When to Harvest Marijuana for Optimal Weed

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As it starts to cool down and the threat of frost looms overhead, many growers impatiently wait for the perfect moment to harvest. It’s an exciting time of year that most consumers know that this means a whole lot more cannabis products are coming in the near future.

Though most cultivators are brimming with anticipation, there is an element of risk that comes along with waiting until the very last minute to pull a crop, and those with pot plants still in the earth as the temperature drops, are the few brave souls who know that the potential losses are more than worth the spoils if everything works out.

Not everyone has to put up with nature’s elements, but no matter where you grow your cannabis you will need to look for essentially the same signs to predict the best possible time to harvest. Knowing when to harvest marijuana and how to look for the signs is essential to your success. Here, we will try to help you to understand what that means and how to do it yourself with confidence.

When to harvest weed

There is no perfect date that needs to be marked out on the calendar for harvesting, as mother nature can be an unpredictable force even at the best of times. As it starts to get colder at night, and the temperatures drop well below the nice and warm, comfortable t-shirt weather that we all love so much, most cultivators start to panic.

That change alone is enough to scare many growers into harvesting early, as it is common knowledge that marijuana plants thrive best in a hot and humid environment, but at this stage, unless you’ve planted way too late in the season, a little chill isn’t really what you need to worry about.

How late is too late to harvest?

The most critical situation to avoid is frost, as the frigid, cold moisture can harm your cannabis plants in several different ways. Frost can stunt the growth, destroy the beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids, and significantly increase your chances of dealing with a problem of molds, which can turn all of your hard work to dust. When all those issues are combined, chances are, if there is any useable product left, then it isn’t going to taste very good, nor will it be as potent as it should.

How to tell if your cannabis plants are ready for harvest

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If you aren’t quite sure whether or not your marijuana plant is fully mature, then there are a few signs that you can look for to assess the situation at hand:

1. Stickiness
Use clean fingers to gently press on the outside of a larger bud. If your fingertips stick to the plant or afterwards feel gummy, then that means that your cannabis plant has plenty of naturally occurring resin, which is an excellent sign of maturity.

2. Pistils
The hairs that develop on the buds of cannabis plants are called pistils, and this part of the plant goes through some pretty dramatic changes as time passes. At first, they appear as thin, bright, white hairs that protrude from the buds, but by the time the marijuana plant has reached full maturity, they often turn to a darker orange or brown color. If your pistils show signs of age, then that is a good indicator that it might just be ready for harvest.

3. Trichomes
This is a gooey, clear liquid that can only truly be seen through a microscope and tends to gather the most around the bunches of pistils. When the plant is young and growing, this substance is entirely clear and looks almost like water, but once it has matured, the color and opaqueness of the fluid changes.

Most growers prefer to harvest when the trichomes are a nice light amber color, because once it turns darker that means that the THC has slowly begun to covert in an element called CBN, which induces an intense urge to sleep rather than an invigorating high.

How to harvest marijuana for a variety of different effects

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Most consumers have no idea that they can dramatically influence the way that their harvested marijuana bud will impact them, but it’s true. You can do this by harvesting your weed at just the right time, which is something that can be done with an affordable microscope or magnifying glass by looking for these qualities in the pistils or trichomes.



  1. Energetic
    If you want to feel motivated and ready to go after smoking your marijuana bud, then you need to wait until you see 50% cloudy trichomes and 50% clear trichomes.

  2. Euphoria
    For the more experienced connoisseurs who have a relatively high tolerance to the more sedating effects of cannabis, the best time to harvest a marijuana plant is when the trichomes are between 50% and 70% cloudy and colorless.

  3. Relaxing
    Those who prefer a lighter, yet still soothing high, will want to wait until the trichomes on their marijuana buds turn to a red amber color and range between 70% and 90% cloudy.


  1. Complete and total euphoria
    If the pistils on your cannabis plant are between 60% and 70% dark and curling, then the potent beast is ready to be harvested to produce the most intense effects.

  2. A lighter buzz
    Not everyone wants to get as stoned as possible, and many consumers actually benefit from a milder relaxant that can make you feel good but leave your head clear for necessary thinking. To achieve that effect, the pistils can be a good indicator, and if there are between 70% to 90% curling dark pistils, then chances it’s a perfect time to harvest for a milder high.

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More CBN

CBN can help to provide an enhanced anti-anxiety effect, and if you need this quality in your marijuana buds, then you need to wait until the trichomes are a deep cloudy red and the pistils are dark and plentiful. Towards the end of a cannabis plant’s life, some of the THC will begin to convert into CBN, which is an excellent tool for combating medical conditions and diagnosis such as anxiety, PTSD or sleep problems.

Anyone who doesn’t suffer from one of these kinds of conditions is best to avoid letting their marijuana plant mature to that point before harvest, as CBN is also associated with the sleepy, and coma-inducing type effects of cannabis. So, for some, this could be a key feature, but for the majority, it is not usually an ideal span of time to harvest weed within.

What to do if your cannabis plant isn’t fully mature

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The best answer will depend on how late in the season you’ve planted, and the amount of time left for the pot plants growing cycle. If you are close and think you may have a few more days in the sunshine, then that’s all that is necessary, you should be safe and can always add some extra protection with a wrap.

However, if it isn’t even close to being ready, then you will have to move quickly, and relocate the plant to an indoor space. Just ensure that if you do decide to transplant, then you must take extra special care to remove as much of the root system as possible, which often means loosening the oil at least a foot away from the stem.

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