After you’ve completed weeks upon weeks of care for your cannabis plants, the last step is to harvest them. Harvesting refers to the stage in cannabis’s life cycle where the potent flowers are picked, dried, and cured to get ready for utilization.
Even though this may be the last stage, harvesting cannabis takes just as much care and dedication as other steps in the cycle. Because of that, we’ve broken down the process of harvesting cannabis and included other helpful tips to assist in your growing journey.
When is Cannabis Ready for Harvesting?
First, it’s important to establish how to know when a cannabis plant is ready for harvesting. Sometimes, depending on where you’re getting your seeds from, the seed’s breeder may have a suggested harvesting time. While this can occasionally be accurate, it is much better to judge it based on the plant’s characteristics when determining if it’s ready. First things first, pay attention to your plant’s stigma and trichome colors.
One of the cannabis flower’s signature characteristics is its bright orange hairs or stigmas. As the cannabis plant grows, so will these tiny hairs. At the beginning of your plant’s life, these hairs start out bright white and eventually darken over time. Once these hairs turn into a noticeable orange color, it’s likely that your cannabis is ready to be harvested.
Along with the stigma color, you can rely on the color of your plant’s trichomes. This is slightly trickier to do than checking the stigmas, as trichomes are much smaller and require a microscope to see properly. When your plant is young and still growing, the trichomes, or small resin glands, are completely transparent. You do not want to harvest your plants if the trichomes are clear: this demonstrates that there is a lack of THC.
Over time, you’ll notice these trichomes darkening in color, turning to more of a milky white. This lets you know that your plant is maturing and rising in THC content. For ultimate THC percentages, you should wait until some of your trichomes demonstrate a slight amber ombre.
How to Harvest Your Cannabis
Now, it’s time to actually harvest your cannabis. This process may seem a bit intimidating at first, but with a little bit of patience, it will become a walk in the park. First, though, you’ll need a few tools to get the job done.
What You’ll Need
One of the most important tools you’ll need for harvesting is a high-quality pair of gloves. Typically, gardening gloves or rubber gloves will do the trick; as long you can easily move your fingers and have some extra protection, you’ll be set.
Next, make sure you have a good pair of gardening shears. Even a sharp pair of scissors will work well here. Just make sure that your shear of choice is small enough to easily trim your plants delicately. Along with this, it’s a good idea to have a bin nearby to collect your trimmed branches and store while you’re harvesting, and an airtight container to have for the curing process.
Finally, you’ll need some string, wire, or twine to hang your cannabis branches from during the drying phase. Having a place to hang your plants, like a clothesline, is incredibly helpful, too.
Next, it’s time to harvest.
Step 1: Cutting the Branches
The first step to harvesting your cannabis is going to be identifying the branches with the most flowers. If you’re growing large cannabis plants, it is recommended to cut down your plant one branch at a time; however, if you have a few smaller plants, you can cut them at the main stem if you so choose. The branches should be somewhere between 12 and 16 inches.
When cutting the branches, make sure you’re handling your cannabis with as much care as possible. You don’t want to risk damaging your plants in any way. After cutting and separating your branches, do your best to ensure that the branches have enough space to breathe, just like when they were planted.
Step 2: Time to Dry
After you’ve cut your cannabis branches off the plant itself, the buds require time to dry out. Buds that are too moist can easily collect mold and other bacteria, so the drying process is integral.
Take a few branches at a time and, using your string, carefully tie bunches together close to where they were cut from the plant itself. Do this until all of your buds have been tied. Then, attach these branches, hanging upside-down from your clothesline. This should be done in a space that is well-ventilated and stays about 65 to 70 degrees.
When your plants are hanging upside-down, you can manicure them if you so choose. Or, you can wait until after the drying process to get rid of any excess leaves or sticks.
Step 3: The Final Cure
How long you leave your cannabis up to dry is up to you and your cannabis. The process can take anywhere from one week to over two weeks, so check on your plants consistently. Once their leaves feel dry to the touch and slightly crunchy, rather than malleable, it’s time to cure.
If you haven’t yet trimmed off the excess leaves, you can do so now. Then, grab your airtight containers and loosely pack your flower into the containers. You don’t want to pack the cannabis too tight that it damages the flower, but make sure there’s not too much extra space in the container, either. Then, place these containers in a cool, dark place.
During the first week of curing, you should open your containers every day, slightly shaking the containers to give your buds some extra air. After the first week passes, you can do this just a few times a week. Your cannabis should sit and cure for at least a month, but two months (or even more) tends to produce the best product. After it’s cured, your cannabis is finally ready. That’s all it takes!
Harvesting is easily the most exciting step in the whole growth process of your cannabis plants; after all, it’s the last step before you get to see your final product. As long as you have the proper tools, space, and patience, harvesting your cannabis will be more rewarding than you could imagine. Luckily for you, Luna Cultivation will be here every step of the way.