When to Harvest Cannabis – Weed Pictures, Tips & Tricks

You’ve spent months nurturing and watching your seedlings grow and now they’ve turned into blooming plants. At this point, any enthusiast grower will tell you that you’ve reached the most exciting phase of growing cannabis! But when exactly will your cannabis plants be ready for harvest? Harvest your plants too early, and the buds will be small and under-developed. Harvest your plants too late, and the buds will have lost their potency.

Every grower wants to grow the best cannabis possible, so it’s vital to know precisely when to harvest marijuana. A lot of time and hard work is riding on this decision, but don’t fret – you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we will inform you on when and how to harvest weed so that you can maximise yields and potency!

When to Harvest Weed

There are two easy methods that will help you determine whether your cannabis is ready to be cut down. The first method is inspecting the pistils on the buds and the second method is examining the trichomes on the buds using a magnifying tool.

The pistil method

Pistils are hair-like structures that protrude from each bud. Each bud has numerous calyxes that the pistils grow from, acting as female cannabis plants’ reproductive organs. The colour of the pistils will help you determine when your plant is ready for harvest.

Immature cannabis plant with white pistils on the flower

White pistils on cannabis flower

The pistils’ colour starts as white and gradually turns orange and brown during the latter stages of the flowering cycle. Generally, orange and brown pistils are an indication that the buds are close to harvest.

If most of the pistils are white, the plant is not mature enough and you should hold-off harvesting the plant. We recommended waiting until at least 50% of the pistils have turned orange or brown to maximise THC levels. The cannabis buds ready to harvest once 60% to 70% of the pistils are a darker colour.

cannabis plant with orange pistils on the flowers

Orange pistils on flower

However, this method is not fool-proof, and we don’t recommend relying on the colour of the pistils when deciding to harvest. Some cannabis strains can be ready for harvest and still have many white pistils, so we recommend using this technique in unison with the second, more precise method.

The trichome method

The trichomes offer an anatomical insight into the flower’s maturity. Trichomes are tiny mushroom-looking glands that cover the buds and they’re the reason why your flowers are sticky when touched and have that frosty look!

The resin in the trichomes contains cannabinoids and aromatic terpenes. The cannabinoids are what make you feel high when you smoke cannabis and terpenes give your plant its smell and flavour.

Using this method, you can determine when the cannabinoids of your plant are the highest and when the terpene profile has fully-matured. To observe the trichomes, you will need a magnifying tool, such as a jeweller’s loupe or a magnifying glass, but the zoom feature on your phone’s camera can also do the trick!

Trichomes visible on calyx of a cannabis plant

Trichomes on calyx

Accessing the colour of the trichomes

If the trichomes are transparent and have a crystal-like colour, your plant’s flowers are not ready for harvest. Harvesting now will be similar to harvesting when the buds’ pistils are white. Your plant will have lower yields and less-potent buds. Rather wait it out, it will be worth it in the end.

As the flowering cycle continues, you will notice more trichomes change from clear to cloudy, taking on a milky colour. When most trichomes are milky, with roughly 30% having an amber colour, your plant is ready for harvest. Cloudy trichomes will have the highest THC levels, meaning the cannabinoids have matured and will give you the most potent psychoactive high when smoked.

The plant’s terpene profile will have fully-matured at this stage, giving your flowers a pungent odour to match the potency. It’s at this stage when most growers prefer to harvest their cannabis.

If you leave cannabis to mature further, all the trichomes will eventually turn amber. Harvesting now will result in buds that will have a lethargic, body-centric high when smoked (also known as couch-lock) and the THC levels will be lower.

You may be needed to buy cannabis seeds online if you have just harvested your weed follow the link for the best genes available in South Africa.

How to Harvest Cannabis

Removing the fans leaves from the plant when harvesting

The removal of fan leaves from the harvested plant

Although you know how to grow cannabis, you might find it a little tricky to know when to harvest your plant. Harvesting weed is extremely exciting, but it’s essential to understand how to move forward once you cut down your plant to maximize your buds’ quality.

We find it best to remove all or most of the large fan leaves when you initially cut down your plant. Doing this will speed up the drying process and make trimming the buds easier.

Some growers trim their cannabis when wet, known as wet trimming. Others prefer to trim their cannabis when dry, which is called dry trimming. The choice is, of course, up to you, but we’ll break down both methods so you can choose which one you prefer.

Wet trimming your plant

This method involves trimming all the sugar leaves from the buds before you hang up the plant to dry. The advantage is that it’s easier to trim when wet because the leaves are still fresh, making for a shorter trim. After you finish the trim, you can hang up your plants and wait for them to dry for 5 to 7 days.

Dry trimming your plant

A wet trim works, but if you want higher-quality cannabis, dry trimming is the way to go. Dry trimming means removing all (or most of) the fan leaves but leaving all the sugar leaves untrimmed. Leaving the sugar leaves on the plant will increase the drying time, but as the plant dries over the 7 to 10 days, the sugar leaves will dry and curl over the buds, encapsulating them with their frosty goodness!

Drying like this will give the plant more flavour, which means your buds will have a stronger smell and better taste. This trimming method takes longer, but the buds will taste and smoke better as a result, which is worth it in our view.

Cannabis is dry when the stems partially snap when bent. Once dry, place the trimmed buds in a jar and let them cure for three weeks to a month if you want to get even more flavour and taste out of your buds!

Final Thoughts on When to Harvest Cannabis

In the excitement preceding harvesting cannabis, many people jump the gun and harvest too early. Some, on the other hand, miss the mark and harvest too late.

Knowing when to harvest is a learned skill and a mandatory skill for anyone that wants to grow high-quality cannabis. After reading this, you should have a sufficient understanding of the various methods you can use when harvesting so that you maximise your yields and the overall quality of your cannabis. You’ve put in the effort; it’s time to reap the rewards.


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