Many cannabis growers around the world are already rubbing their hands. The hard work carried out during summer is already paying off with some beautiful cannabis flowers overflowing with resin, THC and sweet promises. Harvest time is almost here; so we’d better make sure we’re prepared enough not to screw it all up during the last phase. Harvesting too early or making mistakes while manicuring or drying your cannabis buds could ruin the whole crop. So have a look at these keys to the perfect cannabis harvest.
Choose the right moment for harvesting your marijuana plants
However obvious it may seem, having an eye for deciding when to cut your marijuana plants is a crucial point that will determine the success or failure of your cultivation. Your region's climate, the risk of attack from certain fungi and pests or even your personal preferences are three key factors also worth bearing in mind. For instance, if autumn starts earlier and so cold, rainy days arrive sooner than expected, you may be forced to cut your plants a bit ahead of schedule. All this moisture increases the likelihood of being attacked by the grey mold, for example, a plague capable of ruining your crop in the blink of an eye. If you find any possible danger caused by the environment or you get to see any sign indicating something is going on, cut! Now that we have looked for the nefarious, we can have a look at the perfect scenario. If you keep the grow area warm and your plants look strong and healthy, full of buds getting fatter as days pass by, don't think this is going to go on forever. When should you cut your cannabis plant? Take note of these four signs:
- Resin production has reached its peak
- Buds have stopped getting fatter
- Secondary leaves have started to discolor and most main leaves have fallen down
- With the help of a magnifying glass, observe the trichomes. When most of them have turned milky white and some (around 25 %) are amber-colored, the time to cut has arrived.
What happens if you decide to harvest a bit later?
Overripening the cannabis plant is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, it will have a direct consequence on the effect, which will probably become more narcotic due to the THC's breaking down into CBN. CBN is a cannabinoid packed with relaxing and soothing properties produced when THC breaks down. The effect is then heavier, perfect for night time use. You'll also notice a change in flavor, which will be milder. This happens because chlorophyll will have metabolized and so the flower will have less fertilizer remains inside, that is, it'll be cleaner.
What if you decide to harvest earlier?
As previously mentioned, there are some situations beyond our control that oblige us to cut our plants earlier in order to save what is left of them. If you're faced with an emerging threat of plagues or the climate is being exceptionally harsh, and feel you'd better cut your plant as soon as possible, it is advisable that you don't do it over 10 days before the due date. If you cut too early, your buds may have a more leafy flavor because they'll have a lot of chlorophyll. On top of that, the amount of terpenes will be lower because, by that time, they will not have finished their cycle.
What material do you need to harvest your plant?
Another truism that is however very important to do right. What material do we need to harvest? Trimming is a task that requires some skills because it depends on this step that your buds are ready for the drying phase. You'll need:
- Retractable pruning and trimming scissors.
- Powder-free latex gloves.
- Thin string (like the one you use for hanging clothes): Don't forget that, once you've cut the branches and pruned the buds, you'll have to hang them for the drying phase.
Choose the best places for manicuring and drying your buds
Finding a discreet and convenient space for your cannabis plants' manicuring is very important. The amount of vegetable waste generated while pruning will be considerable, the smell of marijuana will invade the entire room and, if you happen to have lots of plants, you'll need time and peace for perfectly cutting and manicuring them all. Depending on the number of plants you're to harvest, you could spend hours working, so make sure you have a comfortable chair and table. Regarding the drying space, finding the perfect place is paramount. It is exactly like the need to find the right environment for curing meat. For your buds to dry properly, without taking on any unwanted smells or flavors, or being affected by the terrible grey mold, the space you select should comply with the following requirements:
- Be well aerated.
- Be discreet.
- Have a good filtration system: during the drying, the smell of marijuana will be especially intense.
- Be fresh: The temperature shouldn't exceed 80ºF. If it goes beyond that, cannabinoids may break down.
- Be dry: In a humid environment fungi and mold are more likely to appear.
- Be clean: Cleaning the room before hanging the buds will make it less likely for unwanted plagues to affect your buds.
- Be dark: Whenever possible, make sure the room is dark because long-term exposure to sunlight could make THC break down.
How to cut and put your cannabis plant to dry
The best time to cut your plants is early in the day when outdoors and just when lamps have turned on when indoors. This is because the production of resin is bigger during night time/darkness cycle. As for the right time to cut your plants, here are some basic concepts:
- Chop off the branches from the base, one by one
- Remove the big leaves first
- Manicure the buds, cutting all the leaves and protruding plant material, always trying not to touch the flower to avoid resin loss.
- Once you've removed all leaves and you only have the bud, hang it from the stem, upside down, on the string you've previously set in the drying room. As if it was laundry. We recommend putting a rope from one side of the room to the other, like a clothesline.
- In some 3 weeks, your buds will be ready.