Harvesting weed for beginners- Part 1

Published Feb 18, 2019 06:58 p.m. ET

 Predicting when to harvest cannabis is relatively simple if you know what to look for. When deciding whether to collect your bud,you will need to take several things into consideration.

When to harvest pot plants

Unfortunately, growing pot is not an exact science in the average person's hands. When you choose to harvest should depend on your own needs, which will vary significantly from someone else's. There are other high-cost options to test for exact potency and content of a plant grown, but the machines can cost thousands and most take time or come with the requirement to send a sample away to get results. A visual inspection is all the average person should need to make an accurate prediction of the best time to harvest their plants.  

Seed Growth Span - When you purchase a seed it should be from a reputable vendor that provides some of the necessary information like the strain name, average growth time, and average yield.

Environmental Conditions - Are your plants growing in regular soil outdoors? Are they getting enough sunlight? Growing marijuana in soil isn’t nearly as effective or fast as in indoor hydro operation. Growing plants indoors under ideal temperatures (23C-25C) and providing the highest quality lights can easily knock off a week or two from the amount of time it will take the plant to finish.

How to judge THC levels

Pistils - Pistils, though not entirely accurate on their own, can provide some insight on just how far along the plant is. Pistils are the hairs on a cannabis plant and will change from a bright white to a darker shade of brown when fully mature. If somewhere between 50% and 80% have changed color than it is likely a good time to harvest.

Trichomes - These are the sticky drops that look like water under a microscope. Thisis where things get interesting. Trichomes are the glands that produce the resin that coats a cannabis plant. The resin contains THC, CBD, and other beneficial cannabinoids. They also include some of the Terpenes which are natural oils that produce the signature smell and taste of each strain. To inspect a plant’s Trichomes, you will need a magnifying glass or microscope. You will want to seek out three different kinds of Trichomes.

Capitate-stalked - These are the most common, and easiest to spot either by eye or with a magnifying glass, though still better viewed using a higher end microscope. These trichomes are found in abundance around the buds on a cannabis plant.

Capitate-sessile - A bit bigger than Bulbous and much more prevalent which means easier to find. They can be found in the highest quantities around the tips of a bud. They look like their very own tiny liquid limb growing outwards.

Bulbous - Can only be seen through a microscope and can be found on the surface of any part of a female cannabis plant.

Clear Trichomes - If you see mostly clear trichomes you can expect a very low THC content. Your plant is most likely not yet mature and should not be harvested.

Cloudy Trichomes - If the trichomes are cloudy you can expect the effects of your harvested bud to be lighter, and airier. For some, this may be the ideal time to collect.

Amber Trichomes - Amber trichomes indicate a marijuana plant has reached full maturity. Thisis the ideal time to harvest for those who are looking for an intense, potent product.

Mixed Trichomes - In between each stage you will see a variety of different colored Trichomes, and each one matures. If you are looking for a buzz that is light, but also strong, then your goal should be to harvest when your trichomes appear to be at the halfway point between transitions.

Harvesting bud

There are a few different methods used in the harvesting of dried herb from cannabis plants.

  1. Whole Plant
    If you have the room to store entire hanging plants than this method is the easiest one. While there is the downside of needing a lot of room to dry it, there is no easiest way, other than simply snipping the plant off at its base and calling it a day.

  2. Branches Only
    For those who prefer to invest a little more time and save space, the branches only method is ideal. Use a razor blade or scissors to cut each branch where it touches the stem.

  3. Buds Only
    For those using a layering technique to dry such as the newspaper method, this is the most commonly used method of harvesting. Take scissors and cut off each bud at the base of the stem. Removing any larger excess stems sticking out.

Preparing to dry is the last step of the harvesting process. If drying in a damp environment, you will want to trim away as muchexcess leaf as possible now. If you have a drier, cooler room to dry in than leaving some extra should be fine but trimming the largest fan leaves is always recommended as they have almost no THC content.

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