Cannabis cultivation can be an exciting and fulfilling hobby that brings a sense of accomplishment to growers. However, getting your plants’ best yield and potency requires much time and effort. One of the most critical decisions you’ll make as a cannabis grower knows when to harvest your plants.
To determine when to harvest cannabis, growers typically look at the trichomes on the plant. Trichomes are tiny, hair-like structures on the buds that produce and store cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.
The trichomes appear as they mature, from clear to cloudy to amber. When most trichomes are cloudy and some have turned amber, it’s usually a good time to harvest. This typically occurs around 8-10 weeks after the plant begins to flower, although the exact timing can vary depending on the strain and growing conditions.
Growers may also look at other factors such as the color and overall appearance of the buds, as well as the age of the plant. Harvesting at the right time is important to maximize potency and yield, so careful monitoring and attention to detail are key.
Harvesting too early or too late can negatively impact the quality of your yield. In this article, I’ll explore the factors affecting the ideal time to harvest your cannabis plants, along with tips and tricks for maximizing your yield.
Understanding the cannabis plant growth stages
Before we dive into the factors determining the right time to harvest your cannabis plants, it’s essential to understand the different stages of growth. Cannabis plants go through four main stages: germination, vegetative, flowering, and harvesting. Germination is where the seedling sprouts from the soil and the vegetative stage is where the stem and leaves grow. During the flowering stage, the plant begins to produce buds, and the harvesting stage is where the buds are collected.
Factors affecting cannabis harvest time
Several factors can impact the ideal time to harvest your cannabis plants. One of the most crucial factors is the strain of cannabis you’re growing. Different cannabis strains have unique flowering times ranging from six to twelve weeks. The method of cultivation is another factor that can impact harvest time.
Outdoor cannabis plants tend to mature later than indoor ones since they rely on natural light and seasonal changes. Additionally, the size of your plants, climate, and soil conditions can influence the ideal time to harvest your cannabis plants.
How to check if your cannabis plant is ready for harvest
Knowing when to harvest your cannabis plants requires a keen eye for detail. Examining the trichomes is the most reliable way to determine if your plant is ready for harvest. Trichomes are tiny, crystal-like structures that cover the buds of the cannabis plant. They contain the highest concentration of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives cannabis its euphoric effects.
At the beginning of the flowering stage, trichomes are clear and transparent. As the plant matures, they turn cloudy, and eventually, they become amber-colored.
To check the trichomes, you’ll need a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe with a magnification of at least 30x. Gently remove a small bud from the plant and hold it under the magnifying glass. If the trichomes are clear, the plant is not yet ready for harvest. If the trichomes are cloudy or milky, it’s a sign that the plant is nearing maturity. If you want a more relaxing, sedative effect, wait until the trichomes turn amber before harvesting the plant.
Harvesting techniques – trimming, drying, and curing
Once you’ve determined your cannabis plant is ready for harvest, it’s time to start harvesting. The first step is to trim the buds from the plant. Use a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to cut the buds from the stem, leaving a small amount of stem attached. The next step is to dry the buds. Place them in a cool, dry place with good airflow for several days.
You’ll know the buds are dry when they snap instead of bend. Finally, it’s time to cure the buds. Curing involves placing the dried buds in glass jars and periodically opening them to release moisture. This process can take several weeks, but it’s essential for maximizing the potency and flavor of your cannabis.
The best time of day to harvest cannabis
The best time of day to harvest your cannabis plants is in the morning, just after the lights have turned on. This is because the plant’s energy is at its highest in the morning, and the buds are more likely to be dry. Additionally, harvesting in the morning means you’ll have the rest of the day to trim and dry the buds.
Common mistakes to avoid when harvesting cannabis
Harvesting cannabis can be a delicate process, and growers make several common mistakes. One of the most common mistakes is harvesting the plant too early. Harvesting too early means the buds won’t have reached their full potential, resulting in a lower yield and potency. Another mistake is harvesting the plant too late. Harvesting too late means the buds will have begun to degrade, resulting in a lower-quality yield. Also, handling the buds gently during harvesting is essential to avoid damaging them.
Storing your harvested cannabis
Once you’ve harvested and cured your cannabis, it’s important to store it correctly to maintain its quality. The best way to store cannabis is in an airtight glass jar, away from direct sunlight or heat. This will help preserve the potency and flavor of your cannabis for several months.
Tips for maximizing your cannabis yield
You can use several tips and tricks to maximize your cannabis yield. First, ensure your plants get the right amount of nutrients and light. Over-fertilizing or under-fertilizing can negatively impact your yield. Training your plants to grow horizontally instead of vertically can also increase the number of buds per plant. Finally, regularly prune your plants to remove dead or dying leaves, which can negatively impact your yield.
Harvesting cannabis at the right time is crucial to getting your plants the best possible yield and potency. By understanding the different stages of growth, factors that impact harvest time, and how to examine trichomes, you’ll be able to determine when your cannabis is ready for harvest confidently.
Knowing how to trim, dry, and cure your cannabis will help maximize its quality and flavor. By avoiding common mistakes and following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to a successful cannabis harvest.