SIMPLE Steps: How to Harvest a Weed Plant | Harvesting Marijuana

So, you have nourished and cared for your weed plants and nurtured them the best way you possibly could. It is now time to harvest your weed and enjoy the fruits of your time and labor. But wait, how do you know your plants are ready for harvest if you are a first-timer? This article will educate you on the signs of maturity and how to harvest your plants properly. The information is also useful for experienced weed growers because there is always something new to learn from others. Ensure you enjoy the harvesting, trimming, and curing season, as it is a manifestation of all the hard work you have put into the plants.

Before harvesting a cannabis plant

Before you harvest your weed plants, you should do an activity called flushing the weed plants [1]. This entails giving the plants straight water to get rid of nutrient buildup. How much water should you give each plant? The recommendation is 3 times the volume of the pot in which it is planted. Ideally, you should start with 1 to 2 liters and observe how your plant reacts. Gradually increase the amount of water but do not drown the plant.

A good sign that you are flushing is the color of the excess water that will come out through the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. The water will be dark-colored at first, and the color will become lighter with repeated flushing. Flushing gets rid of the excess fertilizer and prompts the plant to utilize the nutrients it has absorbed previously.

You should do this daily for at least a week before harvesting. In states where you can grow weed at home, there is a limitation on the number of plants you can grow. Usually, the limit is 6, but you should check your state’s laws beforehand and adhere to the given limit. Marijuana plants grown at home are not many so they can be harvested at the same time, usually within a day or two. You can choose to cut down all your weed plants at once. On the day you decide to do this, you can call a friend or two for help. This will help you finish the work faster.

If you have different weed strains, you may choose to cut and trim them on different days to avoid a mix-up. Besides, different strains ripen at different times. However, if you grew the same strain, you should harvest all the plants at the same time because they ripen at the same time. Before setting a day for trimming, decide if you will trim the plants dry or wet. In wet trimming, you will trim the buds immediately after cutting down the main plant. In dry trimming, you will hang the plants to dry for a couple of days before trimming.

Another preparation step you should take is gathering or purchasing the equipment for harvesting marijuana [2]. The tools you will require are explained below.

Scissors

You will use a pair of scissors a lot, so you must invest in a high-quality pair. You do not want to get blisters, so the pair of scissors should have an ergonomic design. They should also fit comfortably in your hand. Some scissors work best for people with small hands, while others are more suitable for bigger hand sizes. Choose a pair that is neither too small nor too big for your hands. As you use the scissors to trim the weed, they will become sticky, and this will affect how you work. You can make your life easier by investing in a pair with sharp and easy-to-clean blades.

If you can, you should purchase two pairs of scissors. Working with two pairs will be easier because you can switch them when one pair gets too wet for cleaning. If you window shop for a pair of scissors right now, you will realize that there are many different types. Some have springs while others do not. Some people prefer the spring-loaded type because they are more intuitive and feel quicker to work with. On the other hand, many weed trimmers argue that Chikamasa scissors are better. These are not spring-loaded and require a bit of time to get used to. Even so, they are more precise and swift to use.

Pruners

A pair of ordinary scissors cannot cut larger branches hence the importance of pruners. Ensure you get high-quality and strong pruners for this task and save the scissors for more precise work.

Comfortable Chair and Work Area

You will spend a considerable amount of time trimming your plants, so you must ensure you are comfortable. Get a high-quality and well-padded seat that will make you feel settled in for several hours. You should not hunch over during trimming as this will compress your lower back and cause tiredness and aches. It is also important to choose a work area that will enhance your comfort. The areas you choose should be well-lit. Do not choose a location with particulates, dust, hair, or other extraneous material that could contaminate your weed.

Tray, Bowl, and Clean Working Surface

As you trim your weed plants, you will need a collecting tray. Many people prefer trimming trays because you can easily place one on your lap and continue your work. A simple tray that can fit on your lap will do just fine. Avoid trays with complicated designs. You need the bowl to place your finished buds as you continue working. A working surface that looks like a kitchen counter and is easy to clean is also needed for the trimming process.

Rubbing Alcohol

We mentioned earlier that scissors will definitely get wet as you trim your weed. They will have a resin buildup that will slow you down. Rubbing alcohol during the trimming process because helps remove the resin. Always have a clean rag and some rubbing alcohol within reach.

Proper Working Clothes

Wear an apron or old clothes when trimming your weed plants. This is because they will get soiled, and resin is not the easiest thing to clean. A silk apron is preferred because resin does not stick to silk, so cleaning the apron will not be a headache. It is also important to put on gloves as you work to avoid staining your hands. If using gloves makes you feel uncomfortable, rub some olive or coconut oil on your hands before trimming to prevent resin from building up on your hands.

Entertainment

As earlier mentioned, the trimming process will take some time, so you will need some form of entertainment to keep you going. You can use music, audiobooks, podcasts, or stand-up comedy episodes for entertainment.

When to harvest your cannabis plants

Do you think that your weed plants are ready for harvest, but are they really? If you are doubtful, then you need to learn more about the indicators that your weed plants are ready for harvesting and trimming. Remember that you have invested a lot in the plants, including buying and installing the best LED grow lights or other grow lights, so you have to be sure that your plants are ready for harvest. Although there are general indicators, you should always remember that each plant is unique. Different strains also mature at different rates. Generally, the signs that it is time for harvest [3] are:

  • The leaves start yellowing and curling. Some even start falling off.
  • The buds become plump and look well developed. They do not appear to be growing bigger.
  • The branches become heavy and start hanging due to the weight of the swelling buds.

Why Time is Not a Good Indicator

When we grow other plants in our indoor and outdoor gardens, we use the time to tell maturity. However, the same cannot be applied to weed. This is primarily because the maturity of weed plants varies depending on the strain, location of growth, type of plant, and the growing conditions. Sativa cannabis species, for example, grow and mature slower than the Indica varieties. Due to these differences, you cannot use time as a reliable indicator of the weed harvesting time.

Instead of Checking Time, Check the Trichomes

What exactly are trichomes, and how can you use them to tell whether it is time for harvesting weed? Trichomes are [4] the shiny and sticky crystals found in cannabis flowers and have a pleasant smell. They contain the cannabinoids that many weed consumers are after and are also a natural defense for the marijuana plant. If you monitor the trichomes properly, you will be able to tell when to harvest your weed plants.

If you wish to use trichomes to tell the time for harvest, you ought to be very keen. Opacity and color are two key features you should be observing. Normally, cannabis trichomes are tiny in size, so you will need a magnifying glass or jewelers loupe to examine them. Ideally, you should observe the trichomes often, even before the general signs of maturity we discussed earlier are observed. Trichomes change throughout the cannabis growing cycle. They usually change from milky to cloudy before becoming amber.

What exactly should you look out for? If you observe that the trichomes are clear, you should know that your weed plant is immature, and the cannabinoid known as Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is not well developed. If you observe the trichomes and they are fully cloudy, you can harvest the plants. At this point, the buds are well developed, and the cannabinoids are stronger.

If you allow the plant to grow further and the trichomes change color to amber, you will get a very strong product. Weed harvested at this stage gives a more heavy-body and lethargic high. It gives a sleepy or sedated vibe after consumption. If you are still in doubt about the weed’s maturity, harvest your weed plants when the trichomes are mainly cloudy and have a little amber color. Do not harvest them when they are a mixture of cloudy and clear. Harvesting the plants early will make you regret more than harvesting them a tad too late.

Trichomes and Autoflowers

Should you observe the trichomes for auto-flower cannabis plants? The reality is that figuring out when an auto-flower is ready for harvesting is a little challenging, especially because this variety does not always lose leaves in maturity. In autoflowers, the trichomes also change from clear to cloudy and finally amber, but this transition is not obvious. In fact, some trichomes in autoflowers do not turn amber. If you have auto-flowers, you should use a bit of personal judgment when deciding the harvesting time.

Autoflowers normally have a growth timeframe, usually provided by the breeders. Always check the recommended time, usually 12 weeks from sowing the seeds to harvest. The indicated duration will give you a general idea of when the weed plants will be ready for harvest. However, this is not set in stone. Your auto-flowers can mature faster or slower than the predicted time. You can harvest an autoflower if the trichomes appear cloudy for at least 7 days.

How to harvest a cannabis plant step by step

Harvesting your cannabis plant should be done carefully. You do not want to mess anything up after all the love and care you have provided to your plants. Weed is best harvested early in the morning, so you should prepare well the night before. Some people harvest weed by chopping the entire plant down while others harvest in sections, especially if they are huge. Regardless of the harvesting style you choose, below are the simple steps you should follow to harvest marijuana properly [5].

Step 1: Cut the Plant and Its Branches

Some marijuana plants are quite large, while others are small. Depending on the size of the plant, you can choose to cut the branches first or chop down the entire plant at the base. If you choose the latter, the next step will be cutting the branches off the main stem one by one. Next, cut the large leaves of the branches, especially those that appear to be infested by pests, and throw them in the bin. Place the branches in clean plastic trays for the next step.

Step 2: Divide Branches into Buds

Take each branch and divide it into smaller twigs or separate buds for easier handling. Consider the relative humidity in your working area to prevent drying out. The buds can be very small or large.

Step 3: Dry the Buds in a Dark & Well-Ventilated Place

Lay the buds on a clean surface, if possible, on a clean drying rack to dry. The drying room should be dark, and an exhaust fan should be running. You should rotate the buds often so that they hold their shape. The drying process should take between 10 and 14 days.

Step 4: Trim the Buds

Trimming is a labor and time-intensive activity. It entails removing any extraneous matter from the weed flowers. Trimming removes excess sugar leaves because they have lower trichome concentration. These sugar leaves are also removed because they make weed harder to smoke. You can trim the sugar leaves with or without trichomes, and this process can be done before or after drying. If it is done before drying, it is called wet trimming, and if it is done after drying, then it is called dry trimming.

To trim the buds, you should hold the stem and gently cut off the sugar leaves and stems around them. You should do this over a screen to make it easier to collect trichomes that fall off in the process. Handle each bud with extreme care because all contact with the buds can cause damage to the trichomes. Always hold the plants and branches by the stem and not any other part.

Trimming Before or After Drying?

You may choose to trim the leaves from buds before or after drying. However, there are recommendations on the same. If you reside in a humid environment, it is best to trim them before drying. If you live in a low-humidity area, it is advisable to trim them after drying. Remember that leaves in humid areas are more susceptible to mold attack. You should also know that leaves are generally easier to cut immediately after harvesting, and the trichomes are less likely to come off accidentally.

Step 5: Curing

The next step involves putting the dried and trimmed buds in sealed jars for the curing process to start. If you wish, you can weigh the yield before curing. Curing the weed ends the degeneration process, thus preserving the volatile compounds and cannabinoids. If weed is not cured properly, cannabinoid synthesis continues, which may lead to the release of unfavorable compounds. Improperly cured weed is harsher and flavorless.

What exactly is curing? In simple terms, curing is a continuation of the drying process; only it is done slowly and in a controlled environment. Usually, curing weed takes up to 60 days. It should be done at a humidity level of 62-68%. After putting the trimmed buds in airtight containers, store them in a dark and temperate place. You should burp the jars at least two times a day during the first fortnight. Leave the lids open for at least one hour. Burping means leaving the lids open for some time before sealing the jars again. It is done to allow air exchange and release moisture. Afterward, you can burp the jars once a week, and shorter burp times are okay.

Tips for Successful Weed Harvesting

The steps you take when harvesting weed contribute to its flavor, strength, and smooth feeling. Here are tips to help you when harvesting.

  • Ensure you flush your weed plants with water only for about 7 days before harvesting
  • Check the trichomes on the plants before harvesting to ascertain the plants are ready for harvesting
  • Invest in high-quality and sharp scissors
  • Always harvest your weed plants early in the morning
  • When harvesting, keep the larger branches that form a Y or V shape intact. This will make it easier to hang them for drying.
  • If you have grown different strains of weed, harvest them at different times to avoid mixing them up

Summary

Harvesting weed is an exciting activity for most people. Unlike your regular garden crops, weed harvesting requires caution, time, patience, and a bit of human labor. If you follow the steps on harvesting a weed plant as described above, you will get high-quality and smooth weed for your needs or sale.

Citations

  1. https://growithjane.com/how-to-harvest-a-cannabis-plant/#flushing
  2. https://www.leafly.com/learn/growing/harvesting-marijuana
  3. https://homesteadandchill.com/how-to-harvest-cure-store-cannabis/
  4. https://www.growweedeasy.com/harvest
  5. https://growithjane.com/how-to-harvest-a-cannabis-plant/#how-to-harvest-cannabis
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