Ripeness in cannabis is a topic not often discussed, yet it is one of the most important aspects of a grow. What does ripe actually mean? It is the stage of growth or development that indicates it is ready for reaping or harvesting.
It’s easy to tell when the fruit is ripe, but what about when it comes to cannabis?
Like all fruit, cannabis buds too goes through several stages of ripeness. This is mostly dictated by several indicators: color in the THC heads or glands, the color of the leaves and sometimes colors of the hairs on the bud itself.
The first thing to take into account is that not everyone wants to eat a mushy brown-spotted banana, even though this is when it’s most ripe. The same is true about cannabis. When to pick your buds becomes more of a question of personal taste than of the guidelines on a seed package. With cannabis, ripeness usually occurs within a two-week period, where it evolves from the point where it can be picked to the point where it is exceptionally ripe and must be picked.
A general rule of thumb is that if the seed package or clone shop indicates your plant will be ripe in nine weeks, always go at least one week over. The reason is that the last week is one of the most important: it is when the plant packs on its last bit of weight, which can be as much as 20-30 percent of your yield. The last week of your grow cycle is when the gland or heads of the trichome swell up, and about 10 percent have turned an amber color. This color change, which can be seen under magnification (a small magnifying device is a must for any grower), indicates an important part of the ripening process. The THC heads are normally clear, but in that last week, they begin to get cloudy and towards the end of the cycle turn amber.
If you are looking for the highest amount of THC in your fruit, then the time to harvest is right at the start of the ripening cycle. If you are looking for that combined high with a couchlock effect, then it’s best to wait until you have between 15-20 percent amber crystals, because the THC starts to mutate during ripening into another cannabinoid called CBN. These CBNs can increase the sleepy effect of cannabis.
Explore different points in the ripening cycle to see what you prefer. go from that first week after its supposed to be harvested, to two weeks after and test the different results. Don’t forget to leave your buds in glass jars, because that’s where they will cure the best.
With some long-flowering sativa plants, it’s possible to harvest multiple times. In order to do this, harvest the top first, then let the next layer of buds finish and harvest them, working your way down the plant.
Happy growing and more importantly keep it green!