Cannabis: How do I harvest my weed?
"What do you think is the best time of year?”
When I was asked this question as a child, I could easily answer: autumn of course! I went to a Steinerschool and here a lot of attention was paid to the different seasons. In autumn we went to the forest to pick up wild chestnuts and study the most beautiful coloured leaves. I liked that I could put on my nice woolen sweater, but it wasn't so cold that I had to wear a thick winter coat. I also loved the rainy days. I could enjoy myself being inside the house, with pen and paper. After the heat and fierce sunshine of summer and the holiday with lots of being outside, I enjoyed the quiet pace of autumn in which I crawled into my own fantasy world, or into the head of a character from an exciting book.
Now that I'm older, I find it impossible to choose a 'favourite season', except perhaps from a good series like Breaking Bad. Especially with the vagaries of nature, which have to do with climate change, you can't distinguish many typical characteristics of the different seasons very well. Suddenly, talking about the weather is no longer the same as small talk.
As a cannabis lover, autumn is probably still my favourite season: it's when it's finally ready for harvest! Growing your own cannabis plant is, just like growing your own fruit and vegetables, a rewarding activity. Especially when you grow outdoors, you are in close contact with the sun, the seasons and the micro life that is in the soil and helps your plant to get nutrients and fight diseases. Having cannabis plants also means sacrificing a certain freedom: you have to take care of them, so you can't just decide to go on holiday for three weeks in the summer, unless a good friend (or grandmother) wants to pamper them for a while. Harvesting weed is a matter of intervening at the right time. There is a certain moment when your plants are at the peak of their flowering, the moment when the weed buds contain the highest level of THC and you're almost bursting at the seams with taste and smell. How do you know that this crucial moment has arrived? Harvesting too early means that your plant could develop even more and generate even more flavour and effect. Late harvesting means a decrease in THC content, as well as other cannabinoids and a reduction in taste and aromas. Harvesting at the right time is an art you may not have mastered right away. The more experience you gain, the better you'll feel when you have to harvest your cannabis plant for the best results.
The growth, flowering and harvesting phase of cannabis
What I like about growing weed is that people can spontaneously get green fingers from it. Suddenly, you can see at close quarters how such a plant is 'born' from that seed that you have shoved under the earth with the greatest care. The two cotyledons appear, like a small blade of grass that grows faster and faster, first vulnerable and meaningless. Soon the plant is so overgrown that it outgrows its pot. It can then be placed in the full ground, if you dare. Now the cannabis plant can reach its full maturity, with plenty of sunlight and healthy growing food and compost. Then the flowering phase has started - with Autoflowers this is automatic and faster than with Regular cannabis seeds, which depend on the number of hours of light. During the flowering phase, the weed buds form and this is what it's all about in the end. Not every type of weed grows and blooms at the same pace. You will have to be more patient with Sativa's, they can flower for about 3 to 4 months before they have matured enough. Unlike Indica's, which are ready to flower in 2 to 3 months. As mentioned before, Autoflowers are a lot faster: useful when you have less time to invest in your plants, or when you live in a colder region.
So keep a close eye on your individual plants and check if the time is ripe!
What say Royal Queen Seeds, Sensi Seeds, Barney's Farm etc?
Seed suppliers give an indication of how long the growth and flowering period of a specific type of weed is. It is important to emphasize that this is not a rock solid fact, as is the case with everything in nature. Depending on the weather and the personality of your weed plant, the flowering period can be shorter or longer than indicated. It certainly makes sense to calculate when your plant is predicted to be ready for harvest, but keep some slack. It's a good idea to save or estimate when your plants started flowering. This makes it easier to predict when harvest time will arrive.
Yellowed leaves, discoloured hairs
There are several signals indicating that your cannabis plant is ready to be harvested. As mentioned earlier, the moment when the plant is at its peak of flowering is the time when you really need to start paying attention. This is followed by the final stage of flowering, when the plant has passed its peak and is slowly but surely starting to die off. Pay attention to leaves that are beginning to yellow and take a good look at the 'hairs' on the weed tops. As they get older, they turn from white to brownish. When about 40% to 70% of the white hairs have turned brown, your plant will usually have reached the maximum amount of THC. The longer you wait, the more THC is broken down and converted into the cannabinoid CBN. As a result, the plant loses its psychedelic effect and becomes more sedative and sedative. Know that the decomposition process of THC continues even after your weed has been harvested.
Milky white resin glands: indicator of the maturity of your cannabis plant
It's very important that you study your weed well. Not only by looking at the plant with the naked eye, but also by looking at the smaller details. The best way to do this is with the right equipment. Investing in a proper microscope is therefore highly recommended if you want to have as much control as possible. Some people use an old-fashioned magnifying glass, which also allows you to enlarge the weed buds and take a good look at them. When you zoom in on the buds you will be able to see the resin glands well. These look a bit like pinheads. When they are transparent, they are too young. When these sticky trichomes are milky white, the amount of THC is at its peak. If you wait any longer, the colour of the resin glands will change to amber and the THC is breaking down. It may be desirable to wait a little longer and let some of the trichomes turn amber, this way you will get a softer but more narcotic effect because some of the THC has been converted to the cannabinoid CBN.
Prepare to harvest your weed
Suppose you want to harvest your weed when the THC content has reached its peak. When you have determined with the microscope that the trichomes are milky white and you see with the naked eye that part of the leaves starts yellowing and part of the hairs on the weed tips are discoloured, le moment suprème is there. What do you need to harvest your cannabis plant?
- Latex gloves
- A clean pruning shear
- Cardboard boxes or crates
Gloves prevent your fingers from getting covered in resin. The resin will stick to the gloves and is easier to scrape off later to use as hashish, for example. There will also be a lot of resin sticking to the pruning shears! You use the cardboard boxes or crates to put the branches in until you hang them up with the rope to dry.
Cutting the weed
If you have a huge weed tree, it is better to cut off the different branches and then edit them. If you have a small plant, you can simply cut off the main stem and then cut off the side branches one by one. In order for the weed buds to dry optimally, they need good air circulation. This means that they are given 'breathing space'. Dividing your plant into separate branches makes it easier to let them dry individually.
Undo the branches of their bracts
The so-called bracts, i.e. the large leaves that you see between the flower tops, may be removed. You can easily tear them off the stem or cut them off with pruning shears. Don't throw them away, because you can also let them dry for nice tea, or use them to make weed butter. You can also carefully remove the smaller leaves from the rest.
Drying and curing of weed
After you have processed your weed plants into loose branches where the buds have enough space to dry properly, the next part of the process has begun: drying and curing your weed. In the next blog I will go deeper into this important moment in creating the tastiest buds of your own cultivation.
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