buds on the right time is important in the smell and potency of the buds. If you harvest too soon, the yields and the potency suffer. If you happen too late, the smell of your pot will be affected. Harvesting later might also see you end up with a sleep medicine. As such, you need to be keen when you harvest your buds.
- Understand How a Marijuana Plant Looks Like
- What Can You Use to Magnify?
- Why Flush Anyway?
- When should you flush?
- The Telltale Signs Your Cannabis is Ready for Harvesting
- 1) The Pistil
- Strains that Develop New Pistils
- What if the plant is Sick or Stressed?
- Yellowing Around the Buds
- 2) Trichome
- Factors That Affect When You Harvest Weed
- After How Long Should You Harvest Weed?
- Harvesting Marijuana: What You Need
- Weed Harvesting Equipment
- 1) Scissors
- 2) Rubbing Alcohol
- 3) Pruners
- 4) Comfortable Chair
- 5) Trimming Tray/Bowl
- 4) The Harvesting Process
- Points to Consider Before, During, and After Harvesting
- Curing the Buds
- Storing the Buds
- Why Grow Weed at Home?
- Enjoy Your Pot
Your buds are ready for picking when the hairs on them darken and curl. If you can already see the solid curl bud beneath the hairs, then you know the plant is ready for harvesting. Besides your eyes and your knowledge, you need a magnifying tool to determine the best time to harvest your marijuana.
The magnifying tool helps you see the glittery trichomes on the bud. Although you do not need to necessarily check the trichomes, looking at them helps you harvest at the right time for the desired effects.
Understand How a Marijuana Plant Looks Like
Like most other plants, marijuana starts with a seed, grows a root, and then a shoot that grows outside the soil. The plant then develops into leaves, then branches, and after a few months, the flowers show. The flowers are the most important parts of the marijuana plant. But what of other parts?
- The stalk contains no THC and is of no use after harvesting. Once you harvest marijuana, you can throw it away.
- Fan Leaves – The leaves have a little marijuana content, but not enough to meet most purposes. Most of the time, you will toss them after harvesting.
- The Leaf Stalk – The leaf stalk has more THC than the fan leaf. As such, you can use it in large quantities as an additive for tinctures, extracts, and concentrates.
- Flowers – This is where all the juice is. To know when to harvest marijuana, you need to understand the pistils, sugar leaves, and trichomes. Trichomes have the highest level of THC we’ll look at them later.
- Sugar leaves look different from the fan leaves. They have a higher concentration of THC than the fan leaves, and you can use them to make edibles after trimming and curing.
- Pistils have zero THC content. These are the hairs that grow on the bud. They are an indication of when to harvest your bud.
What Can You Use to Magnify?
You can use your camera phone. Take clear photos of the trichomes and observe them later. You need a high quality camera that can zoom well to get clear photos of the trichomes. You can also use a digital microscope if you have access to one. Although the digital microscope is more expensive, it gets you very close to the trichomes for a clear look. You need to connect it to a laptop, and you can even take videos to look at later.
Flushing Before Harvesting
Note that before you harvest, you need to flush your cannabis plants for at least a week. Flushing involves watering the plants with nutrient-free water for at least a week leading to the harvest. If you add nutrients in the irrigation water, stop adding the nutrients and use plain water. However, you still need to pH the water during flushing as pH imbalances can cause the plant to absorb extra salt aluminum from the water.
How long from the harvest period should you flush?
• Amended soil growers should not flush
• Soil growers should flush a week or two to the harvest period
• Coco growers need to flush between five and seven days to the harvest
• DWC/Hydro growers should flush a few days to the harvest
When flushing, you should water your plants as normal, but avoid nutrients and supplements. Do not change the time you water the plants as that can make you overwater the plants, which can lead to them showing some symptoms. You also need to check whether plants are starting to yellow. You need to harvest before the leaves on the plant buds turn yellow. Although yellowing has no effect on the buds, it affects the appearance of the buds. Again, once yellowing starts, the plant stops to manure anymore and the buds might start to deteriorate. After the flushing period, your plants will appear lighter than they were, and they will be ready for harvesting.
Why Flush Anyway?
Flushing allows your cannabis plant to use up the nutrients in the buds. This way, there are less nutrients in the plant during harvesting. A high amount of nutrients in the buds affect the smell, taste, and smoothness of the buds. Most growers feel that failure to flush affects the flavor of the buds. However, the flushed and unflushed buds do not have much difference unless you used a lot of nutrients. If you read some online forums, you will see some growers claim that unflushed buds have a chemical taste.
When should you flush?
You should flush your plants when they seem ready to harvest. If you feel your buds are just ready to harvest, you can start harvesting them. The buds will have entered the harvesting window, which can last up to two weeks. Marijuana buds do not get over-ripe fast, and this means you have enough time to harvest them.
If you flush the buds too early, you will end up with under ripe buds.
The Telltale Signs Your Cannabis is Ready for Harvesting
If you harvest the buds early, they will give a paranoia-inducing effect. If you harvest them late, the THC levels in the buds will increase to give the buds more psychoactive properties. However, the extra flowering time can also lead to degradation of some of the THC to CBD. Here are the signs to look out for:
1) The Pistil
If the pistils (hairs) still have their white color, and they stick out straight, the plant is not ready for harvesting. You have to wait until they start darkening and curling in. The pistils will start darkening slowly, but most of them will still be white. At that stage, the buds will still have a few weeks before they build up enough THC. Within the two weeks, the buds will increase in size significantly.
If you need high levels of THC, harvest your buds when between 70 and 90 percent of the hairs darken. If you need a calming and anti-anxiety effects, harvest the buds when between 90 and 100 percent of the hairs darken.
Strains that Develop New Pistils
There are strains of cannabis that might develop new pistils where the darkened ones are. This is normal for most strains, but if the hairs develop more than three times, you will have to make the decision to shop and harvest the buds. The pistils/hairs might darken, but then they still stick out. If that happens, you have to give them more time to curl in. You need to look at the color of the hairs on lower buds as they will show better results on when you have to harvest.
What if the plant is Sick or Stressed?
If a plant is sick, its leaves might die. When that happens, the discoloration and yellowing of the plant spreads to the flowers. The discoloration and the yellowing can affect the potency, smell, appearance, and quality of the buds. If the buds are at the late stage of flowering and the disease gets worse, you need to watch out and remove the buds before the damage gets to them. Even when there are still white pistils on the buds, if the plant is stressed, and it keeps worsening, you need to harvest it soon to save the buds.
When plants are stressed from heat or light, they may keep growing new pistils on mature buds. In such a case, check the mature buds to see if they have darkened and curled in pistils.
Yellowing Around the Buds
Excess light and heat can also cause result in yellowing of the plant. Yellowing before full maturity shows that the plant is under stress. It shows that the plant is trying to pollinate itself before its death. If you notice that your plant has developed yellow leaves all around the bud, you need to harvest soon. Leaving the buds longer can result in loss of potency, smell, and the buds might also develop seeds.
There are strains that make it challenging for you to know when they are ready for harvesting. Different strains have different appearances during the harvesting window. For some, the pistils remain white even during the harvesting window. To understand your strain better, you can talk to a breeder or a grower who has handled your strain of cannabis before. These professionals can give you some insights on how the plant behaves when it is ready for harvesting. You can also check for pictures online on how your strain should look like when it is ready for harvesting.
Looking at trichomes to determine the harvesting time is a more accurate method than looking at pistils. When viewed under a magnifier, the trichomes can help you choose when to harvest based on the desired THC levels in the plant.
Trichomes have the shape of a mushroom, and they grow on buds. You can see them through a magnifying glass. They may also be referred to as resin glands. During the early stages of their development, they appear crystal-like and frosty. They are the substances that make cannabis sticky.
When looking at the mushroom-like trichomes, you might see some that do not look like mushrooms, but as simple sticks with no mushroom head. These do not have any effects on the potency of your weed, and you can overlook them. The trichomes with a mushroom head are the most important as the head carries most of the THC. Since the trichomes have all the THC from the weed, you can tell when to harvest based on how much THC they have – you need to check their color change.
You cannot see trichomes with your naked eyes as they are so small. You can view them through a jeweler’s loupe or any other tool that can magnify. If you have a high quality camera, you can take macro shots that will help you determine when the buds are ready for harvesting. The jeweler’s loupe helps you determine the color and the shape so that you know when the buds are ready for harvesting.
What Color are Mature Trichomes?
When the trichomes are clear like glass, the buds are not yet ready to harvest. The buds still have low potency. If it is your first time looking at trichomes, you might not distinguish between clear and cloudy trichomes. Before you start looking at the trichomes, look at the pistils first. Once the pistils start to darken, you can monitor the color and shape of the trichomes. When the buds are ready to harvest, the heads of the trichomes will turn milky white.
At the most mature stage of the buds, the trichomes will look like plastic pieces. At this point, they have a high level of THC and CBD. If you need a relaxing effect from the cannabis, wait for another week or two after the trichomes turn white. They will turn amber or golden, thanks to the high amount of CBD and less amount of THC.
You need to look at a number of trichomes before you can distinguish between clear and cloudy trichomes. To tell precisely when the buds are ready for harvesting, you need to combine the two methods. Check the pistils until they show the first signs of readiness and then check the trichomes for color changes and shape.
Note that, trichomes are not always an indication of quality. There are some classic strains that have potent buds, yet they do not have many trichomes. Again, there are some less potent strains that have a lot of frosty trichomes.
Factors That Affect When You Harvest Weed
There are different strains of weed. Strains from near the equator, known as sativas, take longer to ripen. On the other, indicas, which grow away from the equator, ripen fast. This is not always the case, however, as you may find some indicas that ripen slowly and some sativas that ripen fast. Granted, below are a few factors that affect the harvesting time:
a. The Weather
Cannabis ripens during the transition from summer to fall. Weather fluctuations can affect how well your weed ripens. Cold days might slow the ripening. While this will not affect the harvesting window much, you need to stay vigilant to know when to harvest. If the plants are in their peak ripeness and the weather starts to change, you can pick them before the weather compromises their quality.
Cannabis plants cannot tolerate cold weather. A few hours, say three, of light freeze (between 28 and 32 F) will not affect them much. However, extended periods of light freeze will compromise their quality and the harvest. When ice crystals form in tissues of the plant, the damage in the cells is fatal. After a short period, the leaves will wilt and turn dark. More frost means more damage to the cells and more negative effects on your harvest.
Weed can weather the rain for a short period. However, if it rains for days on ends, mold might form on the surface of the buds. If you notice that the rain won’t stop for days, harvest your plants to avoid loses. For light showers and short durations of cold snaps, you can cover the plant until the rain or cold passes. After the rain, uncover the plants so that they can access the sun.
After How Long Should You Harvest Weed?
You can grow weed indoor or outdoor. Indoor weed grows in a controlled environment so that the harvest is as much as you need it to be. It takes a minimum of three months and a maximum of eight months to grow weed from seeds to maturity. If you choose small plants that mature in three months, you can harvest four times in a year. If you choose larger plants, you will only harvest once or twice in a year.
If you grow the weed for home use, you are better of growing small plants and harvesting many times a year. This provides a steady supply of fresh weed for home use. If you need to harvest more often, choose autoflower or clone seeds, which do not require germination time.
If you plant your weed outdoor, you will have no control over the weather. As such, you will only harvest once a year. Here, plant your seeds or your clones in the spring, and they will mature by fall. If you live in the tropics, you can harvest twice in a year. Again, you can choose autoflower, seeds which have a short life cycle to have two harvests in a year. The autoflower seeds produce flowers at a certain age – their flowering is not dependent on the sun. Granted, you can grow them in March and harvest in June then plant a second crop and harvest in the fall.
You can also use light deprivation to harvest multiple times in a year. This works the same way as in a greenhouse. You cover the plants to minimize the amount of light that the plants receive. This way, you can control their flowering cycle. Light deprivation is an expensive method as you need a greenhouse and a host of other equipment. Again, you will do a lot of work placing and removing the tarp every day. Note that, the plants should not receive so much sun in one day as this can affect their flowering cycle and production of the buds.
Harvesting Marijuana: What You Need
Harvesting is easy, but the processes that follow after will take time. If you have a few plants for home use, you can chop them at the same time. However, you need to check the laws about homegrown cannabis in your state. After that, you can spend a few days trimming.
It is easier to harvest when only one strain grows in your garden. This way, all the buds ripen at the same time. However, even when you have multiple strains whose buds ripen at different times, you still need to harvest at the same time to make your work easier.
After the harvest, you can trim wet or dry. In wet trimming, you trim the buds immediately after chopping down the plants. For dry trimming, you need to hang the plants to dry for several days before you trim the buds.
Weed Harvesting Equipment
Scissors are the single most important piece of equipment when you are chopping down weed. As such, you need to have the most ergonomic pair that you can use for a long time. The scissors will also get sticky from the trichomes, and you, thus, need a pair that cleans up with ease. An extra pair of scissors can also help when the first one gets sticky. Get a pair that you feel comfortable with as it will help you cut fast and with great precision.
2) Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol helps you clean the resin that builds up on your scissors. The alcohol loosens the resin and then you can wipe it off with a rug.
Shears help you cut branches fast while the scissors handle the precision work.
4) Comfortable Chair
Trimming takes time. You may be on your chair for a few days trimming. As such, you need an ergonomic chair in a well-lit room. Choose a room with no dust or particulates as these might affect the quality of the pot and your comfort. With a comfy chair, you will get more work done. Ensure you do not hunch over or compress your back. You can also add some music or some form of entertainment as the process can be boring.
5) Trimming Tray/Bowl
A trimming tray comes in handy when you have to place something on your laps for a long time. You can use equipment with a screen for kief collection or place your buds on a clean surface and collect them on a bowl afterwards.
You need to have comfortable clothing, preferably a silk apron or any old clothes that you no longer use. The resin from the cannabis might stick on your clothes and make them challenging to wash. However, resin doesn’t stick on silk. Again, you also need gloves to keep your hands free or resin when you are trimming. If you find it easy to trim with your free hands, you can apply coconut oil on your hands. The oil prevents buildup of resin.
4) The Harvesting Process
When the pistils darken and curl in and the trichomes turn white or golden, the buds are ready to be removed from the garden. If you prefer dry trimming, you need to hang the plants after chopping. If you love wet trimming, hack the plants down and start working on them immediately.
To harvest, hack the branches with shears as you take care of the delicate buds. If the plants are small, cut them off at the base slightly above the soil. Cut the branches in a way that they are easy to handle, whether you wet trim or dry trim.
Points to Consider Before, During, and After Harvesting
• Always flush your plants to make your buds smooth with no nutrients that may affect its quality
• Check the pistils for darkening and curling in for readiness
• Check the color of trichomes to see the amount of the THC in the plant before harvesting
• Be sure to have a silk apron or clothes you are ready to throw away as the resin can mess clothes
• Keep your shears and scissors sharp for efficiency
• Harvest early in the morning before the plants get hot from the sun
• If you have different strains, you can harvest them at different times as they ripen
• If you choose wet trimming, start working on the buds as soon as you chop them down
Curing the Buds
Curing is the process of manipulating the moisture in the bud to control the decomposition while preventing decay. The process is almost like allowing wine to sit in a cask or barrel to improve its flavor and smoothness. When you cure your weed right, it develops different smells and flavor. To cure them, you only need to store them right and the plant matter will continue maturing.
The storage jars should be in a dark room with temperatures about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and between 60 and 65 percent humidity. Curing can take about two weeks. During the first two weeks, open the jar and allow the buds to breathe. You should also shake the jars occasionally to ensure that moisture doesn’t settle on the same spot over and over as this can result in the buds rotting.
If you need to produce good pot, you need to cure the buds right.
Storing the Buds
After curing, you need to keep the buds in mason jars in a dark room for as long as you need. You can just have them in a cabinet or closet. If you plan to use the weed for at least six months, you can keep the mason jars in a freezer or vacuum seal them.
If you need to store them even longer, you can remove all the oxygen in the jar and replace it with nitrogen. The nitrogen preserves the smell and the taste.
Although decay and decomposition will finally occur, proper storage will help prolong the life of your pot. You need to check out different methods of preservation to ensure your pot stays fresh all the time. Whatever method you choose, ensure it helps maintain the look, smell, and flavor of your pot. The method should also not affect the quality of the pot.
Why Grow Weed at Home?
Growing marijuana is not complicated. You can grow the plant, harvest, trim, cure, and store it at home. This means that you no longer have to buy the plant, but only the seeds and then have them grow to a plant in three months or more. When you grow your pot, you can regulate the content of THC in the buds by harvesting at the right time. You can also control the flavors you want by growing the right strains under the best conditions and curing the plant right.
The growing process is simple. A good grower understands how long to let the plant mature and when to harvest. If you harvest early, you may not have enough THC in the buds. If you harvest when the buds are mature enough, you will have enough THC to give you a psychoactive effect. If the buds mature further, THC converts to CBD, and you will have a relaxing effect. What effect do you need?
Even after harvesting cannabis right, you still need to take care when trimming, curing, and storing your pot. Dust, particulates, and other substances can affect the quality of your pot during trimming. During the curing stage, humidity, light, and temperature can affect the flavor of your pot. You have to be careful at all times.
Enjoy Your Pot
After the long growing, harvesting, and finishing process, you need to sit, relax, and enjoy your hard work. You can grow the pot for sale if the laws of your state or country allow that. You can also grow it for personal use. You can smoke the poke, make tinctures, extracts, or edibles, depending on what you need to achieve.
If you smoke it, get a bud from the storage jars, grind, and roll into a joint. Homegrown weed will taste as good as you need it as you control the factors that affect its taste. As you enjoy your weed, do not forget to plant the next batch of pot.
You can experiment with different strains for flavors, smells, and THC content. Note that different strains have different harvesting windows and maturation periods.