How and When to Harvest Cannabis

DIVING DEEP INTO HARVESTING CANNABIS

Cannabis is a widely known plant for its several uses. It is also known as hemp when referring to the non-drug variants. It has another name- weed when we talk about the drug variants.

Widely popular for its medical and recreational purposes, Cannabis is a flowering plant grown throughout the world.

Harvesting is one of the trickiest things to do in getting that perfect cannabis.

So, let us dive deeper into the pool of knowledge of harvesting Cannabis!

WHEN TO HARVEST CANNABIS

When to Harvest Cannabis
When to Harvest Cannabis

It is very important for us to know when the perfect time to harvest cannabis is. Let us look at the various aspects of determining the timing of harvest.

SIGNS OF HARVEST

There are several signs of knowing when it is the right time to harvest cannabis. You need to be vigilant to notice them. 

Here is the list of all major indicators to help you out!

PRIMARY INDICATORS

These are the main indicators that show that the crop is mature and ready to harvest. These include time quoted by agencies for harvest, the pistil, and the trichomes.

Let us see them all in detail;

1) Time given by Seed Bank

Check the ideal harvest time on the seed packet. You can also refer to the guidelines by the seed bank. These are not 100% accurate. They give an estimate of when should we be ready to harvest since few other factors matter too while determining the harvest time like growing conditions, care, area, and soil richness. 

2) Colour of the Pistil

When cannabis flowers begin to mature, the small brown hairs on them are the pistils. The color of the pistil can help us to know when to harvest cannabis.

When they are less brown or red, they cause a psychoactive effect- impacts the working of the brain and causes mood changes. When they become browner, they have more of a narcotic effect- treats pain.

Just relying on the color of the pistils may give a false alarm. Sometimes, excess watering, humidity conditions, or using spray products can cause a brownish tinge in pistils.

3) Trichomes

The most precise way to know the harvest time is to look at the trichomes. They appear on the surface of leaves and flowers. They look like droplets and attain mushroom shape at the maturity stage. 

They contain cannabinoids that determine the impact of the weed. It is the storehouse of THC and other chemicals. These resins turn brownish with time.

SECONDARY INDICATORS

Apart from the primary indicators, there are a few other signs too. Keep an eye on the crop to know any noticeable changes in the following;

1) Water Absorption

The plants do not absorb much water once they are ready for harvest. It would be an early sign to check whether the crop is ready for harvest.

2) Stems 

The stems broaden when the plants are ready to harvest. So, keep an eye over the stems once the plant has flowered.

3) Leaves

The leaves die and turn yellow when the crop is mature enough to harvest.

DECIDING WHEN TO HARVEST CANNABIS

Now, we know the various indicators which tell us about the harvest time. Let us discuss some advance tricks to get an alarm using these signs:

1) When to harvest after Flowering

Since the time given by seed banks is not 100per cent true; assume that the harvest would be ready after 10 to 15 days as prescribed. Say, if the seed bank gives 55 days as harvest time, and then go for harvesting after a bit longer time.

Here is the harvest time after the flowering occurs for different varieties;

  • Indica Strains – Harvest After eight weeks of flowering
  • Sativa Strains – Ready to Harvest after ten weeks of flowering
  • Auto flowers – Harvest after Ten weeks from the first seedling

Also, Read- When to Harvest Carrots 

2) When to harvest based on the color of Pistils:

Various growers harvest at different stages keeping in mind the desired taste and effect. You can keep in mind the following while deciding when to harvest cannabis;

  • If only 0% to 49% of the pistils are brown, the crop is not ready for harvest. The pistils are whitish at this stage.
  • When 50% to 75% of the pistils are brown, be ready for harvest. If you harvest at this time, the taste would be lighter.
  • The best time to harvest cannabis is when 70% to 90% of the pistils are brown. The crop will have a strong flavor if you fetch the harvest at this stage.
  • If you fail to harvest at the previous stage, now 90% to 100% of the pistils will be reddish or brownish. The taste will be quite heavy. It will only have a narcotic effect. Do not waste any further time and harvest quickly.

3) When to harvest based on Trichomes:

The best way is to check them using a microscope. Observe the shape and colour of the buds and then decide about the harvest time.

  • Colour 
  • Clear, White hair: When trichomes are clear, it is not the right time to harvest. At least wait till half of them are cloudy.
  • Half white: The buds still can get better and attain the potential. It would be better to wait for a little more time. If you harvest at this time, the weed would be energetic. If you want more strong flavors and odor, better to wait!
  • 50 to 70% Cloudy: At this stage, the buds have the highest THC levels, making it the best time to harvest. It is the stage when the weed is the most potent.
  • Amber and Cloudy: This stage is when 70 to 90% of hair darkens. For those who want the narcotic effect, this the perfect time to harvest. At this stage, Buds have less THC and more CBN (cannabinol). 
  • SHAPE
  • Round: It is early to harvest at this stage. There is still time to go!
  • Mushroom Shaped: It is the right time to harvest once the bud becomes identical to the shape of a mushroom.

If you fail to harvest on time, trichomes can explode and deteriorate. So, be sure to harvest the crop at the correct time.

NEED TO HARVEST CANNABIS AT THE RIGHT TIME

Harvesting at the right time is immensely important in the case of the Marijuana crop. Harvesting early or late may lead to a lot of problems. Let us discuss them here one by one.

1)EARLY HARVEST

The harvest may have a lower quality than its potential. The flavor would be less intense. The buds will have less chlorophyll and terpenes. The size of the bud may be smaller.

2)LATE HARVEST

The flavour may die down. The THC turns into CBN, making it a relaxing experience for those who taste rather than an exhilarating one. The psychoactive effect reduces; the narcotic effect comes at the forefront.

So, be wise and harvest on time.

Also, Read- When to Harvest Garlic

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

To get complete signs about the maturity of the crop; It would be better to have a microscope. We need to see trichomes using a microscope. The Handheld microscopes having a range from 30x to 100x would be best suited for the purpose. These are available in the stores easily. 

When trichomes change their colour from white to opaque to amber, it would be easier to observe them if we have a microscope in hand. Also, we can observe the shape of the resins well using the microscope.

BETTER ALTERNATIVE – THC OR CBN

The trichomes reach a stage when they stop production of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). It then starts degrading to CBN (Cannabinol) due to exposure to oxygen and UV rays.

Both THC and CBN have their own set of benefits:

1) TCH

It is the main mind-altering constituent of the weed. It stimulates the mind to create dopamine which creates a hysteria having severe psychoactive effects.

2) CBN

It helps to reduce insomnia, pain, and inflammation. It mainly acts as a pain reliever. It does not produce any psychoactive impacts as such.

It depends on the grower which effect they want in the weed. You should do the harvest accordingly.

BEST WEATHER TO HARVEST

  • In case of outdoor harvest, do it before the first frost. The frost can damage the plants.
  • The autumn season is the best to harvest. A clear sky with the sun is desirable for the process.
  • In case of a rain spell, the drying time would increase. There would be no impact on the quality of the buds.

HOW TO HARVEST CANNABIS

After knowing when to harvest cannabis, it is important to know the procedure too.

Let us discuss it in detail;

HARVEST PREPARATION

It is necessary to prepare the plant before harvesting. Following Steps give an idea about what it takes to prepare before the harvest.

1)Discarding Spoilt parts

Check the damaged parts attacked by microorganisms. Discard them off. 

2) Flushing

It means to run water through the soil to remove extra salt and mineral nutrients. The buds will have better smell and flavour once you remove the excess fertilizers. Start this process two weeks before harvesting. It is advisable to use clean water at room temperature for flushing.

Some tips for both indoor and outdoor flushing:

  • Indoors

If you have planted cannabis indoors, put a container under the pot to avoid a mess; or you can place the pot in a large container, vessel, bucket, barrel, shower or even a bathtub.

Remember to use water below three times the quantity of the pot. Do not drown the plant in this process. In the beginning, water coming out of the pot would be dark; it would gradually change to a lighter colour.

  • Outdoors

Flushing is not a cumbersome task in the case of outdoor plantations. Go ahead!

Also, Read- When to Harvest Potatoes

HARVESTING PROCESS

After preparing to harvest the crop, let us move on to the real process of harvesting. These steps provide a detailed analysis of How to harvest Cannabis.

1) Cut the plant

Either cut the whole plant or cut separate branches. Trim the fan leaves off. You can trim other smaller leaves from the bud too. Trimming gives a good look and a smoother surface area.

2) Getting Buds with Stem

Divide branches into buds. As per the size of bud, you can leave the branch small or big. 

3) Drying

Make sure to do the process in a dark and ventilated room. A table or exhaust fan may also give a good air circulation at the place. Drying may take 10-14 days.

Requirement

The ideal temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). We need 50 percent relative humidity for the proper drying up of buds.

Ways

There are two ways to dry the Buds- by hanging or putting.

You can put your buds to hang dry in several manners. A method could be using a cloth hanger and clipping the weed upside down.

We can put the buds on a surface like a drying rack. Keep rotating them within stipulated times.

CURING CANNABIS

 

The drying process only helps us to remove the outer moisture. Curing is essential for getting away with internal moisture.

Curing is the process of storing buds in the right environment and conditions to help in maturing the matter and avoid decomposition.

Let us look at the right way of curing cannabis;

1) Removal of buds from the stem

After the drying process, remove the buds from the stems.

2) Placing Buds for Curing

We should store the buds in a dark place. An ideal place must have a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 60-65 per cent humidity. Places like cabinets and closets work well.

A jar would be a good option. Either keep the lids of the jar open for the first two weeks or make some holes in the jar lid to make it perforated. This is known as burping. Remove the lid several times a day to get the extra moisture out. Once, you enter next week, you can reduce the number of times you burp the containers.

Gently shake the jar in between to not let moisture sit at a place to prevent rotting.

If you are planning to store for more than half a year, keep the jars in the freezer or go for vacuum sealing. An advanced way is to replace the oxygen with nitrogen that helps to preserve the taste and quality of the buds.

This curing process may take from 3 weeks to months.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR PROPER HARVESTING

  • Stop adding fertilizers to the crop once the flushing process has begun.
  • Stop watering the plants 1 to 3 days before harvesting to get a drier soil bed.

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