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Is the Time Right? When to Harvest Cannabis

Bjorn Dawson June 30, 2020

You can experience the reward of growing cannabis at home. One of the most important parts of learning to grow marijuana, however, is figuring out when to harvest.  

The most exciting part of growing cannabis is the harvest. For most, the idea of literally reaping the seeds you have sown is thrilling.   

However, an early cannabis harvest will diminish your cannabis potency. Alternatively, if you harvest too late, your plants may self-pollinate, rot, or suffer other undesirable outcomes.   

If you’re just learning to grow, figuring out when to harvest is one of the hardest lessons to learn. However, once you figure it out, you’ve moved beyond the status of a beginning grower. Then, you’re a bona fide farmer and can grow cannabis from seed to harvest.  

To learn when to harvest cannabis, keep reading.  

Go With What You Know: Why Homegrown Cannabis Is Better

There’s a strong case for growing cannabis at home. You never know what a drug dealer might put in their product. This circumstance has nothing to do with intentionally wanting to hurt people.  

The bottom line is that drug dealers want to make money. If they think that they could put something in their product to create the next incredible high, they’ll do it.  

The desire to create the next great drug has resulted in some dangerous concoctions. Dealers have sold worse things than marijuana laced with embalming fluid. For example, they’ve also laced marijuana with cocaine, meth, and LSD.   

Sometimes these mixtures make you feel uplifted. Other times, they bring you down. Some combinations, however, do both back-to-back.   

Marijuana dealers have been creating dangerous drug-laced cannabis concoctions for decades. However, with the emergence of legalization, more people want the health benefits of a clean product. One way to access pure cannabis is to grow it yourself.  

Unregulated Cannabis Lacks Quality Control

In recent years, cannabis with formaldehyde is making a comeback. Dealers have continued to keep this kind of product on the market. Unfortunately, they’ve also created dangerous mixes such as bug spray and marijuana.   

Even worse, some dealers mix marijuana with fentanyl. This opioid is responsible for around 30% of recent deaths in the United States.   

With this kind of risk out there, homegrown marijuana is better than buying it from a stranger.  

Today, growing marijuana at home is just not about accessing clean products – it’s also about safety.   

In most instances, a dealer is not going to go out of their way to put a toxic substance into their product. However, some dealers will do this. Do you really want to keep taking a chance with a product from an unknown source?   

More municipalities are legalizing marijuana. Homegrown marijuana and legal dispensaries are a better alternative to buying cannabis from unregulated sources.   

You can have your bud and smoke it too. With a little upfront investment, you can save some coin and still burn top-quality cannabis.  

Stay Away From Bad Seeds – They’re Trouble! 

Cannabis comes from one or two sources – seeds or clones. The seeds carry DNA from the parent plants that can result in many different expressions.   

Commercial cannabis growers plant many seeds from one strain and choose the cream of the crop. They’ll then make clones of that plant to yield consistent results during mass production.   

Growers call this method cloning. The practice prevents male seeds from entering a crop. For home growers, however, it’s easier and more cost-effective to purchase seeds to achieve the same kind of consistency.   

There are male and female cannabis plants. However, only female cannabis plants make the good stuff.   

Still, female cannabis plants need their male counterparts to reproduce. Once a male plant pollinates a female plant, it can produce seeds.   

When the seeds mature, the female plant will die. The seeds will then fall to the ground and germinate where they’ll grow into new cannabis plants the next season.  

Alternatively, a grower may harvest the seeds to make oil or foods. They may also use the seeds for the next crop.   

To create the high-quality bud that you find in retail stores, growers raise their plants and environments without males. Alternatively, they may remove the males before they pollinate. These practices create a high-potency product called sinsemilla or seedless marijuana.  

 As a home grower, you can buy feminized marijuana seeds. These kinds of seeds only produce female plants. With them, you don’t have to worry about the reduced yield of male or mixed-gender (hermaphrodite) plants.   

The Process: Growing Like a Boss 

An indoor cannabis crop is a cost-effective way to grow bud. Also, you have more control over the environment when you build an indoor crop versus doing it in your backyard.  

However, your plants will rely on you entirely when you grow them indoors. If you don’t give them everything that they need, they’re not going to make it.  

Because you have more control, you can grow moist buds consistently. In grow language, dank means damp. A dank environment is what you want for growing top-quality cannabis.   

You can grow your indoor crop anywhere where there’s access to water and air. For instance, you can use a spare room, closet or garage. You can also build a grow tent.  

Your cannabis plants will also need lights. More light means more buds. 

For indoor lighting, many people use fluorescent and LED bulbs. However, they don’t work so great for growing cannabis.   

The Right Light for Your Buds

Instead, buy a light-emitting ceramic (LEC) bulb for your grow area. It works very well for growing cannabis.  

LEC bulbs have a more natural color compared to standard ones. The color also makes it easier to care for and assess problems with your plants.   

You’ll also need soil for your plants. However, cannabis plants don’t like cheap dirt.  

For the best yield, you’ll need organic composted super soil. For instance, Fox Farms Ocean Forest soil mix contains enough nutrients to feed your plants for the first month or so.  

There are, however, alternatives to soil. For instance, you could use coco coir, perlite, or vermiculite to create a nutrient-rich bed for your crop. If you do so, you're entering the realm of hydroponics.  

Some people prefer hydroponic methods and grow their plants directly in water. When done correctly, this method can yield fast growth and bigger yields. Using hydroponics, you can get the best results with the least work.  

Now We’re Getting Somewhere: The Life Cycle of Your Crop 

Eventually, your crop will need nutrients. Even if you buy a super soil or use a hydroponic method, you’ll still need to feed your plants once they start to flower.   

Cannabis plants are greedy buggers. By the time your plants reach the budding stage, they will have sapped all nutrients from their bed. Resultantly, you have to feed them if you want them to survive.  

Still, exercise caution. If you use too much nutrient solution on your plants, you’ll burn them.  

In the beginning, follow the recommended application. If you notice that the lower leaves of your plants start to fall off or turn yellow, then you may want to give them a little more nutrient love.   

If the leaves turn yellow in the last two to four weeks before the harvest, however, they’re fine. At this stage, it’s a normal part of the growth process.  

Once your plants start to grow leaves, they’ve entered the vegetative stage. Now, the more light you give them, the faster they’ll grow. During the vegetative stage, your plants will need 18 to 24 hours of light every day.  

Ideally, you want to maintain a room temperature of between 70-degrees and 85-degrees. However, your plants will grow fine as long as the room isn’t too hot or too cold.  

Next, your plants will flower. This stage is when you’ll start to see buds.

Your plants will continue to make buds until it’s time to harvest. Once your plants enter the flowering stage, you need to do a few things, including:    

  Switch to a 12 hours on, 12 hours off light schedule.

     Check the gender of the plants.

Get rid of male plants. 

Now, you’re getting close to the payoff – it’s almost harvest time.  

When to Harvest Cannabis 

It can prove tricky figuring out when to harvest cannabis plants. To begin, take a close look at the resin glands of the plant. In technical terms, they are called trichomes. 

You’ll need a 60x to 100x handheld magnification microscope to do the job right. Using your microscope, you’ll see crystals growing on the buds and leaves. These are the resin glands.  

They’re also what makes marijuana plants sticky. You’ll see the resin glands turn three different colors throughout the lifecycle of your plant – clear, cloudy, and amber.  

If around 50% of the resin glands are cloudy and 30% are amber, it’s time to harvest. If they’re all clear, it’s too early.  

If they’re all amber, however, it’s too late. Accordingly, keep an eye on the trichomes.  

You also need to monitor the stigma of your plants. The fancy word for the stigma of a plant is the pistils.   

The stigma looks like hair and covers the bud. When your plants are ready for harvest, the stigma will change from white to amber.  

Then, the stigma will recede into the cavity of the plant. This cavity is called the calyx.  

Listen to Your Breeder

Before you plant your crop, you should know the flowering time suggested by the breeder. Their guidance will help to give you some idea of the life cycle of your plants.   

However, the ideal harvest time for your plants will vary depending on the environment. For instance, it will vary depending on how much heat and light you give your plants.  

Nevertheless, learn the breeder information to figure out the garden schedule. Most often, the breeder information will give you an accurate estimate of the days or weeks it will take for your plants to mature.  

It also helps to understand that different strains have varying life cycles. There are three approximate times to harvest after flowering based on strain, which are:   

  Eight weeks after flowering for indica
  Ten weeks after flowering for sativa
  10 weeks after flowering for autoflower 

By understanding these time frames, you can get a general idea of how your plants are coming along. Ideally, you should harvest your buds little by little as they mature to perfection.  

How to Harvest Cannabis 

You’ve made it! Your plants are ready to go, and it’s cannabis harvest time.   

You must take your time going into the harvesting process. You can’t harvest your entire crop in one day.   

Began by removing the yellow leaves from the bottom of the plant. At this stage, switch from spraying your plants with fertilizer to misting them with water.   

Move your grow box to a well-ventilated room that’s about 70-degrees in temperature. During the harvest, expose your plants to as little light as possible to avoid diminishing their potency.   

Now, you must trim the leaves. If you’re in a humid environment, trim the leaves before drying.  

Exercise caution during harvest in humid environments. The humidity in the air can create mold.  

If you’re in a dry environment, dry the plants with the leaves intact. In a dry environment, you must exercise caution not to let the leaves dry out too fast.   

It’s easier to cut the leaves immediately after harvesting. They’re wet and soft, and there’s less of a chance that you’ll make a mistake, such as removing the resin glands.   

While you’re trimming your plants, keep the blades of your scissors clean with a touch of alcohol when necessary. Cut the leaves off at an angle using an outward motion.   

Now, hang the buds evenly for three to six days in a room with approximately 50% humidity. You’ll know they’re dry when the stems snap instead of bending.   

Next, finish trimming if necessary. Now, you can seal your fresh crop in an airtight container and let your plants cure.  

Grow Healthy Crops: Choose Your Equipment and Seeds Wisely 

Now, you’ve learned the basics of harvesting and curing cannabis. It takes a lot of time, practice, and resources to learn when to harvest cannabis. However, you can take the guesswork out of growing your cannabis crop.  

Grobo offers more than 300 optimize growing recipes. Simply visit our website and pick your strain. There, you’ll find favorites such as OG Kush, Pineapple Express, and Purple Haze.   

You can also check out our automated grow box for cannabis and other plants. With our system, you can plant your strain and our app does the rest.  

Learn how you can grow 2 to 3 ounces of prime bud every 3 to 4 months by visiting  

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