Oct 16, 2021

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Cannabis Harvesting Tips

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Happy Croptober! Let’s dig into some Cannabis Harvesting Tips:

Cannabis & Terpene Education at Home Grown Apothecary. Photo by Space Face Media

A beginner's guide to Harvesting Cannabis

It’s, October and it’s time to start deciding when to take down your cannabis plants. Many of you who purchased clones from us were first time growers, so we wanted to share a few tips with you to boost terpene production, ensure you harvest at the “golden moment”, and how to dry and cure!

HARVESTING CANNABIS

Growth times can vary by strain and by geography, however generally indica strains will flower in 50-60 days and sativa strains will flower in 60-70 days. Because each strain is unique these are generalities and not rules, some sativas can finish more quickly and some indicas can take longer to grow.

Harvesting cannabis at just the right moment helps to maximize the terpene and resin potential of the plant. If you harvest too early you sacrifice some of that production. Similarly if you harvest too late, the THC crystals can degrade into CBN (the cannabinoid that puts the plant to sleep), reducing the potential of psycho-activity in the plant. Due to the fact that we are in Oregon, we are sometimes forced to harvest cannabis in mid-October due to oncoming rains and mold prevention- but we do what we gotta do.

With so many variables that equate to a proper harvest time there are a few tricks to finding what we in the cannabis industry refer to as the “Golden Moment”. Every strain will represent its maturity differently and at different times so treat each strain you grow uniquely. Now let’s get out your magnifying glasses and let’s take a peak at some helpful hints:

Cannabis & Terpene Education at Home Grown Apothecary. Photo by Space Face Media
Cannabinoid and Terpene Education at Home Grown Apothecary Photo by Space Face Media
Cannabis & Terpene Education at Home Grown Apothecary. Photo by Space Face Media

GOLDEN MOMENT

  • Monitor Your Trichomes

    Also known as Pistols, they will begin clear and slowly change to a milky white and then to a shade of amber. The amber is not always present and is highly strain dependent so do not rely on this aspect solely. If you do not see the amber, continue to check using the following methods before deciding to wait for harvest.

  • Monitor Your Stigma

    These are the hair like features on the flower. While the plant is growing they will be white and as the plant comes closer to maturity, they turn to a darker and darker shade of orange/red (or sometimes purple depending on the strain!)

  • Keep One Eye on the Gland Heads

    These can be found at the top of the Trichome or Pistol. Within this magical ball can be found your terpenes and cannabinoids. As the plant matures, the glands will swell. We tend to keep an eye on them in the final few weeks. Once we see the first one or two pop we know the rest are also at their maximum potential and do our harvest.

  • Keep Your Other Eye on the Skies

    And on the weather forecast. If you are growing outdoors, make sure to harvest your plants before any large rainfall soaks your flowers or get them under cover. These are prime conditions for mold once you get to the drying and curing process and are best avoided.

WET TRIM VS DRY TRIM

Now is the time to decide if you are going to trim your cannabis wet or dry if you haven’t already. Trimming wet not only allows the flowers to cure more quickly, but the added air circulation also minimizes the risk of mold occurring during the drying process. Wet trimming is the go-to method for most people in the industry because having the leaves being alert and horizontal makes the trimming process much quicker.

The reason someone may choose to dry their harvest prior to trimming is to preserve cannabinoid and terpene exactness. A true cannabis connoisseur will choose the slower method of waiting for the flower to dry before harvest and taking the extra time to trim. Some studies have shown that up to 30% of terpenes can evaporate in the first week of drying!

DRYING

Hang your branches in a well ventilated and dry area and monitor closely. Some people have hung rope or twine lines in their homes or garage, others use hangers. Make sure there is enough spacing between branches for air to flow freely.

It does not take too long for cannabis to dry out, maybe 3-14 days depending on humidity, temperature and how you trimmed. Over-drying your cannabis will cause resin glands to shrink up and burst, losing potency or cannabinoids and terpenes as well as making for a harsher smoke on the throat. Making sure to pull your buds down and put it in a air-tight jar with some preservation packs is going to be important. Be sure to check your flower more frequently as time passes to make sure you do not over dry it.

Your plant will be done drying when the branch is no longer rubbery but doesn’t quite break when you bend it.

CURING

This is a rather simple step. Place your trimmed and dried flower into your storage container (reference below). Curing is accomplished by “burping” or opening the jar for short periods of time every few days over the period of about 7-10 days.

STORAGE

GLASS.

GLASS. GLASS. GLASS.

Anything airtight will do the job but there is a risk of plastics absorbing your terpenes and cannabinoids and are okay for temporary storage but for long term storage nothing competes with a classic mason jar.

Also we couldn’t recommend Boveda Moisure Control Packs more highly. The Moisture % we would recommend for cannabis is 62%. They are available online.

TRIMMING TRICKS

 

  • The resin on your fingers and scissors is considered like gold in some places- Ball it up and top your pipe with it!

  • Sticky Residue Removal: A little coconut oil will take that right off!

  • Remove as few crystals and hairs as possible, that is where all the good stuff is.

  • Wash your scissors frequently. We keep a small tub of isopropyl 99% nearby and have two sets of scissors and alternate between them, keeping one constantly at the ready. Remember to save that hash first!

  • Wear old clothes that you don’t care if get dirty.

In summary

Harvesting Cannabis at its “Golden Moment” will increase cannabinoid and terpene yields.

Wet trimming can be faster and easier while Dry trimming preserves more cannabinoids and terpenes.

When curing, make sure your plants have sufficient room for airflow.

Store you cannabis in glass whenever possible.

Sourcing

Leafly’s “When to Harvest Marijuana Plants”,
Cannabis Business Times’ “10 Cannabis Harvesting & Post-Harvest Tips”,
High Times “Pro Guide to Cannabis Harvesting”
High Times’ “Key Points to Harvest Time”,
High Times’ “The Connoisseurs Guide to Harvesting Weed Plants”,
Weedmaps’ “When to Harvest Cannabis: Tips”
Weedmaps’ “How to Harvest, Trim, Dry, & Cure your Weed.”

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