Harvesting Marijuana; When To Harvest and What to Look Out For
Having successfully cultivated your marijuana crop to full fruition, the last thing you want to do is to make a mess of the months of tending to your plants in all aspects. Harvesting techniques make a lot of difference; get it right and you’ll end up with a connoisseur high quality weed with a high THC level (a major cannabinoid in marijuana).
Else, you will end up losing the potency, yields and get a sub-par weed.
How to Determine Harvest Time
Proper timing is of great prominence in this harvesting procedure as it can drastically affect the weed quality. The timing of your harvest makes a significant impact on the final effect and taste of your marijuana. It is recommended that you flush your plants two weeks prior to harvesting.
You may require a magnifying tool such as a jeweler’s loupe, a handheld magnifier or a digital microscope. Oh, and your eyes of course. A digital microscope, though it requires a computer and its upfront cost is higher, it will serve you well in the long run, bringing you in touch with the Trichromes.
There are two methods of identifying harvest time:
- Pistil method
- Trichrome method
The Pistil Method
As the marijuana plant approaches harvest, its pistils begin to change color usually from white to orange/gold or red to brown depending on the strain. Pistils are the large hairs on top of the buds.
Pre-harvesting period is marked by pistils still white and sticking out straight. The harvesting period opens when at least 40% of the pistils have darkened and curled in. it’s a little too early still as the plant lacks in potency and yield. The following are the cannabinoid variations with changes in pistil coloration:
- Harvesting when 50-70% of hairs are dark in color ensures the highest levels of THC.
- Harvesting when 70-90% of hairs are dark in color yields to marijuana with a more calming and anti-anxiety effect. The reason behind this is that some THC converts into relaxing CBN type of cannabinoid.
- This method involves the use of the naked eye thus simple and quite straight forward.
- It requires no instrument and is therefore cheap.
- This method isn’t as accurate as looking at the Trichromes which are the glittering wee structures on the buds as discussed herewith.
- It is difficult to tell when to harvest by observing pistil coloration for some cannabis strains. Some strains will tend to keep their pistil white even when ready for harvesting. Obtain information from the seed bank you got the seeds from or a breeder to guide you on what to look for as the plant changes color at the onset of the harvesting period.
The Trichrome Method
This is the recommended and professional way of checking whether or not crop is ripe for harvesting. View the tiny glandular stalked Trichromes (THC) crystals or frosty stuff, also called resin glands on the stem of your plant, using a microscope or a jeweler’s loupe. THC, CBD, CBN and other good stuff in weed are produced in these glandular stalked Trichromes. It is these glands that dictate bud potency. They also act as a signal indicative of when the highest level of THC and thus the appropriate time to harvest. The following observations under the microscope should be evident:
- These Trichromes are smaller and translucent in a younger plant.
- The THC crystals grow bigger and turn translucent as the plant grows on.
- They finally turn to milky then amber like color (gold or yellow).
Again, it is important to get the color changes right depending on the strain you are growing. Some of the strain’s Trichromes turn purple or pink instead of amber or gold or yellow. Indica cannabis strains are best harvested when their THC glands are milky white but still a bit transparent. Pure sativa strains and indica/sativa hybrids are best harvested when most of the THC glands are a solid milky white color with about one third of them amber in color.
If you get the harvesting late, use of the resulting weed may cause “couch-lock” whereby you won’t be able to move around or be active in any way. The “couch-lock” effect is as a result of the THC turning into a more relaxing CBN cannabinoid responsible for the anti-anxiety effect. Much as some smokers favor this effect, it is undesirable to a smoker seeking the “high like a kite” effect.
Cutting down marijuana plants once harvest time is reached can be done by either wet-trimming or dry trimming. Wet trimming involves cutting down the branches one at a time and carefully removing the leaves around the branches before drying. Manicuring marijuana buds is done next awaiting the drying process. Dry-trimming on the other hand involves cutting the plants and drying them whole up-side-down in a temperature controlled room before harvesting the buds. Getting harvesting right will make you an accomplished ganja farmer.