Harvest cannabis For the majority of growers, harvest time is the happiest and most exciting period in the entire cannabis cultivation process. That long-awaited moment of glory when gardeners are finally able to see the fruits of their labour, breathe a sigh of relief and give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back.
There are various ways of harvesting cannabis and choosing one to follow depends on a grower’s experience or what their eventual aim is, in the same way that harvesting fruit for personal consumption isn’t the same as doing it for other reasons, such as commercial ones.
When to harvest your Cannabis Plant?
There is no exact science for knowing the precise moment to harvest cannabis. One of the most archaic – but perhaps the most effective – methods simply entails observing the plants periodically to see when it would be best to harvest the crop. By doing so, the gardener will be able to ascertain whether the time has come, or if it’s better to wait a little longer.
As I have said, this may be too general a method and not everyone will be able to apply it, in particular those without enough experience growing cannabis plants. So, if you know someone who’s planted the same variety before, don’t hesitate to ask them all the right questions! They might provide you with invaluable information; sometimes, depending on the variety, crops must be harvested at a specific time. As such, it is also important to know what we are planting.
Unfortunately, pests are something almost nobody can avoid. They’re there, awaiting the slightest oversight in order to attack our precious plants when we least expect it.
Pests creep up on us year after year, both indoors and out, which is why we should be prepared and as far as possible prevent them from ruining what we’ve planted.
When it comes to cannabis, the most common pests include whiteflies, red spider mites and plant lice. The latter usually turn up in the summer and may well be the most common pest, especially in greenhouses or outdoor cultivation. They are soft insects with antennae, the size of a small match. Depending on the type, plant lice may or may not have wings and in terms of colour, the ones that attack cannabis are usually green or black.
Plant lice unfortunately show up in groups but don’t worry, they’re easy to spot! There are various effective techniques for preventing pests, such as treating plants with bio-insecticides or neem oil, a natural insecticide extracted from the seeds of the Anzadireachta Indica, a plant originating in India and Burma.
It is a bitter oil, making it ideal for repelling insects, and is normally diluted in water and sprayed onto leaves. This process should be repeated for around seven days. In any case, everyone has their favourite way of fending off pests, and you simply have to find the one most suited to your crop and that suits your needs best.
The importance of trichomes
An effective way of seeing the trichomes and, consequently, knowing whether we should harvest, is by carefully examining the plant with a magnifying glass. We will know if the time we’ve waited so long for has arrived by paying attention to the development of the incredible resin glands and focusing on spotting the crystals.
For the somewhat more purist among you, you can even use a digital microscope to receive the clearest image possible.
For those of you still not fully up to speed on the subject, trichomes look like small shiny mushrooms that are almost golden in colour. Without a doubt, these take centre stage. Bear in mind that when seeking out trichomes, if you find something similar but without the characteristic mushroom “head”, you can simply ignore them since they won’t affect the strength of our cannabis.
As an extra detail, pay attention to the colour of the trichomes, hairs and pistils. This is one of the key features for determining whether or not the cannabis is ready to be harvested. Here are a number of tips and general rules for knowing whether it’s time for harvesting based on the colour of the trichomes, hairs and pistils. They’ll help you to see things a little more clearly or recognise that lovely golden colour!
- If the “little hairs” are almost all white and facing outward, and the trichomes are all still slightly translucent (i.e. a light colour), I’m afraid to say your plant is still too young for harvesting. That means don’t harvest it, because it isn’t ready yet! If you do so, what you’ll get is a plant with a low yield and a harvest that isn’t all that strong. Or at least, not as strong as it could be.
- Let’s say that harvesting the plant can start when it has stopped producing any white “hairs” or pistils, and when around half of those white hairs have taken on a darker shade and have started to curl.
- On the other hand, if what you’re after is a higher THC level, it’s the colour of the trichomes that’s most important. If most of them have turned a more “cloudy” shade, that’s precisely when they have the highest levels of THC and will without a doubt provide you with the euphoria you’re seeking. But you’re going to need a magnifying glass to find out!
- On another hand, if what you’re looking for is a relaxing, physical stone over a mental high, you should wait until the final phase of harvesting time. Hold off as long as you can but be careful not to leave it too late! Pay attention to your trichomes. Once they’ve turned a darker colour, between amber and gold, they’re just how you want them. This is what to go for if you’re looking for more calming effects and not a psychoactive high. In other words, if you want less THC and more CBD and CBN.
- The best way to know for sure what you like is by picking the buds at different phases in their development and sampling them. This means that during your experience as a grower, you should be open to sampling both the “early harvest” buds and “late harvest” buds. Only by sampling your crop will you become an expert in the plant and come to know which phase you prefer. I won’t ever stop reminding you that above all, don’t begin harvesting too soon! Spoiling a good crop due to impatience would be a real shame, so be sure to keep an eye on your plants!
- Pay attention to the details. If the trichomes are grey or have withered, I’m afraid you’ve missed the boat on harvesting them. If this has happened to you, try to more vigilant next time and don’t be disheartened; by making mistakes, you learn a lot quicker!
Steps to take before and during the harvest
- Once we’ve concluded we can actually harvest our crop, a series of important steps should be followed so that everything goes as expected. One of the main pieces of advice is that when the big day finally arrives, the best thing is to start really early, before the sunlight gets too strong.
- The majority of new growers wants to harvest as soon as possible. Don’t worry, it’s normal to be eager. If you just can’t wait, simply cut off the buds that go from the middle of the plant to the upper part and leave the rest to mature.
- I recommend you do this because more often than not, the upper parts of the plants mature first, meaning that this poses no problem for the rest of the plant. Harvest these parts and leave the rest of the plant in peace a little longer.
- You will see the buds from the lower part gradually grow bigger and begin to acquire a blurred hue as they enter full maturity.
- At the same time, it’s usually recommended to start pruning the plant, keeping well away from what would be the nucleus of the root. If the plants are too large to harvest them by making a cut in the lower part, it’s best to start by cutting off the largest and heaviest branches. Remember, leave one or two larger stems attached to the branches you’re cutting – you’re sure to appreciate this later on since these stems will form a “V” on the branches that will make things easier when drying out your precious cannabis.
- You should treat your plant with the utmost care at all times. If you split any branch or cut like you’ve got two left hands, you run the risk of the trichomes breaking. This means that using the appropriate tools is of vital importance. Don’t hesitate to buy the equipment needed, because to you, what you will be picking is more precious than gold. Don’t mistreat it!
Dried and cured: essential steps for the best cannabis
Drying and curing are essential steps in obtaining cannabis of the highest quality. In fact, doing it correctly or not will have a significant effect on our final result. For those who’ve never done it before, cannabis will indubitably taste a lot better once it’s been dried and cured.
After harvesting your cannabis plants, the first thing you should do is dry the buds. One of the most common methods involves hanging them upside down, keeping them that way and placing them in a dark and cool place. You must bear in mind that your chosen location should not be too humid and should have plenty of ventilation. The presence of a draft is vital!
- You should examine the buds every day and check for signs of mould, since the key thing is to detect this in time and to resolve the problems as soon as possible. Also bear in mind that the plant’s remaining leaves must be removed. Some will definitely fall off by themselves when drying. Remove the rest carefully so as not to damage the buds.
- It’s important to remember that drying is something that should be done slowly but surely. Be patient; drying too quickly will mean your cannabis ends up smelling like pine or worse… that it tastes bad! If you’re afraid of leaving your buds to dry out too long and that your precious treasure will end up covered in mould, all you have to do is put a fan in front of them so air can circulate properly. Once you’ve removed the remaining leaves, the buds should again be hung upside down and will once again require a cool, dry place with air to finish drying.
Curing can have a really amazing effect on your cannabis. In fact, if you perform the curing process properly, your cannabis will have an incredible scent and flavour. On the other hand, if you do it incorrectly, the disadvantages range from an unpleasant taste, to the cannabis not producing any high, or even that you end up smoking mould! What a nightmare.
To commence the curing process, you should follow a few straightforward steps:
- As I was saying earlier, it is important to have all the required gear and tools at hand. Just like you needed a magnifying glass to watch over your plants very closely, you now need to arm yourself with a sturdy paper bag and plastic bag.
- If you’re wondering why these are necessary, the answer is easy. The paper bag is what provides the darkness the process requires, while the plastic one is needed to prevent the paper from absorbing our beloved THC.
- The first step is to place a number of buds in the plastic bag until it’s more or less half full. We then close the bag carefully, leaving space so as not to suffocate our precious friends. Once this is done, place the plastic bag inside the paper bag, creating a “double bag.”
- It is vital to check the state of the buds every day, smelling them, trying to move them slightly so as to distribute the “curing”…And don’t worry if they appear to be sweating, since this is exactly what they should be doing!
- Once you’ve done this, the final step before being able to savour your recently harvested cannabis has arrived. The aim now is to achieve the best flavour and to get the buds to thoroughly dry. To achieve this, we recommend you use an airtight container, such as a glass or plastic jar, or anything that can protect your buds from the air and light. After what you’ve read, you should know that when it comes to drying and curing, air and light are not exactly our closest allies.
- Carefully place the cannabis buds inside the jar. It’s best if you leave some space between them, since we don’t want them to compact together inside the container. For the first seven or eight days, you will have to keep on opening the jar to move the buds around, and what’s more, refresh the air inside. By doing so, you will get them to dry out uniformly. Moreover, you’ll easily be able to check for mould or any other last-minute issue that may have arisen. If that happens, don’t panic! Simply remove the affected buds and return the rest to the plastic/paper bag setup for a few days so that they can dry out before placing them in the jar again.
- You may need to keep your cannabis in the jar for up to two months. The more time it spends there, the more certain we’ll be that it’s completely dried out. If everything proceeds as expected and mould hasn’t struck again, what we’ll have created is buds brimming with flavour and of the highest quality.
With practice, and the more times you attempt and experiment with this process, you’ll realise how efficient it is. What’s more, it will become easier and easier to know when the buds are finally at just the right point. Once they’re thoroughly dry and mould-free, you can then store them in the way that suits you best. By doing this properly, your cannabis will stay fantastic for a long time to come!
As you finish harvesting your outdoor plants, the indoor season begins!
Now that the time for outside cultivation has ended – at least for majority of us – and we’re ready to reap the fruits of our labour, it’s now time to get as ready as possible and plan some exciting indoor cultivation.
Indoor cultivation is extremely straightforward and will prove to be an easy, enjoyable and – above all – enriching process, even for those with no previous experience. With practice and by paying attention to these simple recommendations, you will learn to obtain amazing results. Take note!
First and foremost, you should know that cultivating cannabis involves four basic steps. The first of these is obviously acquiring the seeds. If you don’t know anyone who can treat you to some, or who might have one left they can let you have, don’t hesitate to purchase a few to start your adventure. There are some that are extremely good, affordable and that will give you incredible results.
Take a look at the indoor varieties offered by Sensi Seeds’ online store. The selection there is arranged according to factors such as the potential height the plant can reach, its flowering time, the strength, etc. I recommend you do some research. You are sure to find the one best suiting your tastes. For instance, I think Northern Lights is just indescribable!
The good thing when it comes to choosing an indoor variety is that you don’t need to select one suitable for your local climate, as what you have to do is create the appropriate cultivation environment in an enclosed room, meaning you don’t have to worry about what the weather’s like outside! Whatever the meteorological conditions are, these won’t affect your indoor cultivation project whatsoever.
That said, you mustn’t forget the necessary amount of care, laughter and good smokes!
Happy harvesting and cultivating to everyone!