How to Harvest High-Quality Marijuana
Harvesting marijuana is not merely cutting the buds at its nip. In fact, most growers find it to be the trickiest part of growing weed. Oftentimes, due to excitement, we make the mistake of harvesting the buds too early. As a result, we end up with a batch that has low yield and light potency.
On the other hand, waiting too long usually results in high yield but with weed that tastes too harsh and heavy. This can be very disappointing especially after spending time, money, and effort in growing healthy cannabis. To avoid this problem, we must learn to determine the right time to pick the buds.
Hence, the secret of harvesting high-quality marijuana lies in the timing. The goal of this article is to teach readers the sure-fire ways to get the best buds by looking for certain signs that indicate ripeness. To do so, we must have the right knowledge and effective visual skills.
In essence, the right time to collect the buds largely depends on how they look. While it can be tricky at first, if done right, we can enjoy the best-tasting weed right from our own garden. With constant practice and the use of the right tools, harvesting marijuana will come easily and naturally.
How to Harvest the Best Marijuana Buds in 3 Steps
There are only three things that we should know about harvesting rich marijuana. This includes knowing the right time, determining the right look, and using the right tool. Once we implement these tips, we can enjoy the most satisfying weed every harvest time.
- Know the Right Time
As mentioned, it’s hard to decide when to start gathering the buds. So, one of the tricks to make things easier is to rely on the flowering time of the marijuana strains. While this may not be totally accurate, this method gives us a rough estimate of the best harvest time.
Since there are thousands of varieties, we must make sure to study the grow descriptions of the one we select. To get information of a specific strain, try reading the comments and online weed forums. Another way is to ascertain the flowering time is to directly ask the seller of the seeds.
- Auto-flower Strains
Marijuana plants grow flowers mainly due to the changes in lighting conditions. But auto-flower strains don’t rely on this element. Hence, we can conveniently harvest this strain after 10 weeks of sprouting.
- Indica Strains
When growing this strain, wait for the plants to keep on budding for at least 8 weeks before harvesting. When growing outdoors, it is best to harvest the Indica plants at the end of September.
- Sativa Strains
Sativa plants need around 12 weeks to completely flower. But it’s also possible to harvest some strains around 9 to 10 weeks. For outdoor growers, they will be ready for harvest by the end of October.
- Inspect the Appearance
When it comes to harvesting weed, the pistils and trichomes are the best indicators of ripeness. These fine and hairy growths normally change in color as the bud matures. Hence, it makes a lot of sense to rely on them to help us decide when it’s time to harvest.
- Assess the Pistils
Pistils are the female genitalia of the cannabis which we can find on top of the buds. Aside from containing the seeds, these hairy structures also indicate if the plant is ripe for the picking by turning reddish or brown. Overall, the pistil method is the best and easiest way to tell if it’s ready for harvest. To get the best buds, pay close attention to their color.
- Too Young to Harvest
The photo above shows 0 – 49% of the pistils turning brown or red. This indicates that it’s still too early to harvest the buds. It also means that they can still get bigger, denser, and more potent. So, it’s best to wait a little bit more.
- Okay to Harvest
With 50-75% of the pistils changing color, the buds may be suitable for harvest. However, they usually taste very light and give a weak high. For optimum potency, wait a little bit more.
- Best Time to Harvest
When the pistils are 70-90% red or brown, it’s high time to harvest the weed. At this point, the buds are already heavy and potent. Hence, it’s the best time to collect them.
- Too Late to Harvest
Don’t wait until the pistils are 90-100% brown. By this time, the taste is already harsh, and the effect is heavy narcotic. Avoid this problem by keeping an eye on the pistils and harvest them right away before they reach this point.
- Check the Trichomes
If we want to be more accurate in deciding when to gather the buds, try the trichome method. By using a good magnifier, we can see the trichomes that look like crystal mushrooms all over the buds. The best thing about them is that they contain the most THC. Hence, the key is to determine when they are at their highest potency.
Not the Time to Harvest
When we see that the trichomes are clear, then they are still a bit too young to harvest. At this age, they will also be sticking straight from the buds and leaves. This indicates that the potency is very weak and that they can still get bigger if given more time.
Still Too Early to Harvest
After some time, the trichomes will turn cloudy and gain more potency. But if they are only half cloudy, then the buds still have the potential to grow bigger. In the same way, its potency can still get stronger. But if we harvest them now, expect a more speedy and energetic high.
Best Time to Harvest
The buds reach the highest THC level when they are mostly cloudy. Specifically, about 50-70% of the trichomes are dark and mostly curled. We can get the most intense high from this type of trichomes, even relieving pain. Therefore, it is best to harvest them at this stage.
Too Late to Harvest
When about 70-90% of the trichomes turn amber and cloudy, this means that there is a drop of THC and an increase in CBD. As a result, expect a more relaxing and “couchlock” effect. So, if we want this type of high, then we can choose to harvest a bit later.
- Use the Right Tools
As mentioned, we largely rely on the appearance of the flowers to tell us when it’s time to collect them. Specifically, the trichomes that cover the buds will change color to signal that it’s time for harvest. For best results, use a magnifying tool to get a closer look at these very tiny crystal-like bulbs.
- Digital Microscope
This high-tech equipment is the most expensive, but it gives the most clear-cut view of the trichomes. Simply connect it to a laptop and it will show what we need to see in its sharpest detail. In turn, we are left without any doubt whether to start harvesting or not. However, we must first study how to use it to get the best results.
- Handheld Magnifier
One of the cheapest tools around, a handheld magnifier will zoom right into the trichomes to get an accurate information. But its magnifying power can make it hard for some growers to focus. This is why many would prefer the jeweler’s loupe. However, since they are cheap, it’s wise to try both and see which one is more comfortable to use.
- Jeweler’s Loupe
Although it’s low-tech, this tool gives enough information for those who are on a tight budget. However, we need to have good eyes when using the jeweler’s loupe since it’s not as powerful as the handheld magnifier. But it creates a good picture and gets the job done. To get this equipment, we can order online or check out a local hardware or jewelry store.
Essential Tips to Remember
To be successful in harvesting cannabis buds, take note of the following reminders.
- Be Patient
When it comes to collecting marijuana buds, the key is to wait for the right color of the pistils and trichomes. So, avoid harvesting when they look mostly clear and white. Oftentimes, darker color means more THC levels and higher yield, so try to wait for this change to occur.
However, some Sativa and Haze strains tend to stay white even as it gains more potency. So, wait a bit more until no more hairs are growing, then it might be time to start harvesting.
- Sample a Few Buds
If we can no longer contain our excitement, instead of getting all the buds, sample just a few. Cut the ones that look the most matured then dry them before using. Many growers find that sampling helps a lot in abating their excitement.
- Time the Harvest
Out of all the tips, this is the most practical as it offers a way to get the “high” that we prefer. Due to its high accuracy, growers rely on the appearance of the trichomes for this trick. The following are the most common preferences and how to get them.
- How to Get a Cerebral High
To do this, harvest the buds early when 40% of the trichomes turn amber and curled. This also means that more than half are cloudy or milky.
- How to Get a Head and Body High
Harvest the buds when they are half cloudy and half amber to get the head and body high. While it takes practice to perfectly get this mix, the reward is satisfying for those who want to stay productive but relaxed.
- How to Get the Most Intense High
We can get the most psychoactive cannabis effect when the THC levels are at its highest. For this, more than half of the trichomes must be cloudy and curled.
- How to get the Most Relaxing High
If we want anti-anxiety buds, wait until most trichomes are amber in color. Interestingly, curing the harvest for 2-4 weeks will also render the same result.
However, waiting this long often reduces the psychoactive properties of the buds. So, it’s best to be sure what kind of effect we want to enjoy.
Use Best Judgement in Harvesting High-Quality Weed
Basically, there is no definite rule in determining when to harvest marijuana buds. Even the best tricks are merely guidelines to help ease the process. As such, the best tips are to have the right knowledge and to listen to our guts. When we understand what a certain color change in the pistil or trichomes means, then we can improve our chances of getting just the right potency.
Therefore, if we want a satisfying “high”, then we must monitor the appearances of the pistils and trichomes. Interestingly, we can hasten or delay the harvest depending on the effect that we want. So, practice the tips now and invest in the best magnifying tool to make more accurate decisions.