Arguably, harvesting your hemp plant may be the most exciting stage in its entire life cycle. Here, you’re prepping your flowers to be ready for utilization, whether that’s for smoking, topicals, or adding them into recipes. However, harvesting your hemp is more than just plucking the flowers and calling them good to go. Like most of the hemp growing process, harvesting is a bit more complicated than that.
Luna Cultivation is here to walk you through the process, providing you helpful tips along the way. With us, navigating through the final stage of your plant’s life cycle is simpler than ever.
Signs That Your Hemp is Ready For Harvesting
As much as we’d love to tell you that there’s a specific week in your plant’s life cycle that’s “harvest week,” it’s just not that easy. Every plant’s harvest time is different. Thankfully, there are a few telltale signs that you can look out for to determine whether or not your plants are ready to be harvested.
First, pay attention to the colors of the stigmas on your plant. These stigmas, or hairs, grow all around your hemp’s buds. When they’re immature and just starting to grow, these hairs will be white in color. As they start to age and mature, they’ll darken considerably. Once they reach a burnt orange color, this is a huge sign that your buds are just about ready for harvesting.
Along with the colors of your hemp’s stigmas, you must also pay close attention to the colors of the trichomes. To see these well, you must use a microscope, as they’re minuscule resin glands that cover the flowers. When young, trichomes are completely clear, but as they age, they become a more milky white color. If your trichomes are opaque and stigmas are orange, it’s likely time to start harvesting.
Harvesting Your Hemp
Before you get into the actual harvesting process, you need to make sure you have all the right tools to do so. Harvesting your hemp isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does take some time and a bit of skill. Here’s everything that you’ll need.
Tools You Will Need
One of the most important tools you’ll need to harvest your hemp is a good pair of gloves. We suggest rubber gloves or gardening gloves; they need to be thick enough so if you poked by stems, it won’t penetrate your skin. Along with your gloves, you make sure to have a quality pair of scissors or small gardening shears to trim and cut your plants.
As you’re gathering your buds, you’ll need a bin to place them in momentarily. After you’re done harvesting, you’ll also need a few (depending on your crop) airtight containers for the curing process. They must be airtight in order for the process to work correctly.
Lastly, it’s important to have materials like a clothesline, twine, or string to aid in drying your plants. You can choose to do this a few different ways, but many growers prefer hanging their plants from clothes using string as it is easiest and doesn’t damage the plants in any way.
Below, you’ll find the step-by-step process on how to harvest these precious plants.
Step 1: Gathering Your Buds
The first step in the harvesting process is to separate the buds from the hemp plant. Instead of doing this one by one, most growers choose to cut their plants off at the stems in bunches, one branch at a time. Others who have smaller plants can just cut them off at the main stem. How you choose to do this is entirely up to you, just make sure you do so carefully and delicately. You don’t want to risk hurting your hemp plants in the process.
As you’re placing your stems and branches in the bin, you must check to see if they’re overcrowded and have room to breathe. If they don’t, you need to make space.
Step 2: Drying Your Flowers
Next, if you haven’t already, hang up your clothesline in a space that is well-ventilated and dark. The temperature should hover between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, tie your hemp in bunches with your string, hanging them upside-down from the clothesline. Doing this helps the plants dry out properly, eliminating the chance for bacteria or mold to form.
Every grow is different and every farmer has personal preferences as to how long they want their plants to dry. Typically, the drying process lasts between 5 to 10 days, but you can feel your buds for yourself and take them down whenever you feel is best.
Step 3: The Curing Process
Finally, it’s time to be extra patient and let your hemp buds cure. First, start by trimming off any excess leaves, stems, or sticks if you haven’t done so already. Manicuring your buds before or after drying are both acceptable.
After they’ve been trimmed, place your hemp carefully in their airtight containers. You want to make sure these containers are full, but that they aren’t packed to the brim. Again, your hemp needs room to breathe, so don’t be overly aggressive with packing these containers.
Once they’re full, transfer these containers to a cool, dark room that you have easy access to. For the first week, every day, open your airtight containers and shake your hemp a bit to give them fresh air. After the first week, you can do this just a few times per week. Once again, curing time is different for everyone, with some growers calling it good after a few weeks. However, we recommend keeping your plant curing for around two months for the best results.
The End of the Growing Cycle
After weeks and weeks of the growing cycle, you’ve finally reached the end. Once you’ve harvested, dried, and cured your hemp, it is ready to be used in whatever way you choose. The process may have been a long and complicated one, and at times may have been frustrating, but the end result is truly incredible.
Everyone here at Luna Cultivation knows, firsthand, the benefits that a plant like hemp can bring. We’re here to help you grow the best hemp plants possible, from getting the perfect lighting to signs that your plant is ready for trimming. In every stage of the hemp cycle, Luna Cultivation is here to help, just a click away.