When to harvest your cannabis plant is a question that every grower must answer for themselves. Here are some tips to help you determine when to harvest your cannabis plant.
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Cannabis plants are ready for harvest when the buds have developed fully and the pistils are white. The THC concentration is at its highest in the weeks before harvest, so if you’re interested in maximizing THC, you should wait until the plant is fully mature. Depending on the strain, this can take anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks.
The Flowering Stage
The flowering stage is when your cannabis plant grows its buds. Most strains will start flowering around 6-8 weeks after the vegetative stage. To force your plant into the flowering stage, you will need to change the light cycle to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. You can do this by covering your plants with a black cloth during the “night” period.
You will know that your plant has started flowering when you see pistils (hairs) growing on the buds. The trichomes (resin glands) will also start to swell and turn white or milky. The length of the flowering stage will depend on the strain, but most plants will be ready to harvest after 8-10 weeks.
To determine if your plant is ready for harvest, use a jeweler’s loupe or microscope to examine the trichomes. When about 60-70% of them are milky white, it is time to harvest. If you wait too long, the trichomes will turn amber and the buds will become less potent.
The Pre-Flowering Stage
The pre-flowering stage begins when your plant shows sex. Male plants will produce pollen while female plants will produce small white hairs called pistils.
You can determine the sex of your plant by looking at the nodes, which are the small bumps where leaves branch out from the stem. If you see pistils, you have a female plant. If you see pollen, you have a male plant.
If you’re growing cannabis for purposes other than consuming the flowers, you can stop here and harvest your plant. Male plants are typically discarded because they can pollinate female plants, which will produce seeds and lower the quality of the final product.
The Vegetative Stage
The vegetative stage of the cannabis plant is when the plant is growing and developing its leaves and roots. This stage typically lasts for 3-16 weeks, depending on the strain of cannabis and the growing conditions. For most indoor growers, the vegetative stage lasts for about 8 weeks before they begin to flowering stage.
During the vegetative stage, you will need to provide your plants with 18-24 hours of light per day. The amount of light will influence the rate of growth for your plants, so if you want them to grow quickly, you will need to provide them with more light. If you are growing your plants outdoors, they will automatically receive the correct amount of light each day.
As your plants enter the early stages of the vegetative stage, you may need to provide them with a bit of extra nitrogen in order to encourage growth. However, as they enter the later stages, you will want to start reducing the nitrogen levels and increasing the levels of phosphorus and potassium. This will encourage your plants to develop strong roots and buds.
You will know that your plant is ready to harvest when the buds have reached their desired size and density. The THC levels in the buds will also be at their peak just before harvest.
In conclusion, the best time to harvest your cannabis plant is when the trichomes are at their peak maturity. You can determine this by using a jeweler’s loupe or microscope to examine the color of the trichomes. When they are mostly cloudy with a few amber/red ones, it is time to harvest. If you wait too long, the cannabinoids will begin to degrade and you will not get the full effect from your buds.