Growing your own marijuana is an enjoyable pastime – plus, if you do it correctly, it has the potential to help you earn some money on the side, too!
While there’s plenty of advice out there about growing pot, it can be tough trying to find out how to know when to harvest weed. When it comes to harvesting marijuana, the proper harvest time can really make or break the whole endeavor.
If you’ve been watching your plants grow with interest, you might notice that the buds are now coated with trichomes and it appears – at least to an inexperienced grower – as though the cannabis is ready to harvest. And truth be told, if you look at pictures of buds ready for harvest, your plants seem to match up.
But is it really time to harvest your cannabis? Here’s everything you need to know about when to harvest marijuana.
Why You Need to Know When to Harvest Pot Plants
In order to get the best yields from your buds, it’s important that you don’t rush the process of harvesting marijuana. Knowing when to harvest marijuana is important, as a premature harvest can result in buds that are less potent while delaying a harvest can cause your weed to become too sleepy.
Knowing how to tell if your plant is ready to harvest comes down to watching two features of the plant with close attention – the pistils and the trichomes. Here’s how to do it.
Method 1: Pistil Harvesting Method
One of the easiest ways to deem your cannabis ready to harvest is if your pistils have begun to change. Generally speaking, pistils that are ripe will begin to change color and will shrivel up slightly.
While you won’t want to harvest your plants immediately once this happens, it’s a good indicator that harvest time is rapidly approaching. It should signal to you that it’s time to flush your plants. This should be done about two weeks before you harvest, as it will improve the quality of the smoke (and also get rid of any chemicals used to fertilize the plants).
To determine whether your marijuana plants are ready for harvest, look for the following characteristics.
Half of the white hairs on the plant will darken and curl in. Depending on the type of pot you are trying to grow, the perfect timing for this will vary. Plants that have up to 70% of the hairs darkened will have the highest levels of THC in resulting weed, while those with 80-90% will have a more calming effect as some of the THC will have converted to other cannabinoids.
Keep in mind that you might see new pistils appearing right when you are close to harvest. This can be a bit disconcerting – but it happens. Don’t let it prevent you from harvesting your marijuana! Your harvest window opens when at least 40% of the hairs have darkened and curled, so start counting now – you don’t want to wait too much longer to harvest.
Method 2: Trichome Harvesting Method
As your pistils start to change color, so too will your trichomes begin to change. When you have discovered your trichomes ready to harvest, this will be the quickest method of how to tell your plants are ready to harvest.
Here’s what will happen – your trichomes will become cloudy. The cloudiness indicates that the cannabinoids in the buds are beginning to mature.
Now keep in mind that this is difficult to see with the naked eye. The mushroom-shaped trichomes are tiny, and you might need to use a microscope in order to see them. You can also use a jeweler’s loupe, which you can find just about anywhere. You don’t need to invest in an expensive, fancy, high-powered microscope in order to determine when to harvest marijuana.
But knowing when to harvest marijuana isn’t as simple as waiting for the trichomes to turn cloudy -there’s a sweet spot. You need to wait for a short amount of time after they have turned cloudy but before they become amber. Once they turn amber, that’s a sure sign that your cannabinoids have begun to degrade.
Not sure what to look for? Looking at pictures of buds ready for harvest can give you a good idea of the key indicators.
Don’t forget that trichomes aren’t always referred to as trichomes, either. You might hear them referred to as mushrooms (which is what they look like) or as resin glands or crystals. Basically, these features are what makes weed so infamously sticky – they also give it that frosted appearance.
They’re super important, too. The trichomes are what hold most of the THC and to her cannabinoids, so you want to make sure they are mature. If your white hairs (pistils) are sticking straight out and almost all the trichomes are still mostly clear, then the plant is too young. Don’t harvest yet, as it will result in a low yield.
What to Look For to Determine When to Harvest Weed
When figuring out how to know when to harvest weed, it can be a bit confusing – especially if you are dealing with a number of strains. This is because different strains of marijuana look differently at harvest time. Some will even keep their pistils almost entirely white – even when the time is nigh for harvesting.
In addition, it can be tough to tell the difference between clear and cloudy trichomes. Sometimes you might see both types of trichomes at once on the same plant or even on neighboring buds – which will make things even more confusing! Some strains of sativa have trichomes that fail to turn amber at all, so if you’re waiting and waiting for that transition to happen, keep in mind that you might be waiting forever – this is where it’s helpful to rely on other methods of harvest, like the pistil method.
When in doubt, consult pictures of buds ready for harvest. This will give you a good general idea but remember – every plant is different. Once you have a bit more experience, you’ll know when your buds are getting close to harvest time.
After reading this article, if you aren’t sure and still are asking yourself, “when is marijuana ready to harvest?” it may benefit you to talk to your local breeder or the seed company from which you purchased your seeds. They can give you some ideas of when to harvest marijuana – particularly if you are growing a more unique cultivar of pot.