When to Harvest Cannabis: Tips and Tricks for Timing It Right

Determining when to harvest cannabis plant can be a bit tricky, but also be a matter of personal preference. Some growers want to harvest their plant based on psychoactive effects, while others want to harvest based on yield and size!

Once you have decided whether you want ot harvest for yield size or effecacy, you will need to determine when the appropriate time to harvest is. That might sound like a technique only familiar to skilled growers; but if the right indicators are used, beginners can get a satisfying harvest. In this article, we'll elaborate everything you need to know about harvesting cannabis, to help you make a solid, well-educated decision on when to harvest!

Factors That Decide When to Harvest Cannabis Buds

check trichome before harvesting cannabis
when to harvest cannabis

Image via Hey abby grower HussleMonroe

Before delving into the key indicators, we'll cover 3 basic chemical properties of cannabis plants first:

  • THC: this is the phytochemical that produces the psychoactive effect and everything that comes with it, like the euphorial head rush, altered perception of time, and heightened sense of your surroundings;
  • CBD: it's known for the incredible pain-relieving and sleep-inducing properties, without producing any psychoactive effects;
  • CBN: CBN and CBD have a lot in common when it comes to the benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties, relaxation, and appetite stimulation — without psychoactive effect neither.

As your cannabis plant grows and matures, its psychoactive effects vary. Now that you know about these chemicals, you'll be better equipped to decide when it's the right time for cannabis harvesting, based on your own preferences.

To determine when to harvest cannabis buds, you'll want to observe two key indicators: trichomes and stigmas (often misnamed as pistils). A jewelers loop, microscope lens, or magnifier can be very useful during the process.

1. Trichomes

screenshot-20240301-105148.png__PID:e56982c4-ecc5-458a-a1ca-e82d359389c4

Cannabis trichomes are tiny resin glands on the surface of cannabis buds that contain cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, and CBN. They gradually mature throughout the flowering stage. As the plant develops, the trichome heads will go through a transformation. They're clear initially, and will progress to a milky or opaque appearance. Eventually, trichomes will turn amber, a signal that they are degrading.

If you're growing for psychoactive effects, please look for the following signals:

  • Clear Trichomes: Trichomes that are clear or milky contain very little to no CBD and CBN. Additionally, at this stage terpenes and flavonoids are similarly in the highest concentrations, as the plant is still actively producing them.
    If you're aiming for the strongest cerebrall and unpliitng effects, I suggest harvesting cannabis once the plant has a majority of milky trichomes, with some remaining clear. This indicates that the plant has completed its THC resin production in the glands.
  • Milky Trichomes: Milky or cloudy trichomes suggest that this is the optimal time for harvests if you prefer a more balanced THC/CBD profile.
  • Amber Trichomes: The more amber/brown trichome heads a plant has, the less head buzz it produces, and the more sedative effect it will bring. This stage is suitable for those seeking a more relaxing and calming experience.

For Medicinal Purposes

For growers seeking medicinal benefits from their plants, it is recommended to harvest cannabis when all three types of trichome heads are present: clear, opaque, and amber. This combination offers a diverse range of medicinal and psychoactive effects. When all the phytochemicals are present, they synergistically work together to provide optimal efficacy. This is known as the "entourage effect."

For Maximized Yield

On the other hand, there are growers who care more about how much weed does one plant yield over specific effects or quality. For these individuals, the answer to when to harvest cannabis is completely different. It is recommended to harvest the cannabis plant when the majority of trichomes have turned amber and the stigmas (hairs) on the buds have turned orange and shriveled.

It's not a good idead to let the plant continue to grow beyond this point, as the buds will not become tighter or larger past this point; instead, they may become airy. Moreover, the plant will start to become more vulnerable to mold and pathogens as its immune response is diminishing. Harvesting cannabis past this stage has no benefits.

In general, it's important to note that the desired trichome appearance can vary depending on personal preference and the strain being cultivated. Some growers may prefer harvesting cannabis slightly earlier for a more uplifting effect, while others may wait for more amber trichomes for a more relaxing experience.

Expert Growing Guidance

Connect directly with our team of growing experts in a chat to get your cannabis plants back on track.

Let's Chat!

2. Stigmas

harvesting cannabis

Image via Hey abby grower_Kilo

Cannabis stigmas are hair-like structures found on cannabis flowers. They also change color during the flowering stage and can provide additional insights into the plant's maturity.

  • White Stigmas: When they are predominantly white, it suggests that the buds are still developing and not yet ready for harvesting cannabis.
  • Orange/Brown Stigmas: As the flowering stage progresses, the stigmas will start to change color, turning orange or brown. This is a sign that the buds are nearing maturity, and it may be an indication to begin monitoring the trichomes for the desired ripeness. It's important to note that the stigmas mature a bit quicker than trichomes.

What to Prepare Before Harvesting Cannabis

Before proceeding with the cannabis harvest, there are a few important preps you may want to keep in mind :

1. Complete the Flushing (Properly)

It's important to flush before harvesting cannabis. This process involves giving the plants with plain water and not adding any nutrients. Doing so will help remove any excess nutrients or residual substances stored within the plant tissue, which will improve the final flavor and smoothness of your smoking experience.

2. Assess if Cannabis is Ready for Harvest As Mentioned

By examining the trichomes and stigmas as discussed earlier, you can determine whether the cannabis plants have reached their desired level of maturity.

3. Prepare Your Tool Kit

Gather the necessary tools and equipment for a smooth and efficient cannabis harvest process. Here are some essential items to include in your toolkit:

  • Microscope Lens/Magnifier: To observe your trichomes and get to know their status accurately.
  • Pruner: Used for cutting down the plant (You can do this with Hey abby Pruner B)
  • Scissors: Needed for trimming the buds and sugar leaves (If you want to get this done, Hey abby Pruner A is what you need)
  • Drying Rack/Trellis: Provides a space for drying the harvested buds.
  • Scale: Used to weigh the yield.
  • Gloves: Protect your hands when harvesting and trimming cannabis.

Hey abby Automated Grow Box Soil Edition

Hey abby Automated Grow Box Soil Edition
Hey abby grow box soil edition_plug and play
Hey abby grow box soil edition_Samsung LED light
Hey abby grow box soil edition_subscription pack
Hey abby grow box soil edition_anatomy
Hey abby grow box soil edition_app control
0% OFF
Hey abby Automated Grow Box Soil Edition
Hey abby grow box soil edition_plug and play
Hey abby grow box soil edition_Samsung LED light
Hey abby grow box soil edition_subscription pack
Hey abby grow box soil edition_anatomy
Hey abby grow box soil edition_app control
$469.00
$599.00

as low as $22/mo.

Buy Now

Hey abby Automated Grow Box 420 Edition

Hey abby 420 Edition Grow Box_2nd anniversary sale
What's included in the Hey abby 420 Edition grow box kit
Hey abby 420 Edition hydroponics weed grow box LED lights
Hey abby cannabis hydroponic nutrients & expert support
Hey abby 420 Edition DWC hydroponics for weed growing
Hey abby's best grow box for beginners with APP control
0% OFF
Hey abby 420 Edition Grow Box_2nd anniversary sale
What's included in the Hey abby 420 Edition grow box kit
Hey abby 420 Edition hydroponics weed grow box LED lights
Hey abby cannabis hydroponic nutrients & expert support
Hey abby 420 Edition DWC hydroponics for weed growing
Hey abby's best grow box for beginners with APP control
$449.00
$774.00

as low as $29/mo.

Buy Now

Hey abby Automated Grow Box OG Edition

Hey abby OG Edition Grow Box_2nd anniversary sale
Hey abby OG automated grow box for weed growing
Hey abby OG automated hydroponic grow box
Hey abby OG stealth grow box with app control
Hey abby OG indoor automated grow box_package content
Hey abby OG marijuana grow box's Samsung LED light
14% OFF
Hey abby OG Edition Grow Box_2nd anniversary sale
Hey abby OG automated grow box for weed growing
Hey abby OG automated hydroponic grow box
Hey abby OG stealth grow box with app control
Hey abby OG indoor automated grow box_package content
Hey abby OG marijuana grow box's Samsung LED light
Hey abby OG grow boxes for weed
$769.00
$1,129.00

as low as $41/mo.

Buy Now

Hey abby Automated Grow Box Soil Edition

$469.00
$599.00

as low as $22/mo.

Hey abby Automated Grow Box Soil Edition
Hey abby grow box soil edition_plug and play
Hey abby grow box soil edition_Samsung LED light
Hey abby grow box soil edition_subscription pack
Hey abby grow box soil edition_anatomy
Hey abby grow box soil edition_app control
Hey abby Automated Grow Box Soil Edition
Hey abby grow box soil edition_plug and play
Hey abby grow box soil edition_Samsung LED light
Hey abby grow box soil edition_subscription pack
Hey abby grow box soil edition_anatomy
Hey abby grow box soil edition_app control

Hey abby Automated Grow Box 420 Edition

$449.00
$774.00

as low as $29/mo.

Hey abby 420 Edition Grow Box_2nd anniversary sale
What's included in the Hey abby 420 Edition grow box kit
Hey abby 420 Edition hydroponics weed grow box LED lights
Hey abby cannabis hydroponic nutrients & expert support
Hey abby 420 Edition DWC hydroponics for weed growing
Hey abby's best grow box for beginners with APP control
0% OFF
Hey abby 420 Edition Grow Box_2nd anniversary sale
What's included in the Hey abby 420 Edition grow box kit
Hey abby 420 Edition hydroponics weed grow box LED lights
Hey abby cannabis hydroponic nutrients & expert support
Hey abby 420 Edition DWC hydroponics for weed growing
Hey abby's best grow box for beginners with APP control

Hey abby Automated Grow Box OG Edition

$769.00
$1,129.00

as low as $41/mo.

Hey abby OG Edition Grow Box_2nd anniversary sale
Hey abby OG automated grow box for weed growing
Hey abby OG automated hydroponic grow box
Hey abby OG stealth grow box with app control
Hey abby OG indoor automated grow box_package content
Hey abby OG marijuana grow box's Samsung LED light
14% OFF
Hey abby OG Edition Grow Box_2nd anniversary sale
Hey abby OG automated grow box for weed growing
Hey abby OG automated hydroponic grow box
Hey abby OG stealth grow box with app control
Hey abby OG indoor automated grow box_package content
Hey abby OG marijuana grow box's Samsung LED light
Hey abby OG grow boxes for weed

How to Harvest Cannabis: Step-by-Step Guide

With the right timing and handy tools, you can start harvesting cannabis. Just follow the step-by-step guide on how to harvest cannabis below.

1. Chop the Plant at the Main Stalk

Using pruners or scissors, cut the main stalk of the plant at the base. This will make it easier to handle and manipulate the branches during the cannabis harvesting process.

2. Cut the Branches

Working one branch at a time, cut the branches from the main stem. Be cautious not to damage the buds or handle them excessively, as this can affect the final quality.

3. Remove Fan Leaves

Trim away the large fan leaves from the branches. These leaves have a lower cannabinoid content and are not typically used for consumption. Removing them will make the trimming process more manageable.

4. Start Drying

Depending on if you are using the drying rack, or hanging the harvested branches from the trellis, the drying processes are a bit different.

If you choose to use the drying rack, cut the buds from the branches, and place them on the drying rack. You want the buds to be close together, but not touching each other, since they should have even amounts of space in between each bud. This allows for airflow and a more even drying of all the buds.

If you choose to use the trellis to dry your plant, you will need to set up the trellis about 3/4 of the way up the grow chamber. You will then cut the branches off the main stalk, and make sure they are similar in length. Once you cut the branches, you can then hang them from the trellis. When hanging, you want to ensure that the branches are close together and not touching any of the walls!

Hang drying is my preferred method of drying, as it allows for the application of the snap test to determine accurate level of dryness, and also allows for easier trimming with less handling of the actual buds!

5. Determine When the Plant is Dried and Ready for Trimming

If you use the trellis to dry your harvest, you want to use something called the "snap test" to determine if your plant is dry enough to trim!

To do the snap test, you want to find a branch of medium thickness, and quickly bend it to a 90° angle. If the branch produces an audible "snap," then it is dry and ready for trimming! If the branch doesn't, it still needs time to dry!

If you dry buds on the drying rack, you want to give the buds a slight squeeze. If the buds feel somewhat crispy, and the leaves snap or break off when squeezing, they are likely dry and ready for trimming!

6. Trim your Harvest

If you are trimming buds, you want to hold the buds from the bottom, and keep your trimming scissors close to, and parallel to the buds. Slowly rotate the bud as you snip away the leaves! Try to keep the scissors parallel to the buds, without jabbing the point of the scissors into the buds. There may be some larger leaves which you can remove by cutting them from the stem attached to the bud.

To trim branches, hold the branch from the bottom, and keep your trimming scissors close to, and parallel to the buds. As you snip away the leaves, slowly rotate the branch to ensure you get all of the leaves off the buds. Once you have a branch fully trimmed, you can snip the buds off and put them into your curing vessel of choice.

7. Record the Weight

Once the buds are trimmed and separated, use a scale to weigh your weed. You can then record the weight in your online grow log with Hey abby app for future reference, and share your harvests with lots of fellow growers.

8. Bonus Tip

Remember to flip the cannabis buds every day or so during the drying process to ensure even drying. This practice helps promote proper airflow and prevents moisture buildup.

Grow, Log & Share

With hey abby APP, grow plants under personalized guidance, keep grow diaries and connect with one another.

Download APP
Download APP_画板 1 副本.jpg__PID:3449dd5e-8355-411e-88cc-c944ecf6177c

What Does Over-Ripe Cannabis Look Like?

overripe cannabis

It is important to identify and harvest cannabis at the appropriate time to avoid overripeness and the negative effects coming with it. Harvesting cannabis too early can result in lower THC content, while late harvesting leads to overripe trichomes with reduced quality and potency. Monitoring visual cues such as trichome color, pistil appearance, and overall bud appearance can help determine the optimal cannabis harvest time. Environmental factors, such as temperature fluctuations and humidity levels, should also be monitored to prevent over-ripening

Overripe cannabis buds exhibit specific characteristics that differentiate them from ripe buds. Here is a summary of what overripe buds look like:

  • Appearance: Overripe buds may display color fading, with brown and yellow spots on the flowers, and yellowing and dying leaves. They may even start to foxtail. Foxtailing is the growth of long-extending appendages from buds (image above). The trichomes, which are the resinous glands on the buds, will turn completely amber or brown. The buds can become dry, brittle, and shriveled in appearance.
  • Odor: Overripe buds may emit a pungent or musty smell instead of the fresh aroma of ripe buds. They may also have a skunk-like smell. (Want to learn how to get rid of weed smell? Be sure to check out our previous guide!)
  • Mold and mildew: Overripe buds are more susceptible to mold and mildew growth due to their aging and drying process. Moldy buds should be discarded to prevent further issues and infection.
  • Decreased potency: Overripe buds have lower THC content, resulting in a weakened psychoactive effect. Meanwhile, the conversion of THC to CBN can lead to sleepiness.
  • Harsh taste: Overripe buds may taste harsh and have a negative aftertaste.
  • Reduced quality: Overripe buds have diminished fragrance & flavor, and are less visually appealing.

If buds are already overripe, there are still options to utilize them and achieve a pleasant high. However, it's worth noting that overripe buds may not provide the desired potency, flavor, or overall quality compared to properly harvested and ripe buds.

What Does Under Ripe Cannabis Look Like?

underripe cannabis

Image from Hey abby grow box grower_Kilo

Underripe cannabis buds have distinct characteristics that differentiate them from fully mature buds. Here's what you can find from underripe cannabis buds:

  • Appearance:  Underripe cannabis buds are often smaller and less dense compared to mature buds. They may have a lighter shade of green and appear less vibrant. The stigmas may still be white or light-colored instead of changing to orange or brown. And the trichomes may not be fully developed and may lack the desired frosty appearance.
  • Texture: Underripe buds may feel slightly softer and less sticky compared to fully mature buds. They might not have the same resinous coating that mature buds possess.
  • Aroma: Underripe buds typically have a milder or less pronounced aroma compared to fully mature buds. The aroma may be less complex and lack the intensity and richness found in mature buds.
  • Taste: The flavor of underripe buds may be less developed and may lack the desirable terpene profiles found in fully mature buds. It may have a grassy or herbal taste rather than the more distinct and flavorful notes. Immature or underripe buds will also be much harsher when consumed.

Negative Effects of Using Under-Ripe Cannabis

  • Potency: Underripe cannabis buds contain lower levels of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, which are responsible for the psychoactive and therapeutic effects of cannabis. This can result in a weaker efficacy.
  • Flavor: Underripe buds lack the rich flavors and aromas associated with fully mature buds, which diminishes the overall taste experience when you consuming them.
  • Effects: Underripe buds may not provide the desired effects or therapeutic benefits that mature buds offer.

Conclusion

Proper timing and careful observation of trichomes, pistils, and overall bud appearance are essential for harvesting high-quality cannabis. By following these guidelines and utilizing the Hey abby appAndroid IOS ), growers can achieve optimal results and enjoy the full potential of their cannabis harvest. Happy growing!

Get Weekly Expert Tips, and Grow Healthy Plants

Join our newsletter to get exclusive growing tips delivered directly to your inbox.

Related Products

 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED_package
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED
 Hey abby Premium Aluminum Alloy Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X with LED_package

Microscope Lens for Smartphone 400X

$27.99
View Details
Storage Bag with Childlock(5pcs)
Storage Bag with Childlock(5pcs)
Storage Bag with Childlock(5pcs)
Storage Bag with Childlock(5pcs)
Storage Bag with Childlock(5pcs)
Storage Bag with Childlock(5pcs)

Storage Bag with Childlock(5pcs)

$5.59
View Details
Pruner-B
Pruner-B

Pruner-B

$10.49
View Details