You have germinated your weed seeds, and grown plants full of wonderful cannabis buds. You are ready to pluck the flowers from your cannabis plant, and enjoy the fruit of your labor.
However, there are still some steps you need to follow before you can. You should gather supplies and prepare what you need to harvest cannabis.
It is important to know what to do to ensure your cannabis buds are of high quality, full of wonderful terpenes and THC-filled trichomes.
In this guide, we help you with figuring out how to harvest weed. We go through all the steps, so you know exactly all there is to make sure you are harvesting cannabis the right way!
How Long Does it Take to Harvest Weed?
The germinating and growing phases can take a while, but what about the harvesting phase? Luckily, the harvest should not take too long to complete.
Usually, it should take one to three days to go through all of your plants. The period does not account for the drying and curing stages, which take longer.
However, the times may vary depending on the strain's height and yield. Of course, the harvesting phase can rely on how much experience you have. It can help to make certain preparations to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Nevertheless, it is necessary not to rush cannabis harvesting to avoid making any mistakes.
Harvesting Marijuana Preparations
There are three key things you should do before you harvest cannabis. They are:
Usually, you would avoid giving a marijuana plant too much water during cannabis cultivation. However, plenty of water is necessary to flush the roots.
The process is important to clean any surplus nutrients from the roots. You can enjoy better-tasting cannabis after you do this.
Most growers begin to clean the roots about a week before they start with the cannabis harvest. You can tell when it is time to flush when the trichomes turn milky white.
Make sure the plants are not too dry or too wet when you harvest.
Similar to a grow room, you will want to set up a harvest room before you begin to harvest marijuana plants. One of the conditions of the new space should be a temperature of about 21 °C (70 °F).
You can make the room have as much as 50% humidity, but no more. Having high humidity may increase the chance of mold growth, and it slows the drying process.
The harvest room should be well-ventilated to provide airflow. You need to keep the lighting conditions in mind as well. Turn off the lights or prevent lamps from shining too much on the plants. The light could affect the THC when you harvest.
If you plan to harvest outdoor weed, find an area that receives a bit of wind. The day should be dry and not too sunny.
Lastly, you will want to have all your tools ready to go. Here are the equipment you need to collect when you are ready to harvest cannabis flowers:
Gloves — You will want gloves since the cannabis plants have a bit of moisture in them. Harvesting can get a bit sticky. Gloves also prevent cross-contamination and smelly hands.
Proper clothes — Your attire should cover you enough that the cannabis plant will not touch your skin. Your clothes might get messy, so keep that in mind as well.
Scissors — Scissors are useful for trimming buds. You have better control over the precision of your trims.
Pruners — Pruners function the same as scissors, but you would use them to cut the larger branches.
Lines — When you harvest, you generally will be hanging up the trimmed plants. Growers use lines to string them up.
Trim trays and a clean surface — Trays keep the area tidy by collecting branches and leaves. A clean surface can avoid cross-contamination.
Rubbing alcohol — Rubbing alcohol helps keep scissors, pruners, and the workstation free of mess.
Comfortable chair — Harvesting takes time, and a nice chair can avoid stress on your legs and back.
Table (clean surface) — You should have a table to work on and store other tools.
Nice music — No harvest is complete without some music to fight against boredom. Your plants might like the music as well.
How Do You Harvest Cannabis Plants?
When you have all of your supplies and harvest room ready, you can begin harvesting marijuana. The four basic steps are:
The first step is to cut the entire plant. Many growers do this, especially with smaller plants. Cut it at the base of its main stem. Some people skip this step and go straight to removing each branch if the cannabis plant is too big.
Other growers choose to focus on the ripest buds first. After removing them, leave the immature ones on the branches.
After five to ten days, when they are ready to harvest, you can come back to collect the remaining buds. The method helps you avoid losing out on a portion of your yield.
The next part of the harvesting process is to cut out the branches one by one. Avoid damaging the cannabis flowers when you remove the branches.
You can place them into a tray and divide them up. One pile has the smaller twigs, and the other contains the ones with individual buds.
Afterward, hang the branches on the lines with string or clothespins. Place some trays underneath them to catch falling leaves when you trim.
When you trim, you can pick one of two methods. Many growers choose the dry trimming method since it is less messy.
The process involves hanging the plant to dry for a few days. Remove the buds off the branches after they dry.
Many people perform wet trimming since there is less of a chance for mold in humid places. With wet trimming, you would cut down the plants and buds soon after harvesting. Then, the trimmed buds go on a drying rack.
The first step to trimming is to cut off the fan leaves, especially if they show signs of pests or fungus. The buds can enjoy some extra airflow when they dry. Then, cut the smaller leaves and stems that poke out of the bud.
You can keep the sugar leaves for later use. Some growers trim huge buds down to a workable size.
Once the buds are nice and trimmed, you can begin the drying stage. There is still some moisture that can make consumption less enjoyable, and dried weed makes for better flavors. It can take a couple of weeks for the buds to reduce their water content to less than 20%.
The recommended method to prepare for the process is to leave the buds on the branches. If the buds get removed, you can place them on a drying rack. Some growers buy drying nets if they have a lot of plants.
When you prepare to dry your harvest, have a fan turned on to promote air circulation. The room should be dark and barely humid.
Now you know how to harvest cannabis. However, we do want to give you some extra tips, to make sure your next harvest is a successful one!
Tip 1. Timing is Key
When you are getting ready to harvest marijuana, a helpful tip to keep in mind is to pay attention to your timing.
First off, you should not harvest too early or too late. For a potent yield, you need to wait until the cannabis plants are at the height of their resin production.
At the same time, don't wait too long when harvesting cannabis. If you do, you can miss out on the highest levels of THC.
The state of the pistils or trichomes can let you know when it is the best time to start your cannabis harvest. The plant is past its peak potency when a majority of the pistils are brown.
The buds will end up with high CBN content. Not to mention, the taste could end up being unpleasant. When you prepare to dry, have a means of keeping track of the time. When buds become too dry, a significant portion of cannabinoids is degraded.
Related Article: When to harvest weed?
Tip 2. Some Trichomes Do Not Change Appearance
Not every strain will produce trichomes that change colors during the harvest window. A few sativa seed strains grow far fewer trichomes compared to an indica plant. The color changes usually do not seem noticeable to the naked eye.
You could wait a little longer to see if the appearance becomes different, but not for too long. Begin harvesting the cannabis plant before the bud quality declines, if you do not see any changes.
The most effective way to notice the transition in color is with a magnifying glass. Use the magnifying glass to look at the resin glands. In general, you can use the tool for other types of strains instead of glancing at the trichomes.
Tip 3. Planning for Multiple Harvests
Autoflower seeds give growers the opportunity to have multiple harvests. The growth cycle is shorter than other types of plants, so you can get the second yield.
Related Article: When To Harvest Autoflowers?
Not to mention, the controlled conditions of indoor cultivation can mean more than one time to harvest cannabis in a single year.
If you decide to go for multiple yields, you should plan to do so before the first harvest. Stimulation begins the process of another one, and you would do this by removing mature buds from the plant. The smaller ones should remain on the branches.
Add plenty of water and fertilizer to continue the growth cycle. The effect that more nutrients for weed plants have is that they manipulate your plant on entering the flowering stage again. Leaving many of the leaves on the plant can help with this endeavor, since they absorb light.
Light manipulation can jumpstart the flowering stage as well. Interrupt the period of darkness with a lamp or flashlight. Soon enough, you can prepare for another harvest.
Tip 4. Seasons Can Guide You in Outdoor Growing
If you are harvesting outdoor marijuana, the seasons can let you know when to check the pistils or trichomes. After the summer ends, you can track the amount of sunlight plants get each day. Day and night become roughly equal at the beginning of autumn.
Most cannabis plants can tell when the light and dark periods become about the same in length. They will put their energy into flowering instead of being vegetative. From there, you can plan when harvest likely will occur.
Several growers use a grow calendar to keep track of the weeks. Around mid- to late-fall is usually when the window opens up for harvesting outdoor marijuana.
Tip 5. Storing Your Harvest
After you finish harvesting, you may want to store the buds to maintain their condition until consumption. The storage place should be cold, dark, and dry.
Some people secure their buds in an air-tight glass jar before placing them in a basement or refrigerator. You can use a darkened jar or another type of container. It only needs to be sealed properly to keep oxygen from leaking in.
Alternatively, the freezer is an effective space to store cannabis. The low temperature slows down the rate of degradation.
The buds can remain frozen for one or two years. They become brittle, so you need to handle them delicately. The trichomes easily break off, which affects the potency.
The best way to handle frozen marijuana is to take it out of the freezer carefully. Then, let the buds thaw out naturally.
Tip 6. Keep Patient and Carry On
Of course, another important tip to harvest cannabis successfully is to remain patient. Similar to the growth cycle, rushing your harvest can lower the quality of the final product.
An early harvest is a common mistake, and the error can result in a smaller yield. Not to mention, the taste and smell can be affected.
Trimming can take hours to do, and growers naturally want the process to end as soon as possible. However, a person could make a mistake if they go too fast.
They might unnecessarily disturb the cannabis flowers in some way by accident. There is a risk of a decline in potency if the buds get recut or shifted. As is the case with cultivating a cannabis flower or two, slow and steady wins the race.
What have we learned?
Harvesting cannabis is a meticulous process that requires preparation and patience. Before harvesting, ensure you flush the plants to eliminate excess nutrients and set up a suitable harvest room.
Use essential tools like gloves, scissors, and pruners for the process. Once you're ready, cut the plants, branches, trim the buds, and then dry them. Pay close attention to timing to maximize potency.
While some trichomes may not show color changes, using a magnifying glass can help. If growing outdoors, let seasons guide your harvest time.
Post-harvest, store buds in a cool, dark place to maintain quality. Above all, patience is key to a successful harvest, ensuring the best quality cannabis.
Want to learn more about the art of cultivating weed plants? Visit our Learning Center for more guides on growing cannabis.