This is the beginning of the end of a cycle with your loved plants. And as a gardener, if you have overcome all the obstacles of cultivation this is the right moment to harvest all the beauty you’ve planted. You must be very careful to harvest at the right time, the right way. Here, we’ll talk a little more about this important step.
You have gone through all the stages of this beautiful process that is growing your cannabis plant. And, now that the buds are already beautiful, fragrant and super flowered, how do you know that it’s the right time to harvest and enjoy the reward of your hard work and enjoy your plants with their greatest potential.
We’ll be very honest: the harvest can be that “all or nothing” moment of your cultivation. If you do something wrong, you can lose months and months of dedication, nutrition, lighting, pruning, caring – and money. So, you need to ensure, in every possible way, that this will not happen, and that your cannabis will be harvested when it needs, according to your purpose.
The truth is that there are several tips on how to harvest and even different times depending on what you are going to do with your cannabis: if you are going to use it to smoke the flower, make an oil, to make hash, to make fresh frozen… So, maybe the first point of this post is to know if you have already defined what you want from your plants.
With that in mind, we can better explain our harvesting process and what we know about it, to help you finish your cultivation cycle with love. Let’s go!
Is it the right time?
When is the best time to harvest your cannabis?
To see if it’s the ideal time for harvesting, you will need to watch the resin develop in buds and leaves. The trichomes that show the maturity of the plant. We recommend that you buy a magnifying glass, as this can be quite difficult to see with the naked eye! You should look closely at the trichomes. At the beginning of the cycle, they are just balls, called basal trichomes. As the plant matures, more elongated trichomes appear, with a lollipop or mushroom shape.
When the process progresses, the trichomes take on a translucent milky white color, followed by amber.
About this, we have some considerations:
There are growers who prefer to harvest when 80% of the trichomes are in a more milky white and 20% transparent – and few amber trichomes. This is the lightest hash guys.
As people who want a hash with darker and also oily coloring, the harvest is done when there is a higher percentage of amber trichomes (super ripe).
Meanwhile, others believe it is best to harvest when they are 70% milky white and 30% amber.
It is important to remember that each person can have a preference – the important thing is not to harvest when immature trichomes are dominat, which is when most are still transparent.
Some other tips for deciding the ideal time to harvest are to confirm that resin production has peaked; that the flowers have stopped growing; and that the secondary leaves started to lose color and most of the main leaves fell. The other sign is that the trichomes are in the color you like most!
What materials are needed to harvest?
We recommend that you wear very comfortable clothes – since, depending on the amount of plants you will have to harvest, it can be a long process. Prepare your space to hang and dry your cannabis plants: it should, ideally, be well ventilated. If possible, use a dehumidifier to make sure that they dry properly. In addition, you will need:
Scissors suitable for trimming and pruning;
Powder-free latex gloves;
Thin line (like the one used to hang clothes);
Is everything organized? Time to finally harvest your incredible buds. To do that, do this:
Cut at the base, one plant at a time. You can harvest the plant or whole branches – to do this, we recommend removing the larger leaves first. With the bulkier material out of the way, it will be much easier to separate the buds. You can remove the large leaves before cutting the plant, so that it remains upright and is easier, or after cutting it, as you prefer!
Time to trim
There are two methods of cutting (trimming) your cannabis: you can do this with it dry or wet. We prefer to do it dry – when wet, it gets more perforated than we like. Some growers don’t even feel like trimming, and leave the flower untouched and leafy until it’s time to smoke.
But we will teach you both ways, so you can do the one you enjoy the most:
In this method, after removing the large leaves, you need to hang the plants upside down and let them dry for a week. After seven days, when most of the moisture has disappeared from the buds, and the leaves around you are dry and brittle, prune very carefully so that the floral material does not fall. Both with this type of cut and with humidity, you can leave aside the small leaves covered with trichomes – you can use them to make extractions or hashish.
Dry cutting is advisable if the humidity level in the drying room is low, or if you have a dehumidifier that can be easily adjusted. To have a high quality final product, temperatures must be kept between 18 and 23ºC, and the humidity must be between 55 and 65%.
If you are going to make hash, which we talk about a lot, it is worth trimming with the dry leaf and keeping all this product. The way you will trim (whether the plant is clean or not) will also influence the quality of your hash! Remember: the quality of hash depends on the quality of the cannabis used to make it.
Advantages of dry trimming
The smell and taste are better preserved. This method is also great for extractions. Oxidation also becomes slower this way.
Disadvantages of dry trimming
Leaving small leaves during drying can lead to mold and mildew. So, you need to check the cut plants more closely!
Trim wet plants
Wear latex gloves to prevent the resin from sticking to your hands, and start with care. Try not to crush the buds in the process – be kind to them to avoid damaging the trichomes! When cutting the larger leaves, try to reach the base of the petiole (the stem that holds the flower), and cut the small leaves that grow around the bud so that the end result is as clean as possible.
The wet cut favors the circulation of air in the plant material, which is particularly advantageous if the humidity level in the drying room is very high. If so, you can use a dehumidifier to help maintain the right temperature (18-23ºC) and humidity (55-65%), but keep in mind that these devices can be difficult to use. Another advantage of wet cutting is that it avoids the risk of fungal diseases.
Advantages of trimming wet plants
Improves air flow and facilitates drying. Prevents fungal diseases, particularly botrytis.
Disadvantages of trimming wet plants
Drying is not the same: the quality of flavor and aroma will not be preserved as much, and more damage can be caused to trichomes. If drying is too fast, buds can still develop a slightly off-flavor.
This technique freezes freshly harvested plants as a way of preserving trichomes with terpenes from a live plant. The idea is to trim the wet plant, and freeze it in bags divided into buds (that is, without the plant’s branches).
Hashishes called full melt are usually made using material prepared in this way.
Not over yet…
After harvesting, it is time to dry and cure your buds. Drying is as important as cultivation itself, and poor drying and curing can ruin your crop. Drying means reducing the bud’s water quantity to 10-15%, depending on the desired crispness of the product. This can take ten to fourteen days.
Most commercial gardeners don’t even cure their buds, just dry and put the product up for sale. Curing is a long but necessary process to achieve the best possible quality in the smoke. For true tasters, curing is the essence of everything, the final step towards the perfect result.
Other very important tips
If you are planting indoors, you can harvest when you think your plants are mature, the weather does not play a big role since the temperatures and humidity are controlled.. If your grow is outdoor, avoid doing it on rainy days, as harvesting plants with lots of water can facilitate the spread of mold
We recommend using the flower days of the biodynamic calendar (from the southern hemisphere or the northern hemisphere, depending on your location).
Flush: many people believe in this method, which consists of giving only water to the plant in the week of the harvest, especially those who feed with mineral fertilizers, and not with organic matter. But be careful! Those who harvest to make hash, for example, usually feed the plant until the last day.
Beware of mold
Mold is already a very challenging problem, especially for those who grow outdoors. Sometimes it is the wetest time of year – and the perfect timing is to pick your cannabis before it.
You will have to do this calculation: if you want to risk and harvest some time later, you may lose some parts to the mold, or if you will want to harvest before, even if the plant does not reach the potential you would like.
You also need to take care of the environment you leave to dry: if you don’t have a dehumidifier or space, and put one plant on top of the other to dry, you can make your harvest mold!
We know: there are many precautions to take when harvesting. But it is time to celebrate the life of your little plant, which brought you wonderful flowers! So be patient, gentle and take good care to respect all stages of this process. Do you have any tips for those who are going to go through this moment for the first time? We hope to see many pictures of these beautiful and freshly picked buds!