Harvest Cannabis


What do trichomes look like when ready to harvest? Can I harvest the top half of my plant? Can you harvest buds at different times?

These are probably some of the questions running through your mind as you start your marijuana-growing business. You are in luck because this guide will give you a blow-by-blow account of how and when to harvest cannabis.

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Cannabis Harvest Time

You may be wondering what all the fuss is with cannabis harvest time. That is because harvesting too early or late affects the potency and yield of marijuana

Since the US is in the Northern hemisphere, harvest time is between September and November if you are growing marijuana outside. That will depend on the strain, with some maturing earlier than others.

It is vital to mark the flowering times to guide you on the plant’s maturity. 

When to Harvest Cannabis 

Sure, you’ve marked the time the flowering occurred and have religiously counted the days to harvest times as recommended by the breeders, but that is not an accurate prediction of the peak harvest time for when to harvest cannabis. 

For that, you will have to inspect the plants. Whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, the best pointer on marijuana maturity would be to check the trichomes and stigma.

The stigma is the hair-like strands covering the buds. When marijuana is mature, the stigma will turn orange from white and start to curl.


Harvest Cannabis

Cannabis: Things to Know


What Do Trichomes Look Like When Ready for Harvesting

Trichomes are clear when immature and turn cloudy, then amber when mature. Since marijuana requires plenty of light, the top colas might mature faster than the bottom buds. It is common to harvest unripe buds along with ripe ones. 

The most accurate indicator of marijuana maturity is trichomes. They can help you define what you aim to achieve with your product, that is:

  • Clear trichomes: Resin production has not peaked, the weed has little potency, aroma, or flavor, and provides low yields—this is not the appropriate time to harvest cannabis.
  • Cloudy or milky trichomes: The weed is at its most potent state at this stage as it contains the highest Tetrahydrocannabinol THC levels, producing the most psychoactive effects.
  • Amber/gold trichomes: The more amber it is, the less psychoactive the cannabis is. The THC reacts to UV light and oxygen and breaks down to form cannabinol (CBD).


As trichomes are so tiny, you will need a microscope or magnifying glass to chart the color changes and determine when to harvest cannabis.

To sum up, if you want a quick high that won’t last long, harvest early when there is a healthy mix of clear and cloudy trichomes. If you want a severe effect while the THC is at its most forceful state, the perfect time when to harvest cannabis is once all trichomes are cloudy/milky. Wait until most trichomes have turned amber if you prefer a more relaxing effect after being less psychoactive.  

The good thing about growing your weed is you can experiment with when to harvest cannabis. It is okay to harvest the buds at different stages of maturity to get an idea of what sort of marijuana you prefer.

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Leaf color

Another accurate way of gauging the maturity of the marijuana plant is by observing the leaf color. During the flowering stage, there is plenty of nitrogen that lends it to the green color. 

As the time for when to harvest cannabis approaches, the nitrogen levels drop down significantly, turning the fan leaves yellow as they begin to fall off. Otherwise, the leaves will start to curl as they turn yellow.


During optimal harvest time, half the pistils in photoperiod cannabis plants will turn brown. You’ll need that magnifying glass or microscope to confirm this.


This is hardly a definitive test, but checking the bud shape can hint at when to harvest cannabis. Once the buds become firm and tight, that means they are now mature and ready for harvest.

How to Harvest Cannabis

Once you’ve determined when to harvest cannabis, it’s time to get the harvesting equipment ready, that is:

  • Pruners
  • Scissors
  • Clean tray/bowl and surface
  • Rubbing alcohol

There are two styles of trimming- wet or dry trimming. In wet trimming, you chop the plants and trim the buds straight away. As for dry trimming, you chop the plants and hang them to dry for a few days before you trim the buds.

To chop the plants:

  1. Take a large pair of shears to their branches.
  2. If they are big plants, use the pruners to cut off the big branches.
  3. For the smaller plants, use scissors to cut them at the plant’s base, near the ground.

Either way, be gentle not to harm the buds.

If you decide on the wet trim path, cut large enough branches to handle the plant as you go about snipping the buds off. For dry trim, cut even bigger branches to provide enough room to hang the plants without damaging the buds. For that reason, it is not reasonable to cut the top of the plant as you would not have a place to handle it; you might damage the buds.



Harvest Cannabis

Harvest Cannabis


Hot Tips for When to Harvest Cannabis Successfully

  • Inspect the trichomes to ensure the plant is ready to harvest.
  • A week before you start harvesting, flush the cannabis plants with water only, ensuring no nutrients get to them.
  • Sharpen your shears and shears.
  • Once you have determined when to harvest cannabis, keep clothes that you have no problem getting dirty ready. Harvesting marijuana can get sticky.
  • As different strains have different maturity times, harvest the ready plants and let the rest mature.
  • It is good practice to harvest before it gets too hot. If it is indoors, that is not a big issue; you can harvest when the light comes on. When it is outdoors, harvest in the morning before temperatures soar.

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Tips About Harvesting Outdoors Weed 

Growing your plants outside presents the greatest challenge to growing marijuana. Still, there are a few tricks you can apply to arrive at a great harvest.

Rainy Weather

A little rain is not a big problem; issues crop up when it turns into a storm that lasts long, as the appropriate time to harvest cannabis becomes tricky. If it dries out and warms up soon enough, then you are in luck. However, if the rain persists, that’s a recipe for mold. Harvest before you lose your crop.

Even if there is hail or cold, you could always cover the plants with a tarp if the conditions are not prolonged.

Cold Weather

A light freeze in the 28-32°F range will not trouble most weed strains for up to three hours. Anything more than that, or a hard freeze, is disastrous as ice will form in plant tissues and damage plant cells.

Indoor marijuana plants are likely to experience adverse temperature changes, making them vulnerable to frost damage.

If you are looking to grow marijuana around the California area, apply with MMJ Doctor today. They can help you secure a cultivation license to grow up to 99 marijuana plants for personal use, so you can experiment on when to harvest cannabis.

Get in touch today to start your medical marijuana journey.


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