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.
2. Cloudy/Milky – A cloudy/milky trichome is at its peak with fully matured THC
3. Amber – An amber trichome is past its peak and the THC is degrading.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.