How to Know When to Harvest Cannabis

Harvesting your cannabis at the right time is crucial to achieving high quality cannabis!

You’ve made it this far! Your plants are looking good, the buds are filling in and you are dying to harvest your plants and enjoy the fruits of your labor. But before you do, read this guide to ensure you are harvesting at the right time to achieve maximum potency!

There are 2 common methods used by most growers to know when to harvest cannabis. You can either check the Pistils or the Trichomes. For best results, check both. So what exactly are we looking for?

Pistil Method

The first method we will look at is checking the pistils. No tools required, simply look at the buds. Looking at the pistils ( little white hairs) you can get a good idea of how far along your plant is. If the hairs are still white and standing up straight then you are still the early stages of flowering. What we are looking for is the pistils to darken and curl up. I like to wait and see about 75% of the pistils darkened before harvesting, although it does vary from grower to grower.

Know when to harvest cannabis based off the pistils

70-85% of pistils have changed colourMaximum THC content
85-100% of pistils have changed colourLower THC, higher CBN content
When to harvest cannabis guide

Trichome Method

The most accurate method of determining when to harvest cannabis is to use a magnifying glass. By using a magnifying glass you can determine exactly when to harvest.

To make it simple, I recommend buying a Jewelers Loupe. They are cheap and will make your life much easier!

Once you have your jewelers loupe begin to take a look at your buds. What we are looking for is the little icicles or crystals. These are the trichomes which gives marijuana its potency.

close up image of trichomes on a cannabis plant
zoomed in image of trichomes and pistils on a marijuana plant

Here is a chart for quick reference.

Trichomes half cloudy half clearLower THC, lighter high
Trichomes 70-80% cloudyHighest THC potency. Mix of cerebral and body high. Optimal time to harvest
Trichomes become amberMid THC potency. heavier body high, better for sleeping

Prepare to Harvest Marijuana Plants

After checking the pistils and trichomes to determine that the plants are ready, it is now time to prepare for harvest. Here are a few tips and tricks to ensure a higher quality potency in your yield.

Flushing

Flushing is a very important step in harvesting cannabis. By flushing your plants you will be removing excess nutrients and chemicals. This will create marijuana that is much smoother and has a better taste. The best part? Flushing is free and easy! Essentially all you have to do is water your plants with ph adjusted water. Make sure you water until 20% run off. Now you can be sure any excess chemicals have been flushed and your plants are almost ready to harvest.

Reduce Humidity

In the final couple weeks leading up to harvest it is beneficial to lower the humidity in your grow tent. Lower humidity and dryer soil in the final stages have shown to increase potency and also reduce the risk of mold/mildew.

Dark Period

Another trick many grows recomend is to have 48 hours of darkness before you begin to harvest. So once your lights turn off, unplug the lights completely and leave the plants to sit in the darkness for 48 hours ( you should still leave your exhaust fan running ). The idea is that the dark period will slightly stress the plant causing in to ramp up resin production one last time.

Harvest Cannabis Step by Step

The most exciting time for every grower is harvest time! This is when all the hard work pays off! Once you have determined your plant is ready for harvest follow these simple steps.

  • Chop the Plant – You can either chop it right at the base to remove it from the pot or just cut it down branch by branch.
  • Light Trim – Trim away all the large fan leaves, and begin to lightly trim the buds. Its okay to leave some on as it will help prevent your buds from drying out too quickly. The final trim can be done after drying.
  • Dry – Put your buds on a drying rack or hang them in your grow tent. Make sure to keep the area dark. The ideal time for buds to dry is 3-7 days. Once the small stems start to easily snap when bent you are ready to proceed to the final trim.
  • Final Trim – The final trim will involve removing any excess leaf that was left behind. Take your time with this stage as this will determine the look and taste of the final product.
  • Cure – The final step! Curing is a very important step that should not be overlooked! Curing can make a whole world of a difference when it comes to taste and overall harshness of the smoked bud. The technique to cure your weed is very easy. Place the buds into a mason jar and add a humidity pack. This will help achieve the perfect humidity and top quality buds. Its generally recommend to cure for a minimum of 1-2 weeks, however longer is usually better. Once a day you should open the jars and leave the lid off for 20 minutes to exchange fresh air.

Dried and cured cannabis in a mason jar
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