It’s been months since that tiny weed sprout first emerged from the earth, or since you planted that fragile clone. You’ve been watching your plants grow and mature, gaining size and forming buds, and you can’t wait to get those buds off the plant and light them up.
But hold on—harvesting entails more than simply chopping down plants and removing buds; you’ll also need to dry and cure the buds before smoking them.
Depending on whether you trim buds wet, directly off the plant, or dry, allow them to dry first, there are a few alternative ways to harvest:
- Wet trimming entails cutting the plant down, removing buds from branches (a process known as “bucking”), trimming, and drying the plant all in one sitting.
- Dry trimming, the plant is chopped down and hung to dry for several days for dry trimming; buds are pushed off branches and trimmed once fully dried.
How to tell if marijuana is ready to be harvested
It’s worth noting that each grower has a different perspective on when to harvest their cannabis plants—some prefer to harvest early, while others prefer to harvest later. When you harvest depends on a variety of circumstances in your life, like your schedule, your employment, the weather, and so on.
It’s probably not the end of the world if you harvest weed a week early or late, but don’t leave your plants sitting around for much longer than that.
Because weed is a warm-season annual, harvest period in the Northern Hemisphere is between September and November.
Growers in Northern California may be able to harvest until late October or early November, whereas growers in the Pacific Northwest will most likely need to pull their crops down by mid-October or early November, before the fall rains arrive.
Know your local environment and speak with other marijuana farmers in your area to find out when they harvest their crop.
Plants are collected about 7-9 weeks after they have gone into blossom when grown indoors. Some strains may take longer, while others may take less time; it all depends on the strain. Sativas frequently take longer to finish than indicas.
Stigma and Trichomes
Both indoors and outdoors, the easiest way to detect if your marijuana plants are ready to harvest is to look at:
- Stigma-The hairs that cover the buds will change color from white to orange and begin to curl.
- Trichomes-The resin glands on the plant will change color from clear to opaque to amber.
Keep in mind that while top colas receive more light, they may mature faster than bottom buds. When some buds aren’t quite ripe but others are, you may need to harvest a plant.
Furthermore, information from the breeder or grower can be useful in determining when a particular strain should be harvested.
You’ll need a microscope to examine trichomes. Handheld microscopes with magnifications of 30x to 100x will work and may be found at any gardening supply store.
Trichomes reach their highest THC content as they transition from clear to opaque to amber. After that, exposure to oxygen and UV light causes them to degrade.
How Often Do You Harvest Weed?
Indoor: You can pick as much or as little weed as you wish when growing it indoors. The sky (or, more accurately, your grow room) is the limit.
Weed can take anywhere from 3 to 8 months to mature from seed to harvest, so you can harvest as many as four smaller plants or one or two larger plants per year.
More harvests mean more fresh, homegrown weed to enjoy, but it also means more effort cleaning up the space between harvests, trimming, and so forth.
If you start with clones or autoflower seeds, both of which shorten the growing cycle by a few weeks, you can fit in more than four harvests per year.
Outdoor: Cannabis grown outdoors is typically harvested once a year. Seeds or clones will be planted in the spring and harvested in the fall in most climates. Because of the environment in some tropical areas, you can have a second harvest in a year.
Autoflowers: If you plant autoflower seeds, you can set up your outdoor weed grow to have many harvests every year. Autoflower weed plants have a shorter life cycle because they “automatically flower” when they reach a particular age rather than starting the flowering stage when the amount of sunshine in the sky decreases.
As a result, you can start producing autoflowers early in the season, in March or April, harvest them in June or July, and then start growing another set for harvesting in the fall. You’ll be able to harvest numerous times, but bear in mind that because these are autoflowers, your plants will be smaller.
Light Deprivation: Another method for getting numerous outdoor harvests in a year is to use light deprivation, sometimes known as light deps. A tarp is placed over a greenhouse to block the quantity of light received by outdoor weed plants, allowing you to control the flowering cycle of your plants. This, like autoflowers, will allow you to harvest numerous times outside in a season.
The disadvantage of light deprivation is that it necessitates the use of a greenhouse and associated equipment, as well as the daily placement and removal of the tarp. Marijuana plants can be confused and their flowering and bud development can be harmed if they are exposed to too much light for even one day.
What You Need To Harvest Marijuana
Because all of your plants will ripen at the same time if you’re growing the same strain, you’ll want to harvest them all at the same time.
If you have various strains in your garden, they may ripen at different periods. However, you may wish to harvest all strains at once to get all of your pruning done in one sitting; just keep in mind that some strains may be harvested earlier than others.
You’ll also need to decide whether you’ll cut wet or dry before harvesting. Wet trimming entails clipping buds right after the plant is cut down, and dry trimming entails hanging chopped plants to dry for several days before trimming.
Equipment Needed For Harvesting Marijuana
To harvest weed, you’ll need the following items:
- a pair of scissors (for trimming buds)
- Pruners are people who prune trees (helpful for big branches)
- The chair and the area are both very comfortable.
- A spotless surface, such as a table
- a dish or a tray
- Alcohol rubbing
- Clothing that can get soiled and sticky
- Latex gloves that aren’t powdered are good, but they’re not required.
Because you’ll be holding these bad boys for a long time, be sure they’re ergonomic and comfortable in your hand. These scissors will become quite sticky with time, so invest in a set that is easy to clean or buy two pairs so you can rotate between them.
You can purchase a variety of scissors, some of which are spring-loaded and others which are not. Beginners frequently choose spring-loaded ones because they appear to be faster.
Many trimmers, however, advocate Chikamasa scissors, which are not spring-loaded and may take a day or two to get used to, but will impress you with their precision and quickness.
For trimming branches, you might wish to invest in a larger pair of shears. Save the scissors for the tasks that require more precision.
Comfortable Chair and Area
Make sure you have enough room and an ergonomic setup so you can relax and enjoy a long trim. Choose a cool, well-lit location away from areas with excessive dust, hair, or particles, which might contaminate the cannabis.
The more time you spend sitting, the more work you accomplish, so select a comfortable chair. Anything that causes you to lean over and compresses your lower back should be avoided.
Tray/Bowl and Clean Surface
Trimming trays are popular among trimmers since they are easier to transport and make a nice lap companion. Something with a screen for collecting kief is recommended. The more straightforward the design, the better.
You can also just trim your buds onto a flat table and place them in a bowl.
Whatever surface you choose, be sure it’s easy to clean.
Rubbing Alcohol and Rags
Trimming scissors will undoubtedly become clogged with resin, so you’ll need to clean them or replace them with a new set on a regular basis. Always have a rag and a cup of rubbing alcohol on hand.
How To Harvest Weed
It’s time to chop down your plants once they’re ready for harvesting and you’ve gathered all of your supplies.
Chopped plants are put up to dry for several days before being trimmed using dry trimming.
Trimming buds while the plant is still alive is known as wet trimming.
To cut down plants, obtain a large pair of shears and begin cutting off enormous branches, being careful not to damage the buds. You may be able to cut plants right at the root, above the soil, if they are little.
When dry trimming, it’s a good idea to cut branches so that one end has a hook so they can be hung. Cut branches so they’re simple to handle and snip blossoms off if you’re wet cutting.
Tips For A Great Harvest
- Before harvesting, let your plants a week to flush with only water and no nutrients.
- Check the trichomes on the plants to see if they’re ready to be cut down.
- Wear clothes that can get soiled because weed harvesting is messy.
- Sharpen shears and scissors as needed.
- It’s best to harvest before the plants become too hot—in the morning if you’re outside, and soon after the lights come on if you’re indoors.
- Some plants may be ready to harvest before others if you’re growing many strains.
- If you’re wet trimming, make sure to cut buds right after you chop down the plants.