Knowing when to harvest your cannabis crop is essential to getting the quality bud you’re looking for. Harvest too early and the buds might not have had time to fully develop the THC you’re looking for. But, harvest too late and all that THC might be turned into CBN, which will provide a lazier, more sedative effect than the euphoric effects brought on by THC. So, how do you know when it’s the perfect time to harvest? All you have to do is look at the color of the trichomes.
What are trichomes?
Trichomes are extremely small structures that cover the buds on a marijuana plant. One plant can have thousands of them. They’re what are known as the crystals on a plant because, without a microscope, that’s exactly what they look like. Up close however, you can see that they’re actually small tubular-shaped structures with a small ball on top, looking very similar to tiny mushrooms. These trichomes will be your guide come harvest time, because all you have to do is look at them to get an idea of where the plant is in its grow cycle.
- Clear trichomes. When trichomes have none or very little THC, they are clear. Harvesting at this stage will be useless because the trichomes don’t only need to form on the buds, they also need to become milky or cloudy before they’re of any use to anyone.
- Half and half. Once the trichomes start building up a bit of THC within themselves, about half of them will start to turn cloudy. Once this happens, you might be tempted to start harvesting, but it’s not time just yet. The unique strain odor hasn’t even yet fully developed, and there’s still so much potential for those trichomes to build up even more THC and become so much more powerful. Hold on another week or two and you’ll be looking at trichomes that are ready to harvest.
- Most cloudy. Once 50 – 70% of the trichomes have turned cloudy, it’s time to harvest! Doing so now, before the trichomes start to turn amber, will give you buds with the highest THC levels, which is exactly what you’re looking for!
How to tell
The human eye can easily pick up the shape and color of cannabis buds, and can even differentiate between individual hair on the buds, but trichomes are a bit different. Trichomes are extremely small structures, and they can be difficult to see using only your eyes. Even if you can see them, identifying the “cloudiness” factor of them can be impossible! So, how do you do it?
The best option is to pick up a jeweler’s loupe or a small magnifying glass. These can be carried around with you (especially if you’re using a small loupe) so you can check on the status of your buds any time, and inconspicuously if growing outdoors. There are many different options to choose from, but as long as the one you use has a magnifying power of at least 50X, you should be able to pick up each and every individual trichome – and evaluate them to determine whether they’re ready for harvest!