✅ As growers it is fundamental to take care of the entire growing process but also, to the harvest moment. From germinating the seed to the right time of Harvest is an exciting time when it comes to growing weed, because you finally get to see your trichomes mature. Learn how and when to harvest marijuana. Learn about when the right time to harvest cannabis is and how to tell apart the signs that can indicate your plant's ready to be harvested!
How to know when to harvest marijuana?
As growers it is fundamental to take care of the entire growing process but also, to the harvest moment. From germinating the seed to the right time of harvesting marijuana, each step and each action will determine the quality of the buds or flowers that we are going to obtain.
If we postpone the harvest time too much, our flowers will have a very high concentration of cannabinoids and this is not always a good thing. What a grower should look for in their harvest is a balanced product between flavor, consistency and effect.
The marijuana plant gives us signs that indicate whether or not it is time to harvest and the key, as in almost the entire process of growing cannabis, is observation. If we notice that the flower pistils turn red or brown and is covered in resin, it is time to harvest. When the plant is already in its last week of flowering and the leaves turn yellow and die, it is time to harvest.
Marijuana plants have their own times depending on the type. When we talk about photoperiodic plants, the flowering time in those with the lowest percentage of sativity, such as the Rainbows strain, will be approximately 8 weeks and in those with a highest percentage of sativity, such as the Pineapple Larry OG, 9 weeks. In autoflowering plants, such as Critical Auto and Northern Auto, the time is approximately 7 to 8 weeks from the seedling stage to the harvest.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a fast flowering, the Lebron Haze from BSF is an exceptional case, since it is the fastest sativa on the market with a flowering time of between 7 and 8 weeks.
Regarding the trichomes, those beautiful crystals that impregnate the flower, if we notice that they have a light or transparent color, it is best to wait. When the trichomes turn white or milk white they are ready to harvest. If pass this stage, we will notice that almost all trichomes are amber or light brown.
To observe is to learn
Trichomes give us key signals to understand when it is time to harvest. As this are very small, the ideal is to have a magnifying glass to see more accurately.
The jeweler’s loupe is a good option since it is accessible, but it is not a high technology tool. In any case, it fulfills the basic function of increasing the vision of our flowers.
The handheld magnifier is difficult for maintaining a correct focus. It is not very comfortable to use but with patience we can observe in detail the trichomes and colors that will tell us if our plant is mature enough.
The best option is a digital microscope but it is also the most expensive. To use this device you also need a laptop to see the results. If the option is chosen, it is essential to read the manual of the microscope to take advantage of its use.
Two weeks before harvesting, most growers water their plants with clean water without additional fertilization. This helps the chemicals in the fertilizers to flush off the flowers, so smoking becomes a more pleasant and not harmful experience. This is a must to improve the harvest experiencia.
A more powerful harvest is not necessarily better
Although sometimes a long flowering period can result in a better harvest, it will not always give us the final results we are looking for. If we wait too long to harvest, the flavor of the bud can turn into something not at all pleasant and although cannabinoids can increase this does not mean that THC is going to be more effective.
The art of growing and harvesting cannabis is developed with patience, observation, trial and error. As each grower is different, so will the results you want from each harvest. Knowing yourself as a grower is the key to success and this is only accomplished with time and dedication.
How to harvest marijuana plants
It’s been months since that little weed sprout first popped out of the ground, or you put that delicate clone into some soil. You’ve watched your plants grow and mature, getting bigger and developing buds, and can’t wait to get those buds off the plant and light up.
But not so fast—harvesting cannabis isn’t just cutting down plants and trimming buds; you’ll also need to dry and cure buds before you can smoke them.
There are a few different ways to harvest weed, depending on whether you trim buds wet, straight off the plant, or dry, allowing them to dry first:
- In wet trimming, the plant is cut down, buds are removed off branches—called “bucking”—then trimmed, and then dried, all in one sitting.
- When dry trimming, the plant is cut down and hung to dry for several days; buds are bucked off branches and trimmed when fully dried.
Harvesting is one of the most exciting steps when growing weed, and here’s what you need to know before cutting down your crop.
Overview of how to harvest weed
- Flush plants a week before harvesting
- Determine when to harvest based on trichome color
- Decide if you’ll be wet or dry trimming
- Prepare equipment
- Chop down plants
- Dry and trim plants
Learn more on harvesting weed
Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .
How to know when to harvest cannabis
It’s important to note that every gardener has a different opinion on when to harvest their cannabis plants—some like to harvest early while others prefer later. When you harvest can also depend on other factors in life, such as your schedule, a job, the weather, etc.
Harvesting weed a week early or late probably won’t be the end of the world, but don’t let your plants sit around much longer than that.
When to harvest cannabis according to trichomes
The best way to tell if your marijuana plants are ripe and ready to harvest, both indoors and outdoors, is to look at:
- Stigma: These hair-like strands that cover buds will turn from white to orange and will start to curl.
- Trichomes: The resinous glands all over the plant will turn from clear to opaque and then amber.
The color and clarity of trichomes will tell you when a plant has reached peak maturity and is ready to harvest.
Ripe, healthy trichomes will be sticky and milky white; unripe trichomes will be clear; and overripe or diseased trichomes will be amber or brown. You want to look for milky white trichomes before harvesting.
Keep in mind that top colas might reach maturity faster than bottom buds because they receive more light. You may need to harvest a plant when some buds are ripe and others are under-ripe.
Additionally, information from the breeder or grower can be helpful in getting a rough estimate of when a particular strain should be harvested.
Weed is a warm-season annual, so if growing outdoors, harvest time comes between September and November in the Northern Hemisphere.
There is some variability—growers in Northern California may be able to harvest into November, whereas growers in the Pacific Northwest will likely need to pull their crops down by mid-October, before fall rains set it.
Know your local climate and talk to other growers in your specific area to see when they harvest marijuana.
Tips for determining when to harvest outdoor weed
Strains from regions close to the equator—sativas—need a long, seemingly endless summer to fully ripen, while strains from harsh, cold climates—indicas—tend to finish earlier. That being said, some indicas take a long time to finish and some sativas finish on the early side.
The best time of day to harvest outdoor marijuana plants is in the morning, before the sun blasts them. Ideally, you don’t want them to be wet and dewey, but you don’t want them to under the bright light of the sun, which can degrade terpenes.
You can also harvest at night when the temperature cools off, but the morning is better as plants haven’t been sitting under the sun all day.
Follow the weather
As cannabis buds pack on weight and the season changes from summer to fall, there will be fluctuations in the weather. Depending on your climate, there might be cold snaps or rainstorms.
These aren’t disasters but you do need to keep an eye on the weather and possibly make a game-time decision on when to chop down plants, balancing peak ripeness with conditions that could compromise your harvest.
Harvesting weed in cold temperatures
Most cannabis plants can sail through a light freeze—28-32°F for up to three hours—with no trouble. But a hard freeze, any temps lower or for longer, can spell disaster.
Frost can cause ice crystals to form in plant tissue, damaging their cells. Leaves will appear wilted before turning dark and crispy. The deeper the frost, the more of the plant that will get damaged.
Note that potted plants experience more severe temperature fluctuations than plants in the ground, making the cannabis more susceptible to frost damage.
Similar to a cold snap, rain itself isn’t a huge problem, but the duration and severity of the storm is. If it’s going to warm up and dry out quickly, you can leave almost ripe cannabis to weather the storm. If the rain will be there to stay, mold awaits—cut your losses and harvest before things get soggy.
Covering your plants will help, but there will still be moisture in the air. You can cover plants with a few tall stakes and a tarp, just be sure to remove the cover when the cold or rain passes to let plants warm up and get the sun and air they need.
When growing indoors, plants generally get harvested about 7-9 weeks after flipping them into the first stages of flowering. Some strains may take longer, some shorter; it depends on the strain. Indicas usually finish quicker, while sativas longer.
How often do you harvest weed?
Harvesting indoor marijuana
When growing weed indoors, you can harvest as much or as little as you want. The sky—rather, your grow room—is the limit.
Weed can take anywhere from 3-8 months to grow from seed to harvest, so you can fit in as many as four harvests of smaller plants, or one or two harvests of bigger plants each year.
More harvests mean you’ll have fresh, homegrown weed to smoke more often, but it will also be more work in cleaning up the space between harvests, trimming, etc.
You can even fit in more than four harvests a year if you start with clones or autoflower seeds, both of which shave off some weeks of the grow cycle.
Harvesting outdoor marijuana
By and large, cannabis grown outdoors gets harvested once a year. In most climates, seeds or clones will start in the spring, and you’ll harvest in the fall. In some tropical regions, you can squeeze in a second harvest in a year because of the climate.
You can set up your outdoor weed grow to have more than one harvest a year if you grow autoflower seeds. Autoflower weed plants have a shorter life cycle—they “automatically flower” when they get to a certain age, instead of beginning the flowering stage when sunlight starts to decrease in the sky outdoors.
Because of this, you can start growing a set of autoflowers early in the season, around March or April, harvest them in June or July, and then start growing a second set for harvesting in the fall. You’ll be able to have multiple harvests, but keep in mind that your plants will be smaller because they’re autoflowers.
Light deprivation, or light deps, are another technique to get multiple outdoor harvests in a year. A tarp is placed over a greenhouse to cut off the amount of light outdoor weed plants receive, giving you the ability to control the flowering cycle of plants. As with autoflowers, this will allow you to fit in multiple outdoor harvests in a season.
The drawback to light deprivation is you have to have a greenhouse and other equipment, and you have to place and remove the tarp every day. If marijuana plants receive too much light on even one day, it can confuse them and ruin their flowering and bud production.
Preparing to harvest marijuana
Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .
If you’re growing the same strain, you’ll want to harvest all your cannabis plants in the same window of time because they’ll all ripen at the same time.
If you’re growing multiple strains, they may ripen at different times. But you may still want to harvest all strains at once to get trimming done all in one sitting, just keep in mind that some strains might get harvested on the early side and some on the late side.
Before you harvest, you’ll also need to know if you are going to trim wet or dry. Wet trimming involves trimming buds immediately after the plant is cut down, and with dry trimming, chopped plants are hung up to dry for several days before trimming.
It’s also a good idea to flush your plants a week before harvesting—give them only water to clear out the nutrients.
What do trichomes look like when they’re ready to harvest?
Trichomes will be sticky and milky white when ready to harvest.
When looking at trichomes you’ll need a microscope. Handheld microscopes ranging from 30x-100x will work and can be purchased at any growing supply store.
During their change from clear to opaque to amber, trichomes reach their maximum THC content. After that, they begin to break down due to exposure to oxygen and UV rays.
What happens if you wait too long to harvest?
Waiting a week or two after a plant’s peak maturity to harvest isn’t the end of the world, the plant might just lose some THC. Busy schedules or too many plants to harvest and cause growers to delay harvesting plants for a little bit.
If you wait for a long time, several weeks or more, the plant will likely dry out and the buds shrink. The plant may start to rot and develop mold, especially in an outdoor environment and in cold climates.
Equipment needed to harvest cannabis
To harvest weed, you’ll need the following tools:
- Scissors (for trimming buds)
- Pruners (helpful for big branches)
- Comfortable chair and area
- A clean surface, like a table
- Tray or bowl
- Rubbing alcohol
- Clothes that can get dirty and sticky
- Optional: Non-powdered latex gloves
Make sure scissors are ergonomic and will fit comfortably in your hand, as you will be holding these bad boys for quite a while. With time, these scissors will get very sticky, so get a pair that will clean easily, or buy two pairs so you can switch between them.
There are many types of scissors you can buy; some are spring-loaded, some not. Beginners often go for spring-loaded ones because they seem quicker.
However, a lot of trimmers recommend Chikamasa scissors—these are not spring-loaded and might take a day or two to get used to, but you will soon notice the precision and speed they provide.
You may also want to invest in a larger pair of shears for cutting branches. Save the scissors for the more precise work.
Comfortable chair and area
Give yourself plenty of space and have an ergonomic setup so you can settle in for a long trim. Pick a cool place with plenty of light, and try to stay away from places with excess dust, hair, or particulates, which can contaminate the weed.
The longer you sit, the more work you get done, so find a comfy chair. Avoid anything that makes you hunch over and compresses your lower back.
Tray/bowl and a clean surface
Many trimmers opt for trimming trays because they are much easier to transport and can make a great lap companion. We recommend something that has a screen for collecting kief. The simpler the design the better.
You can also just trim onto a flat table and put your finished buds in a bowl.
Whatever you choose, make sure the surface is easy to clean.
Rubbing alcohol and rags
Trimming scissors will inevitably get gunked up with resin, so you’ll need to clean them or switch them out with a fresh pair periodically. Keep a rag and a cup with rubbing alcohol handy.
Clothes that can get dirty and sticky
Wear old clothes you don’t care about or an apron. Better yet, wear a silk apron—the resin won’t stick to silk and your laundry will thank you.
Gloves are also great to keep your hands resin-free. If you don’t like trimming with gloves on, you can rub coconut or olive oil on your hands to prevent resin buildup.
A long trim session can seem even longer without anything to pass the time. Staying entertained is crucial to your sanity when trimming. Anything that doesn’t require visual attention is recommended, such as music, podcasts, audiobooks, and stand-up comedy.
Tips for a successful marijuana harvest
Once your plants are ready for harvesting and you have all your equipment, it’s time to chop down your plants.
With dry trimming, chopped plants are hung up to dry for several days before trimming.
Wet trimming involves trimming buds immediately after the plant is chopped down.
Either way, to chop down plants, grab a large pair of shears and start cutting off big branches, making sure to be delicate with the buds. If plants are small, you may be able to cut them directly at the base, above the soil.
If dry trimming, it’s helpful to cut branches in a way to give them a hook on one end, making it easy to hang them. If wet trimming, cut branches so they’re easy to handle and snip buds off of.
- Make sure to flush your plants with only water, no nutrients, for about a week before harvesting
- Check trichomes on plants to make sure they’re ready to get chopped down
- Wear clothes that can get dirty—harvesting weed is sticky
- Keep shears and scissors sharp
- It’s good to harvest before plants get too hot—outdoors, this means harvesting in the morning; indoors, harvest soon after the lights come on
- If growing different strains, some plants may be ready to harvest before others
- If wet trimming, be sure to trim buds immediately after chopping down plants
Now that you’ve harvested your weed, what comes next? Learn how to trim, dry, and cure your marijuana harvest.
When to Harvest Cannabis Plants
Cannabis growers spend a lot of time taking care of their plants in order to produce much better results. Sometimes it can be hard to wait until the time is right to harvest; between impatience and that feeling of being near harvest time, it can be hard to resist. Knowing when to harvest cannabis is quite subjective; growers all have their own method, plus it depends on the substrate, water quality and other determining factors.
This post is designed to help growers that have just started out and have questions regarding when to remove the flowers from their plants in order to cure and dry them. We’re going to have a look at some of the most important things to keep in mind when harvesting cannabis and knowing what a mature plant looks like.
How to Tell if your Plant is Ready to Harvest
There are plenty of signs that can show you when to harvest your cannabis plants. There are also lots of myths and legends that end up causing growers to harvest too early or late. Some people even think harvesting early will stop them from going bad – most growers have had that thought at least once, but if you let them keep growing without getting too impatient, you can get some amazing results. There are still many things you can keep in mind when figuring out when to harvest cannabis. For best results, use a good pair of pruning shears.
Seed Bank Reference
Whenever you get your cannabis seeds, we highly recommend checking out the dates given by the seed bank and their recommendation. They know their strain perfectly and they’ll be able to guide growers with the correct information. Keep in mind that these dates are still just guides, and aren’t 100% accurate. There are many different factors that intervene when it comes to each plant (growing conditions, outdoors or indoors, level of care, latitude etc.). Nirvana Seeds, Seedsman Seeds, Barney’s Farm, Ministry of Cannabis, Exotic Seeds and GB Strains all have an amazing selection of cannabis strains.
We all know that the pistils are the little brown “hairs” on your cannabis flowers when they begin to mature. These pistils can, in some cases, be a sign that your plants are almost entirely ready to harvest. The less brown, the more psychoactive and the more brown pistils the more intense the narcotic effect. Some growers recommend harvesting when more or less half of the pistils are brown, while also keeping in mind the effect/flavor/aroma that you’re looking to get.
Keep in mind that pistils going brown doesn’t almost indicate that your plants are ready to harvest; it could be caused by excess watering, spraying at night, having used a certain type of spray product, stress etc. Once your cannabis plant is ready to harvest it won’t be thirsty anymore, absorbing much less water than usual.
Trichomes are small cells that appear on the surface of your plants’ leaves and flowers. They contain cannabinoids, which produce psychoactive and narcotic effects in your buds. They look like droplets, and keep growing until they take on a mushroom shape. A good sign is that they’re no longer producing any more trichomes. Essentially, you should see calyxes covered in resin, which essentially look like mushrooms when looked at under a microscope, and they’ll want to have a creamy, milky color and some should be an Ambar-like color. The best way to check if your plants are ready is to use a Mini 60x Microscope With White LEDS.
When the top of the trichome is perfectly round, it’s too early to harvest. You’ll need to wait until they look like a sort of an over-pumped ball, slightly deformed. This indicates that there are more cannabinoids inside. If you don’t harvest early, they’ll explode and degrade – if you wait until they explode, you’ll have waited too long.
What Happens When you Harvest Cannabis at The Wrong Time
All of the previous signs can help you to figure out when your cannabis plants are ready to harvest. However, it’s pretty easy to get impatient towards the end – you’re itching to taste your buds and see how the effect hits. However, this usually leads to issues with your harvest.
If you harvest too early, you may run into quality issues with your harvest; the flavor will most likely be less intense, its buds will produce less chlorophyll and therefore less terpenes. Plus, their buds will probably be a lot smaller and less dense than what you were expecting. Keep in mind that it can also influence the effect, as the pistils haven’t finished growing yet – you can lose a large part of your harvest if you don’t wait long enough.
If you wait too long to harvest, it’ll will essentially go “bad”. The flavor will be much softer and it’ll take less time to cure. The more time goes by the less psychoactive the effect is. This is because THC turns into CBN when it begins to degrade, losing most of its characteristic effects. If you wait longer, your cannabis will have a more relaxing, intensely narcotic effect.
Recommendations for When to Harvest Cannabis
We highly recommend following the previous advice as much as you can; if you don’t have the tools to fully check on your plants, don’t just go by the amount of brown pistils on your plant, pay closer attention to the state of the leaves and how they begin to use up their reserves and fall off. The best way to tell when to harvest is by using a microscope; if you don’t have one, wait until its pistils are more or less all brown and then wait another week or two. If the seed bank says 60 days, you’re better off stretching it to 75 days.
When done right, you can harvest enormous flowers. These tips and tricks can help you to harvest delicious, large and high quality yields. We hope this information has been useful, and that this year you have a better idea regarding when to harvest cannabis plants! If you have any questions or suggestions, go ahead and leave a comment below.