Harvest when 70-90% of hairs have darkened for highest levels of THC. Harvest when 90-100% of hairs have darkened for a more calming, anti-anxiety effect as some THC turns to the more relaxing CBN. With some strains, you may see a bunch of new pistils appear right when you think you’re getting close.
This is normal, but it happens more than 3 times you’ve eventually got to just make the decision and chop. You may also be interested in what’s causing buds to take forever to mature? Ready to Harvest – On the Early Side (more “up” effects, lower yields) This purple bud is on the early side of the harvest window. Although the pistils / hairs have darkened, they are mostly sticking straight out. In this case, wait a little longer until hairs curl in more and reveal the solid bud underneath. Also look to the color of hairs on the lower buds as they’ll likely be a better indicator of harvest readiness. Ready to Harvest – Middle of Harvest Window (only a few white hairs) Ready to Harvest – On the Late Side (more of a “down” or body effect) Ready to Harvest – Special Cases (when to harvest even with lots of white pistils left) If all the leaves on a plant die (for example if it gets sick or stressed), the yellowing and discoloration starts spreading to the flowers. If this goes on too long, it can damage the overall quality, potency, smell, and appearance of buds. If you have a sick plant in the late flowering stage that keeps getting worse, keep a close eye on buds and harvest before they get too damaged. Even though there are still plenty of white pistils on the following bud, the plant is dying (and keeps getting worse) so it’s a good idea to harvest soon.
Heat or light stressed plants may keep growing lots of new white hairs on top of mature, older buds. In that case, look at the older parts of the bud to determine when to harvest. Notice the yellow “banana” sticking out of the top middle bud in the next picture. The plant is making a last-ditch effort to pollinate itself and make seeds before the plant dies. If your buds start popping up with bananas everywhere, it’s time to harvest. Otherwise, you start losing potency/smell and buds may get seedy. This plant suffered from extreme heat and light burn and should be harvested. With some strains, it is much harder to tell when the time is right. Different strains can look different ways at harvest. For example, some strains can keep most of their pistils white even when they’re ready to be harvested. You can get some good information by talking to someone who has grown your strain before, such as the breeder. The breeder or growers who’ve grown your strain before can often provide extra insight into what to look for at harvest. You can also search online for pictures of what your strain should look like when it’s fully ripened. Next, we’re going to go over the 2nd (and MUCH more accurate) method of checking your cannabis plants to see if they’re harvest-ready… 2nd Method to Identify Harvest Time: Trichome Method. (how to harvest cannabis using the accurate method) This harvest method tends to be more precise than looking at the pistils of your cannabis plant. Look at trichomes under a magnifier to harvest cannabis buds with the desired THC levels. With this method, you look at the glandular stalked trichomes on the buds under a magnifying glass. Trichomes are the mushroom-looking growths on cannabis that are responsible for it being so popular! In some places, these trichomes are called resin glands . These trichomes are the ‘crystals’, or ‘frosty stuff’ you see accumulating on your bud/leaves. The trichomes you’re trying to see look like little mushrooms. You may also see tiny, clear hair-like trichomes without the mushroom head but these don’t affect potency so you can ignore them. You are interested in the trichomes that have a little ball on top.
This is where a lot of the THC and other good stuff in cannabis is located. Since these trichomes are what contribute the most to bud potency, being able to tell when they’ve reached their highest levels of THC will help you be able to choose the exact right time to harvest your marijuana. Cannabis trichomes are difficult to see with the naked eye, so you’ll need a jeweler’s loupe or other way to magnify the image in order to use the “trichome method” for determining harvest time.
Conversely, some cameras can take ‘macro’ shots that are clear enough to see what stage the trichomes are in but they can be pricey… Jeweler’s loupes are relatively cheap to buy online, at a hardware store, or sometimes a jewelry store . If you put the loupe right up to your buds, you’ll get a better view of the trichomes, letting you better determine their color and shape. Although a jeweler’s loupe can make trichomes appear bigger, sometimes it’s not big enough. I know I end up squinting a lot when I’m trying to use one, but they are a heck of a lot better than nothing!