Have you ever wanted to grow your own cannabis? You might have set up a few lights, have a few clones established and have the fans needed to circulate the air but there’s just one crucial piece of the puzzle that you might not have figured out yet – when to harvest weed.
Unlike garden grown vegetables, it can be difficult to know when cannabis is “ripe.” After all, the only “fruit” that sprouts from cannabis seeds are the cannabis buds themselves, so how can one even begin to determine the optimal harvest time?
If not knowing the optimal harvest time for your weed plants has put you off from the practice of growing your own weed, look no further. This article will teach you when it’s time to harvest your weed as well as trimming it so you can maximize your yield of homegrown, dank cannabis.
Important Harvest Time Tips
The goal of this article is to equip you with the knowledge so you can grow the highest quality cannabis. For clarity sake, quality in this article means that your product contains more tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). In order to do this, you will need to understand the science behind it.
The contents that many growers track during the growing stage are the phytocannabinoids and terpenes because it can change throughout the plant’s lifecycle.
Finding a balance between the two can affect the overall quality. By tracking these, the chemical balance is up to your desires and can determine how high you get from consuming it and the grade of the high.
If you look around online, there are many different opinions regarding the specifics of how to grow and when to harvest, so these are just some general tips you should follow;
- You should not water the plant 1-2 days prior to harvest, this will help with drying it later on.
- Remove any light exposure from the plant to keep it in complete darkness for a day or 2 to improve potency
- Remove any fan leaves to make manicuring easier when it’s time to trim cannabis.
- Morning tends to be the most effective time to harvest
The trimming phase is a time consuming, and labour-intensive part of the harvest, so make sure your trimming room is well ventilated to reduce the odors and around 21°C.
It’s a good idea to wear gloves when you harvest your bud due to the heat from the friction with your fingers. This can cause some THC and CBD to fall off your buds and consequently, decrease the final product’s quality.
Even with this measure, there will still be some powder on your gloves, but at least you can repurpose it. Another thing you can do to collect the most powder while trimming is to place something like a tray or bucket underneath to catch the kief as it falls.
To harvest your marijuana, you can either harvest the entire plant at once, or gradually trim the buds as they “ripen.” Another thing to consider when growing your cannabis is whether you want to perform a wet trim or a dry trim.
A wet trim means that your plant will be trimmed immediately after it’s harvested from the plant—which is before the drying process. However, a dry trim requires less processing time before the drying phase and a majority of the work is done afterward.
When to Harvest?
When it comes to determining when to harvest your cannabis, there are two common ways to achieve this. The first way is to examine the bud using your senses and look for certain traits and the other way is through chemical analysis.
The latter requires specialized equipment and technologies that may not be accessible to a large group of growers. But as science gets more and more advanced, these technologies are getting more and more affordable.
However, with a heavy heart, that is where the advantages end because chemical analysis also requires a specific set of training to use the equipment. Since the goal of this article is to help the average grower, we will show you what to look for in your cannabis plant using the observation option.
Examining your Cannabis for Harvest
When you take a closer look and examine your cannabis plant, there are certain things you want to pay special attention to which can help determine the harvest time. These are the: pistils (or stigmas), firmness of the buds, colour of the trichomes, and smell.
The pistils, more commonly referred to as stigmas, are key indicators in the confirmation of harvest time for your marijuana plant. They start off as white strands protruding from a female plant and slowly turn into varying colours such as orange, brown or red.
For most situations, when half of the pistils start to turn into these colours, it is in the later stages of maturing. The range that you should be looking for is around 50-70%. Once they reach the 50% threshold, your buds are ready to harvest.
The Firmness of the Flower
The bud’s firmness, sometimes referred to as the inflorescence, is also another great indicator for seeing if the plant is ready to harvest. To test this, gently squeeze the bud (with extra care as to prevent damaging it) and take note of its resistance. It should feel relatively firm but also slightly malleable.
The trichomes are glands that produce resin in a marijuana plant. The resin is the most important part of any good bud because it contains phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD as well as the terpenes.
The trichomes can be hard to inspect with the naked eye, so this is where you will need to grab your magnifier. As you track the progress of the trichomes, their colour will shift from clear/transparent to amber or cloudy white. Once you witness this change, it is another indicator that it is harvest time.
You need this change in colour because it is a sign that the THC is starting to morph to cannabinol (CBN). In other words, the trichomes undergo this transformation when it has reached its highest levels of THC. This is typically one of the main elements that growers look for before they harvest marijuana.
The plant’s odour is also another clue to the grower of when it is harvest time. It is emitted by the plant’s terpenes and is often another valued trait when people examine their harvest.
Much like many other flowers, the aroma from the plant can be tied with the overall freshness and quality of the product. When the smell is most intense and pungently ‘dank,’ you’ll know when it’s time to harvest.
Putting it All Together
Each of these variables can tell you something about a plant and when it is the right time to harvest it. Sometimes, all of these variables may not be what you’re looking for when growing your own marijuana, so it is best to get a sense of what you want while the plant is growing. At the end of the day, you choose what elements you want in your cannabis and closely following its progress is the most important part of the process.