When should I harvest the buds from my cannabis plant? That is the eternal question…
I’m sure the answer we’re all thinking is “Not soon enough!”
Unfortunately for us impatient growers, harvesting at the right time is just as important as how you grow the plant. Harvest too soon and you lose potency and cannabis yields; too late and you can end up making a batch of sleep medicine.
You only need 3 things to determine the best marijuana harvest time:
- The knowledge of when to harvest – You get that today!
- Eyes for visual inspection – You’ve probably had these for a while!
- A magnifying tool – Makes the glittery, resin-filled trichomes on your buds easier to see; although not 100% necessary, this lets you time your harvest perfectly to get the exact effects you’re looking for
When it comes to magnifying tools for growing, there are a few options:
- Jewelers Loupe – This is the cheapest and most low tech way to get the job done. Unfortunately, it will also give you the least insight into how your buds are doing.
- Handheld Magnifier – These can create a much larger picture because they can magnify more than a jewelers loupe. However, this power makes them a bit harder to focus.
- Digital Microscope – A digital microscope is the final word in determining harvest time. It costs a bit more and needs a connecting laptop, but it’ll get you face-to-face with your trichomes. You’ll be almost uncomfortably close to your trichomes! Check out the videosin the article for a demonstration!
There are two ways you can identify the right time to harvest your plants.
First, we’ll show you how to identify harvest time by checking the pistils (the ‘hairs’ on your buds). The pistil method isn’t nearly as accurate as checking the trichomes (the ‘glitter’ on your buds), but it’s definitely a good place to start since you can just look at the buds and get a general idea.
1st Method to Identify Harvest Time:
Not Ready for Harvest Pictures
The vast majority of pistils (hairs) are still white and sticking out straight.
This is definitely too early to harvest, and these plants have many weeks to go!
Still Not Ready for Harvest Pictures
We’re waiting for at least half of the white hairs to darken and curl in. Some of the pistils are starting to turn color, but there are far less than 50% curled/darkened pistils. These buds still have several weeks to go before they’ll reach their highest levels of THC. The good news is your buds will get bigger and more dense in that time!
Ready for Harvest Pictures
Harvest when 60-70% of hairs have darkened for highest levels of THC.
Harvest when 70-90% of hairs have darkened for a more calming,
anti-anxiety effect as some THC turns to the more relaxing CBN.
With some strains, you may see a bunch of new pistils appear right when you think you’re getting close. This is normal, but it happens more than 3 times you’ve eventually got to just make the decision and chop. Learn how to speed up the time to harvest.