When to Harvest

Dear Nico, How do you know your plant is ready for harvest? – William H.

This week’s question is one that I’m often asked, especially these days as more and more new growers come on to the legal grow scene. Thanks for writing in, William! Your question is perhaps the most important as it’s the last step of cultivation before drying and curing begins!

To begin with, once the 12-hour photo-period starts, most strains will flower for somewhere between 7 and 12 weeks. Some might be slightly shorter, and some sativas may go for much longer – up to 22 weeks in extreme cases! But the average flowering time is generally somewhere around 56 days, or 8 weeks.

Milky glands in full sun, x40.

Most growers begin checking on their flowers around week 6 or seven to watch the trichome development, as this is your key for when to harvest. The trichomes are the tiny resin glands on the exterior of your buds and leaves. To the naked eye they appear shiny and crystalline. To assess these resin glands and the best time to harvest, you will need a small loupe or hand-microscope that is between x40 to x80 magnification.

What we are really looking at here is the color of the glands. By week 6, they will be very well defined, with a stalk and bulbous head. Early in their development the resin contained inside these glands will be clear. Over time, the resin will become cloudy, or milky, and eventually they will start to turn amber. The best timeframe to harvest is on the cusp of milky and amber. This timeframe usually lasts for a few days, maybe a week, before a majority of resin glands begin to go amber. You want to harvest your buds, just before this point.

Amber color in your trichomes represents the start of degradation and over time that can equal less potency for your buds. It is also important to remember that once harvested, your flowers still have another week or two of drying and curing, during which time these trichomes will continue to slowly degrade and turn amber. This is why many growers tend to harvest on the earlier side, when the glands are still a milky-white color.

Long stalks and clear gland heads at peak potency, x25.

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!
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