After finishing your cannabis infused coffee this morning you decide to take a stroll out to the garden to check on your pot plants. Stepping outside, even though the sun is shining, you notice that the temperature has been dropping over the last few weeks the leaves are starting to turn colour and today it’s chilly.
Taking a look at your cannabis plants you notice they are still nice and green, sticky to the touch thinking they look good but when do I harvest these babies?
I can’t sum that up for you in just one sentence, wish I could but I can’t so what I would suggest is that you keep reading to get the real facts of when to harvest your cannabis.
The planting of the seeds in spring and the following months of waiting to transfer outdoor in summer and watching your plant grow into a mature plant is mostly with anticipations and excitement. Different species have varying maturity periods. For instance, the Sativa strain matures after ten weeks, while Indica strains mature after eight weeks.
They can be reaped in September or later in November. It will depend on your choice as the grower or the climate condition of your region. Knowing the strain of cannabis plants you are growing helps you plan accordingly and provides you with valuable information in having a successful growing period.
The various species have different guidelines that indicate their maturity period. These guides help estimate your harvesting period and eliminates the guess work. These guidelines are on your seed package. This will tell you when to harvest cannabis. It shows the required number of days or weeks for your cannabis to grow into a full-blown plant.
However, there are conditions set in place that aid your cannabis maturity. These conditions are your environment (the climate of your region), heat, and water availability. The time of harvest highly depends on if your region is warmer or colder, like Vancouver and the British Coast need not bother about weather as they have moderate climate conditions all year round. Some regions are warmer than others during the summer, while some are colder. It allows you to either harvest early or later for the colder region.
Paying attention to details, and observing certain parts of the plants will help determine when to harvest and how best to achieve a higher THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) level. These details are basically on the anatomy of cannabis; understanding how things work with this highly rewarding plant.
THREE Essential Parts of the Plan to Observe
1) Fan leaves
Fan leaves are easily seen or observed. They are large and develop during vegetation growth. Just like solar panels that absorb light from the sun, they do the same thing and convert the solar energy to food energy for plant growth.
Apart from this, leaves are known to store nutrients like nitrogen which are essential for plant growth. The plant will turn to these stored nutrients in case it cannot access them from the soil. At any point, should your fan leaves turn yellow and are not flowering, it indicates that something is wrong.
Funny enough, the leaves are also an indication that it is time for harvest. When you observe your plant has flowers, and the fan leaves colour changes into yellow, it is an indication that the harvest period is close. By this time, the new buds have used up the nutrients on the fan leaves, so it turns to yellow.
These are crystal looking substances that appear covering the leaves and buds of your cannabis plants. They are sticky and shiny with a unique aroma. The name originates from the Greek word Trichoma which translates to “Growth of hair”. Worth mentioning is that they are responsible for the production of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. They make each strain of cannabis unique and effectively loaded with quality nutrients.
Let us take a look at how trichomes protect the cannabis flower. As female cannabis begins to flower, insect and animals are attracted to them. Here trichome becomes a protective agent. Its strong aroma and bitter taste make them a no go area for these insects and animals.
When it comes to harvesting time, the change in colour of your plant’s trichome serves as your most reliable and consistent harvest indicator. Owning to their tiny structure, you need a magnifying glass to observe them. Formline has a nice LED Illuminated Jewelers Loupe/Trichome Scope this has a 60x + 30x Lens.
They are generally known to go through three states of colour changes which are clear, cloudy or clear, cloudyor or amber in colour. When approximately half of the trichomes begin to turn amber, and the other half looks either cloudy or clear, it’s time to harvest your plant.
It is a usual occurrence for the top to have a change in colour first. You do not need to wait for everything to become ripe. Harvest the upper ones that are ripe, and wait for the lower ones to ripen. If you wait for all to turn amber, you might end up producing cannabis with decrease THC and increasing the sleep-inducing cannabinoid (CBN).
Although this is an indication of degrading THC, it has its benefits. Its advantage is in the production of medical aids like aid for insomnia, pain, and inflammation with no psychoactive effect. But, THC is psychoactive and has a wide use when it comes to medical practices. Despite the advantages of CBN, growers prevent their trichomes from decreasing in THC and increasing in CBN.
Let’s take a moment to look at the cannabis anatomy. Our beloved cannabis can be one of three sexes; they can be male, female or hermaphrodite (being male and female at the same time). Since the female produces smokable buds, they are the delights of growers. To make pollination easy, you will need both male and female cannabis. It is essential to note that you cannot determine the sex of the seeds, so you must wait for them to attain the pre-flowering phase before its sex can be known. Now, let us take a look at Pistils and how they can help determine sex and indicate the right time to harvest our produce.
The male plants are known for their pollen sacks, which burst to spread out their pollen at maturity. This pollen helps in fertilizing the female plants. Fertilization occurs when the pollen from the male plant comes in contact with stigmas from the female plant. These stigmas are called Pistils. The word Pistil is a Latin word which means pestles. Let us keep it simple; Pistil refers to the female part of a flower. It consists of the ovary, the stigma, and the style.
The Pistil find its usefulness in two ways; they help to identify the sex of your cannabis and also they are indicators for the harvest period.
When it comes to sex determination; if you have your pistils on your cannabis plant after germination, then it is a female plant. But if not, it is a male.
The pistils come out as whitish hairs in the cannabis bud area, they are usually straight at the tender age of your plant. As the plant advance in age and harvest approaches, they darken and curl inwards. When you observe about 40 to 50 percentage of your pistils darkening and curling inwards, it is time you prepare for harvesting.
If you harvest at this point, your result will give a low level of THC, waiting a little longer till you have about 70% of your pistils darkened and curled inwards gives you a bounty harvest with a high level of THC.
We have seen how pistils can help you determine when to harvest. They form a unique part of the cannabis plant that can be observed easily without the aid of a microscope. Does this guarantee that they will give you the best result? No.
The trichome is more accurate when used as a harvest indicator as compared to that of the Pistils (which does not need a looking aid). Trichome requires a microscope to monitor them, but harvesting your buds at the right time will guarantee to get a high yield with a high THC.
Below, we will see why you may opt for either early or late harvesting and their effects.
EARLY Harvest and Late Harvest
One common debate among cannabis growers is the decision on either to harvest early or late. If your target is to reap the highest quantity of bud, then your best option will be a late harvest. But, so many other farmers will prefer to do early harvesting for some reasons. These reasons usually include prevention of bud rot and mould.
Bud rot and other ailments do set in during poor weather condition, and this is usually common as the harvest season approaches. In cases where you are constrained and cannot move your plant inside to protect them from this harsh weather, early harvesting maybe your best option.
Late harvest occurs when you allow your cannabis to mature far beyond its potency stage. At this point, the THC begins to degrade, and the smell worsened. Also, late harvest at some cases leads to self-pollination, and they turn to intersex plants.
Worth mentioning is the fact that medicinal marijuana users prefer late harvesting owning to its sleep-inducing effects.
Timing plays a vital role when it comes time to the harvesting period of your cannabis plants. The cannabinoid content is determined by the amount of time given to your plant to mature. Based on the standard for higher yield and higher THC, it is of best interest to use the methods above and harvest your plant when it is neither too old nor too young. It is the only way you will ensure you can get the best strain and highest yield possible.