A customer has a question or concerns and I hope we can get some opinions on it, thanks.
have anything on harvesting tips and tricks. I want the perfect grow
A customer has a question or concerns and I hope we can get some opinions on it, thanks.
have anything on harvesting tips and tricks. I want the perfect grow
Lol, have you done your grow yet?
Idk, lots of aspects to the “perfect” grow, way more than just some harvesting tips can cover
This is a great article
A common misconception of marijuana cultivation, especially among first-time growers, is that harvest time is like gym class in grade school—it’s still a class you have to go to but it requires less thought and more fun than an actual science class. Unfortunately, underestimating the final phases of a grow operation can be a very costly mistake when it comes down to grading the outcome of your buds.
Fatal errors in areas such as flushing, cutting and curing buds can lead to big disappointment after long months of hard work and care. To be sure this doesn’t happen to you, and to ensure the highest quality of your cannabis—no matter what strain it is—it’s important to take note of a few Key Points of Harvest Time.
By Crazy Composer & Nico Escondido
Photos by Freebie
The first, and perhaps most important, aspect of harvesting cannabis is knowing exactly when to start chopping down the ladies. A precision harvest is essential for potent cultivation. Growers must be very careful not to cut down plants that are not yet at the pinnacle of resin production, but they must also be wary of cutting plants too late—at a time when THC production has curtailed and resin glands begin to degrade.
There are various methods by which even the most amateur grower can tell when buds are truly ripe for the picking. The simplest and quickest way to know is by examining the pistils, or long hairs, that cover the plant’s buds. At the onset of flowering, these pistils are white and stringy. But as the flowering period comes to an end, they begin to turn color, first from white to orange and then again to a dark red or brown. These color changes signify the maturation of the buds; however, the color and time frame may vary significantly across different varieties of cannabis.
Therefore, a better, yet slightly more complicated, method for determining ripeness is through trichome examination. Trichomes are the actual resin glands that contain THC and other psychoactive cannabinoids, and they are very delicate and easily ruptured. These trichomes are visible on the outside of buds and small leaves and look like little white sugar crystals to the naked eye. However, with the power of a magnifying glass or simple microscope, you can see that trichomes are comprised of a stalk and resin head and are clear or white in color.
As with pistils, trichomes also begin to change color as the buds mature. But in this scenario, a grower wants to harvest buds before they get too dark in color. Even a subtle amber hue in these glands could mean that cannabinoids have begun breaking down and decomposing, which means less potent pot. Using a magnifier between 50x-100x, advanced growers look for a creamy or milky white color in trichomes that tells them it’s time to harvest.
As with most tricks of the trade, there is always a catch. And in this case it can be taken quite literally as well, because when checking your buds for ripeness you’ll want to “catch” any and all clues that can signal maturation—a few weeks before harvest time. Having a “harvest heads-up” can be extremely beneficial for growers, not only to prep equipment and rooms for drying and curing, but also to prep the plants for taste and smooth smoking.
If a grower can consistently examine trichomes and keep accurate time records from the start of the flowering photoperiod (12/12 light cycle), then it should be no problem for the grower to begin flushing out the grow medium in preparation for the harvest.
The Two-Step Flush
The last two weeks of flowering should be spent getting rid of any built-up nutrients in the growing medium, a process called leaching, or flushing. By removing all access to nutrients, the plant begins to consume its stored food reserves. These reserves are nasty compounds that we don’t want in our smoke, such as sugars, starches and various other elements. Harvesting plants that still have these undesirable elements present will only result in a harsh smoke and terrible burnability.
Flushing should begin about 14 days before harvest by stopping all nutrients and using only pure water to feed the plants. By providing no nutrients, you force the plant to rely only on what is left in the growing medium to feed on. The actual act of flushing is achieved by over-irrigating the medium until the nutrients inside are dissolved and washed out the bottom of the container. The best way to do this is with a two-step flush technique. (The process is an easy one.)
First, flood the grow medium with a heavy dose of water and wait a few minutes to allow all of the salts (nutrient buildup) to break down. Then add more water to chase out the first dose. By waiting a few minutes after adding the first dose of water, you’re allowing enough time for the water to dissolve the salts. As salts decompose, they can be effectively flushed out by the second dose. Traditional leaching usually employs only the first flush of water, which isn’t always adequate for complete dissolution.
A few days after flushing, you should notice signs of nitrogen deficiency. The leaves will go from dark to light green, eventually turning completely yellow. Another sign is a reddening of the leaf stems, starting at the center of the leaf where the blades come together.
Test your flush by snapping off a leaf and tasting the juice that flows from the stem. If the taste is bitter, there’s still plenty of food in the plant’s system. When the juices are clean and taste like pure water, the plant is clean enough for harvest. The bitterness is from nutrients and other chemicals that you definitely do not want in your smoke.
Dry Air = More Resin
One final flush should occur a day or two before harvesting, with the final 24 hours of the garden’s life being spent in relative dryness. This last deluge should be done with fresh water and can be a single or a two-step flush, depending on how much fertilizer was applied previous to the final two weeks of flowering. This will be the final watering your plants ever get. In doing this, you help ensure that the plants will begin to slowly dehydrate as you approach harvest, which in turn will aid the plants in their final hours of resin production.
Some gardeners even like to allow their medium to go bone-dry before harvesting. The idea is that resin production seems to skyrocket if the medium is allowed to dry before harvesting, but this isn’t due to dry medium – it’s due to dry air.
When the relative humidity in the garden is low, your resin production will increase. This is a natural response cannabis has to dry air, an attempt to protect itself from hot, dry conditions. Marijuana resin actually has one of the highest UV-resistance ratings in the plant kingdom. The resin reflects light, preventing the buds from getting sunburn. (This is also why it’s so easy for helicopters to spot marijuana from the sky; it glows when seen through UV-sensitive equipment.)
Lowering the humidity in the room on that last night before harvest morning will ensure increased resin production, without having to let the medium go bone-dry first. Additionally, some growers like to subject their gardens to prolonged dark periods of up to 24 hours just before cutting, claiming they notice spikes in resin production. This is all right as the low humidity will cut down on light uptake anyway, plus it helps to make sure liquid foods within the plants drain down to the root zone.
Harvest & Manicure
When the big day arrives it is best to start early, before the light period begins in the growroom. If the grow lamps turn on, it’s okay to cut them completely and work by standard room lighting. Begin by cutting the entire plant away from the root ball. If the plants are too large to harvest with one cut at the bottom, start by cutting the larger, heavier branches first. Remember to leave one or two larger stems connected to the branches you are cutting off. These stems will form nice “Vs” on the branches for easy hang drying.
Most indoor growers begin taking off the large fan leaves about a week before actual harvest. This is a good idea, especially once these leaves begin paling from green to yellow in color. Continue your harvest by taking off all leaves not associated with the buds and then move on to trimming off the smaller sugar leaves. Look for leaves with little resin coverage first and then move into the interior of the nuggets. It’s easier to remove leaves within the buds once they have dried out a bit, but that adds extra time and a second round of manicuring. By turning buds over and getting to the underside of smaller sugar leaves, it becomes easier to snip away at the stem and remove the entire leaf. Many growers like to only trim off leaf edges that come out of buds, leaving an aesthetic shape to the bud with the heavily resinated portion of the sugar leaves still intact within the buds.
Once the plants are cut, trimmed and manicured to perfection, it is best to hang branches upside down on strings strung across open spaces to get maximum air flow over your buds. Keeping buds on the branches does slow the drying, as the branches do retain some water however, this is the easiest way to completely surround buds with dry air without using drying chambers or machines.
Drying for Taste and Burnability
Now that you’ve harvested and are ready to dry and cure, you will want to preserve as much of the vibrant color and taste of your herb as possible. Buds should hang dry for five to seven days at the ideal temperature of about 70ºF with 50 percent humidity. You want to get most of the water out of the buds in those first days and then slow the process down for another week or so during the curing process.
Remember that a plant is not dead upon cutting—it is still very much alive. A plant is effectively dead when the water pressure inside is too low to continue vascular movement. In other words, when the waterworks stop, the plant is dead. The goal here is to dry the plant as evenly as possible and at a nice slow pace. When buds are rapidly dried, the plant tissue can trap in unwanted starches and nitrates which cause buds to burn unevenly and with an awful taste.
At four to five days into the dry, the tips of some buds might be dry enough to pluck off and sample. After the buds have gone through their full cycle of drying, we want to slow the whole thing down and draw the rest of the moisture out very gradually. This is the curing process.
What’s the Cure?
If your herb is harvested correctly, there is very little need for long cures. Long cures are needed to make harsh herb smoke smoother. If you start out with smooth, clean herb, there’s less need for long cures. Most buds should be cured and ready to smoke in less than two weeks after the drying period. Expert growers who harvest properly can complete curing in five or six days, but a good average can easily range from 10 to 14 days.
Inexperienced growers often tend to get impatient and only cure for a few days, but this can be a costly mistake when it comes to potency. Allowing the buds to cure evenly, which means drying at a slower rate, removes moisture within the buds so that all the THC can be converted in its psychoactive form.
The curing process evens out the moisture levels in the herb. You want the same amount of moisture in the center of the buds as you do on the outside of the buds until they are almost totally devoid of fluids. Completely drying the herb too fast can trap moisture in the middle and not allow for a proper cure.
For the curing process, you want to put the half-dried buds into air-tight containers. Inside the container, the buds will become evenly moist, inside and out, as they begin to “sweat.” You can check to see if your buds are sweating and releasing moisture by gently squeezing them between your fingers to see if they feel damper than they did a few hours before sealing them up. Glass jars with rubber seals and lockdown lids are the best option for curing, but for large amounts of harvested buds, you’ll need something much bigger. Tight-sealing rubber or plastic bins are the best option for large quantities of buds but many growers feel these containers impart a plastic-type taste onto the buds. This can be offset by adding a small slice of lemon or orange peel to the bins toward the end of your cure.
Once the buds are again evenly moist, open the containers to let the moist air exchange with fresh air. Air exchanges are essential to the curing process. Not only do they prevent condensation from forming in your curing bins, but the fresh air is drier than the air you just allowed to escape from the container. The moisture still trapped in the herb will again slowly escape and moisten the new, fresh air. Open the container several times a day to exchange the moistened air with fresh air to slowly draw out the moisture in the buds. Eventually (again, one to two weeks) the moisture level in the herb will be at the right level to stash away and, of course, smoke!
What Time of Day to Harvest?
Timing the harvest is Paramount to the final quality. Harvest your precious buds in the dark, just before the lights normally come on. If possible, do not allow the plants to see direct light as long as their roots are attached. Direct light on a plant will draw up stored starches and sugars from the root system.
During the nighttime hours, our ladies are busy storing food down in their root system that they made during the daylight hours. During “lights out,” starches and sugars produced by photosynthesis during the day drain downward to the roots. Knowing this, it is easy to figure out that you want to cut your plants away from the roots before the lights come on, when food moves back upward into the buds.
Outdoor herb is often harvested during the daytime hours and the result is a harsh, difficult burn and an extra long cure. The starches and sugars present in daytime-harvested herb act like fire retardants—not the effect we’re looking for. In addition to tasting and burning bad, these fire retardants also change the chemical make up of the smoke you’re ingesting. This means that the THC, cannabinol, cannabidoil and other active cannabinoids can’t burn at the perfect temperature to get you properly high because they haven’t properly converted to their psychoactive forms.
Facts on Drying & Curing
• During the drying of marijuana buds, THC is converted from an acidic, non-psychoactive chemical into a neutrally based, psychoactive form that gets you high. This is why fresh marijuana is generally weaker than properly dried and cured buds.
• Marijuana will lose approximately 75 percent of its weight during drying due to water evaporating from plant matter.
•Buds dried too fast will be frail and may start to crumble. Keep humidity between 45 and 55 percent in your drying room to prevent this and to help keep aroma and flavor locked in.
•Buds are done drying and ready for curing when stems snap when bent rather than just folding over.
Between you and garrigan65… that post was… epic!!! God I love this site and the people who support it.Thank you guys for adding that. That’s knowledge that anyone can use. That post will help me when I get close to finishing my grow. My long-term goal is to grow that top shelf medicine I get at the dispensaries. The $50 1/8 stuff
One thing I know I desperately need to work on is my drying and curing. The last time I grew it was my most successful run to date (thx to you all info and help) but I think I let my stuff dry way too long. By the time I started to cure it in the jars they seemed pretty dry. When they were ready to smoke the punch was there but I did not get any flavor nor smell nor taste. Very odd and kind of funny. I never had smoke before that tasted and smelled like nothing but got you high/medicated. I know it’s a never-ending learning process but man I wish I could snap my fingers and be on top of the game. Thanks to you @MAXHeadRoom and at garrigan for posting information like this. It is indispensable and thank you for publishing it.
I knew nothing about drying and curing, but with this guide I learned a lot. It is the best one I have read, so I copied it to share with others
Yes thank you. What you posted is going in my keep forever pile haha. great great information thank you. Yeah I’m dying to get to my harvesting again I want to try and learn to dry and cure the correct way. shake it up and see if I can get better results. Patience patience I guess
Rub a lamp
WOW!!! Awesome facts! I had a few questions on harvesting, but you covered everything!
One thing i learned is dry trichomes are very fragile. You lose them to every container they go in and get transferred to. Any good ideas on “harvesting” lost trichomes from mason jars, etc? I had a gallon mason jar that I put my best tops in for private stock.
I could see pistils and trichomes all over it when I moved them to smaller jars.
I used water first, and drank it. Ya, as expected, nothing. Waste of some prime THC there Man.
I’m not sure how to get it out of those jars either. I use those mason jars and it’s all crystally and dusty inside of them but when I shake it or scrape it not a ton comes out.
I have studied the article that @MAXHeadRoom posted (I first received it from @garrigan62) several weeks ago. I think that I have a good handle on how to determine when to harvest based on monitoring for cloudy trichomes.
What I have not figured out, and is mentioned in the article, is how to tell when there is about two weeks to go before harvest. This seems to be the key to properly preparing the plants for the big day.
My opinion, is that you’ll get a lot of different opinions lol.
I’ve always used organic nutes, and after pulling nutes way to early on my first grow, made it my mission to never do that again. That being said, I do taper off my feed especially nitrogen. But I usually feed something up til about 5-7 days prior to harvest. I usually judge that trich condition as well. Ideally I’ll be most pistils receded, with about 80% cloudy trichs. Some amber and some clear. That’s showing you production has pretty much halted.
I haven’t been burned with harsh smoke using that method yet. But again I think that has a little to do with organic nutes and making sure I cut nitrogen a little earlier. And you’re always gonna have a few plants that want to be extreme one way or the other. I’ve had them show almost all cloudy to probably 25% Amber within couple of days. Stupid tangerine dream I had sat at like 80% cloudy almost no amber for weeks. So I don’t exactly think there is a 100% fool proof timeline you can go by.
Based on what you have going and your meticulous record keeping, I would say maybe try a couple different methods and track to after cure. You’ll get first hand knowledge and experience to see what fits you the best.
Thank you for your thoughts on this @dbrn32 . Your answers don’t surprise me as there are many variables to consider. I have significantly cut back on nitrogen at this point and focusing on flowering nutes for the next couple of weeks.
I look at the trichomes each morning and am now taking photos every couple of days to get a handle on the progression.
I am somewhat surprised at how different each plant is developing within the same strain. I was expecting small differences due to hybridization but the I a seeing significant differences. This should not surprise me because I have read many posts that should have clued me in but I just didn’t appreciate just how different each plant would be.
Thanks again for your input on this very important phase of my first grow.
For sure my man! You’re correct about the differences. I suspect the monitoring you do it probably stands out a lot more than to average grower. Not a bad thing though, you’ll probably see some variety in smoke within same strain too, and who doesn’t like that?
I think that my first grow is turning out fairly well.
This success is a validation and testament to the growing philosophy promoted by ILGM and this forum. I do recognize that there are many different ways and techniques to growing but, in general, you folks seem to have an excellent handle on the whole thing.
I have learned everything that I know about growing plants in general and cannabis specifically on this site and forum. A big “Thank You” to all of you. I can’t tag all of the names so I hope that you all know who you are that have been so helpful and generous.
That is my hope.
On a different note, after the Clone Army is done (in about six months time) I am going to rearrange my lighting and pour all 1400 watts (my lights draw 12 amps at 120 VAC) on one or two plants by angling the fixtures and installing temporary reflective walls to contain the light a bit. The idea is to see just how yields are affected by a few large plants, many small plants, and finally the one or two (hopefully really huge) plants. My hope is to give the one or two plants so much light that they don’t want any more. This might have an adverse affect if I get too carried away.
This experiment will only happen if I get a surplus of dope that will carry me through if the “one plant” grow is a bust.
Keep me posted on that. I suspect success will vary on what you decide succes to be. There would have to be some measuring and calculating done to have rough estimate. But I suspect you’ll exceed light saturation levels. So gram per watt probably go down. Yeild per square foot used probably go up along with yeild per plant. That’s pretty much where all available data points anyway.
So could be very successful or not so much, depending on how you look at it
In this case, less about any objective “success” criteria, rather an attempt to decide upon how to best arrange and use the available space and light. I will be looking at the factors that you pointed out (yield/watt yield/ft^2 yield/plt etc) but also looking at turn around time and $$$ spent on nutes and light during each grow (yield/grow_day, yield/$_spent).
I have been informed that my budget for more hardware is $0.00.
Well throwing money at them not an option, so definitely good to find out how to make most of what you have.
The other (secret) reason for trying the one or two plant grow is my desire to produce at least one plant that is worthy of entering into the BOM contest. Nothing that I have now has even the smallest chance of producing the huge buds that make it to the BOM thread.
This is simply ego driven , but who doesn’t like to show off a bit when you accomplish something note worthy.