For those who grow cannabis, it is well understood that the process of growing and harvesting weed takes time, care, and patience. Once your weed is ready to harvest, however, crucial steps still need to take place before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
In this guide, learn the key signs that help determine when to harvest weed, and how to prepare for it. There is a combination of elements that determine when to harvest weed, depending on if growing indoors or outdoors. Whether you’re in the seedling or nearing the finish line of your first grow, use this guide to learn when and how to harvest weed.
How To Prepare to Harvest Weed
When it comes to growing weed, harvesting is one of the most exciting steps in the cultivation process. You get to collect and harvest the beautiful, dense buds that you have spent the last number of weeks nurturing. When you are getting closer to the harvesting stage, it’s helpful to give your plants a thorough check-through. Cut and prune any oversized fan leaves and check for any pests or fungi near the buds.
Depending on the strain grown, cannabis plants have a broad range in growing periods. From seedling to harvest, the average time period for these plants is can be anywhere from 7-16 weeks, while some sativa dominant strains can last up to 24 weeks.
It is important to understand the average growing period and information of the specific strain you’re growing. However, there are other visible indicators that can help you when you’re ready to harvest weed.
When Is Weed Ready To Harvest?
Similar to how every plant and process is different, so is the time period of harvesting. Being a few weeks early or late may not severely affect your harvest, but any longer can risk it all. This is why understanding the different factors that play into your grow and overall harvest can help you find the ideal time to harvest.
Determining When To Harvest: Outdoors
If growing cannabis outdoors, the typical harvest time comes around September and November. For instance, Northern California can comfortably harvest into mid-November, while regions like the Pacific Northwest or East Coast would have to harvest sooner before rain or snow begins. Having a general understanding of the climate and environment you’re in will help you prepare for when is the best time to grow and harvest cannabis.
Sativas generally have a longer growing period, requiring a long summer to fully ripen into dense buds. On the other hand, indicas often mature sooner and often come from colder climates.
Determining When To Harvest: Indoors
Growing cannabis indoors, on the contrary, obviously does not have seasonal elements as an influence. In this case, indoor plants are harvested around 7-9 weeks after switching to the flowering period. As mentioned earlier, some strains may take sooner or later to harvest. The controlled environment for growing and harvesting indoor cannabis allows for more flexibility and influential factors.
Signs Weed Is Ready To Harvest
No matter whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, the best way to determine when to harvest weed is to inspect its appearance. Here are a few significant signs that signal growers it is time to harvest:
Trichomes are the best telltale sign that your weed is ready to harvest. Trichomes are the small resin glands that sprinkle around the flowers. Ideally, you’ll tell its time to harvest when trichomes are colored either milky white or a bold amber. Clear trichomes indicate you should wait a bit longer before harvesting. Although very hard to see with the naked eye, using a magnifying glass or handheld microscope is definitely worth inspecting these colored trichomes.
If you start to notice your plant’s leaves curling or changing color, do not fear! This is a normal sign that your plant is getting ready to harvest weed. During the flowering stage for cannabis plants, nitrogen is responsible for the leave’s green color. As nitrogen decreases closer to harvest, the larger fan leaves may change a lighter or yellow shade. The curling of leaves also occurs close to harvest time because of the plant’s decrease in water intake during this stage of growth.
Stigmas are the fine, hair-like strands that pop up and cover around the buds. These hairs grow from white to an orangey, amber color. You will know your weed is ready to harvest when these stigma hairs begin to curl and turn darker in color.
How To Harvest Weed
Now that you’ve recognized all the signs to look for, it is time to harvest your weed! Depending on the size of your plants and overall grow, it is recommended for those growing larger amounts to harvest sectionally. Start with the buds grown at the top layer and upper branches of your plant, since these tend to mature and ripen quicker.
Harvesting weed is an exciting step in the cultivation of cannabis, but it is important to keep in mind this process takes time and patience. For a smooth and successful harvest, you’re going to need these tools for harvesting:
- Scissors (for trimming off the bud)
- Pruners or shears (for pruning branches)
- Trimming tray (for preserving the bud)
- Gloves (for protection)
- Rubbing alcohol (to sanitize equipment from resin)
Once you have your equipment ready, it’s time to start trimming and harvesting your beautiful buds! Delicately start cutting off big branches and parts of the plant, while preserving the buds in the process. Determining whether you will be dry trimming or wet trimming your plants can also influence the way you harvest the weed.
Dry trimming involves hanging the plants dry for several days before trimming off smaller leaves and branches for a well-manicured bud. Oftentimes, those who harvest weed for dry trimming cut the branches off in a way that allows the cut portion simple to hang. Wet trimming includes trimming the buds immediately after the plant has been chopped and harvested. For wet trimming, make sure the branches are easy to handle without getting in a sticky resin mess.
With the help of this weed harvesting guide, you can simply and successfully determine the best time to harvest your weed. Growing cannabis plants takes time, patience, and tender love and care. To determine when to harvest, make sure to notice the change of color in the trichomes and the stigma of your plant. When your plant is approaching the time to harvest, make sure you have the proper tools and trimming equipment to optimize your harvest.
Now that your harvest is complete, the process is still not over! Drying, trimming, and curing are the crucial last steps to enjoying the fruits of your labor.