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One of the most common questions we hear from growers is “when should I harvest my cannabis crop?”.

One method to find out if your crop is ready for harvest is to look closely at the little white hairs, or pistils, growing out of your flowers. The little hairs appear white in color when they first start to be visible on the plants. The color of the pistils over time changes from white to yellow, brown, red, purple or pink, depending on the strain that is being grown.

With the majority of cannabis strains, a simple way to known when to harvest is when more than half of the hairs have changed color it is ready to be harvested.

It is a good idea to give the plants an extra week or two before harvesting, just to be 100% sure they are ready.

Remember, a cannabis harvest too early leads to smaller yields, less potent buds and it will be hard to achieve quality buds. Harvesting too late can actually change the end result of the high that is experienced from the buds.

If THC is left for too long, it can turn into CBN, and result in a crop of buds that have a more calming and relaxing effect on the user. Some people prefer this and purposely leave their plants in harvest for a few extra weeks until the hairs have darkened and curled because they want to use the medicine as a relaxant to relieve conditions such as anxiety.

An even more precise way to know if it is time to harvest is by using a small, hand-held microscope that has 60x to 100x magnification, and looking closely at the trichome glands on your plants. These microscopes are only around $10 and a good purchase for any indoor grower.

When to Harvest Cannabis

Trichomes Are Telling

Trichome glands are the resinous crystals on your leaves. When you look at the trichomes, they will look like little mushroom heads on a stalk.

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If the trichomes are all still translucent (clear) then your plant is too young and harvesting at this point will result in low yield and a weak potency. In general, the highest level of THC in the plants is found when the trichomes have turned a milky white color. You may harvest at this point if you want a strong head high with a lot of energy.

Most people harvest cannabis a little later, once the color of the trichomes are darker, like a gold or amber. Some of the trichomes may appear purple or red.

If you harvest at this point, the buds tend to have a more relaxing effect on the user. If you wait until after this time, the trichomes will turn from this red/gold color, into a grey, signifying you have waited too long and the plants will some wither. As a cannabis grower, you have the ability to sample your buds at different stages of growth, and see how they make you feel.

You can harvest your buds in stages, try them out and see if you like the effect. When using the microscope for the first time, it may take a little while to get used to.

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The easiest way to use them is to cut off a bud from the plants and lay it down on a flat surface. Press the microscope down firmly into the bud, focus, and you should see the trichomes well. Patience is a virtue!

To learn the science behind growing and how to have a successful harvest, enroll today in Cannabis Training University's marijuana courses.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Kwame says:

    Great information th’ankh you

  • Susie Ronek says:

    Im a beginner well learning at,a beginner level. Thank you

  • Bill says:

    I started plants in late August, a little late in terms of temperature. My outside growing area only gets about 7 hours of direct sun/day. The plants began flowering a month later in September. I purchased a light, ballast and reflector early October thinking I should supplement the short direct sunlight period. Now, a month later and getting 13 hours of sun and gro-light, the plants are doing very well and the buds are fairly full and long. However, in the last two days I noticed that there is new leaf growth on the buds, especially near the tops. I have to assume this is from the gro-lites and increased light schedule. Some pistils are turning brown, slowly, and trichomes are clear.
    Question: should i continue the long sun cycle and continue to check trichomes daily for changes in color as my indicator of when to harvest, regardless of new leaf growth?

  • Him says:

    HeY Bill that new growth is normal. They are support leaves to help support bud growth so no worries. As far as your light schedule try not to exceed 12 hours of light if you can. Otherwise keep growing!

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