Knowing when to harvest your marijuana and how to do it properly is one of the most fundamental skills of anybody who wants to become proficient at growing. Harvesting it at the wrong time or even harvesting it incorrectly can seriously affect the quality and quantity of your final product. This article is a must read how-to for those who are still at the beginning of their growing experience.
Harvest time is one of the most important times in the life of your marijuana plant. If you harvest it too early, you risk losing a lot of the potency and you probably won’t yield as much. The same applies if you harvest it too late, so it’s a good idea to be well-informed about when to harvest before you start growing. There is unfortunately no black and white answer about when to harvest your marijuana plant. It requires observing your plant and making an informed decision. The more you practice growing marijuana, the better you will get at fine-tuning these parts of the process.
When you buy seeds from a seed bank, they will usually give you an indication as to at what point the flowering takes place. This is different for every strain of marijuana. However, you can never be exactly sure without just observing the growth of the plant itself because there are far too many variables to be able to reduce it down to a single flowering time. Growers usually use the trichomes and the pistils on the marijuana buds to decide whether or not it’s the right time to harvest.
What to look out for at harvesting time
The first place to start to give you an idea of when harvesting time might be is the estimate that came with your strain about flowering time. You can begin to expect the buds to flower around this time, giving or taking a little bit. The first thing you should look out for is a change in the colour of the pistils. The pistils are the little hairlike growths coming out of the flowers, and during harvesting time they will change from a white colour to a brownish colour. Wait until most of the pistils have changed colour before you decide that it is harvesting time.
The second sign that you should pay attention to during harvesting time is the appearance of the trichomes. The trichomes are little dewlike balls that appear on the flowers. They are quite moist and can make your hands sticky to touch them. You might need a magnifying glass to be able to identify whether or not they have begun to appear or not. The trichomes can also be responsible for how pungent the plant is, so during harvesting time your plant might also become quite fragrant. The shape of the trichomes will also change during this period, so if you have begun to notice them, pay attention to their shape. Right around harvesting time, the tops of the trichomes will flatten into somewhat of a mushroom shape, and this is an indication of harvesting. During this time, they will also change colour from being clear to being milky or cloudy, after which they will begin to turn brown. This is the perfect time to harvest your buds, just as the trichomes are beginning to turn brown or amber.
You can use the colour stage of the trichomes to assess how potent the plant is going to be, and so you can harvest it accordingly. Some growers are simply looking to grow the strongest strains of weed that they can, whereas others are perhaps looking to harvest more gentle strains of marijuana. If you harvest when the trichomes are still milky, then the effect of the marijuana may only be mild. However, if you harvest your marijuana when the trichomes are just turning amber, right up to when they are 80% amber, you can expect the potency of your marijuana to be quite high.
How to harvest your marijuana
So now that you know when a good time to harvest your marijuana is, here is some information about the best ways to harvest your marijuana. If you are not familiar with flushing, it is a way of watering your plant with pure water to flush out all the nutrients that have accumulated in the plant. As you have been feeding your plants with nutrients, they have been storing some of those nutrients for when needed. What that means is there is possibly a buildup of those nutrients in your marijuana plant, and it is best to flush them out before harvesting. Most growers will flush their plants at certain intervals during the growing process. This assists in ensuring that there is no over-buildup of certain nutrients in the marijuana plant, which can cause complications for it.
If you are using soil to grow your marijuana, you may need to flush it for up to one week. This is because it takes some time to flush the nutrients out of the soil, and especially if you have been using non-organic nutrients, you want to get all of the chemical buildup out of the flowers. If you have been using a hydroponic system, you probably only need to flush your marijuana plant for the few days leading up to the harvest. If some of the longer leaves on your plant wilt and begin to turn yellow, don’t worry. They are becoming low in nitrogen, but this will not affect your plant.
When it comes time to actually harvest, you should cut each “bud” or “kola” off one at a time. These are the coagulated flowers that have now come to look like bundles of buds. Chop them off one branch at a time, and hang them up to dry separately from each other. Do not put them in a bunch to dry, as the buds need as much air flowing around them as possible. Also, handle them with care to ensure that the trichomes do not fall off during the process of cutting them. Hanging your branches up in a room that is dark and contains a lot of air flow is the best way to dry your buds. Although heat may help them dry faster, this is not always better when trying to produce a potent plant. Some growers use a fan to encourage the air flow in the drying area, but too much air can also be bad for the plant, so if you use a fan do not point it directly toward the branches.
Most buds will dry in about a week, but they can take as long as a couple of weeks. Again, there is no exact answer. It requires you to observe your buds. The way you will know is when you try to bend the branches and, instead of bending, they break in between your fingers.
Curing your bud
Curing your bud is not the most important step, but if you want your buds to be presentable, it’s advised that you don’t leave this step out. All of the plant material you have collected now is ready to smoke, and in fact all of it contains the trichomes. However, it is advised that you use a sharp pair of scissors to cut off all the leaves that are longer and are obscuring your buds. This leaves your buds in nice, neat little bundles.
Your weed is now ready to sell, smoke, share — whatever it is you were planning to do with your marijuana plant. Don’t throw away the parts that you cut off, because they often contain the trichomes, too. You can use them for cooking, making tinctures, smoking, or whatever else you were going to use your plant for!