However, I’ve found that with just about every jeweler’s loupe; they advertise more magnification than what you get. That being said, for a lot of growers this will get the job done! A digital microscope typically takes video and produce bigger and more clear pictures of trichomes than a jeweler’s loupe or other small magnifiers.
Not only can you see the trichomes better, but you can record video of them to look over after the fact. These are still pretty cheap, costing $30-50, and they will give you better results than most other methods for determining harvest. A digital microscope lets you see the trichomes up close and personal. You must hook it up to a device with a screen to see the pictures, such as a laptop or computer. A USB microscope can also be attached to most Android smartphones with an OTG adapter (if OTG is supported, and you probably need an OTG-compatible camera app). Some Apple products support OTG adapters, but not all. Luckily, most iPhones have a nice enough camera you won’t need it. It’s really nice to be able to see the trichomes on a screen and take pictures or video to examine afterward.
It can be difficult to really evaluate the trichomes when you’re thinking about getting everything in focus. Here’s a guide breaking down when to harvest marijuana buds based on color of trichomes. (note: the trichomes of some strains turn purple or pink instead of amber/gold/yellow) Clear trichomes look kind of like glass – Not ready to harvest. The trichomes in the next picture are also mostly clear, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between clear and cloudy if you haven’t really looked at trichomes before. However, in this example, I don’t even really need to look at the trichomes to know these buds aren’t ready yet. I can clearly see several white pistils sticking straight out in the photo. The only two darkened pistils haven’t even curled in yet. What if you can’t tell the difference between clear and cloudy trichomes? (these ones are all clear) Here’s that bud from further away. Nearly all the pistils are white and you can’t really see the solid bud underneath. From just looking at the bud, you can tell there’s still several weeks to go. Assume they’re clear for now until buds start looking closer to harvest. These white trichome heads indicate the highest level of THC and CBD . Cloudy trichomes indicate the highest levels of THC and CBD. This bud with all-white trichomes has reached peak potency. Wait another week or two for trichome heads to turn amber/golden for more of a relaxing effect. If given more time, white trichome heads turn amber/golden (for most strains). Amber trichomes have less THC but produce more of a down/body/anti-anxiety effect. I can’t tell the difference between clear and cloudy trichomes. It can be hard to tell the difference between clear and cloudy trichomes. Especially if you don’t see both types of trichomes at the same time. This is completely normal, and it takes a little experience before it becomes easy. However, when in doubt, look at this picture gallery of buds that are ready to harvest to compare against the trichomes. If you combine both methods you’ll get the best results.
Although looking at your buds isn’t the most precise way to know when to harvest, it does give you a really good idea. If your buds just have white pistils sticking out, you know for sure that it’s nowhere close to ready, so you also know that the trichomes on the buds aren’t all cloudy yet. It’s only when your buds are getting close to looking harvest-ready that trichomes are going to have something to tell you. When you’re not sure, use a combination of looking at the pistils and trichomes! Note: It’s usually a good sign to see lots of trichomes, but trichome production doesn’t always indicate quality. Many classic strains give you outstandingly potent buds even though buds aren’t dripping in trichomes.
On the flip side, there are some strains that grow frosty buds yet have low potency. Trichome-encrusted strains are extremely popular these days, especially in the USA, but many of my favorite strains (like Liberty Haze or LSD) produce incredible effects even though you only see a moderate amount of trichomes. It’s tempting to want to grow the “prettiest” strains, but I highly recommend choosing strains for effects rather than appearance! Learn everything you could possibly want to know about cannabinoid levels in your marijuana, and what you need to do as a grower to control the potency of the buds you grow. Here are some general rules about harvesting marijuana based on trichomes and the color of the hairs / pistils.