Cultivating cannabis is an intricate process that requires attention to detail, not only to ensure that your plants are growing in optimal conditions, along with keeping your plants pest and disease free, but also knowing precisely when to harvest cannabis plants.
The timing of your harvest can impact the quality and potency of your cannabis. In this article we explore the key considerations to determine when you should harvest your cannabis plants, including understanding the structure of the cannabis plant and its overall life cycle.
The Cannabis Life Cycle
In order to know exactly when to harvest cannabis plants, it’s important to first have a basic understanding of the marijuana plants life cycle; the fundamentals of cultivating cannabis.
Cannabis plants go through several phases in their life cycle from planting your cannabis seeds to harvest time, these include germination, seedling, vegetative growth, flowering and harvest. Of all these stages, the flowering stage is particularly important as it is when the plant begins to produce the cannabinoids and terpenes that make the cannabis experience unique!
When To Harvest Cannabis: Trichome Examination
One of the most reliable methods for determining when to harvest cannabis plants is by examining the cannabis plants trichomes. These tiny crystal looking structures cover the plant, including the buds, leaves and the stems. They contain the cannabinoids (including THC and CBD) as well as the aromatic terpenes.
When the trichomes are translucent the plant is not yet ready for harvest, but as the plant grows and matures, the trichomes will eventually change colour, indicating the optimal time to harvest your cannabis plants. You might need a magnifying glass to adequately keep a close eye on this subtle change.
Pistil Colour and Harvest Time
Pistils are hair like structures that grow from the flowers of the female cannabis plant. During the flowering stage of the cannabis plant’s life cycle, the pistils start off being white in colour but when the majority of the pistils have changed to an orangey brown colour, it’s a sign that the plant is reaching peak potency and is ready to harvest.
Strain Specific Characteristics in Determining When To Harvest Cannabis
Different cannabis strains have unique characteristics that will indicate when to harvest cannabis plants of a particular strain. These include factors such as flowering time, plant size and the overall genetics. For example, Pineapple Express, a popular strain known for its tropical and fruity aroma when it’s harvest time, are generally ready for harvest at around 8-10 weeks, you can look out for cloudy trichomes with a touch of amber letting you know its optimal time for harvest. In comparison, Amnesia Haze, another high THC strain, requires a longer flowering period, often harvested around 10-12 weeks. You can expect its pistils to turn from white to a red/brown colour along with Amnesia Haze producing a potent citrusy aroma at optimal harvest time.
Environmental Factors and Harvest Time
Monitoring and controlling the environment that your marijuana plants grow will contribute to a more predictable harvest. Conditions such as humidity, temperature and light can influence the development of cannabinoids and terpenes. Aside from this, a consistent environment will keep your cannabis plants in optimal condition and protect them from disease or harsh temperatures.
Final Thoughts: When To Harvest Cannabis Plants?
As you reach the final stages of your cannabis plants life cycle, the question of when to harvest cannabis plants becomes at the forefront of your mind and it’s important to look out for the visual cues of your plants, such as the colours of their pistils and trichomes and research your cannabis plants’ strain specific characteristics. With a little bit of research and knowledge, paired with paying careful attention, you’ll be able to determine the best time to harvest cannabis plants.