Harvesting Marijuana

Knowing how and when to harvest marijuana will leave you with buds with maximum potency which are smooth and tasty to smoke. A good harvest will ensure your marijuana reaches its full potential.

This guide on marijuana harvesting will help you understand when to make the chop, as well as advice on preparation you can take that will make your bud that little bit more potent. It will also include a definitive step by step guide to help when you’re harvesting marijuana.

When to harvest marijuana?

The best way to tell if your plant is ready for harvesting is to examine the maturity of the trichomes. Trichomes are the sticky resin glands that cover the leaves and buds. A trichome will go through three stages within its development;

1. Clear – A clear trichome is immature and the THC will not get you as high.
Clear trichomes

2. Cloudy/Milky – A cloudy/milky trichome is at its peak with fully matured THC
Cloudy Trichomes

3. Amber – An amber trichome is past its peak and the THC is degrading.
Amber Trichomes

Perfect Buds

The best time to harvest weed is when at least 50% of your trichomes are cloudy/milky. Note there will never be a time when all trichomes are cloudy as they are continually produced and so will always be in different stages of development.

Grow Tip: If you want to be super precise, use a magnifying glass that magnifies by a least x30 to check the color of trichomes (they cost about $1 to $3 on eBay).

Too Early
Harvesting marijuana too early, and your buds will not have reached their full potential. Clear and immature trichomes do not contain fully matured THC and are not very potent. Be patient and wait until they’re ready otherwise you will have wasted all your hard work.

Too Late
Harvesting marijuana too late, the more amber trichomes you’ll have on your bud. Amber trichomes contain deteriorated THC and higher levels of CBD, which will produce more of a body stone when smoked. Avoid allowing more than 75% of your trichomes to turn amber as this means your plant is past its best!


How to harvest marijuana

In the first two weeks leading up to harvest, start to flush your plants with distilled water (if possible, otherwise use tap water). This removes the build up of any residual chemicals or marijuana fertilizers in the soil or plant. During this period your plant will use up the nutrients it has stored, meaning the bud you’re left with tastes and smokes a lot better.

You can increase THC and resin production by not watering your plant and leaving it in complete darkness for the 48 hours before finally harvesting your weed.

Grow tip: Harvesting marijuana really stinks so make sure you do it in a space that is either well ventilated or has good odour control.

Step by step guide on how to harvest marijuana

Step 1: Stop fertilizing 1-2 weeks prior to harvesting weed and flush your plants. This removes any built up nutrients which can affect the taste.

Step 2: Give your plant 48 hours of complete darkness to increase resin in the buds.

Step 3: Harvesting marijuana in the morning is a necessity as this is when THC content is at its peak. Remove one branch at a time, cutting at the base with your pruners. Do not pull the plant out at its roots as this just causes a mess.

Step 4: Cut your branches down to a small and more manageable size, around 6-18 inches (15-45cm) and hang them so they’re not touching. It’s best to hang them while you harvest the rest of your grow as laying them on a table will leave some of sticky resin behind.
Cutting down the buds

Step 5: Remove any fan leaves first, then trim away any leaves from the buds using a sharp pair of scissors. The more you remove, the quicker your bud will dry. (See manicuring your bud below)

Step 6: Hang your manicured bud for 5-7 days or until your bud feels dry but the stems do not snap when you bend them. For a full guide on drying click here. Try not to rush this last stage, quick drying is one of the most common errors when harvesting weed.
Hang in a dark room

Manicuring your bud

Manicuring is simply cutting off the leaves that were growing from your weed, leaving you with the tight and tasty buds you’ve worked hard for. Also, by doing it straight away, you will speed up the drying process. Note some people prefer harvesting marijuana plants whole and then manicuring later, the choice is yours. Use the following advice for a successful manicure.

• While manicuring your bud, use a pair of scissors with small, sharp blades. Wear a pair of thin rubber or latex gloves as your hands are going to get covered in sticky and difficult to remove resin or ‘finger hash’.

• Holding your marijuana by the stem, remove the large fan leaves first, and trim any leaves away from the buds, removing as much leaf as possible without cutting into the buds themselves.

• Be sure to manicure your bud over a large smooth table or surface, clearing your scissors of resin every so often to keep the blades sharp.

• Hang your manicured buds to dry.


• The fallen resin glands and scissor resin can be collected and turned into a potent hash to be smoked immediately or rolled into blocks for later.

• You can remove and collect ‘finger hash’ by putting your gloves in the freezer for a few hours and scraping it off. Add this to the resin you’ve already collected as a reward to yourself for all of your hard work.

A final note on when to harvest marijuana:
Make sure you have no other plans when harvesting and manicuring your marijuana as manicuring half a kilo can take six hours. Once your weed has been harvested, there will be the temptation to start smoking it. Don’t. Although some buds may be ready to smoke, they will not burn properly. Make sure you DRY AND CURE your bud first.

Follow the guide above and should no problems harvesting your weed. Whether a novice or experienced gardener, knowing when to harvest marijuana and how to harvest marijuana are two important very important considerations if you want to maximize the yields and potency of your bud.


36 comments on Harvesting Marijuana
  1. Mark

    Need some help. I’m growing outside and loosing a lot of fan leaves. Plants are budding good( past flowering ) but a lot of my leaves are turning yellow. Any idea what could be the problem. We have been getting a lot of rain, so watering isn’t an issue unless too much rain. I’m trimming all the leaves that are turning yellow and other large fan leaves.
    Another question I have is when plants are budding can you remove too many leaves?

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  2. Tim

    I’m assuming the center bud will get to 50/50 cloudy/amber trichomes before the rest of the buds. If this is true, can I harvest the buds that are ready and hold off harvesting the rest until they are ready?

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  3. punkdolphin

    Re: 48 hr. comments. The author did not say, “Cover the plant for 48 hours. He said to withhold light to it; put it in a dark room with ventilation, not put a tarp over it. As for outside plants, forget the flush (you shouldn’t need it) and forget 48 hours of darkness.

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  4. Toyes

    My crop is so close to harvest time, the back yard smells like a family of skunks. Gonna be a great fall!

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  5. JimTom

    @Halfbreed – I’ve always used the black out process the remaining 48 hours and never had a mold or bud rot problem. Keep the air well circulated and this process should benefit your potency greatly!

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  6. joe hanlon

    pretty good advice..Dont put plants into total darkness for the last 48 hours as that wont do anything but bring a good chance of mold..The cloudy trichromes are the only requirement for maxyield. Well differnt ways are different so lets not say absolutes.. The Iranian begginer should seek out the morrocan strain that they make hashish from as it is best suited for your area.

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  7. Halfbreed71

    If you want to avoid the fishy smell because for a few weeks it will smell like rotting fish. Just tilling it in.On the reservation we do not have to worry about the smell.So i tell my Bearded friends A.K.A “Whychich-iwa” just dig a hole drop a hole fish in the hole.cover it with about 4 inches of dirt.Then put your plan right over it.The plant will feed on the fish for the hole growing season.The most you will have to do is maybe give it some water.But where i live nature does that for me.One of my friends covered there plants for 48 hours all his plants got brown and moldy.And he told me to this sight told him to cover his plants for 48 hours prier to harvesting. he did that to 50 plants.All of them are brown and moldy

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  8. Halfbreed71

    As for the person that said to keep your plants out of light for 48 hours.”DO NOT” I repeat “DO NOT LISTEN TO THAT PERSON” It will do nothing but make your leaves and buds Brown and then they will get Moldy.That person is trying to get you to kill your plants and make it useless every bit of it.Once Mold sets in you have to throw the plant away it is not worth 2 cents.I have been growing for over 27 years and have the best bud in Up-State NY…want a good tip.put dead fish in your dirt and till it in then plan.I am halfbreed Oneida Indian. And we have been using dead fish in our crops for hundreds of years.

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  9. alaska dave

    lots of good questions on this site. i cant figure how you get the answers. i clicked on everything. also, im not very tech savvy. help!

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  10. Brian

    This is my first time growing, I was wondering how long it usually takes for the tricomes to change from clear to cloudy, mine have been clear for about 2 weeks now. Also the leaves were very sticky a couple weeks ago but now they don’t seem to be very sticky anymore. I’m just hoping I haven’t waited too long to harvest. Any advice would be great…thanks

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  11. garce

    AFTER HARVEST … a poster noted that after the branches are cut ,it’s over …
    NOT SO … cut the main stem down to about 6″ .. be sure to leave a few
    nodes untouched , put the plant back under 20 hr light and VOILA !!! new
    leaves begin to grow , they may look deformed , but that straightens out in
    about a week , then the plant continues to grow again ..
    this is a great practice , as the 2nd and succeeding gens will start out with a large
    root system and you know that you will get a female ..
    I have plants that i have harvested 3 times … garce

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  12. Riverzone420

    It is sometimes possible to, in a since, rejuvenate your plant after harvesting the ripened colas from the top half of the plant. The lower bud sites will continue to develop. Keep in mind that the are only going to ripen further and that the plant is not going to come back to life for another cycle. The flowering phase is the final stage of a plants cycle so kiss it goodbye throw it in a pipe and have a toke to her mameries!

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  13. ProGMO

    The chlorophyll and remaining nutrients are concentrated in the sun leaves (two leaves at the bud’s base) and sugar leaves (coming out of the bud itself). The taste is very harsh, even after flushing. Trim them off along with the inner stems that are covered in the trichomes.and then used them to make keif with your grinder. Make sure they are very dry, overly dry works well. Pu those leaves and stems in you grinder and put it in the freezer for a couple hours. The trichomes will break off easier. Place a nickel in the grinder on top of the keif screen and shake, spin, tap over and over. The keif collects at the bottom after falling through the screen. The keif can be put in a pollen press and compressed. You can smoke that after a day in the press (some people can’t wait). It will smell and taste very close to a mid-grade hashish. Sorry for going on so long.

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  14. Marty Knight

    Can anything be made out of the leaves trimmed off the plants that I am in the process of harvesting; I have lots of them, possibly 4-5 lbs. or more. Seems terrible that you would just have to throw them away. This is my first time to grow outdoors. An answer would be greatly appreciated A.S.A.P. Thanks again Marty

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  15. zotzi

    You say to trim all the leaves off the buds and then you say to scape the resin from the scissors and smoke it as hash. The small leaves coming out of the buds are covered with little spots of resin that gets on the scissors. Why should you cut these little leaves off if they have resin on them that’s as potent as hash? Why not just leave them on?

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  16. Rob from renton

    I have a 40x + microscope so ner mind about the last question.. but heres another one… is there too MUCH time to leave your buds out to dry?.. like is there an amount a time that you have to have absolutely have them put in plastic bags???

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  17. Rob from renton

    I have 8x loupes and 12x glases ( from my printing days.. are these powerful enough to see the trichromes?

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  18. roxy

    Iv’e read hours and hours of tips on the above. It seems to me that all growth looks different and being that ive seen a lot of really good growing jobs it still is confusing to get started . of course, our state has not allowed the use of it for medical yet. However, I do see it coming but, it seems like you never know where. I plan on taking the course to be allowed to grow medicinal marijuana so it’s great to actually have some understanding on how to do this so that when it is approved for medical use whether it be in this state or the one we plan on moving to. So, Yes other than having to put myself in any legal battles I will not grow where it’s illegal but, I will learn all I have to so when it is i be ready hobby moneymaker??????? who knows but, yes I do plan to do something if I’m able and when that wonderful time comes hopefully something may come out of it that is if the government doesn’t take it’s sweet ole time to make it legal.

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  19. Byron

    How do you harvest the buds off of the stems when there dry. First timer and not sure. Also have heard you can use leaves in harvest, what comment on that?

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  20. Green Man

    Hi there, once you harvest the plant you’re going to struggle to use it for anything else. If you want to makie the most out of a female plant you need to clone during the early stages of growth. You can find more about cloning via the link.

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  21. Dave

    Is it possible to save the plant after harvesting? Is there a way to cut it so it will produce again?

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  22. Green Man

    To harvest the buds you will need to harvest the entire plant. What are the conditions like where you are? This will dictate if you need to move the plant indoors.

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  23. Green Man

    They are generally cured and smoked oo alternatively people do use them to cook marijuana edibles. For more information on the curing process you can read

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  24. hossein

    you deserve all that can show our appreciation for your scientific and experienced guides,and I should inform you your activities are humanistic and I do believe your way is only as a cause of your lovely hearts.Meanwhile please be informed I live in iran and unfortunately using joint is prohibited here. ive grown about 10 plants this year as a beginner and of course making use of your kind and free guidelines and these days they are about 6 months old making resins.you are appreciated to enable me to purchase some seeds for better kind of crop.
    best wishes
    sincerely yours
    Hossein Arab(m)

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  25. billy

    I have a small plant that is budding (its maybe twenty inches). It has been brought back from near death experience in june and has gotten seven ‘tops’ that are starting to glisten. How can i harvest the buds only and should i move it indoors? I live in the deep south.

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  26. woody

    First timer ,great amount of info off ur site tyvm keep up the good work ppl.

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  27. terry tyler

    Not quite sure what to do with the buds once they´ve dried ? Are they crumpled up and smoked or do you extract the resin from them ?


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  28. Green Man

    It sounds like you might have a hermaphrodite plant. Male plants or hermaphrodites produce seeds that look like little sacks which is what it sounds like your plant has. Unless you were trying to produce seeds we would suggest culling the plant and removing it from your grow environment.

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  29. Dewayne

    my buds have big sacs on them does that mean they r getting close

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