Determining when the best time is to harvest your cannabis is a very important skill. The correct timing has a great influence on the quality of your weed. Harvesting too early or too late could result in poor quality of your buds. So the question is, how can you tell when your weed is ready for harvest?
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Introduction to Weed Harvesting
When your cannabis has been growing and then starts to flower, it’s important to determine when it’s time to start harvesting. The better you time it, the higher the quality and potency of your weed will be.
Before we look at when to harvest your cannabis, it’s good to know about the growth phases that a weed plant goes through. Of course, you start with a seed. Germination lasts from 24 hours to 7 days. At some point, a sprout comes out of the ground.
Then comes the seedling stage, which lasts 2 to 3 weeks, followed by the vegetative stage. This starts when the weed plant develops leaves with fingers. This is the stage of the strongest growth and it lasts an average of 2 to 8 weeks.
Finally, there is the flowering phase (6 to 8 weeks), in which the buds are formed. It’s during this phase that you eventually start to harvest, but the timing is extremely important here.
Trichomes As Important Indicator
To know when to harvest your cannabis, you can look at the trichomes. These are the glands in the buds that produce the cannabinoids. Based on what they look like, you can determine which stage of development your cannabis plants are in.
To properly see the trichomes, you need a magnifying glass or a microscope.
In the first phase of flowering, the resin glands are transparent. It’s not yet time to harvest, as the trichomes will hardly contain any active substances.
After some time, you can see that the color of the trichomes turns milky white. This means they now contain much more THC and it’s time to harvest. Not all trichomes will be cloudy, but the majority should be.
Amber Colored Trichomes
If you leave your weed plants standing longer, you’ll see the trichomes turn amber. Unfortunately, this means you’re too late and the THC in the buds is converted to CBN (cannabinol). This substance will not cause a high.
The Color Of The Pistils
You can also pay attention to the color of the pistils. These are the hairs that grow on the buds of the weed plant. Initially, they’re white and gradually change color to red/orange. Here too, you’ll have to estimate and pay attention to the percentage of pistils that have the right color.
If less than half is colored orange-red, it’s too early. If 60 to 70% of the pistils are red-orange in color, then it’s the ideal moment for the harvest.
Pay Attention To The Growth Phase
Earlier, you could read about how the growth of cannabis plants progresses. Also based on these growth phases, you can get a good idea of the right time to harvest outdoor weed. However, this can vary depending on the type of weed plants you have.
Indica and indica dominant plants bloom for a shorter period. They’re generally ready for harvest 8 to 10 weeks after the start of flowering. If you’re harvesting outdoor weed, you can count on the end of September, beginning of October.
With sativas, it all takes a bit longer. After 10 to 16 weeks, you can usually start harvesting, for outdoor cultivation this is the end of October, beginning of November.
If you have autoflower plants, then everything goes faster. On average, they’re ready for harvest 8 to 11 weeks after germination. In all cases, you should not rely on numbers, but keep an eye on your plants.
Harvesting Too Early Or Too Late
But now you may be wondering what happens if you harvest too early or too late. If you harvest too early, the cannabinoids in the trichomes will not be fully developed. There will not be much THC in it, so your weed will not be as potent as you’d like.
Harvesting too late is also not a good idea. The THC then turns into CBN. This cannabinoid does have certain effects, but it causes a sluggish, slow high. This is very different from the euphoric, powerful high that THC can deliver.
That’s why it’s also good to carefully work out the time of harvest. Try to regularly check your plants, both the trichomes and the pistils.
Drying and Curing After Harvest
After harvesting your cannabis plants, it’s important that you store your precious buds properly. After harvesting, your buds contain a lot of moisture. You first want to get rid of that, because they’ll have less flavor and because moisture attracts molds. By drying your buds, you can store them longer and they’ll get a much richer, fuller flavor.
You can dry by placing the buds on a drying rack or hanging branches in a drying room. After drying, it’s time to cure them. This will harden the buds and they’ll lose more moisture. This way, you can keep them even longer.
If you want to enjoy potent, flavorful buds, it’s therefore very important to determine the harvest time correctly. You do this by regularly checking the trichomes and pistils. If you harvest at the right time, you have a greater chance of a rich harvest of weed with an excellent quality.