How To Harvest Your Weed

Harvesting 101

So you've started growing your own weed. You've loved those plants and nourished them and watched them grow into mature ladies. Now, let’s get ready to harvest!  Towards the end of every grow comes a time when the grower decides to bring their babies down.  When and why are big factors when deciding what to do.  There are a few tell tale signs to let you know when to start considering doing the takedown. 

But before you start harvesting, you need to make sure you have the right equipment. The most important tool? Pruners. There is nothing worse than than trying to trim weed with a bad pair of scissors! Our favourite pair? This one, they are affordable, titanium and come with a cool holster. 

If you aren't hanging your weed to dry, you'll need a drying rack to make sure you have a nice airflow getting at those buds. Try one like this. The last thing you want is to get mould when you're drying - especially after all of your hard work!

The last piece of equipment that you'll want is a Trim Tray. It works well as an ultra-light trimming surface and pollen sifting collection device. You'll collect a ton of crystals using something like it. Strongly recommended. 

My Strain Comes With A Grow Schedule

Many seeds and clones have a schedule dictated by the breeder.  The direction consists of a number weeks of flowering.  These numbers are usually for the optimum growth conditions which sometimes leads the weeks suggested to be lower than what the grower will experience.  The suggestion should be a loose guideline and not a hard rule. I break down what you need to look for to make sure it's the right time to harvest your weed.

Trichomes

The first sign that harvest should begin is the colour of the trichomes.  Trichomes are the little frosty crystals that form on the buds.  If closely examined they look like a like a pin with a little round head.  The colour of the trichomes starts out clear and becomes a cloudy white, then amber and then if left long a dark brown.  You can get a really good look at the trichomes with a jeweler’s magnification loop, good magnifying glass or a microscope.  When the trichomes turn cloudy white it is the beginning of the time you should keep a close eye on your plants.  If harvested now when most of the plant is covered white trichomes the buds would give you more of a “buzzy high” due to the THC not being fully mature.  If left until the end of the pins turn amber the THC will be fully developed at will give you more of a stoned or “couch lock” feel.   If the ends of the pins turn brown or black, you have peaked, be sure to harvest immediately.  There are also intermediate steps in between, some can be amber with less mature cloudy white ones lower on the plant for example.

Yellow Leaves

Another good rule of thumb is yellowing leaves.  The plant will naturally absorb the chlorophyll from the fan leaves to redirect the energy into the buds.  It is a natural occurrence in the lifespan of the plant and not something to worry about (unless it happens during vegetation, but that’s another article).  The tandem factor with yellowing is browning.  There are two types of browning, one occurs after yellowing, these leaves should be removed to prevent mould sites on the plant.  The other when the edges brown and curl up.  This is usually caused by water loss in the leaves as the plant will consume less overall water and not be able to support the fan leaves.  However, do not confuse this with leaf burn from over use of nutrients or nutrient lockout (organic salt build up) because they can look the same initially.

Timing

Harvesting at different times has different pros and cons.  Sometimes you just cannot wait or you cannot find the time to pick the optimal harvest time.  Harvesting early can lower the quantity and quality of your buds.  The plant has not fully matured and put on all the weight it can.  If you are growing outdoor and there is a major frost in the forecast, take the plants down before they are ruined.  Some bud is better than none.  Also, if there is a lot of moisture in the plant’s environment you might want to harvest before mould sites permeate the buds.  White mould often begins in the middle of the buds and can be hard to detect.  Black mould, better known as bud rot, will present with black spots on the leaves around the buds.  If mould is found it should be excised from the plant with all the contaminated buds.  Harvesting early can also allow you to relieve security concerns, as you can remove it a store it a secure location.

Harvesting late will allow make sure your buds finish and hit their maximum weight.  However, waiting to long can cause “foxtails” which a little bud growths that shoot out from the mature buds.  They do increase overall weight, but at the cost of overall strength.  Terpenes do also hit a limit of sorts, they reach a saturated state, but the volatile oils can be lost over time (especially in hot or bright grow environments).  The longer the grow the more probability of something going wrong, like accidentally causing hermaphrodites and then having the whole room go to seed. 

It is best to find a middle ground, one where the plant is mature, but not going deteriorate.  However, it really is about choosing what is best from you.  Just remember DON’T PANIC, there always options at any stage of the growing game.

If you need help with harvesting come down to the shop at 1332 Bloor Street West or give us a call at: 416-530-7750 and one of our growing experts will be delighted to help you out!