Growing a cannabis plant to its full potential can be tricky. It's important to know when to harvest a cannabis plant. If you chop her too soon, the THC, will be immature. This will cause paranoia, anxiety, and a deminshed high. If you chop too late, the THC will degrade into CBNs and other compounds that are not psychoactive. If you're unlucky, your plant may even produce seeds, or bud rot and mould.
The key to knowing when to harvest a cannabis plant lies in the THC crystals, these are known as trichomes. Trichomes contain many different cannabinoids, but are predominantly made up of THC.
As flowers grow on a cannabis plant, they produce trichomes that over time will mature. They will start off as tiny stalks, and grow a globule on the very top of this stalk. The trichomes will then look mushroom shaped. Checking these trichomes will give you an idea of when to harvest a cannabis plant.
The heads of these newly grown trichomes will be clear, this means the THC is immature, and the plant has a long way til harvest.
Over the last two weeks of growth, a cannabis plant will pile on weight into her flowers. In a last ditch effort to be pollinated, she will release more terpenes, and resins. She will do this to attract more pollinating insects via the smell, and trap extra pollen by being sticky. Harvesting too early will stop the plant from reaching her full potential.
Just looking at the pistols (hairs) on a plant, and waiting for them to turn brown or orange, will not give you an accurate idea of THC maturity. The colour of pistols can change for many reasons. Such as over feeding, damage, or pheno type of strain. Your plant may look done, but is she ripe?
With over 60x zoom, you can see exactly when to harvest a cannabis plant. Using the image above, you can see milky trichomes are when the plant is reaching maturity. Once all trichomes are milky/ foggy, you can begin the flush, and decide at what stage you would like to chop her. Chopping at the right stage will give you a high that is personally best for you. Some like just milky, some like 50% amber!
By using a USB microscope, or a jewellers loupe, you can get a good close up look at the trichomes on your plant. Using a usb microscope is the best way to see when to harvest a cannabis plant.
After the thricomes have all turned milky, the THC is mature, and you can harvest at this point. But, your plant isn't at her full potential just yet.
This is the perfect time to begin flushing if you're growing in hydroponics, or with salt based nutrients. In around 2 weeks, your plant will have around 10-20% amber trichomes. This is perfect level for most smokers.
Having 10-20% amber trichomes and 80-90% milky will offer a strong high, with a euphoric energetic feel. This is my personal favourite level of milky to amber.
Also, after the trichomes are all milky, the plant will gain a lot of weight as she fills out her flowers one last time. She will push out buds, and resins, THC and plenty of terpenes during those last two weeks.
I know, it can be very difficult to look at a ripe, juicy cannabis plant and not want to chop her. But waiting those extra two weeks will really push your harvest to the full potential. Both in weight, and in quality.
Don't waste months of hard work, by rushing the final few weeks of your grow. Let your plant reach her full potential. Check those trichomes, flush at all milky, chop at 10-20% amber, and you will have high quality top shelf cannabis.
Thanks for reading! You can find more information on anything related to growing in our cannabis grow guides. All of our guides are written by experienced growers, and members of our cannabis growers forum. If you have any questions, sign up. It is free, and we are always happy to help!
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