When to harvest cannabis plants for maximum effect and potency can be difficult to time correctly. This guide explains the perfect timing and common harvest problems.
So you’ve just spent months lovingly raising some dank weed plants and are looking forward to reaping the fruits of your labour. Too much enthusiasm could however lead to harvesting to early and greatly reducing the potency of your prized plants. A little patience and understanding will go a long way to maximizing your bang for bud.
When to harvest cannabis plants?
Many people make the mistake of harvesting the plants once the hair like pistils have mostly withered and gone red. This natural part of the plant cycle is a shoddy rule of thumb to judge a bud’s ripeness by and could lead to harvesting to early.
Peak THC and CDB levels are reached when the trichomes go from being clear to a mostly milky hue. These are the sugar like sticky bits that form on the flowers and contain all the oomph that users seek. This window period is about a week long and will pass when the trichomes start becoming amber in colour. Large plants may ripen on the upper buds first, with lower buds ripening a couple of days of weeks later. It may be necessary to harvest such plants in two or three stages.
A popular option is to flush your plants before harvest. This is the practice of feeding them with only plain water during the last week or two before harvest. Reducing any potential nutrient build up in the plant that may effect its taste due to heavy feeding.
Understanding cannabis trichomes
The trichomes are the sticky sugar like nodes that form all over cannabis flowers. This is essentially the part of the plant that packs all the punch and is therefore prized among consumers. It is also the part of the plant that is isolated when making various hash or cannabis oils. It is therefore vital that you are able to view the trichomes to judge your optimum harvest time.
Clear – Trichomes begin clear and are transparent for most of the growing cycle. As the plant nears it’s peak ripeness, they will begin to turn from clear into a milky hue.
Milky – When all trichomes have mostly turned milky you are entering the harvest zone. They will begin to give your buds an even more frosty look and close attention should be paid.
Amber – As trichomes reach maximum maturity they start going an amber colour. This is the ideal harvest time to aim for. Some growers will harvest once 10% of the trichomes are amber, while some will wait until as many as 50% of the trichomes are amber. Anything past this will lead to a decrease in potency and taste.
Common cannabis harvest time problems
Cannabis plants are susceptible to the same issues that ruin many other crops, so prevention is far better than the cure. These are some of the most common pest and problems that can easily destroy months of work.
Spider Mites – These are the bane of cannabis growers across the globe. They are like little vampires that damage your plants at an absurd rate. Due to their extremely fast reproduction cycle and spider like agility, they can easily destroy a whole plants and leave them covered in dense webs. Most pesticides cannot be used close to harvest and you should avoid spraying buds, as excessive moisture can cause other issues. Predatory mites are an increasingly popular option and can now be bought locally. They ferociously eat spider mites, but will need a week or two for maximum impact in larger ganja gardens.
Powdery Mildew – This fungal disease lives all around us and just needs a bit of high humidity or low airflow to infect your cannabis plants. Small white fuzzy spots will begin to form and then quickly cover an entire plant. While there are many home and off the shelf remedies, they are not ideal as they will need to be sprayed onto late stage flowering plants. This excessive moisture can cause other issues or accelerate the mildew’s progress. Infected plants should be heavily defoliated to reduce the spread of the infection.
Bud Rot – Bud rot sets in when plants are experience repeated high humidity or heavy rains. Leaves will start to go brown and moldy brown spots will form on buds. Particularly thick and large buds may not even show outer signs of bud rot, but may be full of mold on the inside. Bud rot should be carefully removed ASAP. Careless removal or poor treatment could accelerate and spread the mold, leading to whole plants needing to be destroyed rather than infect the rest of the crop.
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