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6 min read

When To Harvest Cannabis - Growers Guide

When To Harvest Cannabis - Growers Guide



Harvesting cannabis at the right time is crucial to maximize its potency and quality. Regardless if you're an experienced farmer or a beginner, knowing the perfect time to harvest your cannabis plants is crucial for obtaining optimal outcomes. Lets dive into the signs and characteristics of cannabis when it is ready for harvest at peak potency.


Key Take Aways

  • When you harvest influences the effects of your bud.
  • 50% to 70% of your trichomes turn cloudy or milky.
  • 70% of your pistils turn amber.
  • Buds become more vibrant in color and less spongy.

Why Its Important To Harvest On Time

The timeframe to harvest weed can vary depending on strain, growing conditions, and the specific effects you desire from your cannabis. When you harvest cannabis on time you maximize the potency, aroma, and value of your bud. As shown below in the trichome development chart, THC, CBD and other cannabinols change over time.


GreenBroz Trichome Development Cycles


Why Do Cultivators Disagree on When to Harvest Cannabis?

Experienced growers often have different ideas about when to harvest, and many factors affect their opinions. This usually comes down to what effects an experienced grower prefers.

  • Early Harvest - Tends to produce a more energizing and mentally stimulating effect.
  • Later Harvest - Usually offers a more calming and serene experience.

Timing your cannabis harvest window affects bud size and potency. While waiting longer can result in larger buds, it may slightly reduce the overall cannabinoid content. That's why most growers prefer to wait until the buds have reached their peak development before deciding to harvest.

Not Harvesting On Time

Effects On Potency

As THC reaches its peak potency, it degrades into another cannabinoid known as cannabinol. Oxygen and UV light accelerate this process as the plant loses vitality in its later stages of life. The same transformation occurs in stored cannabis flowers, where THC slowly converts into CBN.

CBN offers a heavy sedative like feeling, which some patients may find valuable. However, this effect is not that same as the sedative properties of indicas. 

On the other hand, harvesting too early can have less than ideal effects. Cannabis buds start with little to no THC content; smoking an underdeveloped bud can be unpleasant.

Market Value Implications of Harvest Timing

Timing when to harvest is not just about potency; it's also about potential profits. Harvesting cannabis at its peak maturity not only maximizes potency, but also optimizes the crop's weight and market value. A well-timed harvest ensures the buds are dense and resinous, attracting higher prices and greater demand in the market.

Factors Influencing the Harvest Window

  1. Strain Characteristics Different strains have varying maturity times. Indica dominant strains usually mature faster than sativa dominant ones. To be the best marijuana grower, it's crucial to understand your type of cannabis and its development cycle.
  2. Trichome Development Monitoring trichome development is crucial. Trichomes change from clear to milky to amber as they mature, serving as a key indicator of harvest readiness.
  3. Flower Density: The density and size of the flowers also affect harvest time. Dense buds typically take longer to mature than airy ones.
  4. Uneven Flower Maturation: Flowers on a cannabis plant may mature unevenly because of differences in light exposure. Top flowers are usually more potent, while lower ones may have fewer trichomes.
  5. Environmental Conditions: Factors like temperature, humidity, and lighting impact cannabis growth and maturation. Understanding these conditions is vital for successful cultivation.


Trichome Development Stages-2
Trichomes changing from clear to amber as they become ready to harvest.


When To Harvest Using Trichomes and Pistils

Trichomes and pistils are the most common way growers determine if its time to harvest there cannabis. 

the trichrome method

As the plant develops, the trichomes undergo a slow color transformation from transparent to a white hue resembling milk. You'll often see weed growers use a jewelers loop or usb microscope to examine there buds trichome color shift.

50% to 70% of the trichomes turning milky-white or cloudy signals that your plants are ready to harvest.

Not all trichomes will change color simultaneously; this process occurs gradually over time. The presence of milky-colored trichomes suggests that resin production has reached its peak. Essential compounds such as THC, CBD, and terpenes have reached their highest levels.

the pistil method

Pistils or "hairs" begin as white and gradually turn amber and brown hues signifying a fully developed bud. These thin, white pistils stick out from the flower's base, trying to catch pollen to make seeds.

Harvest your marijuana plants when about 70% of these pistils have turned amber or orange.

Going beyond 90% can result in harvesting past the ideal window.

Scientific Approach to Timing The Harvest

Expert marijuana cultivators occasionally use a more scientific approach to determine when a plant is ready to harvest. Through laboratory testing of cannabis compounds such as CBG. If you can afford it and are looking to elevate your harvesting process. 

Cannabigerol (CBG), often overlooked, plays a crucial role in harvest timing. A precursor to THC and CBD, CBG levels during the flowering phase are a critical indicator of maturity. Higher CBG levels suggest that the plant is still converting CBG into THC and CBD, indicating that it's not yet time to harvest.

Checking when to harvest using CBG

As CBG levels near zero, it signals that the plants have reached their potential potency, making it the perfect time for harvesting.



picture of a ready to harvest bud and an over ripe bud

Signs A Cannabis bud Is Ready To Harvest

You can use characteristics changes of your marijuana buds to know when they are ready to be harvested.

Flower Density Changes

Your cannabis buds will becomes more and more firm towards peak potency. Gently squeeze your buds during growth to monitor how spongey they are.

Bud Color Changes

Healthy mature marijuana buds will look full of life with vibrant greens, reds or purples, dependent on strain.

Over Ripe Buds and Late Harvest Characteristics

An over ripe bud will begin to turn brownish in color as it begins to finish its life and die. The over ripe buds do contain some THC and CBD but most of the cannabinol has converted to CBN. Avoid mistaking overly matured buds for bud rot, a fungal infection that impacts cannabis, dealing with bud rot.

A Beginners Guide To Harvest Timming

Most new growers tend to harvest to early, the anticipation can be overwhelming. We've all been there. Here are some beginner friendly techniques for knowing when to harvest cannabis. 

Beginners Tip #3 - Wait:

New growers might have the desire to harvest early and lose out on valuable potency and trichome development. As a newer grower wait an extra week or two after you think you want to harvest. 

Don't worry - waiting an extra week to harvest your plants won't damage or reduce your grow. Since weed buds maintain their size for two to three weeks post peak potency.

Beginners Tip #2 - Examine trichomes of a clipping:

When examining the trichomes on your weed, take a clipping of a sugar leaf instead. It's easier to examine than trying to inspect the whole bud on the stalk.

Beginners Tip #3 - Harvest before the sun or before the lights:

This is an often overlooked marijuana harvesting technique by new growers. With the grow lights off or at night cannabis spends its time producing resin. Once the lights come on and the sun up it begins the photosynthesis process. This can create a less than ideal taste and flavor profile.

inspecting trichomes to know when to harvest cannabis

Advanced Harvesting Techniques

Incorporating advanced harvesting techniques can significantly enhance the quality of your crop. Techniques like staggered harvesting allow you to harvest the top portions of the plant which mature faster. This gives the lower flowers additional time to develop potency and trichome density. Utilizing technology, such as handheld microscopes and DSLR cameras for trichome assessment.


Once you understand the factors involved and believe your plants have reached ideal maturity, it's time to harvest. The cannabis harvesting process involves several steps and requires specific tools. In our experience dry trimming provides a better result, Wet Vs Dry The Ultimate Guide.


Equipment and Tools for Harvesting

Equipping yourself with the right tools is key to a successful harvest. From precision pruning shears to advanced curing racks, choosing the correct equipment can streamline your harvesting process.

Essential Harvesting Tools

Pruning Shears or Scissors: You'll need these for snipping the cannabis plant and removing sugar and fan leaves.

Gloves: To protect your hands from resin and sticky trichomes.

Harvesting Containers: Use airtight containers or mason jars to store your harvested buds.

Curing Racks or Lines: A clothes line to hang cut plants is recommended.

harvesting cannabis during the right time


Post Harvest

Post-harvest processing is as crucial as the harvest itself. Proper drying, curing, and storage techniques are essential to preserve the potency, flavor, and aroma of your cannabis. Drying slowly in a controlled environment ensures that your buds retain their cannabinoid and terpene profiles.

Curing, if done correctly, can enhance the overall quality and shelf life of your product. Understanding and implementing these post-harvest processes can significantly elevate the quality of your cannabis.


Give YourSelf A Hand!

Whether it's your first harvest or 100th, cannabis harvesting is both challenging and rewarding. Determining when to harvest marijuana is a blend of art and science.  With practice and experience, you'll become a master at harvesting cannabis, producing potent and flavorful buds.



Harvesting FAQ




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