How and When to Harvest Marijuana

Tom’s facts on harvesting marijuana.large Organic Marijuana Flower
  1. Introduction – The Debate Growers Have !
  2. Is When To Harvest Critical ?
  3. Pistol Color For Harvesting !
  4. Trichomes Color For Harvesting !
  5. Trichome Guidelines For Sativas !
  6. Trichome Guidelines For Indicas !
  7. Harvest According To Package Instructions ?
  8. How To Harvest – Four Methods Of Harvesting !
  9. Trimming the Flowers !
  10. Figuring Out Final Weight From Moist Harvest Weight !

Introduction – The Debate Growers Have !

How and when to harvest marijuana is a debate all folks growing organic marijuana haveorganic marijuana flower with themselves. Yes I said with themselves. I have that debate with myself every time I’m close to harvesting a plant. Now I must admit, I never debate on how to harvest, only when to harvest.

When to harvest, actually comes down to your own personal preference of the effect you are trying to achieve when partaking of your medicinal marijuana.  Since when to harvest is a personal preference, there should be no debate between growers. The debate is really only with ourselves as to what type of high we want for our final product.  Harvesting the marijuana flower at different maturity levels determines the type of high you will achieve. The strain of marijuana you are growing is the main determining factor on when to harvest, as their flowers mature at different times. Most all strains are mature and are ready for harvesting after flowering for 7 to 12 weeks time.

Is When to harvest Critical ? 

Absolutely not. There is a time not to harvest, but there is a large window of opportunity to harvest.  Do not harvest when the pistols are still white. The pistols are the white hairs that come out of the female flowers. The harvest window begins when at least 40% of the pistols (white hairs) have changed color from white to yellow, or pink, or orange, or maybe reddish. The color the pistols change to depends solely on the strain of marijuana you are growing. The fertilizer, the lights, the growing medium has nothing to do with the color the pistols change to.

Pistol Color For Harvesting !

Pistol Color ! 40% of the pistols having changed color indicates you are approaching harvest time. You may harvest at this time but relying on the color of the pistols to organic marijuana cola flowerdetermine when to harvest is pure guessing on the best harvesting time. Some growers without a magnifying glass may rely on the pistol method for harvesting and you may also. For those of you without a good magnifying glass of at least 60x power here are the guidelines.

  1. 40% of pistols have changed color : A nice clean speedy head high.
  2. 50%-70% of pistols have changed color :  The levels of THC are higher now, giving a more relaxing body and head high.
  3. 75%- 95% of pistols have changed color : Now some THC has turned to CBNs giving you an anti-anxiety,  more calming , body high.

Trichome Color For Harvesting !

Trichomes ! The best indicator of when to harvest is the color of the trichomes. Trichomes

Clear Trichomes
               Clear Trichomes

also called resin glands by some and crystals by others. Some folks call them resin glands, because they are very sticky like resin, however they are not resin. Some folks call them crystals, because they are so shiny and sparkle, resembling crystals, which they are not. Trichomes is what they are and before maturity they are very clear. Do not harvest if the trichomes are clear. If you do you will be disappointed in a very weak high and a very low harvest weight. Keep in mind marijuana flowers (buds) gain their most weight in their last two weeks before harvest. The trick is deciding

Cloudy Trichromes
           Cloudy Trichomes

when those two weeks are over.

Cloudy Trichomes ! The trichomes will slowly become cloudier and cloudier as the days go by. Another way to put it. They get milkier and milkier every day. As the days march on these milky trichomes will begin to turn yellow, gold or amber near full maturity. Some strains may even turn a little purple or pinkish near maturity.

Buy a Good Magnifier ! The best way to see

Jewlers Loupe
      Jewelers Loupe

the trichomes is with a jewelers loupe having a magnification of 30x to 60x power.  When to harvest depends on your personal preference as to what kind of high you like or at what stage of maturity will help you the most medically.

General Trichome Guidelines for Sativas !

  1. 50% milky white, cloudy trichomes : A speedy head high.

    Amber Trichomes Showing
    Amber Trichomes Showing
  2. 75% milky white, cloudy trichomes : Still a slightly speedy head high but relaxing body overtones.
  3. 100% milky white, cloudy trichomes : A wide awake euphoric head high, with anti- anxiety relaxing body effect.
  4. All trichomes are milky white with 1-10% of them turning amber color :  Very relaxing, body high with anxiety  gone but alert mind.
  5. 25%-50% amber trichomes : Heavy body high, with a very relaxed mind.

General Trichome Guidelines for Indicas !

  1. 50% milky white, cloudy trichomes :  Relaxing head high, but wide awake.

    Amber Trichomes
        Amber Trichomes Showing
  2. 75% milky white, cloudy trichomes :  Relaxing head and body high.
  3. 100% milky white, cloudy trichomes : Very relaxing anti-anxiety head and body high.
  4. All trichomes are milky white with 1-10% of them turning amber color : Heavy body high, with a cloudy mind.
  5. 25%-50% amber trichomes : Very heavy body and mind high often called couch-lock.

Strongest THC ?  When the trichomes are near 100% milky white. Euphoric head high.          Strongest CBM ?  When trichomes have mostly turned amber. Heavy body high.

Harvest According To Package Instructions ?

The package said 55-60 days for flowering ! Can’t I just go by that ?The days for flowering on the seed packages and what you read online are just guidelines. These are good seed labelguidelines and because of that I recommend that you put the date you begin flowering your plant on the pot to keep track of the these days.  They are just the approximate time for the length of flowering. Many things affect the actual length of the flowering time. Genetics are of course the main factor.  I probably should say almost everything can affect the length of time flowering to a small degree.  The type of grow lights used, the nutrients used, the growing medium used will all make a difference. The most critical factor in determining flowering time is daytime temperature and nighttime temperature. Just remember, never let your flowering plants go over 80 degrees during the day and no lower than 60 degrees at night.  I prefer to flower at 72 to 75 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night. Sativas like it cooler, because they come from cooler climates and indicas like it slightly warmer because they are from warmer climates. All of these things can affect the flowering time by a matter of a couple of days up to a week, maybe two. I always put the “date” I put the plant into flower on the pot. This is so I can keep a calendar record of how many days my organic medical marijuana has been in flower.

The debate of when to harvest is now up to you !

How to Harvest !

Fan Leaves ! Some folks like to take the fan leaves off of their plants when they

Fan Leaf
           Fan Leaf

believe they only have two weeks to go before harvesting. Other folks only take off the fan leaves that are shading buds in the last two weeks of flowering. Still other growers don’t take any fan leafs off untill after flowering and harvesting has begun.  What method you use is up to you. I have tried all methods of fan leaf removal and I can not recommend one over another.

Four Basic Methods to Harvesting !  

  1. Cut the entire plant down. Do not take the fan leafs off and hang entire plant up for closet cureinitial drying.
  2. Cut the plant apart limb by limb, leaving fan leafs on and hang for initial drying.
  3. Take fan leaves off. Cut plant apart limb by limb. Trim the buds while still on the stems and hang them up for initial drying.
  4. Take all fan leafs off of the plant. Cut limbs off of plant. Trim buds while still on the limb. Cut the buds off of the limb and put on a drying screen or rack for initial drying.

First and Second Method ! This is not a good method if you are in a humid environment.

Ready for Harvest organic marijuana
Ready for Harvest All Fan Leafs Intact !

Too much humidity gets trapped in the drying buds risking powdery mildew. This method will work fine in a dry climate. The trimming of the fan leaves  and buds is accomplished after the buds have dried by 70%. They are left on the stem and hung back up for curing or cut off and put in Masson jars for final curing.

I live in a very dry climate here in Colorado, but I never use this method because I don’t like to trim wilted or partially dry buds. I also do not like to hang my plants or stems because of the

Fan Leafs Removed organic marijuana
 Fan Leafs Removed Ready for Harvesting and Trimming

space it takes up. One also must find a good hanging method. Whether you hang your plants by a cut branch, or use paperclips, or rubber bands they still are too easy to knock down. As the stem shrinks by drying out, paperclips and rubber bands become loose letting the stems fall to the floor.

Third Method ! Buds are cut off the stem when 70% dry and put into curing jars.

Fourth Method ! All trimming was already done at time of harvest, so when buds are 70% dry on the screen put them into jars for the final curing. I prefer using this method because I find it easier and more efficient.

Trimming the Flowers !

I like to trim my plants flowers (buds) at the same time I am cutting down my plants. I start

flower Buds Ready to be Jared and Cured
Buds Ready to be Jared and Cured

by pulling or cutting all the large fan leafs off of the plant first. These leafs I throw away unless there are visible trichomes on the leaves. I then cut the branches off of the main stem, one at a time, and trim the buds on that one branch before moving on to the next branch. After trimming the buds on that one branch, I then cut off the buds and put them in a shoe box. I continue doing this until the entire plant is done.

Each bud must be trimmed ! I prefer to trim my plants buds while they are still fresh-cut because all the flowers leafs are stiff and sticking

First Drying Done Ready For Curing
First Drying Done Ready For Curing

straight out from the flower.  This makes it easy to cut all the flowers pointy leafs  tips off. You will want to cut off all leafs sticking out of the flower and all leaf tips off of the flower. When you are done the flower will resemble a pine cone.



Figuring Out Final Weight From Moist Harvest Weight !

Wet weight ! I then weigh my fresh-cut buds. Yes, I weigh my fresh-cut wet flowers. I do this because I want to know how much my final product will weigh when cured. If you take your fresh wet weight, in grams, and multiply it by 21.6% and  then divide by 28 you will have a fairly accurate weight in ounces of your harvest.

Final weight ! An example; Starting weight of wet buds : 436 grams. Times 21.6 % = 98.18 devide 98.18 grams by 28 grams  per oz. = 3.37ounces

Let The Curing Begin in mason jars
Let The Curing Begin

Your final weight of the cured buds(flowers) will only be 21.6% of the starting weight. In the drying and curing process your flowers(buds) will lose 78.4 % of their initial weight.  This is not exact but it is very close.

After weighing ! After weighing, the trimmed buds are put on the screen drying rack for the initial drying and then on to curing.  Go to Curing Marijuana !

You now know how and when to harvest marijuana. If you are perpetually growing organic marijuana your flowering room is already full again for as one plant is removed for harvest another plant is replacing it. I believe this is the best way to grow as you will never run out of your medical marijuana.

Author Tom D. Tom D.


Go to Page : Curing Marijuana !


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