Is the Time Right? When to Harvest Cannabis [Updated 2021]
You too can experience the reward of growing cannabis at home. One of the most exciting parts of learning to grow marijuana is figuring out when to harvest. The grower plays a large role in determining the final cannabis potency. Want to see how you can change your grow from leaning more Indica to leaning more Sativa like? Keep reading!
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.
Why Homegrown Cannabis Is Better
1. Therapeutic Benefits
Many growers have stated they find growing cannabis very beneficial for their mental health, and say its a relaxing task. Many also say growing improves their patience as they fixated watching nature slowly deliver something wonderful.
2. Cheaper in the long run.
Once you have purchased all the required equipment for growing cannabis you will end up making that money back as you will no longer need to purchase cannabis from a dispensary.
When growing your own cannabis, you know exactly who has touched it and how healthy the plant was its entire lifecycle. The Canadian government has gotten complaints from consumers of mouldy cannabis. By producing your own cannabis, you know it is top- notch.
Beginning Of The Life Cycle
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. Home growers can also choose to clone their plants to ensure the exact same genetics are present.
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 save the seeds for their 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 Life Cycle of Your Crop
Once your plants start to grow leaves, they’ve entered the vegetative stage. The more light you give them, the faster they’ll grow. During the vegetative stage, your plants will need 18 hours of light.
Next, your plants will flower. This stage is when you’ll start to see buds. Cannabis plants switch to the reproductive stage when they are exposed to shorter amounts of daylight. Outdoors cannabis begins to flower in late August/ early fall as the days become shorter. Indoors, this phenomenon must be mimicked, unless you are growing auto-flowering cannabis, as they are not affected by photoperiodism.
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:
1. Switch to a 12 hours on, 12 hours off light schedule
2. Check the gender of your plants
3. 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 trichomes. Trichomes are what makes the cannabis buds sticky, and contain the plants essential oils and cannabinoids.
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 trichomes.
Throughout the reproductive stage, you’ll see the trichomes turn three different colours – clear, cloudy, and amber.
If the trichomes are all clear, it is not potent enough. Do not harvest yet. If around 50% of the resin glands are cloudy and 30% are amber, it’s time to harvest. 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. Stigmas are the “hairs'' that cover the bud. They are one of the female cannabis reproductive structures. They are responsible for collecting pollen from male plants. When your plants are ready for harvest, the stigma will change from white to amber. Note how in the first image the "hairs" are white, and in the second image about half of them are amber.
Notice in this third image all the hairs are amber, this is a cannabis bud ready for harvest.
Know Your Strain
Before you plant your crop, you should know the flowering time suggested by the seed breeder. Their guidance will help to give you some idea of the life cycle of your plants.
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 information to figure out the 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:
- 8-9 weeks after flowering for indica
- 10- 15 weeks after flowering for sativa
- 8- 12 weeks after flowering for autoflower
By understanding these time frames, you can get a general idea of how your plants are coming along. It is best to harvest the entire plant once the best buds are perfectly ripe.
How to Harvest Cannabis
You’ve made it! Your plants are ready to go, and it’s cannabis harvest time. Congratulations, not many first time growers make it to harvest as there are so many things that could go wrong along the way. Make sure to give yourself a pat on the back! You should take your time going into the harvesting process. It's a lengthy process.
1. First, you will want to chop the branches off the plant. This will make it easier to hang the plant, and will improve airflow between the branches.
2. 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 trichomes.
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.
3. 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.
4. Next, finish trimming if necessary. Now, you can seal your fresh crop in an airtight container and let your plants cure.
Now, you’ve learned the basics of harvesting cannabis. It takes a lot of time, practice, and resources to learn when to harvest cannabis. You can take the guesswork out of growing your cannabis. Grobo offers more than 450 optimized growing recipes. Simply visit our website and pick your strain. There, you’ll find favourites such as OG Kush, Pineapple Express, and Purple Haze. With our system, you can plant your strain and our app does the rest.