Modified on: 20/09/2022
Getting the harvest time wrong means wasting weeks of work
If you have devoted time and attention to cultivating your cannabis seedlings, it is understandable that harvest time is fascinating for you. After weeks spent caring for them, from the time they were tiny seeds to flowering, it is now time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Or is it? Seeing the large, resin-laden buds is not enough to realise that it has come to harvest them. Being hasty at this stage can mean significantly reduced yield, especially in terms of flower quality and potency. Similarly, waiting too long means giving the THC time to begin the deterioration process with negative consequences on its effects. The high induced, in this case, will have more sedative effects than average. An excellent way to avoid this kind of mistake is to stick to the guidelines regarding the different qualities of marijuana. Each variety has different flowering times. Indica cannabis, for example, flowers typically about 8 weeks after germination, while for sativas, the time is extended by a further 2 weeks.
However, knowing the plant well and interpreting the signs of ripening remains the best way to determine the right time to prune. But how can you tell? What must one pay attention not to jeopardise weeks’ work with a single gesture? There are three aspects to look out for, and they are reasonably easy to spot: the colour of the pistils, the colour of the fan-shaped leaves and the milky, whitish appearance of the resin. Let us discover them together one by one.
Read also: Marijuana leaves: characteristics and possible uses
1. The colour of the pistils turns reddish
This is quite simple if you have a little knowledge of the plant’s anatomy. If not, you may be wondering at this point: How can you recognise them? I will explain it to you straight away. Pistils look like small threads that are easily visible to the naked eye. Their function is to reproduce cannabis and they generate seeds if the plant is pollinated by a male specimen. They are found on the buds and can take on different colours depending, precisely, on how ripe the flowers are. In the initial flowering phase, their colour tends towards white, and as the days go by, they turn reddish and then brown. By observing them, you can tell whether or not it is the right time to harvest the inflorescences. If you realise that most of the pistils are still tending to white, you need to be patient a little longer. The ideal ripeness will be reached when at least half of the pistils are reddish.
2. Fan leaves start to turn yellow
Recognising fan leaves is, once again, quite simple. They are, in fact, giant leaves. So, as a rule, yellowing the foliage is not a good sign. This is the first sign that your plant is not growing well during the vegetative phase. This is probably a problem of too little or too much water. On the other hand, in the flowering phase, yellowed foliage is a synonym for maturity. This is because the leaves receive fewer nutrients and give them up almost entirely to the flowers.
Read also: Does cannabis make you slim? Its effects on metabolism
3. The resin produced by trichomes takes on a milky white colour
Trichomes are small glands found mainly on flowers and adjacent leaves and are responsible for producing valuable resin rich in terpenes and cannabinoids. The trichomes found in cannabis are classified into two broad subcategories: glandular and non-glandular trichomes. The non-glandular trichomes have the function of protecting the plant from predators and UV rays. The latter, the glandular ones then, produce the resin containing various elements, such as terpenes, cannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids. Observing them under a microscope, or even with simple magnifying glass, it will be possible to identify small protrusions, the trichomes, which will have a small whitish sphere, the resin, at the top. As I said, it is impossible to assess the maturation stage of the trichomes with the naked eye, but with the help of a magnifying glass of at least 40-60x, you should have no difficulty. By looking at the trichomes through the magnifying glass, you can closely follow the ripening process of the flowers, which at an early stage have a transparent crystal-like resin. In this state, the resin is not very potent, and you should therefore not proceed with harvesting. As time passes, however, the resin becomes increasingly cloudy and milky, which means you are gradually approaching the perfect time to start tanning. So what does the weed look like when it is ready to be harvested? When marijuana is finally at the right stage of maturity, the resin on the trichomes is entirely cloudy. So when you look at it, you will no longer be able to spot transparent pellets because they will all be milky. At this point, you can be sure that your buds are ripe and that the THC is at its maximum potential. But, on the other hand, waiting any longer means giving the active ingredients time to start deteriorating, which in terms of effects translates into a more narcotic and sedative high.
In conclusion, how do you know when is the right time to harvest marijuana?
If you live in a country that allows it and have lovingly cultivated your cannabis seedlings, I guess you don’t want to risk ruining everything by harvesting it at the wrong time, do you? I understand your impatience, but choosing the right time to harvest is crucial.
Like any fruit, marijuana buds risk being unripe or overripe and in either case, the properties will not be enhanced but compromised. The flowering phase has a variable duration, and during this period, the properties of the plant change. Therefore, seeing the buds does not mean that they have reached the ideal time of ripening.
To tell if the inflorescences are ready, you can help yourself by observing three aspects of the plant: the colour of the pistils, which should be tending towards red, and the colour of the fan-shaped leaves, which begin to turn yellow at the right time, and the state of the resin, which will be ready when it has a milky appearance and is no longer transparent.
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