Get 25% off first order +Plus Free Shipping

When to Harvest Cannabis Step-by-Step Guide

When to Harvest Cannabis: Step-by-Step Guide

The best time to harvest Cannabis and the key indicators of when it’s time to harvest Cannabis are covered in this beginner’s guide to harvesting cannabis.

There are three rules for harvesting Cannabis at the right time: trichomes and pistils are the clearest indicators. Both change color or shape as the plant reaches maturity, making them easy references. Chemical testing is also a reliable method for those with laboratory equipment.


Determine the Best Time To Harvest by Examining Trichomes

The two main ways growers determine whether or not they are ready to harvest is by looking at the color of the trichomes and the pistils. Trichomes are the small mushroom-like glands that contain most of the cannabinoids on the flowers, and inspecting them is one of the best ways to tell when it’s harvest time.

Before harvesting, look for milky white trichomes. Because top colas receive more light, they may mature faster than bottom buds. Some buds may be ripe and others may be underripe when you harvest a plant.

If possible, use a magnifying glass, microscope, or jeweler’s loupe to determine the appropriate time to harvest cannabis flowers. Many growers choose a magnifying tool with a magnification power between 10x and 30x.

With one of these devices, a gardener can closely examine the trichomes (the small mushroom-like glands that contain most of the cannabinoids) and decide on when to harvest based on their color and/or concentration. As the cannabis flowers start to ripen, the trichomes will turn from translucent (clear) to milky to, eventually, an amber color.

What Colors Should I Look For In The Trichomes?

Most users prefer a mix of milky and amber trichomes, although the proportions vary from person to person. For more cerebral or psychoactive effects, some prefer cloudy with few amber trichomes. For a balanced head and body effect, some prefer a 50:50 split between cloudy and amber trichomes. For a more sedative effect, some prefer 60% to 70% amber trichomes.

  • Clear Trichomes: Plants with clear trichomes still produce resin in their glands, and the hairs are translucent. Plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes are not at their peak concentration at this time.
  • Milky / Cloudy Trichomes: These indicate that cannabinoid production is at its peak. For most hybrid Cannabis plants, the peak THC percentages will be when the trichomes are mostly milky in color. When half of a cannabis plant’s trichomes resemble cloudy, white hairs, it is ready to harvest. This can result in a more uplifting, energizing effect for some users. The idea is to maximize the amount of “ripe” trichomes.
  • Amber Trichomes: The presence of amber trichomes indicates the THC/THCA content of cannabis has started to deteriorate, so there may be more cannabinol (CBN) present. CBN can have sedative effects and many report feeling those effects with amber trichomes.

What Is The Difference between Trichomes and Pistils?

Trichomes are the mushroom-shaped resin glands found on the flower and nearby leaves. Pistils (or stigma) are the hairs coming from the flower’s calyxes.


Determine Cannabis Harvest Time by Pistil Color

To determine when to harvest, growers can also use the “red hair” method if they do not have a magnifying tool. The pistils (tiny white “hairs”) on the flowers change color from white to reddish-brown as they mature. Traditionally, growers harvested cannabis flowers when most of the pistils on the flowers turned red before magnifying tools were widely available.

Growers should closely monitor their flowers until the pistils start turning from white to red or brown. More red or brown pistils will appear as the cannabis flowers mature. Harvest the flowers when more than 50 percent of the pistils have turned red or brown.

Cannabis buds have tiny hair-like structures called pistils. The buds on female Cannabis plants are their reproductive organs and will seed when pollinated. During the early stages of flowering, the pistils are white. Pistils will turn red, brown, or orange at the end of the flowering phase.

When the pistils are about half-shaded brown, it is the optimal time to harvest the flowers. As with checking trichome colors, you’ll need a magnifying glass for this step, although if you don’t have access to one this is a good step for beginners.


Can The Shape of The Buds Tell Me If I’m Ready To Harvest?

Despite not being as surefire as the trichome test, the shape of the buds can still provide some hints about when to harvest. Cannabis plants are ready to harvest when they have firm, tight buds.

There are conflicting opinions about when to harvest, according to experienced growers. Personal preferences are one reason for the differences in opinion. A cannabis harvest that is harvested earlier will have an uplifting, cerebral effect, while a cannabis harvest that is harvested later will have a calming effect.

Will The Time I Decide To Harvest Change The Effects Of The Buds?

It is likely that the Cannabis will be less potent, flavorful, and aromatic if there are clear trichomes, which indicates that resin production has not reached its peak.

That being said, some growers prefer harvesting Cannabis flowers for a desired effect.

Flowers harvested earlier (when trichomes have developed, but the majority are still translucent) will produce a more energetic effect for most users.

Flowers harvested later (when most trichomes have turned amber) will produce a more lethargic effect for most users.


How Do I Know I Know If It’s The Right Time To Harvest Cannabis

What Is The Vegetative Stage?

The bottom leaves can be pruned during flowering to focus the plant’s energy on bud production. When cultivating cannabis, consider the environmental factors involved. It would help if you chose a variety that is forgiving and well-suited to your environment. An equatorial sativa should not be grown in a cold climate if you can only grow in a small, indoor space.

Harvesting Cannabis may benefit some at this early stage, as they may seek only THCA and CBDA cannabinoids rather than a powerful high.

In the weeks leading up to harvest time, the leaves of the cannabis plant will begin to turn yellowish-green. When the plant is in its flowering stage (the final growth stage before it’s ready to harvest), the leaves are rich with nitrogen.

What Is The Flowering Phase?

Cannabis buds have tiny hair-like structures called pistils. The buds on female Cannabis plants are their reproductive organs and will seed when pollinated. During the early stages of flowering, the pistils are white. Pistils will turn red, brown, or orange at the end of the flowering phase.

When the pistils are about half-shaded brown, it is the optimal time to harvest the flowers. As with checking trichome colors, you’ll need a magnifying glass for this step.


What Is The Average Time Period From Planting to Harvesting Cannabis?

The growing medium, desired amount, and Cannabis strain may influence the growth cycle length. As a result, you will need to wait between six and 16 weeks before harvesting most cannabis plants.

Since female cannabis plants concentrate on resin production during their last days, cultivators must harvest them during their peak ripeness — before the medicinal compounds start to degrade.

Many indica strains (varietals) flower for eight weeks, although some flower for as long as 12 weeks. The flowering time for sativa strains, which tend to be tall and skinny, can take 12-16 weeks.

Hybrid strains/varietals are made up of short, stout plants.


How Do I Know If It’s Too Late to harvest cannabis?

Again, check the trichomes to see what color they are. When most of the trichomes on cannabis flowers are amber, they are overripe.

Cannabis flowers that have mostly amber trichomes are overripe.During this stage of development, the harvested Cannabis will have an unpleasant taste. Additionally, THC degrades as amber trichomes take over milky white ones.

Occasionally, trichomes may even begin to turn black if Cannabis plants are not harvested. Trichomes can also become brittle in addition to their amber color. It is even possible for the trichomes of overripe buds to crumble in your hands.

What Can I Do With Cannabis Fan Leaves After Harvest?

Large fan leaves contain cannabinoids but in lower concentrations than flowers. Due to the low percentage of cannabinoids they contain, many growers dispose of the fan leaves. Some people make coconut oil with their fan leaves. This can be done by heating water and coconut oil in a large pot.

Water and coconut oil amounts will vary depending on how many fan leaves you have. Once the coconut oil has completely melted in the water, add the fan leaves and cook over low heat for three to five hours. Avoid heavily boiling the leaves; a light simmer is sufficient. After cooking, strain the water/coconut oil mixture through cheese cloth to remove the leaf material. The remaining mixture can be placed in the refrigerator for separation.

After 12 hours, the coconut oil will separate from the water and become hard. Discard the water and scrape the bottom of the hardened coconut oil to remove any sludge left by the plant material. The resulting cannabis-infused coconut oil can be used for making capsules, baked goods, or as a topical ointment.


How Do I Grow The Best Cannabis Plants?

Growing cannabis indoors gives you greater control over the growth cycle. In order to grow properly, more equipment and attention are usually required. You’ll need to know how to set up a proper grow room for indoor growing, or if you have access to fertile land you can try your hand at growing in a greenhouse. However, Cannabis produced in a greenhouse is normally not better than what people produce indoors. Some growers even add lights to their greenhouses to get the benefits of extra light and the Sun.

Check out our full guide on growing Cannabis indoors and get some seeds from us if you want to grow the best buds possible and embark on your cannabis cultivation journey. We also have other guides on various training techniques and growing tips to maximize your harvest.

What Do I Do After Harvest?

When you harvest Cannabis plants, follow these steps: drying, trimming, and curing. Check out our guides on all of these topics to grow. the take your growing skills to a higher plain.


The Best Way To Know If I’m Ready To Harvest – Final Thoughts

Your best bet will be using a magnifying glass to inspect the colors of your trichomes while keeping in mind various environmental factors such as growing medium, lighting conditions, weather factors if cultivating outdoors, and the effect you want your bud to have. Those seeking a more energetic high from their bud will benefit from an earlier harvest, while those seeking more couch-locking effects may benefit from a later harvest.

Leave a Comment

Green Affiliate
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop