The first thing you need to know when it comes to harvesting marijuana plants is making sure that you are aware of the rules and laws about doing so in your given country or state.
The rules will vary depending on what region you are in, and you don’t want to cause any trouble with the authorities if you are illegally harvesting marijuana plants. Certain jurisdictions will have a maximum quantity which you can grow, while others only allow certain strains to be cultivated.
Once you have educated yourself as to what you are able to do, then you can start looking at the best ways in which you can start harvesting cannabis plants. Usually, when it comes to harvesting marijuana plants, the longer the time you wait before harvesting them, the more potent the resulting marijuana becomes.
This is thanks to the greater amount of cannabinoids which will be found within. The most difficult part for those who are beginning to harvest for the first time is timing it properly. If you harvest your batch too early, then of course the potency will be lower, while if you leave it too late, then it will often have too much of a narcotic effect and the taste can be overpowering.
When is the best time to harvest?
As soon as the plant has concluded the flowering phase, its level of health is going to start decreasing. You will notice certain symptoms that will alert you of this.
Often, the pistils on the plant will begin to turn red. You will notice the stem broadening. and if there is resin spotted on the buds, this will start to get darker as the leaves begin to turn yellow and start dying. If you notice one or more of these changes, then you should get ready to start harvesting.
Of course, it is like cooking a recipe in the kitchen; cannabis plant growers differ in opinion as to what is the exact best time for the plant to be harvested. Often, it depends on what your specific preferences are, the same as if you were dealing with other vegetables. There are usually different ideal times to harvest which vary depending on the genetics of the given stain.
Usually, with Indica variations, you should harvest 8 weeks after flowering. Sativa variations tend to be best harvested ten weeks after flowering, whereas Autoflower is best harvested about 10 weeks after it has gone from seedling to bud.
In terms of the trichomes, if they are clear then you need to wait longer. If the trichomes are a combination of amber and milky white, then you know that they are ready to be harvested; if all of the trichomes are amber, then the plant is too ripe.
The optimal method of inspecting your plants to check to see if they are ready to be harvested is by using some type of magnifying device. This can allow you to clearly see indications for harvesting, such as when the trichomes found in the bud are somewhat glittering and they have become full with resin.
As mentioned, the longer you leave the harvest, the better your results will be, providing you don’t leave it too long. Pistil colour is usually the most common method that growers will use for figuring out whether or not a plant is ready to be harvested and then processed.
Certain harvesters prefer to harvest once the pistils just start turning red, whereas others will wait until they are nearly completely red and the resin is very dark. You will also tend to get a higher overall yield the longer you wait, which is common sense, but then you are going to be running into stronger flavours the longer you leave it.
The next best way of determining if a harvest is ready is through the resin found on the plants. When it starts maturing, the resin is going to get darker. If it is ready to be harvested, the resin will be transparent and sticky. If it gets darker and starts to look more amber, then you need to quickly get the plants harvested or else they will rapidly decrease in quality.
How to harvest
Your first port of call is getting get rid of your grow room lamps and then starting to attach some wire to hang down off the ceiling. You should cut the plant as close to the base as possible. You will then place it upside down off of the wire from the ceiling.
Turn your fan on and have it pointed directly under the buds, ensuring that the level of humidity is in the region of 45%, with your temperature at about 64 degrees Fahrenheit. You want the area to be dark and have an extractor fan operating.
Heavy duty scissors or shears are needed when the plants are thick. A bowl of isopropyl alcohol is handy to have close by, as it can be used to clean off stick resin from your hands and tools. It is advised, however, that you wear gloves for the process.
In basic terms, you are aiming to have the moisture found in the plants evaporated at the same time as the chlorophyll is breaking down within the plant. The drying process should not be rushed or not all of the chlorophyll will have time to leave the plant, which will give a weird taste. It takes up to two weeks for it to fully dry out. It is important that you check the plants to ensure that there isn’t any mold growing.
If you have harvested outdoors, you do need to have a lot more research completed to ensure that you have a quality batch created. You need to keep track of the weather and the changing seasons closely. This is why outdoor growing should be reserved for more experienced growers, unless you do not have the option to grow it indoors.