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Cutting Plants for Harvest

Nico Escondido

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Greetings to you Mr. Nico!
Thanks for all you do for weed growers everywhere. I am now myself ready to harvest my first crop, but have always wondered if it’s better to cut the plant from the root ball and hang it, or uproot and hang it (shaken out, of course). I know people who do it one way or the other, but both claim the other is wrong. Your take?
            – Robert S. via NicosNuggets@hightimes.com

Hello Robert! Thanks for reading and writing in with your questions.

Harvesting marijuana plants encompasses a lot more than meets the eye. For starters, the precise timing of when to cut your plants down matters quite a bit. It is most recommended that plants be cut down at the end of their night or dark cycle. This timing allows for the plant to drain itself of as much moisture and nutrients as possible, making for an easier road while drying and curing—and for a more pleasant smoke in the end. During the dark cycle, all plant processes shift to the root system which does it’s work during the night when the plant itself is “asleep.”


Cut plants down just before day break or light cycle begins.

Depending on the size of your plant, you may decide to cut at different points on the plant when harvesting. For larger plants, it is usually easiest to cut at the base of the branches near the main stem. If the plant is an outdoor monster, some growers may even go up the branch a bit further and take several cuts of smaller branches. The key here is to maintain a manageable size branch for hanging.

Always remember to leave a “V” notch, formed by two branches or stems, so that you can hang the branches easily on a hanger or wire. Branches should always be hung upside down, and the larger fan leaves can be lobbed off as well to aid in drying and prevent moisture build-ups which can lead to molding. Many growers hang dry in a dark, dry place with ample air movement around the plants. It usually takes around seven to 10 days for this process to be completed. Once dried, growers will begin the trimming and manicuring process.


Dry buds in dry dark space. 

Once the buds have all been dried, trimmed and manicured, it is time for the curing process to begin. Curing is simply another way of saying “very slow dry.” This process slowly removes the remaining moisture from the buds, drawing out the terpenes which oxidize into terpenoids and show the true “bouquet” of the flower’s aromas and flavors.


Buds are usually trimmed after drying, though some prefer to wet trim as seen here.

To cure properly, it is best to use glass jars (plastic products tend to impart unwanted smells and tastes) that are tinted dark to allow little light in. The buds will sit in the jars anywhere from a week to a month, depending on the preference of the grower. Each day the jars should be opened once or twice to “burb” the moisture slowing evaporating from the buds. Once the buds feel dry enough to pick apart for a joint and the aromas ooze out of the jars when opened, you know you are ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!

Got questions? Email ‘em over to Nico at NicosNuggets@hightimes.com and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line!

Nico Escondido is High Times' Cultivation Editor and star of the hit informational DVD, Grow Like a Pro

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