Cannabis Harvesting: Timing is Key
An essential step in the process of cannabis cultivation is harvesting the plant. And an important question about this part of the process is: when is the best time to harvest? The answer to this question is more complicated than you may think, but is vital to a successful harvest. Read on to find out more!
What Strain are You Working With?
Depending on the strain, the timing can vary. The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to harvest late enough in the process so that the plant has a chance to mature and develop a high THC and CBD content, while not waiting so long that the plant begins to die.
As far as common strains, some general harvesting rules apply. For example, Indica is best harvested roughly 8 weeks after the plant begins to flower. Compare this to Sativa, which generally needs to be harvested 10 weeks after flowering.
But keeping an eye on the clock and calendar isn’t the only way to know when your cannabis plant is ready for harvest. There are other things to take note of, and this will require some background in cannabis anatomy to know what to look for.
Trichomes, Pistils, Calyxes, OH MY!
Different parts of the cannabis plant will show signs of maturity and will indicate when it is time to harvest.
Trichomes: These are the tiny, mushroom shaped outgrowths found on a cannabis plant. They are one of the essential parts of the plant that contribute to potency. Unfortunately, these little growths are so small, you’ll need a magnifier of some sort to examine the trichomes on your cannabis plant. What you’ll look for is a “milky” appearance to indicate maximum potency. A very clear color indicates that the plant has a low THC content. A more amber shade indicates that the THC content is beginning to degrade. So find the sweet spot!
Pistils: Pistils are the little “hairs” growing on the cannabis plant. You can utilize the pistil color to know when it’s time to harvest as well, and these you can see without a magnifier. Once the pistils have begun to turn brown, waiting about a week to harvest is a good rule of thumb.
Calyxes: Think of the outer layer of a flower petal, specifically a rose. This is a common comparison for a calyx. While this is not a perfect way to measure when it is time to harvest, a general rule of cannabis plant maturity, is that the calyxes will become more plump.
Now that you know a little bit about when to harvest your cannabis plant, you need to know the next steps.
Flushing: Simply put, flushing is when the plant is thoroughly washed with pure water prior to being harvested. This is done to remove any excess substances that can affect the quality of the plant. This process is recommended about a week before harvesting.
Trimming: At this point you’ve waited diligently, you’ve seen the signs that it’s time to harvest, and you’ve flushed the plant. Now it’s time to trim the buds. There are many ways to do this, but some things to keep in mind are: keeping the plant intact by having clean, sharp scissors.
Drying: The last step in the harvesting process is drying the buds. This is done by hanging them in an environment with 50% humidity for about 4-5 days. Once sufficiently dried, the buds should be placed in a tightly sealed container to cure.
Depending on how much time, money, and research you are willing to invest in your cannabis growing process, you will be able to nail down exactly when your plant is at maximum potency, and harvest appropriately.
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Article Contributed by Ben Donald