Growing cannabis is a chore made up of various different phases, and in each phase there are certain issues that can end up ruining your hard work. The last phase, harvesting, is one of the most delicate moments and many growers make the mistake of letting their guard down once their buds have grown and are bud, and they think they’ve reached the finish line; this is a mistake.
Cannabis that hasn’t been harvested properly (too early or too late) can end up ruining your hard work and effort over the season; let’s have a look at how to harvest cannabis plants in order to obtain the most potent, delicious flowers.
The Importance of Harvesting on Time
Harvesting at the right time means that you’ll be obtaining the highest possibly quality within the possibilities of your grow; harvesting too early or too late can cause your plants’ to lose strength and flavour.
- Harvesting too early: your plants won’t have finished producing cannabinoids and terpenes, which means that the effect will be much smoother and the buds will lose flavour. If you harvest to early, your buds may produce a more active effect at the cost of losing potency. If you’re looking for an active effect re recommend planting a sativa strain such as Jamaica Dream, Critical or Lemon King.
- Harvesting too late: this allows for higher amounts of CBD (cannabinol) in your plants’ trichomes, which produce a weaker physically relaxing sensation. If you’re looking for a relaxing effect, we recommend growing a strain with a narcotic effect, making the most of its effect and flavour, such as Black Domina or S.A.D.
When’s the Best Time to Harvest?
There are three different ways to figure out the best time for harvesting:
- Use the indicated date by the seed bank as a guide: these dates aren’t definitive as they can vary depending on where you’re growing, but they can be used as a guide.
- Check the pistils: you’ll need to check the colouring of the little hairs on your flowers’ buds. When the flowering stage begins they’ll be white, and once they begin to mature they’ll go brown or orange. We recommend harvesting when around 80% of the pistils have matured.
- Check the trichomes: this is the most trustworthy way to check if you’re plants are ready to harvest, and you’ll need a microscope or magnifying glass to do so correctly. Once the trichomes have matured, they should go a sort of milky colour and then turn amber. The best time to harvest is when they’re milky with a few amber ones; never harvest when they’re see through.
In our microscope and magnifying glass section you can find devices such as the 100x LED Microscope, which allows you to check trichomes and insects, or the 160x200 Pure Factory Microscope, which allows you to see trichomes at an enlarged scale and even smaller insects. If you have an iPhone you can use the Mini LED Microscope alongside an adaptor which allows you to see it on your phone.
How to Harvest and Dry Cannabis Plants
When it comes to harvesting cannabis plants, we propose two different options:
- If your plants haven’t suffered from any sort of illness or insect infestations…
You can remove the larger leaves, cut it at the stem and hang the entire plant upside down. This allows the buds to stay protected while drying. The downside is that once they’re dry it’ll be harder to trim the dry leaves.
- If you have a large harvest…
In this case we recommend trimming when the plant is still humid, which is to say right after harvesting, and then placing the buds to dry in a rack.
Removing the leaves and leaving the flowers can be quite a pain if you don’t have help; check out our scissors section if you’re looking for tools that can help you to trim your plants without hurting your hands.
- If you’re going to be trimming for a while…
We recommend using the Bud Cutter Bonsai scissors which has a straight, sharp tip; one of the most comfortable scissors. You can also find classic trimming scissors with both straight and curved tips, such as the Leaf Cutter one-finger model by Pure Factory, which is easy to handle and is quite precise.
- If you have a lot of plants to trim…
If this is the case, check out our bud trimmer section. Large harvests can lose quality waiting to be trimmed; you can buy or rent a bud trimmer to get your work done in just a few hours. In this section you can find devices such as the Spinpro bud trimmer or the Trimpro Unplugged, or affordable electric trimmers such as the Table Trimmer or Trimbox. We also have more professional models such as the Trimpro Rotor XL, Automatik and the Bucker bud separator.
Drying Cannabis Flowers Correctly
Some cannabis growers don’t really consider the drying process important, however if not done correctly it can greatly decrease the quality of your flowers. In order to dry your cannabis plants properly you’ll need to keep in mind the following advice:
- Start off with a humidity of about 50% and then gradually increase it to 60% during the first week. The recommended temperature is between 15 and 20 degrees.
- Make sure that the temperature doesn’t go over 25°C so that the terpenes don’t end up degrading, which can cause a decrease in aroma and flavour.
- Keep your flowers in the dark; light degrades cannabinoids and terpenes, decreasing the general quality of your flowers.
- Don’t use strong fans in your drying room; this can dry your flowers too fast and can negatively impact the flavour. The drying process should take between 8 and 15 days.
- Don’t allow your flowers to dry out too much; they should lose about 70% humidity.
In our Drying Rack and Curing section you can find large drying racks designed to dry buds in small areas; you just need a room you can keep dark. We have round racks in three different sizes and foldable rectangular drying racks.
If you don't have access to a free room, the solution is the intelligent dryer HerbDryer, which is closed and has an odour filter so that no unwanted aromas get out. HerbDryer takes 7 - 8 days to dry your flowers and can be folded when done.
Remember to check your flowers; if you bend a branch and it crunches your buds are ready to go to the next phase; curing.
How to Cure Cannabis Buds
During the curing process, cannabis flowers lose a small amount of humidity slowly, which allows their trichomes and terpenes to mature correctly, and also causes chlorophyl to decompose. This improves the flavour and strength of your flowers by quite a lot.
The curing process can take between 3 and 5 weeks depending on the strain. For example, sativa strains tend to need a longer curing time than indica strains.
The best curing process is done in wooden boxes, which you can find in our Drying Racks and Curing section; a wide variety of curing boxes designed for the best results. Wood is a material that’s capable of absorbing humidity and contributing to the balance in your flowers. You can also cure in glass jars, although you’ll need to keep them in the dark and open them more often than a wooden curing box.
In order to maintain ideal humidity levels when curing and storing buds you can use humidity adjusters such as Boveda 62 and Boveda 58. These adjusters allow you to store your buds at 62 and 58% humidity respectively in order to maintain flavour and potency. Thanks to Boveda your plants can maintain about 15% more terpenes and cannabinoids.
In order to store your buds in the best condition we recommend using anti-odour bags or boxes with Hygro-thermometers such as the 00 Box. If you’ve grown high quality cannabis, don’t let it degrade or lose flavour by storing it incorrectly.
If you have any questions regarding how to dry or cure your flowers, remember that La Huerta Grow Shop has a team of experts ready to help you out.