Every cannabis grower dreams of the day their plants will produce aromatic, fat, dense buds with a thick layer of resinous trichome. It is natural to feel impatient to harvest the buds as soon as they start getting denser after all the hard work it takes.
However, harvesting the buds at the right time is crucial to enjoying a delicious high. Prematurely harvesting them might not give you such results, nor should you harvest them too late.
What are the signs you should be looking for to understand that your cannabis plants are harvest-ready? What is the right method to harvest? What happens when you do not harvest at the right time?
Here is a complete guide for you that will answer all these queries and equip you with all you need to know before you chop those buds off.
Average Time Needed From Planting To Harvest
Cannabis plants have a diverse range of growing periods. You might be already aware that each stage of cannabis plant growth has its duration. Different strains also have different growing periods. The growing medium also plays a part, and so does the amount of nutrition added to it.
Most cannabis plants take 9 to 12 weeks to become ready for harvest. But they are dependent on several factors. You might want to choose a strain that takes less time to get harvest-ready.
I like the Cinderella 99 fast strains from the reputed seed bank i49, which gets harvest-ready in about 7 to 8 weeks. This is a musky, sweet strain with a captivating aroma that gives an energetic high. I love this strain not only because it needs less time, but it also gives a spectacular harvest with very few nutrients and much less time under artificial light.
It also grows into a short bushy plant that does not need a too spacious growing area. Therefore growing this strain online is a breeze. Like its name, this strain truly feels like magic with such a short flowering time, less need for nutrients, and growing space.
Now let me tell you about the correct method of harvesting your buds.
Harvesting Procedure Of Cannabis Buds
Autoflower plants can be harvested all at once. However, it is advisable to snip off the buds separately in sections while harvesting them. Early mornings provide the best climate for harvesting marijuana flowers.
If the topmost buds have become harvest-ready before others, cut the main stem about halfway to remove only the top portion. You can snip off individual stalks carrying mature buds too. By doing so, you will create space for sunlight to reach the buds in the flower stems. It will also ensure that the buds get another week to reach up to their full potential.
Use a small hand saw for cutting the lower stalk if you are harvesting in batches. You can let the root remain inside the grow bag or the pot to recycle the soil for your next growing season. It will make the root ball decompose, feed worms, and fertilize the soil before the next growing season.
This will be especially useful if you are harvesting a huge batch of buds. If you choose to harvest in sections, it will allow you to split up the time, space, and effort needed for further processing of those buds. Harvesting in sections ensures that the steps of drying and curing are more manageable.
Often new growers regret harvesting their marijuana plants too early rather than late. Let me now take you through the symptoms you should watch out for to know that your plant has become harvest ready.
Keep a magnifying glass handy!
Signs That Say That It’s Too Early To Harvest
The harvesting time of your crop can be easily indicated by inspecting the trichomes. If most of the trichomes are clear, you can wait for some time before you take out the harvesting shears.
Clear trichomes are a sign that the resin production still needs some more time to reach its prime. Therefore harvesting at this stage will mean that the buds will not be potent. As a result, they won’t give you the flavor or aroma they have the potential of.
How To Recognize Your Buds Are Ready For Harvest
The trichomes on your harvest-ready buds will give off a shade of faint amber. It is time to notice that the trichomes are turning cloudy from the mix of clear and cloudy colors.
Here are some more signs that shout “Harvest Us Now.”
Leaves Get Curled:
The fan leaves will start getting curled when the plant becomes harvest-ready. This is to the leaves drying up as the plant absorbs minimal water nearing the harvest time.
Changing Leaf Color:
As the harvest time sets, the fan leaves start becoming yellow. This is due to the reduction of nitrogen around this time. If you notice leaves falling off, you should rejoice rather than worry. It’s a sign to get harvesting.
Pistils Turning Brown :
As the flowers mature, their pistils start becoming brown. When you notice about half the pistils on your flower turning brown, you can rest assured that your plant is harvest-ready.
Milky White Trichome Color:
When the small resinous beads start appearing on the cannabis buds, know that your plant is about to become ripe for harvest. The resin should be milky white with a tinge of amber in a harvest-ready bud in the ideal condition.
Firm, Dense Buds:
Tightly packed, fat, and firm flowers on the cannabis plants signify that the harvesting time is almost there. Keep an eye on the bud shape at the flowering stage to understand the harvest time. Once you notice the buds getting firm and tight, inspect the trichomes to understand the exact time. Also, inspect both the upper and lower buds to understand their conditions.
Signs That Tell That You Have Missed The Harvest Train
Many cannabis growers believe that harvesting the cannabis buds a little late is better than harvesting them too early. I agree. Though the flowers start losing their taste and aroma, the psychoactive terpenes are stronger if the flowers are harvested slightly late.
However, if the trichomes have become bright amber from the milky white shade, your buds have become overripe. At this stage, the THC also begins to weaken. They might also get blackened if left for some more time. If you touch the buds and notice the trichomes crumbling on your finger, it’s a sure sign that it is too late to harvest your buds. The weed begins to taste unpleasant at this stage.
Actions To Take After Harvest
Harvesting your weed correctly is not enough. To make your buds ready to smoke, they need to be dried, cured, and trimmed.
You might want to store the buds for future use, do so in a vacuum-sealed glass container for maximum freshness and long shelf life. If you store them in a dark, dry, cool place, the buds will remain amazingly fresh, potent, and flavorful for a year.
Having said all this, some cannabis plants, especially the autoflowering ones, might not exhibit all these signs distinctly. Their trichomes might not turn into an even amber or milky white. They might also not lose leaves.
If my plants don’t show clear signs, I harvest when the trichomes stay cloudy for over a week and the buds become fat and dense.
If you face such an issue, check the seeds packaging label. It might also contain information about the harvest time. Most strains need 10 to 12 weeks.
Go with your gut if it says they are ready.
To become a seasoned grower, you need to have some such experiences to intuitively know about the plants.
Have trust! Here’s wishing you an amazing harvest in your journey to be a successful weed cultivator.