By 2024, the American marijuana industry is expected to be worth $37 billion. And there’s a good reason why — marijuana has many uses, from medicinal to recreational enjoyment. Since marijuana use is increasing, more people are growing their own marijuana and some are even starting a small cannabis harvesting business.
But, growing marijuana isn’t as simple as starting an herb garden. For example, timing your cannabis harvest can be difficult.
But don’t be intimidated — Trim Daddy can help you better time your marijuana harvest. We’ve compiled our very own guide to improve your cannabis production process.
Timing Your Harvest
Accurately timing your plants is challenging because every marijuana plant and strain is different. Here are some factors to consider during the flowering and harvesting phases.
1. Strain Type and Flowering Time
The first way to approach harvest timing is by looking at the type of strain. You should harvest Indica strains before Sativa strains. Indica harvest time takes eight weeks after flowering and Sativa strains take ten weeks after flowering.
During the flowering phase, it's essential to pay attention to your plant’s growth and progression. The first few weeks are especially important — you’ll not only need to properly feed them but ensure they have plenty of space to grow.
Keep in mind that if you’re using Autoflower seeds, your timeline may be a bit different, depending on your strain.
Week one is when you’ll see the most growth. This is why week one is also called the “stretch phase.”
During week two, your plant may develop pistils. Pistils are extremely important to marijuana maturity, more on those a little later on.
The growing and stretching will slow down during week three. You may also see the first signs of developing buds.
Growing usually stops at week four. During this phase, you should make sure the buds are growing. Check the buds every day to ensure they’re getting larger. They also may start producing trichomes during this time.
Week five is characterized by thickening buds as well as new bud formation. This is a sure sign your plant is in full flowering mode.
Week six marks the end of the flowering stage. Not all strains take as long to mature, so it’s vital you pay close attention to your plant’s progress. While milky white trichomes are a sure sign of maturity, there are other ways to determine maturity. A few other methods are mentioned below.
2. Stem Strength
Lots of stem growth issues can occur during the flowering and pre-flowering phases. Fragile and weak stems usually indicate a problem and can even prevent your plant from maturing. But if your stems are strong, this may signal the plant is in the later flowering stages.
3. Resin Level
Harvesting buds based on resin level is a little controversial; some plants are ready to harvest when resin trichomes are at their THC concentration peak and other strains still need to wait a few more days after this time.
If you’re judging harvesting by resin level, keep your strain in mind. As stated earlier, Indicas should be harvested earlier than Sativas — when the resin glands are developed but not fully ripened. Extending the harvesting time will impact the effects.
4. Leaf Color
Another indication that it's time to harvest cannabis plants are when the leaves change color. During the flowering phase, the leaves will be a healthy green color. As they enter the harvesting phase, the leaves turn a yellow or yellow-brown color.
We promised more about pistils - we wouldn’t leave you hanging. When pistils first form, they look similar to little white hairs. As the plant matures, the pistils will darken and curl inward. If there’s a combination of dark and white pistils, your plant is not ready for harvest.
Most growers use the trichome strategy to determine when marijuana is ready to harvest. They use a magnifying glass or magnifier to study the trichomes.
Harvest-ready trichomes are milky-white, almost looking like plastic. These vivid trichomes also mean the plant has potent THC and/or CBD levels.
If the trichomes still look clear and glassy, your plant isn’t ready for harvest. If you harvest your plant too early, the effects won’t be as potent.
Some growers also let marijuana plants harvest after the trichomes turn milky white. They will turn an amber color; while the effects won’t be as intense, you’ll still get a cerebral sensation. Waiting this long to harvest depends on the strain you’re growing.
Fundamentals of Marijuana Harvesting
Everyone has a different growing and harvesting process. But are there any specific best practices?
Harvesting Best Practices
There are a few steps to complete before, during, and after harvesting:
- Know your trimming strategy (explained below) and drying process ahead of time
- Remove all large fans and water leaves between five and ten before cutting the buds
- Don’t forget to clean and sanitize your trimming, handling, and drying areas
- Have a plan for how you’ll safely store and transport your crop, if necessary
Following these few extra steps will ensure harvesting and drying will be flawless.
For more details on how to handle your crop after harvesting, check out our After Harvest guide.
When to Trim
There is not one ‘best and most impactful’ way to trim your plant, but your trimming method can impact consumption results. It’s generally recommended to trim before drying your cannabis. Drying makes the resin glands brittle; trimming when your plant is dry will risk resin gland loss.
Machine vs. Hand Trimming
Should you still use hand trimming or is machine trimming recommended? Machine trimming saves a lot of time and can improve the look of buds. However, some plants still require hand trimming.
As an alternative, you can have the best of both worlds. You can use a trimming device that offers the precision of hand trimming with the speed of a machine.
Trim Your Marijuana Harvest With Ease
One of the biggest struggles faced by new marijuana growers is timing your plant for maturity.
An accurate marijuana harvest time will result in healthy buds that produce amazing results. There are many ways to know your plant is ready for harvest, but it’s still essential to pay close attention to the flowering phase and practice the best trimming methods.
Are you looking for a better way to trim your marijuana harvest? Trim Daddy creates an efficient trimming solution without compromising the quality of hand trimming. Shop Trim Daddy today!