In past installments of this series, we have focused on how to transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage and ways in which to ensure success in the flowering stage. In this piece, we will discuss harvesting your cannabis and we will close out the series in the next installment by discussing the post-harvest and curing process.
From selecting a strain and planting a seed, there is one goal at the end of growing a marijuana plant–a proper harvest. If you have invested the proper effort and optimized your plant with the proper growing conditions, water, nutrients and care, then you will have a yield that is ready for use. It’s important to know when it’s time for harvest, how to prepare for that process and the best way in which to harvest and store your buds.
Is Your Cannabis Ready?
Like every other stage of cannabis plant growth, timing is everything. Harvesting your buds at the perfect time will ensure that you have an optimized bud that is not immature and also not overgrown, delivering the best flavor and a fine-tuned high. Too soon, and you lose potency in your marijuana, too late and you risk harvesting a bud that is overly sedative. There are a few ways in which to know if your plant is ready to harvest.
- Pistil Method
When buds begin to form, they resemble balls of white hairs (pistils) that will eventually darken and curl. It is when a majority of those pistils are darkened and curled in that you can assure that your plant is harvest-ready. When about ¾ of the pistils have darkened, you can expect the highest THC levels. Push it farther and you can expect a more relaxing and calming effect from your marijuana.
- Trichome Method
Don’t ignore the science behind cannabis growth. A microscope can help you examine trichomes on your plant and determine if your cannabis is ready for harvest. When approaching the harvest window, trichomes will begin to look clear and glassy.
Calyxes are pods that would have seeds if a cannabis plant were to be pollinated. When unpollinated, these pods will swell when your plant has reached maturity.
- Harvesting to Your Preference
Harvest time is not a one size fits all experience. Harvesting at various times in the harvest window will affect the high you experience. For example, the highest levels of THC are present when trichomes are milky white. Waiting until your trichomes have darkened to an amber will bring about a more relaxing and calming effect. Clear trichomes being about a more energized high.
The Harvest Process
Just like the vegetative and flowering stages, the harvest process requires specific considerations. For example, many growers will argue that harvesting in the morning is better because terpenes are stronger in the morning prior to sunrise. In addition to this, there a number of aspects of a harvest to address, including:
- Harvest Space
Your harvesting area should be well-ventilated and at a balanced temperature to preserve the plant and ensure that odor does not spread.
Be sure that you have necessary tools and any other supplies that make the job of manually trimming your plant easier. Of course, you will need trimmers and gloves, but some cultivators choose to also have trim trays in order to catch extra bud trimmings.
Most growers will flush their plants prior to harvesting in order to remove any residual fertilizers or nutrients that might affect the taste and high of their marijuana. To do this, you simply eliminate the use of nutrients about 7-10 days before harvesting your plant to flush these elements out, leaving a pure plant for harvest.
- Cutting Method
There are a couple different methods to harvesting and trimming the cannabis. You can choose to leverage the whole plant method, which mean you cut the entire plant down, or you can choose to only cut the mature buds.
The lifecycle of a cannabis plant doesn’t end at trimming. You still need to manicure the buds, cure them and store them for use. Our final installment in this series will provide an overview into this post-harvest process and ensure that from seed to smoke, your marijuana is of the highest quality.