So I’ve got a nice guide on harvesting and curing, but I get emails asking when to make the move, and harvest your plants. After all, timing is key in the growth cycle for all kinds of things. Getting the timing right will ensure a full yield which has achieved peak maturity, but has not begun to degrade yet.
To get this right, there are some physical indications that the weed gives off aside from merely timing from germination. If you know how to read the signs of your plant, you can very accurately judge the prime time for harvesting cannabis.
The single most reliable way that I have found to guage the maturity of marijuana is by the color of its trichomes. If you don’t already know, the trichomes are the little sacs of resin which extrude themselves off the bud and sugar leaves of the plant.
They begin secreting in the flower phase, and as they age on the bud, the chemical composition of the trichomes changes – along with the color.
At first, they will be a very clear substance, you can see right through it. This will be the first phase of trichome production. It will stay like this until around the middle to end of the flowering phase, when they start to get cloudy.
Some people like to harvest when the trichomes are milky white – very cloudy. This is definitely a later stage of maturity, but not completely there yet. Still, the milky trichomes will actually produce a more heady kind of high – less sedative and more creative.
This is what makes figuring out when to harvest marijuana so personal – it depends on your tastes.
Most people prefer to harvest their weed plants during the last stage of trichome maturity – when they get yellow / amber and cloudy. This signifies that the trichomes are aged, perhaps some of the terpenes are even starting to decay, and the chemical soup becomes a cloudy yellow mixture.
When you harvest cannabis at this stage, it will be more sedative, stoney, and dank so to speak. A lot of people love these effects, and so they prefer to harvest cannabis when the trichomes have turned yellow.
To check trichome color, get a magnifying glass. I have one that clips to my phone, and has its own LED light. This way, I can take really cool macro shots of the weed digitally, it’s awesome.
Hair Color / Length
The rest of the ways to tell plant maturity are questionable at best. I say just stick to the trichome color, that’s the best way to tell. If you don’t have a magnifier and don’t want to buy one, the little hairs on the nugs give a good indication as to when to harvest cannabis.
At first, they will be blonde, spindly hairs that come out of the big weed nuggets. Once it comes time to harvest though, they will have darkened up and turned a more defined color. Sometimes they turn red, other times amber or orange, but not blonde.
Also, at first the hairs are long, but near the end of the plant’s cycle, they kind of retreat and shrivel up a little bit.
However, it should be noted that this is really heavily dependent on the strain. If you don’t know how your strain reacts throughout the life cycle, then looks might be deceiving. However, generally speaking, turning a more solid color, and retreating away are good signs when to harvest marijuana.
Another indication that your cannabis is getting close to harvest time are yellowing leaves. No matter how good you are with nurtients and plant care, yellow leaves will start to manifest themselves sooner or later.
Especially when it’s time to harvest, there could potentially be quite a few yellowing and withering plants. This happens naturally, as by the end of its maturity, the plant is basically ready to die, and it’s slowly withering away.
Of course, a great way to determine the maturity of your bud is the smell. Smells do change as the bud progresses along its life cycle, but you do have to be an experienced grower to really tell by smell alone.
Still, if you pay attention to the way that the grow smells, you will be able to stay alert to changes which might alert you to when to harvest cannabis.
The smells will really take off in week 2-3, and they will start to get danker, more pungent as time goes on. Some get sweeter, fruitier, it really depends on your strain, but you can definitely incorporate this into your maturity metrics.
Last but not least, measure the time. I like to measure in weeks, because it’s accurate enough and easy to remember. Week 5-6 of flowering is when you should start to really look for signs to harvest. Week 8 of flowering is typically a good time to harvest your weed if growing in soil.
Some strains and setups might require much shorter or longer time spans, so it’s really just a rule of thumb. However, time is definitely a good way to measure when to harvest your cannabis.
The best way to tell that your weed is ready is, of course, to combine all these different markers, and pay attention to it all.
Only then will you have the full story mapped out in your head, and you will know exactly where the weed is on it’s maturity timeline.
Getting the harvest time is crucial to ensuring a properly mature bud, but not picking something over-ripe, and that is a thing!
As the weed matures, it gets more and more stoney, to the point where smoking it will send you straight to sleep. This happens if you harvest too late, so try to get it before that point. Cloudy – yellow trichomes are the best way to tell, but combine it with everything else to get even more information.