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What is the right moment for an optimum harvest?

Guide to a good harvest at the right time, with Jorge Cervantes' method of recognizing pistils and trichomes

Harvesting your cannabis is often the most exciting time when it comes to growing. All of your previous efforts culminate in this moment when the decision is made to harvest… Since the decision to harvest is so important, you need to understand what is going on chemically with the plants. What should be taken into account as the harvest approaches to ensure the best possible quality?

trichomes, pistils, Jorge Cervantes, harvest

There are several factors, but each varies in precision:

  • The flowering time recommended by the breeder
  • The color of the pistils (the locks of hair that cover the bud)
  • The color of trichomes

A cannabis plant matures over time; it is a process. Cannabis is an annual plant that completes its life cycle in a year or less. Outside, cannabis blooms in the fall. Long nights and short days are the main signal that Mother Nature gives cannabis to bloom.

Indoors, where grow lights replace the sun, growers use an electric timer to create their own seasons. Summer is created with 6 hours of darkness and 18 hours of light.

The autumn flowering photoperiod is replicated with 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light. The female cannabis plants are ready to be harvested in 6 to 12 weeks after the light has been changed to a 12 hour day / night mode. As the plants mature, there are certain clues to help you know when to harvest cannabis. Here are some identification methods from the famous cannabis grower Jorge Cervantes.

Have the pistils changed?

Look at the white, downy hairs like pistils protruding from the seed bract on the buds. The white pistils are healthy and turn reddish-brown when they die, or senescent. When half or three quarters of the pistils have turned reddish-brown, the flower buds should be ready to harvest. But you have to take a closer look….

trichomes, pistils, Jorge Cervantes, harvest
Very colorful pistils of Cannabis sativa subsp. (sativa x. indica) 'Holger's Paars'
Control of the THC content by the Pistil method
  • 0-49% of Pistils are brown : Now is not a good time to harvest because your marijuana is far from reaching its maximum potency.
  • 50-69% : Your plant is not yet at its maximum THC level, but you have the option of harvesting it now for a smooth, light taste.
  • 70-90% : Once you hit that fork, it's definitely time to harvest because your marijuana is as potent as it ever will be! Most growers suggest the 'sweet spot' is 75-80%, but any time past 70% and below 90% it will result in a high quality weed.
  • 91% + Your plant has now exceeded its maximum THC content and the cannabinoid has already begun to degrade to CBN. Marijuana left so late will have a strong taste and a narcotic effect that will not fail to make you sleepy.
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Examine the resinous glands (trichomes) carefully.

Use a portable 30-50X microscope to inspect the resin glands, also known as trichomes, found on flower buds and adjacent foliage.

I like to use a microscope that illuminates the foliage to get an unshaded view of the translucent resin glands. The microscope will allow you to distinguish several resin glands. Jorge Cervantes

trichomes, pistils, Jorge Cervantes, harvest
Tip: With a good digital camera with a macro function, take some photos and zoom in close-up with software like Photoshop or others ... 

The most important are the resinous glands with padded petioles. They consist of a rod with a small spherical globe on top. Be careful when looking at the resin glands, they are very fragile.

The majority of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is found at the base of the globe where it joins the stem. The fragile resinous glands with padded petioles begin to senescence as the plant nears the end of its life. The globe begins to degrade first and the cannabinoids escape.

Cannabis is ready for harvest when a small percentage to more than half of the resinous glands with capitulated petioles have started to degrade. They become amber and darker as they degrade.

Some growers prefer to harvest sooner rather than later; others, later than earlier. It's all about preference, which leads to the third point, consumption. Tips exist for increase your trichrome production.

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Moreover, the ideal moment for most varieties
  • 20% translucent, transparent
    Trichome heads perfectly formed but still clear will bring you a higher effect cleaner and more stimulating with less sedative effect; it is the best harvesting window for heavy Indica varieties.
  • 60% white, opaque
    Trichome heads perfectly formed and becoming slightly veiled or milky; this is probably the best time to harvest most hybrids currently available.
  • 20% amber, brown :
    Perfectly shaped and completely veiled or milky trichome heads, with at least 30% turning amber; this is usually the best harvest window for late maturing Sativas such as Haze. This is also a good time to harvest when using the plant to make hash
Recommendations

Trichomes are incredibly volatile and risk being destroyed and / or degraded by many catalysts, such as:

  • Physical contact or agitation
  • Heat
  • Light
  • Oxygen
  • Time

Sample the bud

Dry some flowers in the oven at 150 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Smoke or sprinkle and see what you think!

trichomes, pistils, Jorge Cervantes, harvest

Not all flower buds ripen at the same time. Often, flowers that receive more light and are on top of plants mature a few days to over a week before the lower buds.

The difference in cannabinoid content, including potency, can be noticeable. The flowers of short plants grown indoors have a lower cannabinoid content than tall plants grown outdoors.

Outdoor crops that cannot be protected should be harvested if there is a risk of frost or heavy rain.

Inside or outside, harvest in the morning whenever possible. Flowers near the tops of indoor and greenhouse plants may be a few days ripe than flowers that receive less light; in this case, spreading the harvest is a good idea. The lower flower buds of outdoor plants that receive less light mature more slowly, up to two weeks after bloom near the tops of the plants. Once the flower buds are fully ripe and ripe, the harvest period lasts from 3 5 days in.

To read :

Better buds with rinsing your plants before harvest

Prevention against end-of-harvest contagion


Weed-master

The author Weed-master

Weed media broadcaster and communications manager specializing in legal cannabis. Do you know what they say? knowledge is power. Understand the science behind cannabis medicine, while staying up to date with the latest health related research, treatments and products. Stay up to date with the latest news and ideas on legalization, laws, political movements. Discover tips, tricks and how-to guides from the most seasoned growers on the planet as well as the latest research and findings from the scientific community on the medical qualities of cannabis.