One of the most difficult aspects of growing marijuana is knowing when to harvest it. You won’t get the best marijuana if you wait too long. Too much time and your marijuana will have a strong taste and narcotic effects.
Harvesting can be difficult! But I will show you how to time your harvest. This guide will explain the different methods of determining when your harvest is ready and what you can expect during the harvest.
The Basics of Harvesting Cannabis
Harvesting marijuana is similar to harvesting grapes or other fruits. The more time you wait, the stronger the alcohol respectively the more potent are the grapes. The more you wait to get marijuana from your plants, the higher the amount of cannabinoids are.
After the flowering stage, your plants will begin to die.
You can be alerted to this event by many indicators. These are some examples:
- The leaves begin to turn yellow and then die
- Pistils are turning red
- Stem broadening
- The resin on the buds darkens and browns.
You can harvest your plants if they have flowered and if you observe any of these symptoms. Although there are general guidelines regarding when to harvest, there is much debate about the best time. It partly depends on what you like about fruits and vegetables.
When to Harvest Marijuana
There are many methods to determine the best harvest season. All of these methods will be explained in the article. Here’s a quick overview.
Harvest after the period in bloom
- Indica Strains: After 8 weeks of flowering, harvest
- Sativa Strains: After 10 weeks of flowering, harvest
- Autoflower Strains: Approx. 10 weeks from seedling to harvest
Pistils maturity (color)
- 50-70% Brown – Young, light cannabis buds
- 70%-90% Brown – Ripe, heavy cannabis buds
- 90-100% Brown – Sharp, heavy cannabis buds
Harvest according to the color of the trichomes
- Clear trichomes: Still wait a while to harvest the plant
- Ready for harvest: Amber/milky white trichomes
- All trichomes are amber: Plants are overripe
So, getting back to the harvesting process, when it is best to harvest cannabis plants?
As your plants mature, you need to keep an eye on them in order to spot any signs that they have reached the highest THC content, as this shows that they reached their maturity and they are ready to be harvested.
THC is a substance that is produced throughout the entire life of a cannabis plant, because it acts as a natural insect repellant and keeps bugs from harming the plant.
Regarding the trichomes and pistils
The best way to determine if your plants have reached maturity is with a magnifying glass.
How can you tell when it’s time to go?
You should look for glistening, resin-filled trichomes on your buds like the one in the photo.
These details can be clearly seen with the correct magnifying glasses.
There are several magnifying options available:
This low-tech tool is perfect for people on a tight budget. It’s still useful enough to give an indication of where you are.
Although this option is more advanced, it can be cumbersome. To see those trichomes, you’ll need to focus.
Even though it is expensive, this is the best option as it will tell you whether your plants are ready for harvest. To see the results, you will need a laptop. You will need to carefully read the instructions if you choose this route.
You need to be able to use all these options effectively.
It is not necessarily better to wait longer
While a longer period of flowering may result in a better harvest, it doesn’t always guarantee the best results. It is important to time it right.
This is important:
- You may experience an unpleasant and overpowering taste if you wait too long. The active ingredients may not work as well, and you could experience a decrease in effectiveness.
- It is important to pay close attention to the pistil colour to avoid reaching this point. It is actually the most popular approach.
- Some growers harvest when the pistils turn red. Some wait until the pistils are nearly completely reddened and the resin has turned dark.
- You can check the resin on your flowering plants and see if it is ready for harvest, as I mentioned earlier. The mature glands will appear larger and more resin-covered under magnification. They can also swell and appear deformed.
This is exactly when you should harvest.
As it matures, the resin will turn opaque to transparent amber. When the resin is still sticky, transparent, harvest it. The resin will darken and become more amber-hued over time, so it’s important to harvest the plant before its active ingredients begin to deteriorate.
Harvesting Based On Flowering Time
You can also look at the flowers to determine when it is time for harvest. It is also possible to time it using the average flowering time of your plant. All marijuana should be harvested at the same time. However, each strain will have its own unique harvest times. To use this method effectively, you will need to be familiar with your strain.
These are the two most important things to do before you can time your harvest.
- Check out the strain descriptions
- Listen to other growers’ comments
If you are interested in buying your seeds from a trusted source, there are chances that someone has already shared ideas on when it is usually ready to harvest.
There are many variables that can affect when your harvest is ready. Your plant’s development is also affected by the conditions in your garden or outside climate.
There is no way to know when harvest time. There are guidelines that will help you determine when it’s time to harvest.
Harvesting Cannabis Indica Strains
Indica plants can be expected to flower for eight weeks before harvest. Outdoor growers can harvest the indica plants around September.
Harvesting Cannabis Sativa Strains
The flowering period for sativa plants is approximately a month longer than that of indicas. This means it will take around 12 weeks. Despite this, many haze strains actually flower quicker – some can take 9-10 weeks to bloom. To be certain, read the strain description. Normally, sativas are ready for harvest by the end of October.
Harvesting Autoflowering Strains
Although harvesting marijuana plants based on their flowering times isn’t an exact science, this can help you to determine when your plants should be harvested. This is a great way to plan ahead, as you can see the growing season.
Using the pistils: the best way to determine when to harvest
The best and most efficient way to decide when to harvest is by looking at the pistils. To see the color of a bud’s pistils, check it out. It’s too early to harvest if they are mostly white. If they’re all brown or red (90-100%), you’ve missed the peak time. If 60-80 % of them are brown or red, the plant is ready to be harvested.
Be precise when using this method. Here’s a picture guide.
|It is still not ready because 0-49% are brown.||Between 50-75% of the pistils turn brown. Although harvest is now, it’s still early. They will be lighter in taste and have a mellower effect. You might want to wait.||70% to 90% of the pistils are red or brown. Because they are strong and heavy, you should harvest your cannabis plants now.||It is almost to late to harvest when 90-100% of the pistils of you plants are brown. It will have a strong taste and narcotic effects. Get to harvest immediately and don’t delay!|
Are My Cannabis Plants Ready For Harvest?
Although it can be difficult to wait until the pistils begin changing, I assure you that it is for the best.
You can safely harvest once the pistils have turned 2/3 brown, or slightly more.
Are you unsure if 70% is your preference or 90%? Try it out and you’ll be surprised. New growers often harvest their plants at different times to find the best time for them.
Remember that some prefer marijuana harvested earlier because it is more uplifting and has lighter effects, while others prefer to have their marijuana as potent as they can.
The quality of the cannabis-buds you harvest will be affected of the timimg. What you consider high-quality is a matter of personal preference. It’s up to you to decide. This is one of the greatest things about growing cannabis.
You can watch the Trichomes of the Cannabis plant
If you don’t have a pistil method and have one of these magnification tools, you can look at the trichomes for signs that you are ready to harvest. This method is considered to be the most accurate. It’s worth knowing what you are looking at.
It is easy to see the trichomes in your plants’ buds. Trichomes are tiny mushrooms that grow on buds. They look like little mushrooms because they have a little ball at the top.
These trichomes can be thought to be resin glands. As they grow on your plants’ leaves and buds, they will develop a crystal structure or frosty appearance.
What is the point?
Trichones are responsible to the sticky nature of marijuana. They also house a lot of THC and other fun chemicals.
We harvest based upon trichomes. This allows us to determine when those trichomes have the highest levels of THC. This is hard to see with your naked eyes.
Harvesting based upon trichomes
When do you know the trichomes will be ready? These guidelines will help you compare them.
Trichomes White and Clear
This is not the right time to harvest. If the trichomes are clear, they won’t be potent enough for harvest, and your final yield will suffer. Wait until almost half the hairs have darkened and are not sticking out as straight.
Trichomes Half Clear or Cloudy
It’s still too early to harvest. Although the buds aren’t at their full potential, they can still produce highs if harvested early. This high is more energetic and “speedy”. However, you’ll experience a stronger flavor and odor if your wait.
Trichomes Mostly Cloudy
You have arrived at the right time to harvest your buds. This is the time when your plants have the highest levels THC. You must act quickly if you want to get maximum yield. When 50 to 70% of the hairs on your plants are not white anymore, you will know that they have reached this stage.
It is best to harvest now. These are the best times to harvest your plants. The high from buds picked at this time can provide serious pain relief and euphoria. This will give you the best high possible.
Cloudy and Amber Trichomes
It is not the peak time for maximum potency if your plants have reached this point.
This is because the buds contain slightly less THC than those with more CBN. This is the best time to harvest if you want a relaxing and anxiety-reducing high.
This stage is when marijuana can be harvested. It will often cause a “couchlock effect” and make it more addictive. This stage is when 70% to 90% of the hairs are darkened.
To get the best results, you can experiment with when to harvest. You can harvest a few buds at peak harvest time, and then save some for harvesting once they have matured. This will give you a wide range of options.
How to Harvest Cannabis Plants
Are you ready to harvest?
First, take out the lamps from your grow space. Next, attach some wire to the ceiling. It will be necessary for your plants.
Cut the stem at the base of the plant and then hang it upside-down from the wire. Turn on a fan and aim it right beneath the buds, keeping the humidity around 45% and the temperature around 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The extractor fan should be on and the room darkened.
These supplies are available to expert growers:
- heavy duty shears or scissors
- A dish made with isopropyl alcohol
For cutting through thick plant material, you’ll need to use shears. You will need alcohol to clean your hands and tools, since resin can be very sticky. It is best to wear gloves when cutting, as it can be messy.
After you have cut and hung your plants, dry out any excess moisture. It must evaporate from the plant matter, while the plant’s chlorophyll is broken down.
Don’t dry your plants too fast as it can cause the plant to retain some chlorophyll, which will negatively affect the flavor of your weed. This is why it is important to keep the room cool and dark.
The drying process can take anywhere from 10 to 14 days. While drying, keep an eye on your plants. You must ensure that no mold is developing or growing. Keep the humidity low. Keep the temperature at a comfortable level.
Harvesting Outdoor Cannabis Plants
Harvesting outdoors is the same as harvesting indoors. However, it’s a much more difficult task than planning.
You need to not only understand harvesting basics, but also how the seasons work and what the sun is doing. Outdoor harvesting is a rewarding experience because of all these variables.
You will soon discover that fall is your favorite season to grow cannabis outdoors. For more on growing outdoors, read this Howtogrowmarijuana article.
Let you guide from the sun
You have been an outdoor grower for many years and you are familiar with how the sun affects your plants. The sun’s rays are key in determining how much energy your plants receive and how long they last. The sun is the most important and consistent element in any type of gardening.
The sun’s role in your plants’ final days is just as important as at the beginning.
If you don’t have a tracker, it is time to start tracking the sun. Pay attention to how much light your sun is allowing to your cannabis plants.
You will be able to tell by the seasons
Your plants will get 14 hours or more sunlight during the middle of summer. The northern hemisphere could have 15 hours of continuous sunlight around the 21st June.
In September, for example, you might lose up to 90 minutes of sunlight each day. This rapid loss of daylight is precisely what causes marijuana plants to focus their energy on flowering rather than vegetation.
This strong reaction is not an accident. All plants are able to tell the difference between day and night. When summer turns to fall and there are only 12-13 hours of daylight each day, flowering begins within days.
Exposure to light can have an adverse effect on your harvest
It’s easy to determine the amount of sunlight your plants get, but it can be difficult to track the darkness.
This is because marijuana is sensitive even to artificial light. It may react to light pollution the same way as natural sunlight.
Indoor growing is an excellent option because you can control the time that your plants produce buds. Outdoor growing requires that you ensure your plants don’t receive uncontrolled artificial lighting.
This is why marijuana should never be planted near street lights or other artificial lighting. Properly dark nights are essential for plants, just as they would in the autumn. Flowers may not bloom if they don’t get enough darkness.
Are you ready to harvest cannabis?
It’s time for you to plan your harvest once flowering has begun.
You’ve likely been anticipating this moment for many months. Now you are rewarded for your efforts that you have kept your plants happy, healthy and secure throughout the entire season.
There are many tricks that can be used to successfully harvest marijuana outdoors, just like any other step of the growing process.
It is not your intention to make a mistake that will ruin everything.
You can avoid making mistakes by paying attention to the warning signs. After a long growing season, the last thing you want to do is fail completely.
It’s important to time it correctly
This is something I cannot stress enough. It is important to time your harvest properly.
The potency and yield could be reduced if you harvest too soon if you feel too eager. The potency will decrease if you wait until the peak time to harvest the plants.
Start paying more attention to the sun’s strength and timing as it correlates with seasonal changes as soon as flowering begins and planning your harvest strategy once you are close to harvest. These questions will help you prepare.
- Are you able to manage your time and provide security for cutting the plants on-site
- Do you have to move the whole plant?
- How do you transport cuttings and plants?
These logistical issues will make a big difference in harvest security.
Signs that outdoor cannabis is ready for harvest
Your plant will give you some indications that it is ready to harvest, regardless of whether you grow indoors or out.
You should consider weather conditions as well as trichomes. You should harvest outdoors only on dry and calm days.
Harvesting in the rain is not something that anyone really loves.
Pay attention to the buds and leaves when looking at your plant. You will notice a change in the physical characteristics of your plant, which will let you know when it is time to cut back.
Larger leaves will develop a yellow-brown hue, signifying slow death. The stigmas on mature plants will begin to wither at their base, but remain healthy and white on the top.
The color of marijuana buds is another sign. This one has a little more latitude. If they lose their rich green color, it is a good idea not to pick them. The buds will start to smoke harder if they turn brown.
More resin in older plants
It is a good idea to wait until the leaves turn brown before you harvest them. The resin glands will produce more resin. Some people enjoy the stronger smoke because they know they will get a more intense high. It is an individual decision and will become easier as you gain more knowledge with each harvest.
Your marijuana plants mature when the sun goes down.
The sun is the best predictor of where your marijuana plants were grown. It also depends on whether the plants were planted indoors or outdoors. This change will be more obvious if you live in an area that has four distinct seasons.
The influence of light and darkness
If they don’t get at least 12 hours of darkness per day, marijuana plants won’t flower. Because they have control over the light, indoor cannabis growers can harvest more frequently.
Outdoor growers are able to receive more frequent harvests for a lower price.
However, this does not mean outdoor growers can’t manipulate the light.
It is possible to cover a few marijuana plants and instigate harvesting by using light-deprivation. This advanced technique is not used by all outdoor growers.
More light for larger plants and flowers
Both the light and dark factors work in both directions. To reset their internal clocks, some growers will shine bright lights like halogens on their marijuana plants at night. If you want your marijuana plants to grow larger and not start flowering, this is a good idea.
In Australia, some Cannabis Sativa Strains can grow to 17 feet with internodes around 2 to 4 inches in variety. A cannabis plant this large will yield a big harvest, but also requires a long growing season.
Here’s the deal:
If it gets enough sunlight, a marijuana plant can continue to grow big. The grower should only stop the marijuana plant from flowering to ensure it grows to the desired size.
Multiple harvests per year
Two harvests can be made in one season.
This is a common practice for cannabis growers in Australia, Hawaii, and other parts of North America. Because the sun is always shining, they can harvest twice a year.
These places are ideal for marijuana plants to grow large and bloom as if they were able to reproduce naturally. The second harvest is much quicker because they are already large and have lots of leaves that can catch the sun.
To everyone else, however plan to remove your marijuana plants before the first frost.
Autoflowering Cannabis Strains – Multiple Harvests
You don’t have to live in an area that has lots of sunlight. There are other ways to harvest multiple crops. You can also try buying autoflowering cannabis strains.
These seeds will yield plants ready for harvest in just 10 weeks. This is enough time to harvest at least two times in most climates.
But that’s just a part:
You can’t harvest autoflowers twice in one season by growing them indoors. It is important to use specific techniques and live in an area capable of supporting two harvests. Your success will depend on both how you do these techniques and where you live.
A second harvest is difficult in northern climates where cannabis plants are susceptible to frost damage or other seasonal changes.
In more temperate areas, where the early fall is milder, you may be able harvest multiple times during the growing season. Your technique will determine your success.
Planning Multiple Cannabis Harvests
It is impossible to harvest plants in a normal way once and then decide that you want to harvest again. This must be planned. Before the first harvest, you must plan for multiple harvests in one year.
Start by removing mature buds. Leave the small ones and most of your leaves intact so that you can stimulate another harvest. Then resume the growth cycle by adding lots of water and some fresh fertilizer.
You are stimulating your cannabis plants to flower again by adding water and nutrients. This will allow you to harvest more of their buds. You will have a better chance of activating the second phase if you remove most of the leaves. They absorb the sun and are what the plants require for energy.
Here’s the deal:
- This works only in certain climates.
- The plants will be in flowering if the intensity and timing of sunlight has changed. You should be able extend your plants’ vegetative stage if you live in milder climates, such as tropical climates.
Using light to influence outdoor harvests
Multiple harvests can be achieved even if you don’t use autoflowers. It’s easy to do, just shine a flashlight on the entire plant for a few hours each night.
Once you have enough buds, you can interrupt the time of darkness that is normally required to flower. If you want your plants to start their second flowering stage, stop interfering with the darkness by shining your light.
Remember that flowering can take a few weeks so don’t leave the plants in vegetative stage for too long. If the first frost or colder weather is expected to arrive within the next two weeks, you should have started the flowering process at least three weeks before.
The Equinox and Cannabis Plants
Do you need a quick date for your final harvest?
How about the September Equinox?
This is not a definitive rule so don’t harvest blindly on this day. Other signs will still be needed. However, the equinox is a good time to stop drinking.
A few weeks before September Equinox, start your regular watering routine.
You will notice differences in your cannabis plants as the date approaches. This could indicate that they are ready to harvest. It is also a sign that flowering will stop soon.
Let the Flowering Period do its Thing
The flowering period is the most important aspect of growing outdoors. This is the most crucial part of selecting the right harvest time. Due to reduced light, expect six to twelve buds per flower once they reach the flowering stage. It will grow slowly at first, but it will then accelerate rapidly (just like when you make popcorn).
Existing buds will continue to grow as more buds are produced. The flowering phase ends when you see the rate at which buds are produced decrease significantly (similar to how popcorn pops slower).
These signs are what experts in outdoor growing look for:
- Bud formation
- Then comes the increasing formation of buds
- This was followed by a sudden decrease in buds formation
You will need to mark your calendar one week after the end of the flowering period. This is when plants reach their maximum growth potential. The popcorn metaphor is useful once again to explain what’s going on. The kernels can start to burn if the microwave or popper is left on too long.
You should turn the microwave off, even if some kernels are not popped.
This is true for marijuana plants as well. Even though you may miss out on some new buds, it will cause more damage to the whole yield. To get more buds, you don’t want to risk the first few buds.
Cannabis Harvest Security
While knowing when to harvest is one challenge you must also consider security. It is just as dangerous as planning your harvest incorrectly if you neglect your personal security.
This is the most important fact to remember:
Harvest is the most dangerous period for marijuana growers. There are many things that could go wrong, including:
- Authorities discover your harvest before you can harvest
- Once your plants are mature, thieves will steal them
- Authorities are waiting to catch you in action
It’s hard for authorities to deny that you have the plants, if you are caught removing them. You should be extra careful the days leading up to and the day of the harvest. You should not tell anyone that you are harvesting, nor should you inform them where you are on harvest day.
Before the harvest
Security is mostly about diverting attention from your marijuana plants until harvest. As the flowering period ends, all of that changes. Now you have to worry about your actual yield. To protect their cannabis plants from prying eyes, cannabis growers often resort to elaborate and sometimes even outrageous measures.
Near the harvest
You must be vigilant when it comes to harvest time.
Some growers spend the days leading up to harvesting near their “babies”. Some others set up a tripwire that rings when someone approaches. They might have a dog that barks all night outside if their home is nearby.
Some growers are more proactive and watch out for potential entrance routes like a hawk.
Growers can be cranky, irritable and paranoid, so it shouldn’t surprise them. Can you blame them when they have a year’s supply or more of cannabis?
You should also consider how you will transport the harvested plants.
To mask the smell, you could place the plants in sealed bags. To ensure that the route is clear, you might consider inviting a friend to go with you.
Outdoor growers have my best advice:
Before you collect your plants, make sure you have your drying area ready so that you can dry them safely as soon as possible.
Observe the whole grow
It is important to take care when you grow outdoors. Your grow may have been discovered earlier than expected and someone is just waiting for it to flower.
Potent thieves are not uncommon to stake out marijuana plants in order to reap the rewards of your hard work.
Your grow could have been detected weeks ago by police and they are waiting for your unwittingly to set a trap. It is difficult to claim ignorance when you arrive at your site with bags, shears and a backpack.
You can save yourself serious trouble by using:
- Selecting a secure website
- If you feel anything strange, walk away
Do not ignore signs that something is amiss. Relax and move on. It’s not marijuana, so it isn’t worth getting in a fight or going to jail.
When to harvest cannabis outdoors
You are now ready to harvest outside?
Make sure to bring sealable bags. Ziploc bags are transparent so make sure you have a darker bag. These bags are not transparent and do not smell.
Your plants should be cut into manageable lengths. Cut the stalks so that they can be carried in your bag. You should not spend too much time on your harvesting site. Be efficient and quick. Remember that it is only the safe removal and safe transportation of your plants that matters. It is entirely up to you how you do this.
Good weather for harvest
You should ensure that your outdoor harvest is done before the first frost, which can cause damage to your plants. Harvesting is best done on a sunny fall day with clear skies. This is not a bad thing, but it’s important to remember that harvesting in rain will not be fatal.
Rain will only increase drying time by a fraction and will not affect the resin glands or buds. Do not relax until your plants are safely returned home. You will find that you don’t have much to worry about after this.
Do not try to predict your yield
There is no way to predict what your yield will look like in advance. There are a few indicators that can help you determine if your yield will be good, average or poor.
All of the factors that you have already worried about (sunlight, water, and soil) will have an impact on your final yield.
It is possible to guess a little. If the plant is 5 feet tall, you will need between 2 and 6 ounces of bud.
Higher yields will be achieved by taller, bushier plants. You can expect a much lower yield if you wait until after peak harvest.
Harvesting marijuana indoors or out can be difficult for novices. This guide will help you harvest your marijuana with confidence.