It’s hard to know when your cannabis is ready to harvest. Learn the signs to look for and when to harvest your cannabis plants for the best results.
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Cannabis harvest time is upon us! Depending on the phenotype, some cannabis strains are ready to harvest as early as late August while others won’t be ready until mid-October. But, when is cannabis ready to harvest? That all depends on the trichomes.
For those new to growing cannabis, trichomes are the tiny, translucent crystals that cover the surface of the cannabis plant. These resinous glands contain THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids and terpenes that give cannabis its unique smell and flavor. The concentration of these compounds will differ from strain to strain.
In order to determine when your plants are ready for harvest, you will need to take a close look at the trichomes with a handheld microscope or jeweler’s loupe.
The Flowering Stage
The flowering stage is the last stage of cannabis plant growth. The flowering stage begins when the plant starts to produce flowers, also known as buds. The length of the flowering stage depends on the strain of cannabis, but it usually lasts between 7 and 8 weeks. The plant will produce the most buds during the last 2 weeks of the flowering stage.
The Length of the Flowering Stage
The flowering stage is the final stage of cannabis growth before harvest. It typically lasts 8-12 weeks, but can be shorter or longer depending on the variety of cannabis and the conditions under which it is grown.
Cannabis plants will begin to flower when they are exposed to 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness per day (known as the “photoperiod”). This typically happens in late summer or early fall, when the days start to get shorter.
The length of the flowering stage can be affected by many factors, including the type of cannabis, the growing conditions, and when the plant was switched to the flowering stage. Indica varieties tend to have a shorter flowering stage than sativas, and plants grown outdoors will usually take longer to flower than those grown indoors.
Most growers aim to harvest their plants when they are in the early stages of flowering, as this is when the THC content is at its highest. However, some growers prefer to wait until later in the flowering stage for a more potent product.
Signs that the Flowering Stage is Coming to an End
The flowering stage is when your cannabis plants start to grow flowers (the buds you smoke). For most strains, this happens when the plants are exposed to 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light each day (a 12/12 light schedule).
You can expect the flowering stage to last anywhere from 8-12 weeks, although some Sativa strains can take up to 16 weeks. There are several signs that you can look for to indicate that the flowering stage is coming to an end:
1. The pistils (hair-like structures) on your buds start to turn from white to brown.
2. Your buds swell up and get bigger.
3. The leaves on your plants start to yellow and die off.
Once you see these signs, it’s time to start thinking about harvest time!
The Harvesting Stage
After weeks of patiently waiting, your cannabis plants have finally reached the harvesting stage. But how can you tell when they’re ready to be harvested? In this article, we’ll go over the signs that indicate your cannabis plants are ready to be harvested.
The Length of the Harvesting Stage
The length of the harvesting stage depends on the type of cannabis you are growing. Indica strains typically have a shorter flowering period than sativas, with most indicas ready to harvest 8-9 weeks after switching the lights to 12/12. Sativas, on the other hand, can take anywhere from 10-16 weeks to mature fully.
Some growers believe that indicas are ready to harvest when about 60% of the pistils have darkened and curled inward, while many sativas are not considered ripe until 70-80% of the pistils have darkened. However, these are only rough guidelines, and there is no substitute for using a jeweler’s loupe or other magnifying device to get a close look at your trichomes.
The most accurate way to determine if your cannabis is ready to harvest is by examining the trichomes under high magnification. Trichomes are the tiny resin glands that cover the leaves and buds of mature cannabis plants, and they contain the majority of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. When they are immature, trichomes appear clear or milky white. As they ripen, they change color, first turning amber and then dark brown or black.
You can start harvesting when some of the trichomes have turned amber, but for maximum potency, you will want to wait until most of them have darkened. Keep in mind that THC degrades into CBN (cannabinol) as it ages, so if you wait too long to harvest your plant, it will be less potent than it could be.
Signs that the Cannabis is Ready to Harvest
The flowering stage is the last stage of cannabis growth before harvest. Buds continue to swell and thicken during this time, while the leaves gradually begin to yellow and die back. While there are many ways to determine when your cannabis is ready for harvest, the following are some reliable visual cues that can help you decide when it’s time to cut down your crop.
1. Trichome development: Under a magnifying glass, healthy trichomes appear clear and glass-like. As they mature, they begin to turn milky white or amber in color.
2. Pistil movement: During the early stages of flowering, pistils (the tiny hairs that grow out of the calyxes of developing flowers) are white or light-colored. As harvest time approaches, they darken and begin to curve inward or downward.
3. Leaf color: In the final weeks of flowering, cannabis leaves begin to yellow and die back from the bottom up. This is normal and is caused by a natural process called senescence, in which older leaves are gradually replaced by new growth.
4. Bud size: Another way to tell if your buds are ready for harvest is by their size. In general, larger buds indicate that they’ve had more time to mature and will be more potent than smaller buds.
Assuming you have grown your cannabis plants indoors under ideal conditions, you can expect most strains to be ready for harvest between 8 and 12 weeks from seed. However, there are always exceptions to the rule—some indica strains can take up to 16 weeks, while certain Sativa strains can be ready in as little as 6 weeks. In general, though, 8-12 weeks is a good ballpark estimate for most cannabis strains.