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Grow Tip: When To Harvest Weed Plants

Choosing the best time to take down your Cannabis plants will insure peak ripeness and potency depending on your needs.

Dear Danny,

I have some plants I grew from seed on my roof deck and I don’t really know what to do with them. They’re happy and healthy but I think I’m getting close to the end. The seed pack said 60-day flowering time but I don’t really know what day they started flowering outside. My buddy says that if the hairs are mostly red, it’s time but I’ve read a bunch of other conflicting advice on the internet so I figured I’d turn to a pro. When should I harvest my weed plants?

Kindest regards, Smokey McSmokeface

Dear Smokey,

Peak Cannabis ripeness isn’t properly determined by red hairs or flowering times listed on seed packs. The only way to truly determine that your weed plants are ready to harvest is to look closely at the glandular trichomes on the surface of the flowers. These gland heads contain cannabinoids, or essential oils, as well as the terpenes and flavinoids that give each unique variety its scents and tastes.

You’ll need a loupe of a magnifying glass in order to see the contents of the gland heads up close. As your plants go through the flowering process, you will first see the resin glands begin to form. They look like tiny clear mushrooms with a stalk and a head. Over time, the gland heads will begin to get more bulbous and eventually turn from clear to cloudy and then from cloudy to amber inside.

For most purposes, the ideal time to harvest is when most of the gland heads are cloudy and not yet amber. Some will look clear and some will look amber but when the majority have become cloudy, the harvest window has opened and you should take your plant down and begin the drying process within a few days of determining maturity.

Some hash-makers like to harvest their weed plants a week or two early, when gland heads are half clear and half cloudy which can result in a lighter-colored extract that some find more desirable. The high will be headier with less of a psychoactive effect. Medical Cannabis patients who are seeking a more lethargic stone to treat insomnia or body pain will let their plants go a few weeks longer until the majority of the trichome heads are amber. Some of the prominent cannabinoids such as THC and CBD degrade into CBN which results in a heavier physical effect.

Danny Danko

About Dan Vinkovetsky @dannydankoht

Dan Vinkovetsky (formerly Danny Danko of High Times) is a Cannabis writer and editor at Northeast Leaf Magazine since July 2020. Previously, He was the Senior Cultivation Editor at High Times Magazine since 2002. Danny is the author of "The Official High Times Field Guide to Marijuana Strains" (2011) and "Cannabis: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Marijuana" (2018). Danny hosted the podcast "Free Weed from Danny Danko” from 2011-2018 and currently hosts the podcast "Grow Bud Yourself!".

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