How To Tell When Marijuana Seeds Are Ready To Harvest

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How can you tell when your marijuana is ready for bud collection? Learn when to harvest cannabis for optimal levels of ripeness, deliciousness, and potency. Harvest is an exciting time when it comes to growing weed, because you finally get to see your trichomes mature. Learn how and when to harvest marijuana. It’s vital that we know when to harvest cannabis at the right time to maximize results and avoid disappointment. Let’s find out how.

When To Harvest Cannabis: Tips & Tricks From Kyle Kushman

One of the most important decisions you can make is when to harvest cannabis plants.

Harvesting too early or too late can seriously affect the quality of your buds.

But how do you know when your buds are ripe for harvesting?

Well, just like a piece of fruit, there’s a peak time for ripening.

Collecting a little bit too soon or too late will produce a less than ideal harvest.

So how do you tell? How do you make sure your cannabis harvests are done at exactly the right time?

By reading this article! Let’s go!

What is the average time from planting to harvesting cannabis?

Some autoflowering cannabis plants can finish their entire cycle in 10-12, while big sativa strains can take up to 32 weeks, from planting to flowering!

Your average indoor cannabis grow will be 3 – 5 months.

Okay, this all sounds a little vague, and I apologize, but it all does depend on the cultivar!

Knowing exactly when to harvest cannabis is about knowing what you’re growing, when you flipped into flower, and knowing what signs to look out for.

We shall deal with this without delay.

How can you determine when to harvest pot?

Let’s start with the basics.

Save the date. When you flip to flower, mark the date on your calendar. You won’t know when to harvest cannabis without this basic barometer.

That day is going to be the best indicator of when your particular strain of marijuana is going to be ripe and ready for harvest.

Be equipped. When it starts getting close, you’ll see the pistils turning red.

That’s when you will need a lighted loupe, a handy magnifier that provides a better, closer view of the buds.

Know where to look. To harvest marijuana properly, the last few inspections are the most important of all.

Make sure you always check the buds that grow on the interior, so the coat of trichomes has not been touched.

When walking through the garden or tent, any contact like rubbing or brushing against the flowers could turn the bulbs brown, potentially leading to misjudgment.

Know what the colors mean. When you first look at the trichomes, those tiny mushroom-looking stalks will be clear.

As ripening gets close, maybe a week or two out, they will begin to turn opaque.

The cloudy or milky heads will then turn amber or brown, just like a ripe piece of fruit.

Once 5 to 10% of the trichomes have achieved the amber color, perfect ripening has been reached and that’s when it’s time to harvest marijuana like a master.

Check out this amazing video on ripening, you’ll love it.

How to tell if it’s too early to harvest cannabis

There are many ways to tell it’s too early to harvest your cannabis buds.

Use these guidelines combined with your knowledge and perception to know when to harvest cannabis at its most resinous.

Maturation dates

The time spent in flowering differs among cannabis cultivars. Consult your seed supplier, they should be able to tell you the flowering time of your plants. This will be your first data point.

For example, Gelato Feminized takes 8 to 10 weeks in flower.

Even if you see beautiful flowers and an abundance of trichomes, it’s worth waiting until all the boxes are ticked.

Clear trichomes

Trichomes make your cannabis sticky. Their color is a superb indicator that your marijuana crops are ready to harvest.

If they’re still glassy and transparent, your plants aren‘t ready for harvest.

Your plants should be cut down during the peak of resin production. Too early means losing out on strength, taste and smokability.

Too late, and the THC levels can drop as it degrades into CBN.

White pistils

Pistils go through color and shape changes when cannabis is ready to harvest. If the hairs are still white and poking straight outwards, your cannabis isn’t ready yet!

Pistils must be amber-colored before you harvest. Combine trichome hues with pistil color changes to pinpoint the best time to harvest cannabis.

How to tell if it’s too late to harvest

Knowing when to harvest weed is also knowing when you’ve left it too late. Missing the peak window to harvest cannabis buds can lead to over-ripe, super-sleepy buds.

A good sign you’ve left it too late is seeing the majority of the trichomes turn brown or amber.

Your plants will also be close to dying off!

How often can you harvest cannabis plants?

Wouldn’t you love to keep that gorgeous cannabis plant forever?

Harvesting cannabis plants is generally a one-off, as they are annual plants that die after reproduction.

Indoor harvest

Indoor harvesting of cannabis generally happens only once, though you can stagger the harvest if plants mature at different rates. You can also harvest some branches before others, though I wouldn’t advise it.

The best way is to cut the plants down whole. This helps them dry slowly and evenly.

Outdoor harvest

How do you know when to harvest cannabis outdoors?

You’d typically do it before the cold evenings of late September and early October, but you need to look out for the same signs as with indoor growing.

Mark the dates on the calendar. Look out for darkening pistils. Look for amber trichomes. When 5 to 10% of the trichomes turn amber, you can start cutting the plants down.

What do you need to harvest cannabis?

You now know how to tell if your plant is ready to harvest.

Get ready to harvest by making sure you have the room and the equipment.

Latex-free gloves

When you harvest marijuana you’re going to get covered in resin.

If you’ve got a large garden, things get very messy very fast.

A pair of gloves is a lifesaver! Latex-free ones are best as they don’t contain powder or synthetic resin.

Magnifier

Your eyes are a tool with limitations.

Invest in a magnifying glass, pocket microscope, or 40x magnification jeweler’s loupe. Use them to identify color changes in the trichome heads.

Modern smartphones also have great zoom lenses!

Pruning shears

When it’s time to harvest cannabis, growers know all-too-well how thick-limbed a mature marijuana plant can get.

Chopping from the base may require significant cutting power, which is why you’ll need high-quality pruning shears. Especially if you’ve grown outdoors.

Trimming snips

A good pair of pruning scissors is invaluable for trimming on busy harvest days!

Your scissors should be sharp, ergonomic, and spring-loaded.

High proof alcohol and clean wipes

Trimming scissors get coated in resin.

Keep 90% proof alcohol and sanitary wipes on hand.

Cleaning your tools makes the task of harvesting marijuana much less of a drag!

Drying rack and drying area

Drying cannabis activates THC in the resin, which is the final step to achieving potency. Plus, it extends the shelf life of your bud!

A drying area isn’t a tool, but you’ll need a clean space big enough for your harvest. Pick a dark, dry place with adequate airflow. Your laundry room or a spare bedroom do the trick.

Moist marijuana plants become a hotbed for microorganisms like fungi.

You don’t want to be smoking that!

Pre-harvest: 5 things to do before harvesting marijuana

Knowing how to harvest cannabis includes steps to take in preparation.

Check out my harvesting video and learn what you need to do ahead of the big day.

Defoliate the plant

As flowering ends, you’ll no longer need large water leaves on stems and branches.

Snip them away for more direct light to the lower flowers.

Tip: Leave some larger leaves here and there. They’re indicators of any potential health issues.

Reduce humidity

The humidity in your grow room or tent should be dropped to 20%–30% a few days before you harvest cannabis.

By doing this, you force unseeded female flowers to produce more trichomes and resin.

That bud coating boosts potency.

Reduce nute feedings

You’ve been feeding your cannabis to help it reach its full potential.

Start reducing the feed the closer you get to the cannabis harvest date.

Drop the regular nutrient infusions a week, even better two weeks before you harvest marijuana flowers.

Prepare to flush nutes one last time, too.

Flush your plants

Before you harvest weed, you need to flush the remaining nutes from the soil and the plant.

Basically, you skip the liquid fertilizer with each watering and drench the soil with pH-neutral water.

That way, you make sure your plants use up the nutrients, so you won’t taste them in the bowl.

How to harvest marijuana: a step by step guide

Now you know when to harvest marijuana, I’ll show you how to harvest marijuana.

Get the tools we discussed, play some feel-good music, put on an old T-shirt you don’t mind ruining, and follow these steps.

Prepare the space

Excess light can degrade THC. That’s a scenario no eager stoner wants to face!

Turn off the lamps, toss an opaque sheet over the window, or wait for an overcast day. Some leakage isn’t the end of the world, but do your best to make it dark.

Go for a temperature range between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and around 50% relative humidity.

If you’ve already gone through our “how to grow cannabis indoors” guide, you’ll know how to optimize these conditions.

Choose your method

You’ll find many niche cannabis harvest methods online, but why complicate things?

These two are the most common and effective:

  • Whole plant. This one is quick and easy, especially with smaller cultivars. Cut and hang the entire plant, and that’s it.
  • Ripe bud. This technique is a bit more time-consuming, but it maximizes yield and bud quality. You trim outside-in and top-down, cutting the buds that have ripened and leaving the others to mature for several more days each time.

Trim the leaves

There’s another decision to make before you harvest marijuana. Will you trim the leaves before or after drying?

Here’s the gist of it:

  • Trim before in humid environments. This will help you avoid mold issues on the horizon.
  • Trim after in low-humidity climates. Leafless flowers sometimes dry too quickly.
See also  Pumpkin Seeds Taste Like Weed

The next step is to hang the branches. Hang upside down and leave a tray underneath for falling leaves.

Mistakes to avoid when harvesting marijuana

You now know when to harvest cannabis and which tools you need.

Avoid these common mistakes for peace of mind and confidence in your next harvest:

Harvesting too early

Harvesting cannabis too early compromises your yield, cola size, and bud potency.

Overhandling cannabis

Overhandling cannabis rubs away the resin and ruins smoke, sale, and gift value.

While you harvest marijuana, be gentle with your ladies!

Respecting the herb will help preserve it’s quality.

Too few hands

Do you have a large garden? Rally friends, family, and paid hands to help.

When it’s time to harvest cannabis, having help is great for batch consistency.

During harvest windows, 12 hours can turn your cannabis plant’s effects from balanced to highly sedative!

You also have to dry and trim all those buds.

Why not make it fun?

Share the experience with friends and award everybody who helped with a fun type of gift bag.

What’s the next stage after the cannabis harvest?

Congratulations, you’ve done it.

Now, here’s how to get those colas ready for smoking, vaping, and mind-warping eves with your bong.

Trim your cannabis

Buds are lovely, but wheezing after inhaling burning leaves isn’t. Take the time to snip leaves off your cannabis for a smoother, more consistent smoking session.

Do you already know how to trim cannabis? It’s easier than you think!

Dry the trimmed buds

After harvesting, weed requires some time to hang and dry, ideally in an area with 45% to 55% humidity.

Internal moisture is a breeding ground for fungi and other microorganisms. It can ruin your whole batch. That’s weeks of money and effort going to waste.

Drying takes up to 14 days, depending on your climate.

Cure your marijuana

Curing removes trace amounts of moisture hidden deep inside each flower. It can take up to three weeks to complete the curing process.

It’s straightforward—all you need are some mason jars and patience.

Learn all about drying and curing weed right here.

FAQs

Before you head off to your garden, let’s answer some common questions about harvesting weed.

Can I harvest the top half of my plant?

Good news for impatient stoners—you sure can! No matter how much you trim, top, and prune, the upper side of your cannabis plant receives more light exposure.

The buds up there ripen earlier than those below.

Should all leaves be yellow before harvest?

There are two answers. Both boil down to ‘not really.’

Organic growers don’t have to flush before harvesting marijuana. In this case, it’s normal for the fan leaves to turn yellow. The plant is mature. It no longer needs the green pigment for photosynthesis.

It’s not necessary for everything to go golden for juicy, ripe buds. Those who flush see discoloration, but they should be careful about the sugar leaves. The buds deteriorate quickly once sugar leaves lose their greenery.

It’s better to harvest before this happens.

Should I harvest in the morning or at night?

Marijuana is higher in terpenes, crystals, and THC in the morning.

It also uptakes moisture during the day, which can increase your drying time.

Harvest with confidence

You now know when to harvest cannabis for top-shelf results.

You have the theory down, so why not put your knowledge to the test?

Buy cannabis seeds and start a garden of your own. It’s a gratifying experience, and once you’re smoking the fruits of your labor, you’ll never look back.

About the Author: Kyle Kushman

Kyle Kushman is a legend in the cannabis community. He is the modern-day polymath of pot: cultivator, breeder, activist, writer, and educator. After winning no less than 13 Cannabis Cups, there’s nothing this guy doesn’t know about indoor growing – he’s been there, done it, and is still doing it to this day!

How to harvest marijuana plants

It’s been months since that little weed sprout first popped out of the ground, or you put that delicate clone into some soil. You’ve watched your plants grow and mature, getting bigger and developing buds, and can’t wait to get those buds off the plant and light up.

But not so fast—harvesting cannabis isn’t just cutting down plants and trimming buds; you’ll also need to dry and cure buds before you can smoke them.

There are a few different ways to harvest weed, depending on whether you trim buds wet, straight off the plant, or dry, allowing them to dry first:

  • In wet trimming, the plant is cut down, buds are removed off branches—called “bucking”—then trimmed, and then dried, all in one sitting.
  • When dry trimming, the plant is cut down and hung to dry for several days; buds are bucked off branches and trimmed when fully dried.

Harvesting is one of the most exciting steps when growing weed, and here’s what you need to know before cutting down your crop.

Overview of how to harvest weed

  1. Flush plants a week before harvesting
  2. Determine when to harvest based on trichome color
  3. Decide if you’ll be wet or dry trimming
  4. Prepare equipment
  5. Chop down plants
  6. Dry and trim plants

Learn more on harvesting weed

Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .

How to know when to harvest cannabis

It’s important to note that every gardener has a different opinion on when to harvest their cannabis plants—some like to harvest early while others prefer later. When you harvest can also depend on other factors in life, such as your schedule, a job, the weather, etc.

Harvesting weed a week early or late probably won’t be the end of the world, but don’t let your plants sit around much longer than that.

When to harvest cannabis according to trichomes

The best way to tell if your marijuana plants are ripe and ready to harvest, both indoors and outdoors, is to look at:

  • Stigma: These hair-like strands that cover buds will turn from white to orange and will start to curl.
  • Trichomes: The resinous glands all over the plant will turn from clear to opaque and then amber.

The color and clarity of trichomes will tell you when a plant has reached peak maturity and is ready to harvest.

Ripe, healthy trichomes will be sticky and milky white; unripe trichomes will be clear; and overripe or diseased trichomes will be amber or brown. You want to look for milky white trichomes before harvesting.

Keep in mind that top colas might reach maturity faster than bottom buds because they receive more light. You may need to harvest a plant when some buds are ripe and others are under-ripe.

Additionally, information from the breeder or grower can be helpful in getting a rough estimate of when a particular strain should be harvested.

Outdoor marijuana

Weed is a warm-season annual, so if growing outdoors, harvest time comes between September and November in the Northern Hemisphere.

There is some variability—growers in Northern California may be able to harvest into November, whereas growers in the Pacific Northwest will likely need to pull their crops down by mid-October, before fall rains set it.

Know your local climate and talk to other growers in your specific area to see when they harvest marijuana.

Tips for determining when to harvest outdoor weed

Strains from regions close to the equator—sativas—need a long, seemingly endless summer to fully ripen, while strains from harsh, cold climates—indicas—tend to finish earlier. That being said, some indicas take a long time to finish and some sativas finish on the early side.

The best time of day to harvest outdoor marijuana plants is in the morning, before the sun blasts them. Ideally, you don’t want them to be wet and dewey, but you don’t want them to under the bright light of the sun, which can degrade terpenes.

You can also harvest at night when the temperature cools off, but the morning is better as plants haven’t been sitting under the sun all day.

Follow the weather

As cannabis buds pack on weight and the season changes from summer to fall, there will be fluctuations in the weather. Depending on your climate, there might be cold snaps or rainstorms.

These aren’t disasters but you do need to keep an eye on the weather and possibly make a game-time decision on when to chop down plants, balancing peak ripeness with conditions that could compromise your harvest.

Harvesting weed in cold temperatures

Most cannabis plants can sail through a light freeze—28-32°F for up to three hours—with no trouble. But a hard freeze, any temps lower or for longer, can spell disaster.

Frost can cause ice crystals to form in plant tissue, damaging their cells. Leaves will appear wilted before turning dark and crispy. The deeper the frost, the more of the plant that will get damaged.

Note that potted plants experience more severe temperature fluctuations than plants in the ground, making the cannabis more susceptible to frost damage.

Rainy harvests

Similar to a cold snap, rain itself isn’t a huge problem, but the duration and severity of the storm is. If it’s going to warm up and dry out quickly, you can leave almost ripe cannabis to weather the storm. If the rain will be there to stay, mold awaits—cut your losses and harvest before things get soggy.

Covering your plants will help, but there will still be moisture in the air. You can cover plants with a few tall stakes and a tarp, just be sure to remove the cover when the cold or rain passes to let plants warm up and get the sun and air they need.

Indoor marijuana

When growing indoors, plants generally get harvested about 7-9 weeks after flipping them into the first stages of flowering. Some strains may take longer, some shorter; it depends on the strain. Indicas usually finish quicker, while sativas longer.

How often do you harvest weed?

Harvesting indoor marijuana

When growing weed indoors, you can harvest as much or as little as you want. The sky—rather, your grow room—is the limit.

Weed can take anywhere from 3-8 months to grow from seed to harvest, so you can fit in as many as four harvests of smaller plants, or one or two harvests of bigger plants each year.

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More harvests mean you’ll have fresh, homegrown weed to smoke more often, but it will also be more work in cleaning up the space between harvests, trimming, etc.

You can even fit in more than four harvests a year if you start with clones or autoflower seeds, both of which shave off some weeks of the grow cycle.

Harvesting outdoor marijuana

By and large, cannabis grown outdoors gets harvested once a year. In most climates, seeds or clones will start in the spring, and you’ll harvest in the fall. In some tropical regions, you can squeeze in a second harvest in a year because of the climate.

Autoflowers

You can set up your outdoor weed grow to have more than one harvest a year if you grow autoflower seeds. Autoflower weed plants have a shorter life cycle—they “automatically flower” when they get to a certain age, instead of beginning the flowering stage when sunlight starts to decrease in the sky outdoors.

Because of this, you can start growing a set of autoflowers early in the season, around March or April, harvest them in June or July, and then start growing a second set for harvesting in the fall. You’ll be able to have multiple harvests, but keep in mind that your plants will be smaller because they’re autoflowers.

Light deprivation

Light deprivation, or light deps, are another technique to get multiple outdoor harvests in a year. A tarp is placed over a greenhouse to cut off the amount of light outdoor weed plants receive, giving you the ability to control the flowering cycle of plants. As with autoflowers, this will allow you to fit in multiple outdoor harvests in a season.

The drawback to light deprivation is you have to have a greenhouse and other equipment, and you have to place and remove the tarp every day. If marijuana plants receive too much light on even one day, it can confuse them and ruin their flowering and bud production.

Preparing to harvest marijuana

Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .

If you’re growing the same strain, you’ll want to harvest all your cannabis plants in the same window of time because they’ll all ripen at the same time.

If you’re growing multiple strains, they may ripen at different times. But you may still want to harvest all strains at once to get trimming done all in one sitting, just keep in mind that some strains might get harvested on the early side and some on the late side.

Before you harvest, you’ll also need to know if you are going to trim wet or dry. Wet trimming involves trimming buds immediately after the plant is cut down, and with dry trimming, chopped plants are hung up to dry for several days before trimming.

It’s also a good idea to flush your plants a week before harvesting—give them only water to clear out the nutrients.

What do trichomes look like when they’re ready to harvest?

Trichomes will be sticky and milky white when ready to harvest.

When looking at trichomes you’ll need a microscope. Handheld microscopes ranging from 30x-100x will work and can be purchased at any growing supply store.

During their change from clear to opaque to amber, trichomes reach their maximum THC content. After that, they begin to break down due to exposure to oxygen and UV rays.

What happens if you wait too long to harvest?

Waiting a week or two after a plant’s peak maturity to harvest isn’t the end of the world, the plant might just lose some THC. Busy schedules or too many plants to harvest and cause growers to delay harvesting plants for a little bit.

If you wait for a long time, several weeks or more, the plant will likely dry out and the buds shrink. The plant may start to rot and develop mold, especially in an outdoor environment and in cold climates.

Equipment needed to harvest cannabis

To harvest weed, you’ll need the following tools:

  • Scissors (for trimming buds)
  • Pruners (helpful for big branches)
  • Comfortable chair and area
  • A clean surface, like a table
  • Tray or bowl
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rags
  • Clothes that can get dirty and sticky
  • Entertainment
  • Optional: Non-powdered latex gloves

Scissors

Make sure scissors are ergonomic and will fit comfortably in your hand, as you will be holding these bad boys for quite a while. With time, these scissors will get very sticky, so get a pair that will clean easily, or buy two pairs so you can switch between them.

There are many types of scissors you can buy; some are spring-loaded, some not. Beginners often go for spring-loaded ones because they seem quicker.

However, a lot of trimmers recommend Chikamasa scissors—these are not spring-loaded and might take a day or two to get used to, but you will soon notice the precision and speed they provide.

Pruners

You may also want to invest in a larger pair of shears for cutting branches. Save the scissors for the more precise work.

Comfortable chair and area

Give yourself plenty of space and have an ergonomic setup so you can settle in for a long trim. Pick a cool place with plenty of light, and try to stay away from places with excess dust, hair, or particulates, which can contaminate the weed.

The longer you sit, the more work you get done, so find a comfy chair. Avoid anything that makes you hunch over and compresses your lower back.

Tray/bowl and a clean surface

Many trimmers opt for trimming trays because they are much easier to transport and can make a great lap companion. We recommend something that has a screen for collecting kief. The simpler the design the better.

You can also just trim onto a flat table and put your finished buds in a bowl.

Whatever you choose, make sure the surface is easy to clean.

Rubbing alcohol and rags

Trimming scissors will inevitably get gunked up with resin, so you’ll need to clean them or switch them out with a fresh pair periodically. Keep a rag and a cup with rubbing alcohol handy.

Clothes that can get dirty and sticky

Wear old clothes you don’t care about or an apron. Better yet, wear a silk apron—the resin won’t stick to silk and your laundry will thank you.

Gloves are also great to keep your hands resin-free. If you don’t like trimming with gloves on, you can rub coconut or olive oil on your hands to prevent resin buildup.

Entertainment

A long trim session can seem even longer without anything to pass the time. Staying entertained is crucial to your sanity when trimming. Anything that doesn’t require visual attention is recommended, such as music, podcasts, audiobooks, and stand-up comedy.

Tips for a successful marijuana harvest

Once your plants are ready for harvesting and you have all your equipment, it’s time to chop down your plants.

With dry trimming, chopped plants are hung up to dry for several days before trimming.

Wet trimming involves trimming buds immediately after the plant is chopped down.

Either way, to chop down plants, grab a large pair of shears and start cutting off big branches, making sure to be delicate with the buds. If plants are small, you may be able to cut them directly at the base, above the soil.

If dry trimming, it’s helpful to cut branches in a way to give them a hook on one end, making it easy to hang them. If wet trimming, cut branches so they’re easy to handle and snip buds off of.

  • Make sure to flush your plants with only water, no nutrients, for about a week before harvesting
  • Check trichomes on plants to make sure they’re ready to get chopped down
  • Wear clothes that can get dirty—harvesting weed is sticky
  • Keep shears and scissors sharp
  • It’s good to harvest before plants get too hot—outdoors, this means harvesting in the morning; indoors, harvest soon after the lights come on
  • If growing different strains, some plants may be ready to harvest before others
  • If wet trimming, be sure to trim buds immediately after chopping down plants

Now that you’ve harvested your weed, what comes next? Learn how to trim, dry, and cure your marijuana harvest.

How and When to Harvest Cannabis Plants

Anyone who has cultivated weed, especially from seed, knows that when to harvest cannabis is not to be taken lightly.

The time, energy, and expense involved are investments in the dank output of smooth-smokin’ buds that hit the spot.

However, that labor and love could be for naught if you fail to determine the best time to harvest your weed . Subsequently, lighting up that bad bud can extend your downer for a whole season!

Nobody wants to face harvest day with dread, so read on to ensure you know exactly when to harvest marijuana .

It’s important to harvest cannabis at the right time

When to harvest marijuana is one of the most important factors in shaping your bud’s quality.

Too early and the batch is likely to be less potent, flavorful, and aromatic because resin production hasn’t peaked.

Too late, and you’ll be left with a body-numbing, couchlocking sleep inducer.

We may harvest early to attain the cerebral ‘up’ high. We harvest late to maximize the medicinal cannabinol (CBN) output.

Harvest buds at the right time for the highest potency

When to harvest marijuana can be as important as the actual growing of the plants. A number of methods can make sure you harvest at the most advantageous moment.

From bud shape to effects, from THC to CBD contents, your harvest’s eventual quality depends on finding this key moment. Read on as we discover the optimal time to start harvesting.

How to know when to harvest marijuana

THC levels peak in the late stages of the flowering phase, making this t he best time to harvest weed .

However, extending that period doesn’t extend THC production, as the cannabinoid eventually starts to degrade and turn into cannabinol (CBN).

While CBN does have medicinal properties, it lacks the psychoactive effects of THC and thus limits the effects.

Bud shape

While in no way infallible, the shape and feel of the buds can give you a good idea of when to harvest buds .

At this stage, the pistils or ‘hairs’ should have mostly darkened and turned inwards, exposing the solid bud beneath. The buds themselves should be firm, solid, and tight but not squishy.

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Also, remember that sativas have longer and fluffier buds, while indicas usually have dense nugs.

Trichome color

Trichome color is, without doubt, the best and most accurate method in assessing how to tell when cannabis is ready to harvest .

The trichomes you’re looking for are the mushroom-shaped ones. These ones have what looks like a ‘head’ or a ‘ball’ on top.

Inside this ‘head’ is where much of the THC or other cannabinoids are located. They also give weed its seriously sticky nature.

Trichomes are often called resin glands, and they sparkle like frosting or crystals. They’re exactly what gives weed its potency and can give us the best indication of when to harvest cannabis for best results.

This depends primarily on the color of these trichomes, so know your trichomes with marijuana plant anatomy!

How to check if buds are ready to harvest

The trichomes will change from clear to opaque to amber during the flowering period. If the trichomes are clear, it’s too soon.

If 50% of the trichomes have turned cloudy or opaque, the buds are still growing, and the odor has not fully developed.

Harvesting marijuana at this point usually provides a more speedy or energetic buzz.

If you’re looking for an intense high, euphoria, and superior pain killing effects, harvest bud when most of the trichomes are cloudy.

If you wait longer, the trichomes will start to turn amber, which indicates the peak of THC production. It also heralds the onset of a narcotic style effect that reduces anxiety.

There are two ways to check when you should be harvesting cannabis .

Look at the buds

First, the pistil method takes aim at the ‘hairs’ present on all buds. These hairs start out white and eventually turn an orange-brown color.

When about 40% have darkened, you can harvest cannabis , but wait until 50–70% have browned for peak potency.

If 70–90% of the hairs are dark, the marijuana harvest is on the late side, and more relaxing highs should result.

Check the buds with a magnifying glass

However, the trichomes are the real showstoppers.

The trichome method is the most accurate way of determining when to harvest weed .

Trichomes are too small to see with the naked eye, but with a modest outlay, we can get close enough to make informed decisions.

Pictures of trichomes ready to harvest

When the majority of your trichomes turn from clear to milky-white, you know when to harvest bud : now!

These trichomes are close to being ready.

However, when buds are richer in CBN, trichomes will begin to turn a brownish amber color.

Trichomes begin turning amber as they become ready to harvest.

The trichomes turn amber after they have reached maximum potency, so beyond this point, there are diminishing returns.

What tools do you need to check if trichomes are ready to harvest?

There are numerous methods employed that improve visibility to varying degrees, from budget to pro.

Choosing the best time to harvest weed is crucial, so it’s imperative that you can see when your trichomes start changing.

Jeweler’s loupe

Probably the easiest and most cost-effective method to analyze your trichomes is with a jeweler’s loupe.

Simply put the loupe up to the plant and look for the ‘glitter’.

Camera phone

Modern camera phones are eminently capable of shooting a decent image which can then be enlarged.

You’ll need good light and steady hands or a tripod. Focus is king.

Digital microscope

These are able to shoot video and can achieve a tighter focus. Digital microscopes can produce more defined pictures.

They are the surest way of knowing the state of your trichomes and how to tell when marijuana is ready to harvest.

How to tell when it’s too early to harvest weed?

If the hairs or pistils on the buds are still straight and white, it’s too early! The trichomes themselves will still be clear like glass. If you harvest cannabis at this point, your potency and yield will both suffer.

If pistils are still white, THC levels are still low.

What tools do you need to harvest marijuana?

There are a few things you will need to gather when harvesting marijuana . This is an exciting part of the process and very hands-on.

It’s hard work too, but it’s super rewarding!

Scissors and pruners

We require at least a single pair of quality scissors, capable of speed and accuracy.

For larger branches, use a pair of pruners that can be spring-loaded or not.

Of utmost importance are comfort and effectiveness, as harvesting cannabis can be a time-intensive task.

Clean surface, tray, or bowl

You need a clean, handy tray, bowl, or surface to place the trimmed branches or buds in. Some trimmers like a lap tray for comfort and efficiency.

A screen to collect kief is a great idea too. Any flat, clean surface like a table will suffice. Just store the buds in a bowl.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is an important part of your armory when harvesting cannabis . This is a sticky business, and your scissors are likely to get gunked up rapidly.

Rubbing alcohol cuts through the resin and cleans your blades, surfaces, and hands with the help of a spare rag.

Comfortable chair

A comfortable chair saves your back as you settle down for a solid session of harvesting marijuana .

Choose a cool place with plenty of light, perhaps some music, and you’re ready to harvest your pot.

How to harvest marijuana—dry trimming

Dry trimming is one cutting method that can be used once you’ve determined the best time to harvest weed .

Dry trimming is when we remove the leaves of the plant only after we’ve dried the plant for 10–14 days.

Flush plants a week before harvest

When you’ve decided when to harvest pot , prepare to start flushing your cannabis .

Do this by feeding the plants only water for the last two weeks.

Cleanse the cannabis harvest with pH-neutral H2O to eliminate the chemical taste, magnifying the natural flavor of the colas.

Prune off some of the bigger branches

When you harvest cannabis , cut off the bigger branches not far from where they meet the stem.

This means you won’t accidentally step on the plant and damage the fragile colas.

It makes the harvest progressive and organized.

Cut off all branches

Next, cut off all the branches you’re going to hang and remove excess leaves. It’s unnecessary to remove all the leaves, as some will keep the buds moist for the first few days.

Hang the branches to dry

Finally, hang the branches to dry. You need a room with a constant temperature of around 70 degrees F.

The humidity is also important—a relative humidity (RH) of 50% is great. If you hang branches upside down, you won’t need to turn them.

Make sure you have a cool, dark spot with decent airflow.

How to harvest cannabis—wet trimming

Wet trimming is the second cutting method, primarily used in humid climates where the potential for mold is higher.

Here the buds are separated from the fan and sugar leaves before drying starts.

Flush your plants

Like with dry trimming, the first step is to flush your plants with water a couple of weeks before you intend harvesting cannabis .

Cut off the branches

Next, cut off branches, making them easy to handle when snipping off the buds.

When wet trimming, cut branches individually so that you can trim each one first before moving on.

Trim the buds from the branches

Trimming immediately after harvesting cannabis is easier, as sugar leaves haven’t closed in on the buds.

Wet trimming means more chlorophyll in the leaves, however, which may lead to a lingering grasslike aroma.

Leave buds to dry

Finally, place your carefully trimmed nugs on a drying rack. Leave your marijuana harvest in a cool, dark room with decent airflow.

Remember to turn the buds regularly to dry your crop evenly and to avoid misshapen buds.

Tips for harvesting marijuana

We hope you’ve got a clearer idea of when to harvest marijuana now. As an added bonus, we’ve got some extra tips on how to maximize your time, effort, and yields:

  • Attach a label with the strain’s name and the date it started drying to help differentiate between multiple breeds.
  • Be on the lookout for ‘friendlies’ that may have made a home in your cannabis harvest , especially for outdoor grows.
  • Wear clothes you don’t mind getting filthy— harvesting cannabis can be sticky and dirty work!
  • It’s good to harvest buds before the plants get too warm, so it’s best early in the morning outdoors. Indoor grows can be harvested shortly after the lights come on.

What comes next?

After harvesting cannabis and drying marijuana, you can move on to another important part of the process — drying and curing .

Curing is placing your dried cannabis into air-tight jars for a few weeks for a controlled breakdown of residual chlorophyll.

This process helps bring out the delectable taste and aroma locked inside the terpenes. Yum!

Become a harvesting master today

There you have it—our step-by-step guide to harvesting weed plants for optimum potency. We hope it helps!

This is also a great time to start thinking about your next cannabis harvest. If you’re on the lookout for delectable new weed seeds for your next harvest, i49 seed bank has everything you could want.

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