The flowering phase of your cannabis plant is coming to an end and you are looking forward to the harvest? To avoid mistakes when harvesting hemp and to achieve a successful harvest, there are a few things you should know and consider.
In this blog post, we will explain how to recognize the right time to harvest, how to prepare the harvest and what tools you need for harvesting. We also explain step by step how to harvest cannabis.
Table of contents
When to harvest hemp?
When you should harvest your cannabis depends on several factors. Basically, you should keep in mind when you sent your plant into the flowering phase. Based on this, you can then determine when your cannabis plant can be harvested. How long the flowering period lasts depends on your cannabis strain. Often you will find information about the length of the flowering period on the seed packaging. Once the flowering period is over, you can start harvesting.
You can also tell when it's time to harvest by looking at the resin glands on your plant, called trichomes. It is best to use a magnifying glass to check the trichomes. If the trichomes are milky and have an amber tone, your plant is ready for harvest. It is recommended to start harvesting only when at least 80% of the trichomes look milky. Clear trichomes show you that you still have to wait with the harvest.
The flowers of your plant can also tell you if you can start harvesting. On the flowers of the cannabis plant there are small white hairs called pistils. Look to see if the white pistils on the buds have turned a brownish color and are slowly retreating. If a majority of the pistils have changed color, this is an indication that it is time to harvest. Do not harvest until at least 40% of the pistils have turned brown. Many growers prefer to wait until about 75% of the pistils look brownish before harvesting.
When you harvest may also depend on your personal preference. If you prefer an energetic effect of the hemp, you should decide for an earlier harvest. If you are into relaxation, you can delay the harvest a bit. The THC value is highest when about 40-70% of the pistils have changed their original color.
What happens if the harvest is too early?
If you harvest your plant when the trichomes are clear and the pistils on the flowers are still white, you have started harvesting too early. Then you have to expect a less flavorful smoking experience, because cannabis does not contain many flavors when harvested too early. In addition, the THC and CBD content will be low, which is why you will experience an active high.
What happens if the harvest is too late?
Harvesting too late also leads to loss of flavor and aroma. Cannabis loses its psychoactive effect, as CBD and THC are degraded after a certain point. Harvesting too late occurs when pretty much all the pistils have turned brown and the trichomes are amber and dark orange.
When to harvest Autoflowers?
Autoflowers start flowering on their own and have a set lifespan. When exactly your autoflowering plant is ready for harvesting, you have to determine by the trichomes and pistils, as with other plant varieties. Basically, you can orient yourself on the 8-12 week lifespan of autoflowers. After about 8-12 weeks they are ready for harvest.
Preparation & rinsing before hemp harvest
There are several things you should keep in mind as your plant approaches harvest time.
Check your plant for pests and diseases shortly before harvest. This way you can remove parts of the plant that may be infested with pests or diseased in time.
It is important that you refrain from using fertilizer just before harvest. For more information on proper fertilization, see the blog post "Fertilizing Cannabis".
Many growers like to rinse their plants before harvest. This allows the fertilizer that is still in the soil to be flushed out. Rinsing can cause the flavor of your crop to improve. Use ph-neutral water for this and pour it into the plant pot. The amount of water needed is based on the size of the pot. It makes sense to use three times the volume of the pot for rinsing.
How to harvest cannabis
Once you have checked the maturity of your cannabis plant and the time is right, you can start harvesting.
Cut your cannabis plant at the bottom of the main stem. Set the cut carefully so that you do not damage the buds and maintain the quality of the buds.
Then remove the leaves around the flowers. You can use the leaves later for other purposes, such as making cannabutter. Since your flowers still contain too much moisture to be smoked at this point, you will need to dry them in the next step. Some growers prefer to dry the entire plant and then remove the leaves.
Hang your buds or the whole plant (whichever you prefer) to dry in a well-ventilated and dry room. For drying you can use for example the drying case from Bonsanto . The flowers should be spaced far enough apart and good air circulation is important to prevent mold from forming. How long the drying time is depends on the moisture content of your flowers. On average, your buds should dry for 9-14 days. To determine if the buds have dried properly, you can bend the stem. If it breaks, this is an indication of dry buds. If the stem does not break, you should let your buds dry for a few more days. If you have decided to dry the entire plant, you should now remove the plant leaves.
Once your buds are dried, you can smoke them. However, many growers prefer to ferment the buds for a more flavorful and aromatic smoking experience. If you are interested in this, check out our blog post on the topic "Fermenting Cannabis" .
It is important to store your dried or fermented buds in a dry, dark and cool place to preserve the quality and cannabinoids in the buds. For example, an airtight container is suitable for storage.
Trocken oder Nass Trimmen?
To get clean and tasty flowers, you can remove the leaves from your buds. This is called trimming.
Many growers prefer to trim dry. Dry trimming should be done when your buds are dried but not yet fermented. Advantages of dry trimming are that your buds dry slower and therefore get a better quality. Also, the buds are less sticky after drying. So if you are looking for a tasty smoking experience, you should choose this trimming time.
If you choose to wet trim your flowers, do so before hanging your plant to dry. With wet trimming you have the advantage that your crop dries faster, you need less space for drying and you minimize the risk of mold.
Which tool for cannabis harvest?
In order to be properly equipped for harvesting, here is a small list of tools that you will need for harvesting. Make sure that the tools are clean to preserve the quality of the buds.
- Sharp scissors or secateurs
- Clean work surface for the removal of the leaves
- Magnifying glass to determine the time of harvest
- If necessary a Bonsanto drying case
- Airtight container for storage
Tips for your hemp harvest
- Make sure tools and work surfaces are clean
- Orient yourself by the trichomes and pistils to determine the harvest time
- Handle the buds with care and do not cut them up
- Rinse your plant before harvest
- The slower your crop dries, the better the taste
- Use leftover cuttings for the production of other hemp products
- Trim your hemp to get tasty flowers