Once you confirm you’ve got a ripe marijuana crop on your hands it’s time to break out the trimming scissors and get harvesting. After two weeks slow drying in paper bags or hung up, at room temp and approximately 50% RH, you’ve got a stash.
Outdoors Mother Nature dictates the grower’s schedule and flowering will only commence in Summer/Autumn as the hours of daylight naturally diminish, making for a longer more gradual flowering period. Weed growers in the Northern hemisphere don’t refer to October as “Croptober” for nothing.
The way these differ from photoperiod plants is written in the name. Regardless of whether you feel the plant is ready, it’ll start flowering at a certain time depending on the strain’s genetic programming. In one sense, these plants are easier for novice growers because there’s less to think about in regards to light coverage and cycle adjustment. On the other hand, due to the limited vegetation time, you have fewer opportunities for mistakes. This isn’t ideal for first-timers, but the fact that it only takes two months from germination to harvest is definitely appealing. Autos tend to produce lower, milder yields than their photoperiod counterparts, but modern advances are bridging the gap.
STAGE 3: VEGETATIVE PHASE — 2–8+ WEEKS
Another sign that your buds are maturing is when the pistils of the flowers change colour. Pistils are small-hair like structures that grow out of the calyxes, and are the reproductive organs of the female cannabis plant. They are the site where pollination occurs—if male pollen were allowed to land there. Pistils appear bright white during the early stage of the grow cycle, and eventually shift to an orange-brown colour.
Looking for shifts in trichome appearance is the most accurate way to determine the stage of maturity of your crop. Trichomes are hard to miss and appear as a white frosty substance that covers the buds and sugar leaves. Zooming in on these structures will allow you to know how far along your plants are, and whether they are ready for the chop.
Ultimately, the most important use for your magnifying glass is to detect the progress of your trichomes, and therefore, the proper time to harvest your buds. Trichomes are small mushroom-shaped glands that produce resin which contains the vast majority of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Even when your plant is a mere seed, the work you put in will dictate its success or failure. Germination is the stage when the first root cracks out of the seed’s shell, which takes between 1–7 days. The wet paper towel method is a classic approach here, but you start out with the major setback of tiny fibres all over your new root. You can plant directly in the soil, of course, but you need to ensure temperature and moisture are dialled in.
Now comes the tricky part: Figuring out when is the right time to harvest! You will have to keep a close eye on your plants to determine when it’s the right time to reap them. Your timing can affect the smell, taste, weight, and potency of the final product.
Marijuana legalization is spreading. Medicinal marijuana use is now legal in over half of states, allowing patients access to the herb once they have a recommendation from a licensed physician. However, it’s no secret that weed is expensive.
Check on your seeds every so often. Eventually, a white taproot will sprout from the seeds. Germination can take anywhere between 24 hours and seven days, so be patient!
5. When to Harvest Marijuana
When the plants flower, they begin to produce a sticky resin on the leaves. Trichomes will develop, too. This means that the cannabinoids in the plant are developing nicely. The final potency of the cannabis will depend on how long it spends in the flowering stage.
Furthermore, the end of the vegetative stage provides a vital opportunity to look for males in your crop. As plants leave this stage, the females will start developing two white pistils, where males will grow pollen sacs. If you see these sacs, remove the plant from the vicinity before it pollinates the females and ruins your harvest.
However, some growers prefer to use cloning. All you need to do is cut a branch of at least four inches from the most productive plant in your crop and plant it into a rooting solution. The plant that grows will be genetically identical, making the growing process predictable and easy. It does mean that you get the same every time, though, which can get a bit repetitive.
After cutting down the plants, it’s time to prune them. This process ensures you will have rounded and smokable bud. You can perform wet or dry pruning. The general consensus is that the former method is easier. When the plants are dry, the leaves curl in on themselves, and it’s harder to perform the task at hand.