If you want to know how and when to harvest your marijuana plants, then you’ve come to the right place. In this series of articles, we are covering the harvest process, and everything that comes after, such as drying, trimming, curing and storing.
In our last article we introduced you to the cannabis harvesting process, which is a series of steps from cutting down the plants to drying and curing them.
In this article, we are going to explain what to look for so you know when your plants are ready to be harvested.
When is Cannabis ready to be harvested?
As we have discussed before, there are two stages of growth during the life of a cannabis plant. These stages occur whether you are growing indoors or outdoors.
The first stage is the Vegetative period, and this is when your plants are green, skinny, and immature. Because the plants only grow, but do not bloom, some call this the “grow” stage.
The second stage is the flowering stage, and this is when your plants are in bloom. Many actually call this the “Bloom” stage.
The bloom stage begins after the light cycle is changed to 12/12. The plants will go through an intense growth phase, called pre-flower stretch, and thereafter flower development will begin. These plants will continue to blossom until their peak, when they are ready to be harvested.
Before harvesting your cannabis plants, know how many days/weeks the plant has been blooming
For most varieties and strains of cannabis, the bloom stage lasts about 56 to 63 days, or 8 to 9 weeks. Most of the strains we grow are 9-week strains, but some are ready in 8 weeks, we simply harvest those aisles a week early in the grow rooms.
You should keep a log book of your entire grow cycle. Document when your seeds were planted, or clones were cut. Document the length of your veg cycle.
Document the day you flip your plants into the flowering stage.
- If you are growing indoors, then Day 1 will be when you switch your light cycle to 12/12.
- If you are growing in a greenhouse, this will be when you start your light deprivation.
We like to track our bloom cycle by week-by-week. So we track Week 1, Week 2, etc. and we run our schedule of tasks (defoliation, etc) according to that weekly schedule.
When you get through Week 7, start monitoring your plants on a daily basis to inspect them as they approach peak maturity.
How to tell when is cannabis ready to be harvested?
When you are in the final weeks of the flowering stage, you should inspect your plants. The pistils (the hairs) should be dark, and should have receded.
The sparkling trichomes should be bright and apparent throughout the buds. As the plant continues to mature and ripen, the trichomes will go from completely clear, to a cloudy, milky transparency, to eventually a darker, amber color.
As you become more of an expert grower, you will eventually dial this process in. But for a beginner, it is best to use the calendar to assist you, along with daily inspections, so that you start training your eyes on what to see.
In the next article, we will discuss the physical harvesting process of cutting down the plants.