When and How to Harvest Cannabis
First, lets celebrate the great work you have accomplished to get to this stage. It has now been between 3-9 months since you germinated your seeds. If you have followed the previous steps well, it is now time to enjoy a high quality harvest. This chapter will take you thru the important process of harvesting your plants.
Flushing your Cannabis Plants
1-2 weeks before harvest it is recommended to flush out all the remaining nutrients from your plants. Clearing your plant of excessive nutrients improves the taste of your buds. It is also important to remove all remaining fertilizers since they sometimes can be harmful to ingest.
The first option is to water your plants with PH neutral Water the last 2 weeks before harvest. The second option is to use the following 2-step method below;
The 2-step method of flushing your plants;
1. The first step is to over flood your plants with clear, non additive water. Let the water sit for a couple of minutes in order to clean out excessive nutrients.
2. The second step is to add even more clear non additive water. Watch the run off water in this step and make sure that the water is rinsed out, leaving your plant wet but not completely soaked.
After a couple of days you will start to notice the different changes in your plants. The first signs after flushing your plants is that the darker leaves will gradually change to yellow, if you want to use these leaves, for example for cooking, they will need to be removed at this stage. The leaves stems can also start to change color but do not worry, this is a good sign that your flushing method was successful. This process do not affect your buds since the plant is now almost fully grown.
When is it time to Harvest?
Prepare your plants for harvest a few days before, by stopping the water supply and lowering the humidity levels. By stressing the plants the last days you will receive a higher resin production, giving you a higher THC quality yield.
Signs that indicate that the Plants Are Harvestable
The harvest information for your specific strain should be taken in consideration lightly. There are many different factors that affects when the plants are ready for harvest – The grow room environment, your chosen growing medium and hours of lightning / daylight, are some examples of what can effect harvest time.
Timing is everything in this stage!
- Harvesting too early – This a often occurring mistake by unexperienced growers, the yield will be smaller and the buds will get less potent. Be patient, and let your plant fulfill its circle of life!
- Harvesting too late – Not so common mistake, when your plants are ready to harvest you have approximately 1 month before your plants will start to lose their medical benefits, giving you a lower quality yield.
Now it is time to check if your plants are ready for harvest. Below you will find 2 recommended methods. Choose the one best suited for your plants.
Method 1: The pistils
The “white hair” that grows straight out of the flower, also referred to as the pistils, will give you a good indication when your plant is ready for harvest. The first sign is that the pistils will start to curl and change color from white to golden, amber or brown depending on the strains character. When about 60-70% of your pistils have changed color your plant has achieved its highest production of THC. This is the ideal time to harvest if you want a good harvest for recreational use. If you are looking for a good harvest for medicinalpurposes, wait until 80-90% of the pistils have changed colors before you harvest.
Why this method DO NOT always apply:
- Some strains keep their pistils white throughout the whole life circle, simply relaying on this method without knowledge of your specific strain is not recommended. Waiting too long before harvesting your plant could eventually ruin your buds.
- If your plant has been exposed to over watering or a a long dry period, the pistils can darken and curl before your plant is ready for harvest. Harvesting your plant too early could give you a less potent yield with smaller buds.
The second option, trichomes, is considered a bit more reliable when deciding that your plants are ready for harvest.
Method 2: The trichomes
Trichomes – the small hairs that gives the plant the frosted look, are also many times referred to as the crystals.
Check the trichomes in these following steps;
- Use a magnifying glass to check if the clear trichomes have started to turn white. Your plant is ready for harvest when 80-90% of your trichomes has changed to white, giving you a harvest with a high THC level, perfect for recreational use.
- If you are looking to get a harvest for medicinal use, wait a few days longer and check your trichomes again. The will have started to change color from white to brown or golden. Harvest when 30% has changed color.
Please note: If your trichomes have started to turn grey, you have missed the harvest window. This is not too common since the harvest time stretches over approximately 30 days.
If you are unfamiliar with the specific strain you are growing, a good tip is to harvest a few buds at a time with a couple of days or even a week between, marking each bath for future references.
Finally the day you have been waiting for is here! When you have decided that your cannabis plants are ready for harvest, start harvesting before the scheduled lightning hours (daytime) begins. Don’t forget to use gloves since the resin can stick to your fingers like glue and be very difficult to remove.
Start by cutting of the largest leaves. When you have cut most of them you can remove your whole plant by the rootball or cut down branch by branch from the main stem. If you choose the later option, always start cutting at the top of the plant.
Be very gentle when cutting the plant, if not handled well the trichomes can fall off, giving you a less potent crop. We highly recommend you to leave the part where the stem is attached to the branches when cutting. This will provide a V-shape that are much easier to hang and dry.
Remove the leaves sounding the buds. Simply trim the top of the leaves closest to the bud, in order to keep the buds well preserved. By leaving a pice of these leaves will prolong the drying time but they are well worth keeping since they are covered with trichomes. Slowing down the drying time may also give you a higher potency yield.
Wet Trimming or Dry Trimming
The process described above is known as Wet trimming -When you remove all the leaves when cutting down the plant. Dry trimming – Is when you hang the branches, buds and leaves, to dry straight away, removing the leaves once they have dried some, but not completely. There is no significant difference between the two methods when it comes to enjoying those dried, wonderful buds.
Perfect! Now your plants are harvested and it is time for the last step, to dry and cure the buds.