All over the northern hemisphere the next couple of months are exciting times for cannabis growers. Just like in the fairy tale, for those who planted those magic little beans back in spring September/October is the time of year when the beanstalk reveals its treasures…
It is the moment cannabis cultivators have been waiting for and yet it also comes with a touch of sadness. Very soon there will be a hole in your garden and your life! No more daily checks to see how ‘the girls’ are doing, no more worries about them getting sick or not having enough to drink or nutrients to help grow.
However, this can also be an anxious time for cannabis growers too, especially those new to growing. One of our most frequently asked questions is: ‘How do you know when it is time to harvest your weed plant?’ So here are some tips to help.
1) Read the packet
It seems obvious and yet so many growers fail to follow this simple rule! When you buy from a reputable company such as Paradise Seeds, you are buying the results of many years of research and development that has gone into creating a genetically stable strain. Stability means predictability and therefore you can trust that if the packet says your strain will be ready early October, that is when it will be ready! (Check our seed descriptions online if it got trashed).
2) Check the Hairs
As cannabis aficionados we frequently see the end product as smokeable fat buds, but if you stop to think about it this plant is crazily exotic! Just look at the flowers it produces – covered in white crystals and hairy! These hairs (or pistils to give them their official name) are one of the keys to judging if a plant is ready to harvest.
- 100% Hairy and white = Keep checking. Your plant has some time to go.
- 50% Red and brown = Close but not quite there.
- 75%+ Red and brown = Perfect time to harvest for the effects described in your cannabis seed description.
- 90%+ Red and brown = This bud is in danger of becoming overcooked! Harvest immediately.
While this is a general rule, everyone has different tastes. Therefore, some growers like to harvest a little early to get a more heady/rushy effect (let’s say 50 -75%), while others prefer a heavier/narcotic hit and will wait until the colored hair count is higher.
3) Check the Trichomes
Many experts argue that Trichomes (resin glands) are an even better indicator of when to harvest. For this activity, an essential piece of kit is a magnifying glass. If you want to go a bit more professional, invest in a jewellers loupe (it also gives you that James Bond villain look!) or even a digital microscope.
- 100% Clear trichomes = Keep checking. Your plant still has some time to go.
- Half cloudy trichomes = Close but not quite there.
- Half of the trichome heads turned amber color = Time to harvest.
4) Combine Harvest Indicators
For best results, use a combination of the above methods to determine the best time to harvest. The winning formula is 75% -85% colored hairs (pistils) and 50% amber trichome heads.
5) Emergency Harvest
You have the ideal advice. However, as every outdoor gardener knows there can always be a last minute curveball that will threaten your plans for a perfect harvest. Mold, nosey neighbours, an unexpected last minute trip away… If needs must and you need to harvest prematurely then don’t beat yourself up about it. So long as you are closer to the end (cloudy trichomes/colored hairs) than the beginning (white hairs/clear trichomes) you will still have a harvest to rejoice!