When it comes to growing marijuana, everything has to be timed just right. You need to know the timing of which season is best for outdoor growth, if you are growing indoors, you need to know how much time you need to light your plants or how frequently you need to water them, etc. Similarly, the timing of when to stop growing and when to begin harvesting also matters a lot! Cannabis growers need to know when is the best time to harvest crops.
In this article, we shall be taking a closer and detailed look at the process of harvesting cannabis – how to do it in the best possible way, and what is the perfect timing for harvesting marijuana. We shall be discussing what harvesting is, how to do it the right way and more specifically – at the right time. We shall also be taking a detailed look at some harvesting strategies for both, indoor as well as the outdoor growing of marijuana. We hope that by the time you reach the end of this article you will feel comfortable enough to begin growing your plant or if you are already growing it, you will feel confident enough to harvest it properly. Harvesting isn’t a complex process on its own but it just needs to be done with care. Let us take a detailed look at everything that you need to know about cannabis harvest –
Cannabis Harvest: What is Harvesting?
When you begin the process of growing your marijuana plant, you start at the seed level. This tiny seed then goes through multiple phases to grow bigger and bushier and leafier and then flowers start to emerge. Once everything is done, the end goal is to remove the flowers from the plants so that you can smoke them up later for either medicinal purposes or to just get ‘high’. Harvest is an important part of growing marijuana because if you grow your plants the right way but do a premature or late harvest, you might not get the optimum quality. Hence you need to time it right.
There’s much more to harvest than what meets the eye. Before you can harvest your plant, you need to flush it to ensure that it is clean of all the nutrients that have settled in the leaves. After the basic harvest is done, there are two more processes that need to be followed – drying and curing. We shall be taking a detailed look at all of them later down the article. Up next, we look at the three primary factors that need to be kept in mind which will tell you if your plants are ready for harvest.
Cannabis Harvest: What is the Best Time to Harvest Crops?
Broadly speaking, there are three things that you need to consider which will tell you if it is the time to harvest. These are just some indicators and when all three align the time is just perfect. These are the three indicators:
1. Flowering Time
Flowering time is an important element of harvest. You can harvest your plants based on when the flowers have begun to bloom. When it comes to the Indica strain of marijuana plants, you can begin the harvest about 8 weeks after the flowering process has begun. When it comes to the Sativa strain, however, you will have to wait a little longer – in this case, 10 weeks. While these are the timings for the two main strains of marijuana plants, there is a third type of cannabis plant too – the auto-flowering plant. In case of auto-flowering plant, you count the weeks from the seedling stage. 10 weeks after the seedling stage you should be ready to harvest your plants.
The second factor that you now need to consider is the pistils of the marijuana plant. If these pistils are between 50 to 70% brown, it means that your plant is still in a very early stage and the marijuana is still ‘light’. In comparison, if this gets 70 to 90% brown, it is ripe and heavy marijuana and is generally considered the best and an ideal phase of harvest. If the pistils are 100% brown, the marijuana is generally classified as sharp and heavy – which might be a little too bitter or too strong for most peoples’ preferences. Hence, the coloration of the pistils needs to be taken care of.
The third and the final factor that one needs to keep in mind before they harvest their marijuana plant is that of trichomes. If your trichomes are clear or transparent – that means that your plant is still too young and should not be harvested at the moment. When your pistils begin to mature they will turn milky white, and in some cases they may even turn amber in colour – this is a good sign that you should now begin your harvest. However, if all your trichomes have turned amber that’s somewhat of a red alert and it means that your plant is now overripe and you’ve missed the right time to harvest it.
Basically, at least two of these three factors should align in order for your to harvest. Ideally, it should be all three, but in most cases, two is also good enough. If you have 80% brown pistils and milky-white and amber trichomes, you know it is just the right time to harvest your marijuana plants!
With the knowledge of the three factors that we have mentioned above, things become much more clearer for growers who want to harvest their marijuana plant. However, before we proceed with anything else, there’s one myth that we would like to bust. Many people believe that the longer you wait before you harvest, the better your plants will be. This is absolutely stupid and must never be followed. You do not need to wait for a ‘long’ period of time to harvest your crops. You just need to make sure you’re harvesting at the ‘right’ time. Waiting for too long may lead to over-ripe marijuana plants, which means that there might be a bad flavor and smell to it.
Another problem with overripe plants is that they sometimes lead to decreased effectiveness of the THC and CBD that is stored in them. Hence you must always avoid that. Let us now take a detailed look at harvesting and how to do it just the right way:
How to Harvest Your Plants?
Harvesting is a process which consists of four things – flushing, cutting, drying, and curing. Most novice growers consider harvest as a one-off process but this is actually something which happens over a long time and has multiple steps to it. Let us look at each one of them in detail.
1. Flushing Your Marijuana Plants
Flushing your marijuana plants is a process that has to be done just before you start off with the harvest. Flushing basically happens in two ways – flushing of the plant and flushing of the soil. Flushing the plant is what we are going to focus on here. ‘Flushing’ basically means getting rid of all the nutrients and the stored nutrients from the plant. Over the months you are providing some or the other type of nutrient to your plants and some of these nutrients tend to deposit on the leaves or on various other portions of the plant’s body. If consumed without flushing them, these can have a negative impact on the taste or the high that you get out of the plant.
Flushing basically means that ten days to a week before the harvest, you stop providing fresh nutrients and provide only plain water to your plants. This means that in the absence of new nutrients coming in, some stored nutrients will then start getting consumed by the plant. Make sure you don’t do it for too long or else the plant will start having symptoms of nutrient deficiency. Flushing of the marijuana plant’s nutrients is a very important process and needs to be carried out rather carefully.
2. Cutting Your Marijuana Plants
Now that you know when is the right time to harvest your plants, we believe that growers must also have an idea about how exactly to do it. Harvesting sounds like a fairly easy process at first glance but when you delve deeper into it there are many layers that need to be peeled. Cutting is the first such process.
Once you are ready to harvest, you will need to remove all the light sources from your grow room. You no longer need the lights – this is the first step that you should start with. With all the space that has now been created, you will need to tie wires all over the room where you will be drying the cannabis. The next step would be by beginning the cutting of the plant. Growers usually prefer to cut the plants at the base.
3. Drying Your Marijuana Plants
Cutting is usually followed by drying. Once you’ve cut your plants, use the wires to hang the plants upside down. Set your humidity levels to about 45% and temperature to around 65F and you should be good to go. Also, remember that at this stage plants need a great air circulation – the air should move from fans which are placed right below the buds so that the buds get the best air circulation while the rest of the plant’s body also gets a fresh supply of air. This process basically helps you in drying all the moisture off the plant’s body. This process normally takes up to two weeks to fully complete and during this, growers need to take care that there are no molds growing on the plant’s body – keeping your humidity levels low primarily helps with this.
4. Curing Your Marijuana Plants
Curing itself is a two-step process – the first one is trimming the bud. This can be quite a lengthy and tedious process but the end result is indeed very rewarding. Trimming ensures two things – first and most importantly, it makes sure that the bud is cleared of all twigs, sticks, and unwanted particles that might be sticking out of it. Secondly, trimming ensures that the buds actually look good and don’t look like a random blob of vegetation.
The next step is curing which is the process that makes sure that your buds are ready to be stored for long-term consumption. Curing involves you storing these trimmed buds in jars made out of glass or plastic, and store them in an airtight environment. However, these jars are to be opened twice a day for about two weeks. This is a process called ‘burping the moisture’ where any moisture that is still left over will escape and the finest quality buds will now remain.
Expert Tips for Harvesting Marijuana
Now that you know when is the best time to harvest marijuana, how to harvest and all the different steps and processes that go into harvesting weed, here are some tips before we head towards the FAQs and conclusion.
- Always make sure that your plants have fully matured. An immature bud or an overripe bud are both bad for the stoners and they will immediately know the difference as the ‘high’ just won’t be as good.
- When you are drying your marijuana plants that have been cut and hung, make sure that the fan is positioned in a way that it is angled towards the flowers.
- The process of drying needs to be done very carefully because it generates a lot of smell and might alert the neighbors or authorities that you are growing weed.
- If you are growing plants of multiple strains make sure you are putting an identifier mark on the cuts that are hung out for drying so that you can identify it while you’re processing and curing it later on.
- When you find the leaves stuck to the bud during the curing process, don’t throw them away. They carry trace volumes of THC and can be used later for other purposes such as creating edibles, etc.
- Another thing to keep in mind while curing is that you must never rip off the stem away from the flower completely. This is because that small portion of the stem holds the whole thing together and ripping it off might lead to the flower collapsing.
- Lastly, when you are storing your plants in glass jars, make sure you are getting them to ‘burp’ by opening the jars for five minutes every day for the first two weeks. This makes sure that the moisture content goes out and you get hold of ‘the perfect bud’.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Harvesting Marijuana
1. So when is the best time to harvest cannabis?
Ideally look at the combination of the three things – flowering period, pistils, and trichomes and refer to our article. Once you get two of these three things in place, you are good to go and you can then harvest your marijuana plants.
2. When should you begin to flush the plants?
Flushing should begin about a week to ten days before you are ready to harvest.
3. How do I get rid of the strong smell while drying?
You will either need to use a circulation mechanism which will throw the air out of the room (but this will lead to people in the streets being able to smell your weed) or you should use a very strong carbon filter or multiple such filters which will suppress this smell.
To sum it up, we hope that you now understand the harvesting is not a one-off process which involves just one thing. Harvesting is the sum total of multiple processes starting from flushing, leading to cutting, drying, and curing of your plants. Each of these stages is equally important for the marijuana plant as the end result is what you are focusing on. Flushing ensures that your plant gets a cleaner taste to it, cutting and drying are important to remove all the unwanted moisture and to take the bud closer to its final form. Curing is the process which makes it look nicer and finally helps store it for a long-term consumption. If there are any more questions that you may have about the process of harvesting or about when is the best time to harvest cannabis plants, let us know in the comments or drop us an email and we shall get back to you soon! Till then…
..Happy Growing! 🙂