Knowing the optimal time to harvest is crucial for both the potency and flavour of the buds. Harvesting too early or too late can dramatically impact the quality of your yield. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help growers identify the ideal harvesting window for their plants.
Generally, plants have a harvesting window of a few weeks. While it’s not an exact science, the perfect time within this window depends on the desired effect and flavour profile. The earliest part of the window will have higher active compound content, offering a more stimulating effect, while the latter part may lead to a more relaxing effect.
This is a general rule, and the actual time will vary for different strains. Always cross-check with visual cues.
Pistils are the hair-like structures on the buds. Initially, they are white and stick straight out. Over time, they curl in an darken to an amber reddish brown colour.
Trichomes are the tiny, crystal-like appendages on the buds and leaves that produce active compounds. They’re best viewed with a magnifier (e.g., magnifying loupe).
For a balanced effect, many growers harvest when trichomes are a mix of milky white and 10-20% amber.
As the flowers mature, they will become denser. Harvesting when buds are fully developed and dense can lead to a better yield and quality.
Towards the end of the flowering phase, it’s natural for the larger fan leaves to turn yellow as the plant sends its remaining nutrients to the buds. This is an additional sign that the plant is nearing harvest.
Before harvesting, consider flushing the plants (i.e., giving them only plain water) for 1-2 weeks. This process removes any remaining nutrients in the soil, leading to a purer flavour in the buds. See Flushing your Plants to learn more.
In conclusion, knowing when to harvest requires keen observation and sometimes a bit of experimentation. With time and experience, growers will be able to make more informed decisions and achieve the desired outcome from their plants.