When it comes to harvesting cannabis, timing is everything. If you take your plants down too soon, they’ll be immature with underdeveloped resin glands containing less of the vital essential oils that give pot its flavors, scent and potency. Chop down too late, and THC will have degraded and converted to CBN, resulting in a more lethargic stone.
Just because a seed breeder says that their product matures in 60 days of flowering doesn’t make that an accurate date for cropping. Some companies will under-report flowering times in an effort to get you to purchase their beans. You must also take into account any downtime your plants spent recovering from the stress caused by transplanting or other aggravating factors. Sometimes this can add weeks to your flowering stage and push your harvest time back significantly.
The amount or percentage of red hairs is also not an accurate way to judge the proper time to harvest your plants. It’s true that these pistils darken from white to orange and then red as the buds ripen, but it’s only an indicator that harvest is approaching and not the best determining factor.
You Must Magnify!
The best thing you can do is to get a magnification device such as a loupe or microscope that will give you a closer look at the actual trichomes on your buds. Sometimes referred to as “crystals,” trichomes are actually glands filled with essential oils made up of cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD and CBN, as well as flavinoids and terpenes. They look a little bit like tiny clear glass mushrooms with a stalk and a bulbous head. It is these gland heads that are separated and pressed together to make hashish.
As harvest approaches, the gland heads will turn from clear to a cloudy or “milky” white, and then eventually turn amber as they begin to go beyond ripeness. If you harvest when most of the gland heads are clear and cloudy, you’ll get a more uplifting high. If you wait until most are amber, the effects will be more lethargic. It really comes down to personal preference, but most people prefer the cloudy and that is when the THC levels are at their highest with no degradation.
Note: Some concentrate makers like to take down their plants a little earlier in order to get a lighter-colored product that’s more desirable to the marketplace. Because the terpenes begin to degrade as the plant continues to mature, these hash producers are willing to sacrifice a small percentage of potency in order to preserve the flavor and clarity of their oils.