As a grower, that first harvest is an exciting and memorable milestone. You’ve tended to your plants for months and watched them grow from nothing but seeds into full bloom, ready for the taking. Before you get ahead of yourself and trim them, you need to make sure that they are ready to be harvested. There are vital signs to look for on the micro and macro levels to make sure your buds are ready and mature for harvest.
Generally, Sativa strains are ready for harvest after a 10oweek flowering period. Indica plants, on the other hand, can be ready as soon as eight weeks after flowering. These timeframes help estimate the ideal time to harvest, but shouldn’t be used as a hard and fast rule.
Harvesting too early cause issues with potency and quality, while harvesting too late can cause the THC levels to degrade and lessen, creating a less favorable high. In this article, we outline what you should look for in your plants to know the perfect time to harvest to maintain the highest quality.
Indica strains are usually ready after eight weeks of flowering, and Sativa strains after ten weeks of flowering. Autoflowering strains often take approximately ten weeks after the seedling stage. These guidelines can help you estimate the best time to harvest, but the more attention to detail you pay, the better your timing will be.
There’s a bit of a debate around the perfect time to harvest cannabis plants. Having some knowledge of horticulture as well as the anatomy of cannabis can help you make a more accurate call when assessing the readiness of the flowers. There are some loose guidelines for the right time to harvest, but depending on the strain and the species, these guidelines might not apply to your specific plant.
The first way to know if your plant is ready to harvest is to look at the plant’s pistils. The pistils are the little hair-like leaves that stick out of the bud. When pistils first begin to emerge, they will appear white in color. When they are still white, or light shade, it’s a good indication that it is too soon to harvest. You will be able to tell when your plants are maturing because the pistils will start to turn red, which indicates that it is almost ready.
You should wait until at least half of the pistils on a plant have turned red, or a darker color, before harvesting. Ideally, around 70% of the pistils should be dark before you begin harvesting.
Once you notice the pistils changing color, the next thing to look at is the leaves. Fan leaves, the wide and large leaves on your plant, will start to turn yellow closer to harvest time. This may seem counterintuitive because yellow leaves are indicative of a plant dying. This happens because, as the buds start to soak up all of the nutrients of the plant, the leaves essentially sacrifice themselves. Then, all of the plant’s resources are directed towards the buds. Once most of the leaves turn yellow, that’s a pretty good indication that the pistils are maturing as well.
Next, turn your attention to the trichomes. Trichomes are the small glands on the flowers that usually look like mushrooms or caps. THey produce a resin that is extremely valuable to the cannabinoids and terpenes in your plant. Trichomes are generally too small to assess from just looking at them, so this is where you might need a magnifying tool to make a better judgment.
When magnified, the trichomes will look crystal like during the early growth phase. When it seems clear, then it is too early to harvest. You want to hold off on harvesting until the trichomes turn milky white or cloudy in appearance. If you see half-cloudy trichomes, then you should still wait a bit longer until they appear almost entirely opaque. The murkier they look, the more THC they will produce, and the more intense high you will experience. The longer you let them get cloudy, the more of a physical high they will provide as well.
Before you make your next harvest, keep these tips in mind to help you harvest the perfect flower.