The best part of growing anything is the harvest. This year I grew a bunch of peppers and onions, and I’ve never been more excited to pick something off of the vine. A few years ago I felt the same feeling harvesting my first (and only) cannabis crop. We harvested a bunch of Mob Boss and some amazing Blue Lemon Haze from our hydro grow. It was bittersweet to cut them down because they were so tall and beautiful and fragrant, but the sadness was short lived because we mourned by smoking home grown and cured buds a short while later.
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Leafbuyer Home Harvest Guide
Harvesting marijuana can be tricky, though. Some new growers have a hard time determining when to harvest your buds, which can be frustrating. Harvesting too early makes for a smaller yield and a lower potency, and harvesting too late can run the risk of your plants becoming hermaphrodites and pollinating your whole room. Plus, the THC in the plant can turn into CBN, which will make your flowers have a sedative effect when you smoke. There are a few things to look out for when you’re thinking about harvesting as well as a few things you should do.
Determining When to Harvest Your Buds
The best way to tell if your buds are ready to harvest is by looking at the flowers closely –ideally with some sort of magnifying device. You can use any number of things like a plain old magnifying glass, a digital microscope, or a jeweler’s loupe. In my experience, the digital microscope is the way to go. There are several parts you need to analyze to determine whether or not you harvest.
- Pistils – The pistils are the little hairs that come out of your cannabis flowers. Your plants aren’t ready to harvest when the pistils are still white and sticking out straight. You’re waiting for at least half of the pistils to darken and curl. 60-70% of the hairs darkening and curling shows you that your plants are almost ready. When 70-90% of the hairs darken and curl, your plants will become sleep medicine, as some of the THC is turning into the relaxing cannabinoid CBN. The problem with analyzing pistils is that the plant naturally continues to grow more pistils over time, typically in explosive waves, so it isn’t always an accurate representation of your plant being ready for the chop. If she’s gone through the motions 3 times, most avid growers cut them down.
- Trichomes – The trichomes are the little mushroom-like resin-glands that are responsible for getting you high. They are very sticky and give the plant its frosty look. The most accurate way to tell whether or not your bud is ready to harvest is to take your magnifier and closely analyze the trichomes. If your trichomes are clear, it’s way too early to harvest. Half-cloudy trichomes are still a little premature, as the plant’s odor hasn’t developed and the potency is still pretty low. If your trichomes are cloudy through and through, but not darkening, they are ready to come down. If your trichomes are cloudy and milky through and through, you have the most potent bud with the greatest euphoria and pain relieving effects. If your trichomes are starting to turn an amber color, the buds are going to couchlock you as the THC is turning into CBN.
Using both of these methods will help you determine whether or not your plants are ready. If you’re not sure if your trichomes are semi-cloudy or mostly cloudy, take a look at the pistils. They will help you determine your plant’s readiness to flush and come down.
If you’ve determined your plants are almost ready to come down by looking at the pistils and trichomes, you can prepare your flush. Flushing is essentially purging any excess chemicals out of the plant so that the buds taste and smell better and get you high without excessive coughing or headaches.
Each grow method requires a different flush time. According to the fine folks at Grow Weed Easy, depending on your substrate, here are your flush times:
Amended Soil Growers: Don’t flush
Soil Growers: Flush 1-2+ Weeks
Coco Growers Flush: ~1 Week
DWC/Hydro Growers: Flush for a Few Days
This is going to piss your plants off. They look tall, gorgeous, green and healthy right now, but during a flush, they starts yellowing and getting very stressed out. Water your plants like you normally do. They will be turning yellow and wilting, but you have to make sure that the yellowing isn’t due to overwatering. You must harvest before the leaves covered in trichomes begin to yellow. While she yellows, she is decaying a bit and will stop growing. After you harvest, you can bring the plant back, or cut the whole thing down. From here you start your trim and move into the cure!
Curing weed is the worst part of the whole process, especially in Colorado where it can get so dangerously dry in a very short span of time. You’ve come so far! You don’t want to lose everything on the cure! Professional growers always slow cure flower because it drastically improves the flavor and smoothness of the smoke. In order to achieve this though, there are a few conditions that absolutely must be met, including temperatures and humidity. The best drying environment is a room temperature around 70°F and 50% relative humidity. The best cure environment is to keep your jars around 70°F and at 60-65% Relative humidity. Here’s an excellent video that goes in depth about the dry and cure, as well as how that setup should look.
After you’ve dried and cured your buds, you’re ready to start smoking on that good homegrown weed!
Your first few grows are always the hardest. It’s definitely a process, and it can be a stressful one. The last thing anybody wants is to mess up the last part of their beautifully planned and executed grow operation. So to recap, we’ll go over the steps to the harvest process. We sincerely hope you learned something today. If you have any questions, drop us a line and we will get back to you.
- Keep a close eye on your plants. Analyze the trichomes as well as the pistils to determine whether or not they’re getting close to harvest.
- Flush your plants for a span of time depending on your substrate situation
- Harvest your plants
- Dry and cure your plants
- Enjoy your homegrown medicine!