“When’s the best time to harvest,” may quite possibly be the most frequently asked question by newbie gardeners of the ganja. So, when is the best time to reap the benefits of your unwavering patience and nurturing labors?

budsMost of the seasoned expert gardeners know when to take their ladies down just by the plant’s appearance, but until you have a few harvests under your belt determining when to cut your crops may require a little education and a ton of patience.

Several different factors come into play when choosing the ideal time to harvest your girls. One of the elements to consider when making that decision is what type of high or psychoactive effect you desire from your bud, a more cerebral high or sedative? This particular aspect of course also depends on what type of jane you’ve decided to sprout, an Indica or Sativa variety.

Sativa strains are known for their uplifting, inspirational, energy inducing effect, but when certain hybrids of this variety are allowed to grow to their fullest level of maturity they can produce a narcotic effect similar to the hardest hitting Indica varieties.

Indica strains, although known for their couch-locking, tranquilizing, heavy body-buzz effect, when harvested early enough can produce speedy, racing-thoughts, “I’ve had too much coffee this morning,” result on the consumer.

buds 2So, as far as when to cut really depends on the gardener’s preference of the effect they would like to receive from their end product. But deciphering the timeframe of the harvesting window can be tricky. Most seed companies have taken the time to make records of how long the strain you have chosen to grow takes to fully mature or finish flowering in order to give the consumer an idea of how long they have to wait before they can get their fingers sticky. But beware, some companies list premature harvest windows in order to make the strain seem more attractive to newbie gardeners. Be sure to stick with reputable seed breeders and retailers when purchasing your magic beans.

Indica or Indica-dominant hybrid strains are generally allowed to flower for approximately 55 to 70 days before it’s time to break out the shears, were as Sativa or Sativa hybrids or expected to run about 70 to 98 days. If you want a Sativa-esque effect from your Indica varieties you would need to take them starting around day 55. If you want to see your Indica reach its full potency it is necessary to exercise fortitude and permit those ladies to run nearly 70 days or more.

When it comes to harvesting Sativa varieties, patience is crucial. From our experiences, it seems that most Sativa-dominant hybrids are generally ready to whack at around 70 or 77 days into the flowering cycle. But pure Sativa and certain Sativa-dominant hybrid varieties can necessitate nearly 83 to 98 days to finish. Allowing these varieties to fully develop rewards the consumer with a sensational, elevating and mind-enriching experience, whereas taking them too early usually results in an unpleasant, heart-racing type of buzz that’s undesirable to most lovers of the sweet leaf.

buds 3From a technical standpoint, during the last weeks of flowering, high-THC levels are being modified by just the appropriate amounts of Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabidiol (CBD) and Cannabinol (CBN), along with their propyl homologs (a corresponding constituent of marijuana), which factors in when attempting to approximate the desired psychoactive effect. Since THC acids are being broken down into CBN acid at the same time they are being prepared from CBD acid, it is essential to harvest at a time when the production of THC acids is higher than the degradation of THC acids. Was that too technical?

Well, let’s see if we can simplify it in order make it a little easier to understand. The harvest window of opportunity for achieving a crop with optimal potency is relatively small. There is roughly a range of 8 to 14 days during the end of the flowering cycle when the fruit is ripe for the pickin’ before the THC acid degradation process begins.

Now, how do you determine when that time has come? You use your eyeballs. That’s the beauty of ganja gardening, once the skill set of growing the green goodies is in place, the practice becomes intuitive. Some gardeners prefer to use a magnifying glass, jeweler’s loop or microscope in order to conclude when their buds are ready to be whacked. The beloved crystal-encrusted goodness that incases marijuana buds as most of us know is referred to as resin. Once a bud is magnified, one will see the crystal-like covering is actually an array of capitate-stalked glandular trichomes. Inside the lovely alien-esque looking forms is where the final development of THC acids is taking place.

trichomesUsing magnification allows one to see how far along the acids are in their development. Resin heads or trichome heads will appear clear due to the fact that fresh resin is still being secreted into the glands. This particular period is considered the peak floral stage when THC acid production is at a peak and CBD acid levels continue to be steady as the molecules are rapidly converting to THC acids. Here is where you will find your, “I shouldn’t have had that fourth bag of Skittles that I washed down with a Triple Big Gulp”-feeling that prematurely chopped bud can create. It is believed that, during the peak floral stage, the low levels of CBD and CBN allow the high level of THC to act without their sedative effects. So, if you prefer your Indica varieties to produce marijuana with a clear, cerebral, psychoactive effect, this is the time to pick, but it would be considered way too early to harvest a Sativa variety at this point unless you like to go very fast.

The majority of marijuana cultivators prefer to see their crops reach their fullest potential and highest levels of potency without allowing them to slip into the dreaded degradation process. To accomplish this, the best time to pluck your plants is during what is technically considered to be the late floral stage. By this stage plants are well past the main reproductive phase and their health is beginning to degenerate. You should see that many of the larger leaves have dropped off, and some of the small inner leaves are starting to change color. Autumn-like colors begin to appear in the older leaves and calyxes (flowers), and many of the pistils turn brown, wilt and begin to fall off.

bud1Pro growers refer to these color changes as “organic fading” and use these changes in appearance as a guide to regulate when the fruit is ripe enough to reap. The lovers of all things magnified will be looking for the acids in the majority of the trichomes to have an amber color, with the remaining percentage appearing cloudy or milky white.

Once the novice grower begins to associate the changing trichome colors with the plant’s overall appearance it won’t be too long before they realize that the surefire way to tell the difference between a green-horned green-thumb and an experienced veteran ganja grower is that the pro doesn’t have a jeweler’s loop in his pocket.

One pro-endorsed rule of green-thumb to live by when ganja-gardening is when you think it’s time to harvest your ladies, wait another week. Patience, a nurturing spirit and the continuing willingness to learn new techniques are just a few of the vital attributes that a good gardener must possess.

Good growing! Stay up and keep it green!

About The Author

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As an infant, Erik was accidently abandoned by his parents at Hempfest after they overindulged on the local offerings. Unfortunately for him, a band of stoner Gypsies informally adopted him and raised him as one of their own until he one day realized his clothes were abnormally different than everyone around him. Which was weird, considering he came to this conclusion while attending another Hempfest in hopes of finding his birth parents. After the shocking realization that he was indeed not a professional hobo with weird, gastly, outlandish clothing, he fled his Gypsie family and took refuge in the hills of the Emerald Triangle. It was in those very hills where Erik discovered his true purpose in life: cultivating marijuana! He spent years living in the hills of the Triangle mastering the craft of popping great crops of delicious sticky icky before deciding to come down from the mountain and rejoin civilization. Once Erik reacclimated himself to society, he acquired a laptop, setup his home garden, purchased a bong and began blogging marijuana-related news stories in hopes of spreading the truth about the plant and its medicinal properties. Erik is so pro-marijuana that if cut, he bleeds weed. Wanna hit? Then load up that bong and toke along!

3 Responses

  1. Mik3

    Very helpful. Does it matter if when the large leaves start to
    turn yellow, cut those leaves. One grower thought leaving it
    alone until ready yet another believes cutting back the leaves
    will give more to the bud, any truth in eather.
    Mik3

    • 420 Times Blogger

      If the large fan leaves are fading and shading flowers from receiving light, then yes, it is okay to remove those leaves. And it is okay to remove the leaves as they turn yellow because the absence of chlorophyll means they have run their course and are finished feeding your flowers
      You don’t want to pick your plant bald of fan leaves, but it is fine to remove them as necessary. Thanks for the compliment and comment! We appreciate your readership! Grow on!

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