Harvesting weed for beginners- Part 2

Published Feb 13, 2019 04:52 p.m. ET

You have put all your time into lovingly caring for your marijuana plants, including months of hard work and plenty of patience. It can be easy to get a little anxious trying to figure out the where, how, and when to harvest cannabis. Especially if money is tight and you are stuck thinking about how amazing your free weed could taste. The thing is, there is a “best time” to begin harvest, and there are several different ways to do it. So how long should you wait, and how do you tell if your plants are ready?

When to harvest cannabis

Harvesting weed is not an exact science and more of an endeavor that should be led by your personal preference. There are three main factors that should be considered, and they include; the breeder recommended flowering time, the color of the trichomes on the bud, and the color of the stigma and pistils that are present. All of which have much lower levels of accuracy when considered on their own.

Breeder recommendation: The recommended flowering time that will likely come with any seeds you purchase will give you an excellent base to go off. Usually, this time is the bare minimum that is required for the strain to reach full maturity. That does not mean that the plant will not continue to get better if left past that date. Instead, it should be considered the absolute earliest that a plant should ever be harvested.

Trichomes: The trichomes are the portion of the flower that produces and contains the highest levels of THC. To view them you must have at least a 30X - 100X microscope as they cannot be seen by the naked eye. There are three different colors that the trichomes will cycle through with each one being slightly more potent than the last until it reaches an amber color which signals the plant has reached its maximum amount of THC.

Clear - This is the first phase of the trichome and the least potent. Now just because it may not hold the strongesteffects does not mean that they aren’t appealing to some growers. A clear trichome will produce a lighter, more energetic and uplifting effect that can be perfect for those who dread that couch locked feeling and prefer to stay motivated.

Opaque - Opaque is the best of both worlds. Once the trichomes on a plant begin to look more of a cloudy white, it means that it has reached its second phase of maturity. The effects of a bud that is harvested at this point will provide a slightly stronger feeling than the last but will also stay on the lighter side making small doses still effective for those who prefer to remain active while high.

Amber - This is the third and final phase of the trichome maturing process, which means it is also the strongest of the three. Once the trichomes on a cannabis plant look a deep orangish red, they have reached their maximum potential. The felt effects will, as a result, be more sedative, relaxing, and intense.

Stigma & pistils: The stigma of a marijuana flower can be an excellent indicator of the plant’s overall maturity. They will slowly transform from a bright white to a dark brown color as the plant ages with an orange phase in between. Stigmas should always be brown before you harvest no matter what your preference. Pistils, on the other hand, can come in a variety of colors, but they do change much like the Stigma. Usually into a bright red or orange color that is a good indicator that a plant is ready.

How to harvest weed

Now that you know how to check for maturity and potency of a marijuana plant, the next step is deciding exactly how you would like to harvest them. The first thing you will need to do is prepare the room or area that you will be drying in as that may affect which method you will choose. There are three main ways to do this.

Roots - If you are trying to be as fast as possible than you may want to pull the entire plant out right from the base. This will pull up some roots and can get a bit messy, but some people swear by this method as the large stalks can act as great hangers. Unfortunately, this will bring in dirt and take up plenty of space, soit isn’t an ideal option for most people.

Branches - When you are harvesting weed you can also choose to remove the branches one at a time. Leaving some stalk can help to keep the bud spaced out and makes them easy to hang dry. You can do this by getting a large sharp pair of scissors or shears and cutting each branch off at the base of the branch just before it meets the stalk. Once finished you will be left with a completely bare stem that you can leave for compost or dispose of.

Colas - This is the only method for many who are extremely limited in space for drying. Large single colas are easy to layer with newspaper to dry and take up the smallest amount of room possible. Often it is possible to fit an entire plant within a shoe box to dry when it is harvested this way. To harvest by cutting individual colas you should begin with the largest located at the tips of the flowers a slowly work your way down. You will need a sharp pair of shear or scissors so you can gently remove each bud one at a time at the base of the stem. Once you have the large colas removed it will be easy to cut or pull off any tiny buds that remain.

The only thing we didn’t touch on yet was the proper way to harvest marijuana leaf. Though the flowers are often the most sought-after portion of a cannabis plant, marijuana leaf will also contain many of the same components, just in smaller quantities. Leaves should be cut at the base of each fan leaf as the stems will provide absolutely no value. Cannabis leaves can be used to make teas, tinctures, creams, ointments, concentrates, and more. The smaller leaves that are located on the flowers themselves can be cut away before the bud has been dried. Use a sharp pair of scissors to trim away any large protruding leaves that do not appear to be covered in crystal like the rest of the flower. This will leave your bud more potent and give you a little extra to add to your fan leaves for a concoction of your own.

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