When to Harvest Marijuana Plants For Maximum Potency?


Modern-day scientific experimentations and technological advancements have played the primary role in rebuilding the image of the cannabis plant. Scientific proof has been an integral part of bringing the green revolution for cannabis.

Correspondingly, many states in the US have legalized cultivating cannabis at home for recreational purposes. Consequently, there has been a rise in growing the marijuana plant at home.Nevertheless, it can be challenging to determine the perfect time to harvest cannabis plants. While harvesting time is dependent on the time of plantation and your geographical location. 

Meanwhile, it would be best to harvest marijuana plants considering their growth pattern of the strain and the development of the plant’s resin glands, pistils, and cannabis buds. This article discusses the signs that signify if your weed is ready to harvest in detail.

Signs That The Weed Is Ready For Harvesting

While many growers mistake the first sign of the flowering stage as the perfect time for harvesting plants, this is an inaccurate assumption. Instead, various visual clues signal that the cannabis plant has reached its harvest time. These signs are listed below.

  • Trichome Color

Trichomes are the fine outgrowths of the cannabis plant. These are shiny, sticky appendages that have a crystal-like appearance. Correspondingly, the appearance of these resin glands is a better way to determine if the plant is ready for harvest.

You should carefully follow the color of the development of trichomes to predict the harvesting time. On the one hand, clear trichomes are translucent and indicate that the entire plant has not yet produced its resin glands to the full extent. It also means the plant is yet to achieve the peak concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes.

On the other hand, milky trichomes denote the peak production of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. These trichomes produce uplifting psychedelic effects on consumers. Hence, it is ideal to harvest the plant when half its trichomes are milky.

When the plant loses its THC/THCA concentration, its trichomes turn amber. Additionally, amber trichomes have sedative effects and can put consumers in a couchlock. 

Usually, users prefer harvesting their marijuana plants when it has a mix of milky and amber trichomes. Depending on their needs and personal preferences, the proportions of both trichomes can vary.

  • Leaf Color

Another change that signifies that the plant is ready to harvest is a change in the color of its fan leaves. A healthy cannabis plant will have green leaves in its flowering stage because of the presence of nitrogen. 

At harvest time, the leaves start turning yellow and falling off due to the low nitrogen level. Also, plants decrease their intake of water at the time of harvest. Therefore, the leaves may curl and dry.

Contrarily, the changing color of the plant’s leaves can also indicate a mineral deficiency or a nutritional burn. Discoloration of the leaves after the development of trichomes in the plant suggests it is dying. Hence, you should immediately harvest the plant.

  • Bud Shape

Another indicator of the harvest time can be the shape of the cbd flower buds. However, this method is not as reliable as the trichome color. Moreover, the size and shape of buds vary in different cannabis strains. Nevertheless, thick, firm buds signal its harvesting time.

  • Pistils

The color of the plant’s pistils can also give a visual cue that the plant is ready to harvest. Ideally, the pistils of a mature photoperiod marijuana plant are brown. You can use a magnifying glass to check when at least half the plant’s pistils are brown to determine that the plant is ready to harvest.

Harvesting Cannabis–Tips  And Tricks

Before you follow internet tips and tricks to harvesting cannabis plants, you should be mindful of the plant’s growing medium and the environmental factors. Nonetheless, a few harvesting tricks can aid you irrespective of the environment and medium. These tricks are: 

  • You need to flush the nutrients in the plant’s growing medium before you harvest the plant to ensure that it does not affect the potency of the buds. Therefore, avoid feeding nutrients during the last week of the plant’s flowering stage.
  • Gently adding a little resistance makes a plant stronger. Correspondingly, you can implement the low-stress training (LST) technique on the plant to increase its yield. You can bend the plant’s stems and tie them to increase its bud production.
  • Clip the bottom leaves of the plant or any new leaves when it is flowering to center its energy toward increased bud production.
  • As a beginner, choose a strain that can grow fast and suits your growing conditions. 

Harvesting Cannabis Outdoors

Like other plants, cannabis has a specific time for cultivation that depends on the geography of the location and the climate. It also depends on the strain you are chasing to harvest as there are different types of cbd strains.People living in tropical or subtropical regions can cultivate the plant all around the year because of the suitable climatic conditions.

Meanwhile, spring months are the ideal time to grow cannabis plants for people in other regions. These plants are usually ready for harvesting in the fall months. However, the months also vary based on which hemisphere you live in.

While the spring months in the Northern Hemisphere are March, April, and May, the Fall months are September, October, and November. Contrarily, the seasons are opposite in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Irrespective of the geolocation, spring and summer months are ideal for the plant’s vegetative period. During this time, cannabis plants acquire the resources, like nutrients, etc., necessary for flowering and reproduction. Also, the plant develops its root system.

Eventually, the change in days triggers the flowering stage of the plant. As the season transitions from spring to fall, the days become shorter, which leads to the development of the plant’s buds. 

Harvesting Marijuana Indoors

Unlike growing marijuana outdoors, there are no seasonal restrictions for cultivating cannabis plants indoors. However, it is best to consider the temperature. Nevertheless, you can control the environment to create the ideal conditions, like using fans in hot weather.

Contrary to outdoor growers, who can only expect one to two harvests annually, indoor cultivation can produce four to eight harvests within a year. However, factors like the cultivation frequency and the cannabis strain determine how many harvests you can expect.

Growth Time For Weed

You can divide the growth of marijuana plants into four distinct stages, i.e., seed germination, seedling, vegetative, and flowering.Incase, you are interested you can read more about how to germinate cannabis seeds. The seed germination stage lasts for approximately a week. During this stage, the seed starts to sprout. Furthermore, fresh seeds take less time to sprout.

The subsequent growth stage is the seedling stage, which lasts 2 to 3 weeks. In this stage, the seed breaks, and a seedling grows. Furthermore, the plant produces small cotyledons with round leaves. As the plant grows, it starts producing the finger-like leaves you see on mature cannabis plants.

Then, the plant enters its vegetative stage, where its root system develops. The development of strong roots allows the plant to attain the energy it needs for its flowering stage. This growth phase lasts for 3 to 16 weeks.

As the season changes, it triggers the net growing phase of the marijuana plant. The length of the flowering stage in cannabis plants depends on the strain you’re using. It can last anywhere between 6 to 16 weeks. 

Initially, in the flowering stage, the plant takes 5 weeks to produce flowers and buds. Later, the plant takes time to grow and ripen. Once the buds mature after 8 to 16 weeks, the plant is ready for harvesting.

While outdoor growers must patiently wait for the climate and environmental conditions to do their work, indoor growers can force the plant into a premature flowering stage. For this, they can decrease the length of the vegetative period by reducing the plant’s exposure to light.

Flowering Periods For Different Strains

One of the fundamental factors affecting the flowering period of the cannabis you cultivate is the strain you’re using. The flowering period varies for different strains.

While the Indica strain has a flowering period that lasts for approximately 8 weeks, however, a few plants may have a relatively shorter flowering stage, between 6 to 7 weeks. Meanwhile, the flowering period can even extend up to 12 weeks in some plants.

On the other hand, plants of the Sativa strain grow tall and are slender. Correspondingly, the flowering period in these plants can take 12 to 16 weeks. As indicated by its name, the hybrid strain is a combination of the Indica and Sativa plants.

This strain exhibits the properties of both strains and has a blend of the tall, gangly Sativa plants and the shorter Indicas with a comparatively shorter flowering period. The flowering stage lasts for 6 to 12 weeks in plants of the hybrid strain.

Fast Growing Cannabis Strains

Cannabis plants have multiple strains including  sour apple strain, lava cake strain and ,amy more with unique characteristics. Moreover, the variety of cannabis plants also differs in their growing pace. A few varieties, like the Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis, are among the fast-growing cannabis strains.

These plants are ready to be harvested by the 8th week of their flowering stage. Not to mention, some of these varieties can be ready for harvesting within six or seven weeks. Meanwhile, others may take up to nine or ten weeks.

A few strains that grow faster than average are as follows:

  • Cross-breeds of the indica-ruderalis strains like Hobbit and White Ryder
  • Speed Queen
  • Early Girl
  • Red Dwarf
  • OG Kush
  • Superglue
  • Chocolate Skunk Auto
  • Bruce Banner #3 Fast

Cannabis Strains That Take Long to Grow

Other varieties of cannabis, particularly the Sativa strains, take a long time to grow. Moreover, even cross-breeds in which the Sativa strain is dominant tend to grow slowly. Usually, these strains’ flowering stage lasts 12 to 16 weeks. 

A few strains that take a longer period to grow are:

  • Train Wreck
  • Colombian Gold
  • Chocolate Thai
  • Headband
  • Malawi Gold
  • Maui Wowie

FAQs Regarding Harvesting Marijauna 

How can you tell if it’s too late to harvest cannabis?

The easiest method to identify if you are late to harvest is to check the color of the trichomes. Amber trichomes indicate that the marijuana flowers have become overripe. At this stage, the THC starts degrading. Moreover, the change in the chemical composition of the resin glands will also affect their taste. 

These trichomes have a bitter taste and sedative effect. Overripe trichomes become brittle; if the harvest becomes too late, the trichomes may crumble in your hands. Meanwhile, if you are looking for the healing properties of the terpenes, their potency reaches its peak in late harvests.

Which steps follow after harvesting cannabis?

Harvesting is followed by some integral steps to make cannabis consumable. These include drying, trimming, and curing the weed, which you can then enjoy or store in a cool, dry place away from exposure to light. Also, you should use containers with vacuum seals to prevent the weed from coming into contact with outside air.

How often can you harvest a cannabis plant in a year?

Another misconception about growing cannabis is that it can only be harvested once a year. Although in reality, the process of revegging, also called regeneration, can enable growers to harvest from the same place more than once. 

In this process, growers must prune the plant and avoid trimming. Then, harvest the mature buds earlier in the flowering stage while leaving the premature leaves and buds intact. Fulfill the nutritional requirements of the plant, in particular nitrogen. Lastly, shift the plant back to its 24-hour light cycle.

Final Thoughts: When Are Cannabis Plants Ready For Harvesting?

The popularity of cannabis has been on an uphill journey worldwide in the last few years because of the changes in its legality. Previously growing, using, or possessing marijuana was punishable by law and could lead to jail time. However, times have changed.

As a cannabis enthusiast, growing the plant yourself can be an engaging activity. However, to enjoy premium quality homegrown weed, you should be able to identify the harvesting time of the plant.

For this, keep in consideration the environmental factors and growing medium. Alongside this, you should know the cannabis strain you are growing and the time required to be ready for harvest.

Another factor that will determine the time you harvest is your personal preference. If you are seeking more uplifting effects, you should harvest when there are more milky trichomes. However, if you want the sedative effects of the amber trichomes, you should wait.


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