What makes a good cannabis harvest?
seeds of cannabis

One of the best things about growing your own marijuana seeds is watching the plants move through each phase of the lifecycle. Cannabis Business Times interviewed a group of well-known industry players and frequent CBT contributors about their best practices, casing everything from lighting to custom fertilizing to specialized grow techniques, and design innovations, such as rolling aisles and vertical growing, and provide advice for beginner and advanced growers alike. And if you’ve ever grown pot you know that the most exciting part is when your baby plant is all grown up and starting to yield flowers. When your plants attain this stage, it might seem like all the hard work is done. But you have to know how to harvest marijuana appropriately if you want to end up with the smokeable herb you’re looking for. Here are some of the helpful tips that what makes a good cannabis harvest:

  • Harvest when 60-70% of hairs have darkened for highest levels of THC.
  • Harvest when 70-90% of hairs have darkened for more calming, anti-anxiety effect as some THC turns to the more relaxing CBN.

With some strains, you may see a bunch of new pistils appear right when you think you’re getting close which is normal, but it happens more than 3 times you’ve eventually got to just make the decision and chop.

  • Look at trichomes under a magnifier to harvest cannabis buds with the right THC levels.

You look at the glandular stalked trichomes on the buds under a magnifying glass. Trichomes are the mushroom-looking growths on cannabis that are accountable for it being so popular. In some places, these trichomes are called “resin glands”. These trichomes are the ‘crystals’, or ‘frosty stuff’ you see accumulating on your bud or leaves and what makes weed so sticky. The trichomes you’re trying to see look like little mushrooms. You may also see tiny, clear hair-like trichomes without the mushroom head but these don’t affect the potency so you can ignore them. You are interested in the trichomes that have a little ball on top. This is where a lot of the THC and other good stuff in cannabis are located. Since these trichomes are what contribute the most to bud potency, being able to tell when they’ve reached their highest levels of THC will help you be able to choose the exact right time to harvest your marijuana.

Cannabis trichomes are challenging to see with the naked eye, so you’ll need a jeweler’s loupe or another way to magnify the image in order to use the “trichomes method” for determining harvest time.

Here are some general rules about harvesting cannabis based on trichomes and the color of the hairs or pistils:

  • If white “hairs” are almost all sticking straight out and trichomes are all still translucent, then your plant is too young and not ready for harvest.
  • The beginning of the harvest window opens when your plant has mostly stopped growing new white “hairs” or pistils and at least 40% of the white hairs have darkened and curled in.
  • The highest level of THC is when many or most of the trichomes have turned milky white or cloudy when viewed under a magnifier.
  • Some sativa and haze strains have trichomes that never really turn amber. If they’ve turned mostly white and don’t seem to be progressing further, it may be time to harvest.
  • The most “couchlock” or sedating effect happens towards the end of the pot harvest window when the trichomes have become a darker color, usually amber or gold.
  • When trichomes start looking grey or withered, the harvest window has passed, and buds will make you sleepy without any psychoactive effects.

Furthermost people like to harvest when the trichomes are all white. At that point, the flowers have fundamentally maximized their THC production. If you’re looking to get buds for recreational uses, harvest when the trichomes are white. But if you’re considering producing cannabis for medical purposes, you may want to wait until the trichomes are amber or brown. At that point, some of the THC has degraded, but the CBD will be peaking. And in general, CBD is the stuff you’re looking for in medical cannabis.