Are you wondering when it’s the right time to harvest your marijuana plants? Why do I stop feeding nutrients and flush before harvest?
If you are a beginner or a newbie when it comes to marijuana or cannabis cultivation, you have only probably researched how to grow the plant and have never gone through articles about harvesting them due to your excitement and enthusiasm. And also, you are probably in the process of determining when to harvest cannabis. This article will educate you with the following tips, tricks, and explanations of the indications and evidence that your plant is mature and ready to be harvested. Keep reading on to know more!
As your plant has already passed through the vegetation stage, the next phase that you will now encounter is the flowering stage. After a few months of waiting and observation, there is always the right time that you have to harvest the plant. Remember that you have to be precise, cutting them down early will not give you the plant’s full potential and strength.
When to harvest cannabis?
The flowering phase of the plant always depends on the strain that you have, so you have to determine this by researching and getting feedback from other growers.
Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there are only two methods or processes that will accurately determine if the plant is already mature and ready to be harvested. These methods are called the Trichome and Pistil method. The Pistil method only requires your normal vision by the use of your bare eyes, meanwhile the trichrome method requires you to use a magnifying glass or a loupe that the jeweler uses.
Determining the exact harvesting time is a tricky endeavor, as it is not consistent every year. This is because of the changing environment that we have in which the plants may also adapt. There are corresponding repercussions when the plant is harvested early and late. As mentioned earlier, premature harvesting will lead to impotent outcomes, while harvesting later will lead to over potent strains that will cause negative effects to users.
Finding the best time to harvest
Harvesting time begins when your marijuana plant has gone through the whole flowering phase and is starting to decline in its overall health.
You can tell when the harvest is almost ready when you see your plant has almost stopped growing new pistils or white hairs. When more than half of the pistils have already darkened or starting to curl in, you’re good to go.
Most growers use the trichomes to help them decide when cannabis is ready to harvest. These trichomes are the tiny crystal like hairs on the flower of your plant that produce the resin where all that THC goodness is. At the beginning of the cycle, the trichomes are only little balls. As the plant matures, more elongated trichomes appear, featuring a mushroom shape. The ideal time to harvest is when the trichomes are milky white, and some are amber.
You will also want to do some research about the particular strain that you are growing. After all, they might be among this group of strains that do not exhibit the usual signs that the plants are now ready for harvest.
A general rule that growers typically follow for harvesting indica strains is eight weeks, while for the sativa strains, it usually takes ten weeks in total. However, to be more accurate, you may use the methods that are further explained below.
As time passes by when you do not harvest the plant after showing these changes, the plant will end up in not having THC. The psychoactive effect of the plant will no longer be evident. THC will fade as well as the other cannabinoid naturally found in the plant.
The pistil method is the process of determining the condition and physical appearance of the pointy hairlike parts of the flower. These are usually silver or white in color when immature; you cannot harvest them at this stage. Once all of the pistils reach a red or amber color, you may now start to harvest; this is where you will get the most potent outcomes. If left for a couple of more days, you already failed, and you might just want to dispose of the plants.
However, some meticulous growers and breeders do not believe in this method because it is all based on traditional knowledge and perception of the person that will harvest, which they believe will result in inconsistent potency levels as well as inconsistent psychoactive high or effects. They strongly believe that when this method is applied, the euphoric high of the harvest is usually very heavy.
This is the method where you cannot trust your naked eye because it is impossible to determine the maturity of the plant without the help of magnification. This method takes advantage of a microscope or a loupe. Obviously, what you will observe are the crystal-like substances that you see on the flowers of the plant, this is the cause of the sticky feel of the plant.
Once you have identified the trichomes, you have to determine its shape; you have to look for trichomes that resemble the shape of a mushroom. If the majority of the trichomes shifts into this shape, this already means that your plant has reached the optimum stage where it can be harvested. However, that is not all; you have to observe the color of the trichomes, if it is still clear, it means the plant is still immature if it turns into white or reddish, this means it can be harvested. If the trichomes reach a dark red or amber color, it’s already too late.
The importance of flushing pre-harvest
One more thing you should notice is the soil. Once the plant is ready for harvesting, it will not consume as much water like in the stages before. When the soil becomes extremely dense, you’re getting close to the harvest window.
If you’ve never heard of “flushing” before, it’s simply the process of giving your cannabis plants pH-neutral water for a period of time (except without any added nutrients). The majority of marijuana growers perform a final flush one week before harvest. But why do they do it? This is done to remove excess buildup of salts and nutrients that build up overtime. It also helps to create a pure taste of the marijuana, and much smoother smoke after harvest.
The process is generally as easy as it sounds; however, knowing when to flush is critical. When growing in soil, we recommend that you flush about two weeks before harvesting, toward the end of the growth cycle. When those trichomes begin to form a cloudy white color, you’ll know it’s time for a flush. It’s a big mistake to start flushing too early. While you don’t want excess minerals, you don’t want to deprive your plant of the nutrients it needs to flourish. If it doesn’t get the right amount of nutrients during the most critical parts of the flowering stage, you’re putting the quality and potency at stake.
Keep an eye out for yellowing
It’s a great time to observe what a plant will look like if it has too few nutrients. A few days after flushing, you should notice signs of nitrogen deficiency. Keep in mind this is just normal. When timed correctly, the leaves will have some yellowing at the ends, which will give them an unsightly look.
The only way to really find out yourself if flushing makes a difference is to conduct an experiment of your own. Here are 3 easy steps to flushing your cannabis plants for better tasting buds.
Step 1: Always check the pH levels before watering your plants. The ideal pH range for garden soil is between 6.0-6.8. And can be low as 5.8 for hydroponic systems. When the pH level is higher or lower than the correct range, the nutrients become less available because the nutrients won’t dissolve as well.
Step 2: Give your cannabis plants large amounts of water for 5 days. Then stop feeding your plants 1-2 days before harvest and let the soil dry as normal. Doing this will help speed up the drying process without effecting the finished product.
Step 3: After harvest, take the time for the cure. Plan carefully where you will dry your cannabis buds before cutting your plants. Hang each branch upside-down in a cool, dark place to keep them fresh longer. This is to keep them away from any mold and mildew that may cause your buds to rot. Leave buds to dry over the next 5-10 days. Make sure the temperature is around 68°-84°F with humidity around 50%-60%. Your buds are ready for curing once they are dry to the touch but you can bend the stems without them snapping.
One final growers tip: If you want to get the most of your harvest each year, you should incorporate a cannabis clearing solution into your feeding schedule. To get rid of old nutrients and salt built up around the roots during the final stages of growth, we recommend you purchase a bottle of our Grotek Final Flush ™ at Best Bud’s Forever. This solution is also effective when you need to correct over feeding or desalinization of reusable growing media.
Basic Tips in Determining Correct Harvest Time
- The plants are not ready for harvest if the pistils are still white and shooting upwards. This also applies to trichomes as well, harvesting in this early stage will just kill your happiness and your wallet as well.
- You have to be patient. It does not mean that the pistils and trichomes change in color, that you have to harvest now. You have to wait until the majority of the pistils and trichomes change in appearance. That is the only time that you can harvest the plant. Anything later than this stage will ruin your whole harvest.
- When 75 to 80 percent of the pistils have reached a dark red color, this means that this is the point where the plant has the most high level of THC content. If you want your harvest to packing a punch, you must clearly be aware of this point.
- Always remember that when the plant reaches its maturity stage, the plant dies quickly. You have to determine that the majority of the pistils and trichomes have already changed in appearance and color. This is the best time to harvest, you must not waste even a day, because this will make or break your whole output.
By reading and finishing this article, this has already answered your question on when to harvest cannabis. This phase requires a lot of patience and attention, so be sure to have a lot of time observing your plants. And sure after that, you will reap a good harvest that you can surely enjoy.