Ready or Not? How to Tell If Cannabis Is Ready to Harvest

Your first time growing cannabis for personal use can be a bit nerve-wracking.

You’ve got to get the lighting, watering, nutrients, and a ton of other factors just right.

The worst part is having to guess when your cannabis is ready to harvest.

Thankfully there are clear signs you can follow that maximize the effectiveness of your crop.

Keep reading to find out the most common ways you can know when cannabis harvest time is here.

Signs Cannabis Is Ready to Harvest

Before you check your plants themselves you need to know their grow cycle. The seed provider gave you a rough schedule for vegetation and flowering cycle lengths.

These aren’t 100% accurate but they’re a good starting point. You don’t want to harvest too early.

If you do the plant won’t have enough time to develop the maximum amount of THC, CBD, and all those wonderful terpenes. The opposite is also true.

Harvesting too late causes them to break down. It also lets other less beneficial chemicals begin to form.

Curling Leaves

One sign that it’s nearly cannabis harvest time is curling and browning of the leaves. As pot plants mature they take in less water.

This causes the leaves to begin to brown. This is the first sign you’ll see that harvest time is near. 

You shouldn’t immediately start clipping. There are lots of other things that can cause your leaves to brown.

If it’s a healthy plant though this is a sign you should start checking other things.

Look for Pistil Changes

After curling leaves, you’re likely to notice that the pistils and stigmas of your plant are changing. They start off straight and white.

You’re looking for about 50-60% of them to brown and wilt. This is a strong sign harvest time is coming but not confirmation on its own. 

There’s one last thing you should look at to get the best timing.

Check Trichome Color

The most accurate guide on when to harvest cannabis comes from the trichomes.  These are tiny resin bearing glands that cover the leaves and buds of your plant.

They show up as the plant begins to flower and are the most accurate indicator of when to harvest cannabis. You’ll need to buy at least a 40x jewelers loupe or a microscope to check these.

We weren’t kidding when we said they were tiny. Without magnification, they look just like tiny crystal hairs all over your plant.

As your plant matures the trichomes go through three stages:

  • Clear
  • Cloudy
  • Amber

Every change in color changes the chemical composition of the resin. As they mature the concentration of THC increases up to a certain point.

You want to harvest when the trichomes are about half and half cloudy and amber. This gives you the best mix of features without letting the earliest parts that matured begin to degrade.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

Most people flub the timing a bit on their first harvest. Treat it as a learning experience. The next time you’ll get closer to when your cannabis is ready to harvest and still have some pretty good medical marijuana medicine.

You can find out more about growing and harvesting your own cannabis by checking out some of our other articles found here.

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