You are currently offline

Harvest Cannabis Guide - How to harvest cannabis?

Wondering how to harvest cannabis and how to cut the buds without wasting your harvest? Check this simple step-by-step guide for beginners! Last updated 06/12/2022

    You are finally reaching the end of marijuana growing, and you are ready to enjoy all of your hard work. 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 buds are of high quality. Below is a guide to help you learn how to harvest weed.

    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 could take 1-3 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 by smoothly.
    Nevertheless, it is necessary not to rush the harvest to avoid making any mistakes.

    Harvesting Marijuana Preparations

    There are three key things you should do before you harvest cannabis. They are:

    Flush Your Plants

    Usually, you would avoid giving a marijuana plant too much water. 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 harvesting. You can tell when it is time to flush when the trichomes turn milky white. Nevertheless, it is necessary to make sure the plants are not too dry or too wet when you harvest.

    Prepare Your Harvest Room

    Similar to a grow room, you will want to set up a harvest room before you begin. One of the conditions of the new space should be a temperature of about 70 degrees. 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 outside, find an area that receives a bit of wind. The day should be dry and not too sunny.

    Gather Your Marijuana Harvesting Tools

    Lastly, you will want to have all your tools ready to go. What you should collect to harvest cannabis includes:

    • Gloves — You will want gloves since the plants have a bit of moisture in them. Harvesting can get a bit sticky. Of course, gloves prevent cross-contamination and smelly hands.
    • Proper clothes — Your attire should provide you with enough coverage. The clothes should be ones you do not mind getting messy.
    • 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 — It 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.

    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:

    1. Cut the plants
    2. Cut the branches
    3. Trim your weed
    4. Start the drying process

    1. Cut the Plants / Buds

    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 strain is too big.

    Other growers choose to focus on the ripest buds first. After removing them, leave the immature ones on the branches. After 5-10 days, you can come back to harvest the remaining buds. The method helps you avoid losing out on a portion of your yield.

    2. Cut the Branches

    The next part of the harvesting process is to cut out the branches one by one. Avoid damaging the 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.

    3. Trim Your Weed

    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 it dries. 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.

    4. Start the Drying Process

    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.

    Harvest Tips

    Below we provide the best tips to keep in mind when harvesting your crop. 

    Tip 1. Timing is Key

    When you harvest cannabis, 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 plants are at the height of their resin production.

    At the same time, waiting too long to harvest cannabis can mean you 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 harvest cannabis. 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.

    Learn more: 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 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 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 strains 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. 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 have is that they manipulate the cannabis into entering the flowering phase 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.

    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 get 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 flowers in some way on accident. There is a risk of a decline in potency if the buds get recut or shifted. As many people say, slow and steady wins the race.

    Many growers make mistakes when they harvest cannabis, and it is all part of the learning experience. Some common errors are fixable and there is plenty of more advice on successfully harvesting weed. You can visit our learning center to find more useful guides or contact us to learn more.