When to Harvest Cannabis Without a Microscope

If you’re growing cannabis, you’ll want to know when to harvest your crop. While you can do this without a microscope, it’s best to use one to get a more accurate idea of when your plants are ready.

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The best time to harvest your cannabis plants is a frequently asked question that does not have a straightforward answer. In order to determine when to harvest, you must first understand how cannabis ripens and matures. Then, you can begin to look for the tell-tale signs that indicate your plants are ready to be harvested.

Cannabis flowering is induced by the change in the ratio of light to dark hours, or photoperiod. In nature, this ratio begins to change in late summer as the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Most cannabis strains will begin to flower when they experience 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness per day. For indoor growers, this can be achieved by using artificial lights on a timer set to turn off for 12 hours each night.

Once flowering has been induced, the plant’s life cycle can be broken down into three main stages: vegetative, pre-flowering, and flowering/ripe. Each stage has its own characteristics and length, which will vary depending on the strain of cannabis being grown.

The vegetative stage is when the plant is growing leaves and stems but has not yet begun to produce flowers. This stage can last anywhere from 2-8 weeks and is ended when the grower begins to manipulate the light cycle in order to induce flowering.

The pre-flowering stage is a brief period between vegetative growth and flowering during which the plant produces small flowers or “pre-flowers” that are not yet sexually mature. This stage usually lasts 1-2 weeks but can be as short as a few days.

The final stage of development is flowering/ripeness. This is when the plant produces fully mature flowers that are high in THC levels and ready for harvest. The length of this stage varies greatly depending on the strain being grown but typically lasts 6-8 weeks indoors or 4-6 weeks outdoors.

Now that you understand the basics of cannabis development, you can begin to look for signs that indicate when your plants are ready for harvest. One of the most obvious clues is Pistillate Preflowering: As your plants approach maturity, you may notice small white pistils (hairs) beginning to protrude from the nodes (where leaves meet stems). These are called pistillate preflowers and they are one of the most reliable indicators that your plant is nearing harvest time.

Another sign that your plant is maturing is Trichome Development: Throughout their life cycle, cannabis plants produce tiny crystals called trichomes that cover their leaves and buds. These trichomes contain high levels of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids and terpenes that give cannabis its unique flavor and effects. You can determine if your plant’s trichomes are mature by using a magnifying glass or microscope to examine them closely. Mature trichomes will appear white or milky in color; if they are still clear or amber, then they are not yet ready for harvest

The Trichome

The trichome is the shining, sticky resin produced by the cannabis plant. These are what contain the majority of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes, which are responsible for the plant’s unique effects. THC, CBD, CBN, and other cannabinoids are all produced within the trichomes.

Harvesting cannabis at the proper time is crucial to achieving the desired effects. If harvested too early, the plant will not have produced enough cannabinoids and terpenes to produce the desired effect. If harvested too late, the plant may have began to degrade some of its cannabinoids, resulting in a less potent product.

The easiest way to determine when to harvest your cannabis is to inspect the trichomes with a magnifying glass or microscope. The trichomes will go through three distinct stages of maturity: clear/transparent, milky/opaque, and amber/red. By observing these changes, you can determine when to harvest your cannabis based on the type of effect you desire.

-If you want a more cerebral/uplifting effect: harvest when most trichomes are clear/transparent.
-If you want a more body-relaxing effect: harvest when most trichomes are milky/opaque.
-If you want a balance of effects: harvest when most trichomes are amber/red.

The Stages of the Cannabis Plant

The cannabis plant goes through four stages of growth: pre-flowering, flowering, ripening, and senescence. These stages are determined by the amount of time the plant has been growing, the ratio of daylight to darkness (photoperiod), and temperature. In nature, the plant begins its life in the spring, when there are long days and warm temperatures. As summer turns to fall, the days begin to shorten and the temperature drops. This change signals to the plant that it is time to begin flowering. The plant will continue to flower until the end of fall, when it will go into senescence (dormancy).

You can mimic these seasonal changes indoors by manipulating the amount of light the plant receives each day (using artificial lights) and by controlling the temperature. When growing Cannabis indoors, you have complete control over when your plants enter each stage of growth. This means you can harvest your plants sooner than if you were growing them outdoors.

Most Cannabis strains are ready for harvest 50-60 days after they enter the flowering stage. However, there are some indica strains that can take as long as 70 days to mature. Sativa strains tend to mature quicker than indicas, typically taking 50-60 days from flower initiation to harvest. Hybrid strains fall somewhere in between, with most being ready for harvest 55-65 days after flowering begins.

You can determine when your plants are ready for harvest by closely examining the trichomes (resin glands) on the leaves and buds using a magnifier or microscope. The trichomes will change color as the plant matures, going from clear to milky white and finally amber/brown. The color change is an indication of THC production; as trichomes turn from clear to amber/brown, THC levels increase while CBD levels decrease.

The Different Types of Microscopes

The Different Types of Microscopes

A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Microscopes are widely used in all areas of science, including biology, forensics, and engineering.

There are several different types of microscopes, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The three most common types of microscopes are compound, stereo, and digital.

Compound microscopes are the most commonly used type of microscope. They use two lenses to magnify objects, one at the front and one at the back. Compound microscopes are very good at magnifying small objects and can be used to see objects as small as bacteria.

Stereo microscopes use a single lens to magnify objects. They are not as good as compound microscopes at magnifying small objects, but they provide a three-dimensional image that can be useful for examining larger objects such as insects.

Digital microscopes use a camera to take pictures of objects that are then displayed on a computer screen. Digital microscopes are very good at taking pictures of objects and can be used to make movies or time-lapse videos of living cells or organisms.

How to Harvest Cannabis

It is often said that the best time to harvest your cannabis crop is when the trichomes are at their Peak. This means that the glands which produce the cannabinoid-rich resin are swollen and full. The majority of the gland heads will be milky white or amber in color.

Without a Microscope

The most accurate way to determine when your Cannabis is ready is by using a 30-60X illuminated microscope. This allows you to see the individual trichomes (resin glands) on the plant, and makes it easy to know when they are at their peak maturity. But what if you don’t have a microscope, or don’t want to spend the money on one?

Harvesting without a microscope is still possible, but it is more difficult to be precise. You will need to carefully observe your plant for other signs of readiness, and make a judgement call based on what you see.

Here are some things to look for:
-The color of the pistils (hairs) on the plant will change from white or translucent, to orange or red.
-The trichomes (resin glands) will go from clear, to cloudy, and finally amber.
-The leaves will begin to turn yellow or brown, and may become brittle.

As Cannabis matures, these changes will happen gradually over a period of weeks. By paying close attention to your plant, you should be able to get a good idea of when it is ready to harvest.

With a Microscope

One of the most important things you need to know about how to harvest cannabis is when to do it. The best time to harvest is when the trichomes are mostly cloudy with a few clear ones mixed in. If most of the trichomes are clear, the THC has not fully developed and the bud will not be as potent. if most of the trichomes are brown or amber, the THC has started to degrade and the bud will be less potent and have more of a couch-lock effect.

The easiest way to check the trichomes is with a jeweler’s loupe or a microscope. This will allow you to see trichomes that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. If you don’t have either of these, you can try using a magnifying glass.

Once you have determined that it is time to harvest, cut down the main stem of the plant first. Then, cut off individual branches and hang them upside down in a cool, dark, and dry place to cure for at least two weeks.


In conclusion, harvesting your cannabis without a microscope is possible, but it is not recommended. If you do choose to go this route, be sure to keep a close eye on your plants and use a magnifying glass or microscope to check the trichomes regularly. Harvesting when the trichomes are mostly clear will give you a more mellow high, while waiting until they are mostly amber will result in a more potent effect.

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