Is there a best time of day to harvest cannabis?

Published Nov 12, 2022 10:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Esteban Lopez 

Whether you’re a new or experienced grower, you’re probably counting down the hours until you can finally harvest your crop. After much love, care, patience, and waiting, the day all of that work pays off is so close you can almost taste it, but harvesting cannabis is as much a science as it is a much-anticipated time to celebrate.

You probably already know that the time of year you plant and harvest can make a massive difference in the overall health and quality of the buds produced, but does the time of day really matter?

Is there really a best time of day to harvest cannabis?

After many months of care through the vegetative and flowering phases, you’ve spent a lot of time paying close attention to your plants, monitoring every detail from the quality of water used, to the nutrients provided throughout the season, while also watching for the slightest sign of trouble due to pests, pathogens, or issues with lighting. So now that you’ve made it this far, it might be hard to believe that the time of day you hack the whole thing down could make much of a difference.

However, many experts agree that the best time to harvest cannabis is right before the next daytime light cycle begins, which occurs in the early hours of the morning, just before or immediately after the sun comes up, or your lights turn on.

Why the morning is the best time of day to harvest cannabis

Cannabis plants go through predictable cycles throughout the season, from the seedling to the flowering stage, and at that same time, they’re undergoing other less noticeable changes related to metabolic functions like respiration and photosynthesis. The two most sought-after cannabis compounds, terpenes and cannabinoids peak near the end of the night, just before the sun rises, and that is why the morning is generally considered to be the best for harvesting.

This isn’t just some wives' tale, or folklore either. Many commercial cultivators choose this timeframe to harvest their crops for just this reason, and some will go to even greater lengths to maximize this natural effect, by turning off the lights for at least 24-48 hours prior to harvesting. Since the elements begin to fade after this sweet spot in time, it only makes sense to take advantage of this handy fact by planning your harvest accordingly.

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Are your plants ready to harvest?

Since you’re here learning about the ideal time to pull a crop, it’s safe to say you might also be questioning your timing on a grander scale. If those plants aren’t ready to be cut, then you could end up with a mediocre product that doesn’t live up to your expectations. For that reason, we highly recommend doing the following to determine whether or not the time is right.

Flush your plants

Even if you’ve only used natural nutrients up until this point, most growers agree that it’s a good idea to put your plants through a flushing cycle to ensure there are no remaining chemicals that might be hazardous to your health or alter the taste/effects of the product. To learn more about this, we highly recommend our guide on the subject.

Inspect the trichomes

Trichomes can tell you a lot about your crop, from how mature they are to the effects they may provide, so keep a close eye on these with a magnifying glass. To help you figure out what you should be looking for, we’ve got a thorough guide that can assist you throughout the process.

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