Harvesting is an exciting time for growers, the culmination of weeks of carefully caring for your plants all leading up to this moment. It is crucial to harvest, dry, and cure your cannabis perfectly, or you risk losing the entire crop.
Flushing Before Harvest
Flushing is important to do about one to two weeks prior to harvest and simply means to stop feeding your plants any nutrients and give them only pure water. This removes all nutrients left in the plant and results in a much better-tasting, smoother product. Not flushing is a common cause of crop failure as the final product will be bitter tasting and harsher due to the build-up of nutrient salt deposits stored in the plant.
Flushing agents are available that contain chelates that bind more effectively to excess nutrients to remove them. If you do not use a flushing agent, be sure to flush about 2 weeks prior to harvest.
When to Harvest
Knowing when to harvest is important to reap the maximum benefits of the trichomes and full cannabinoid effect. Pay close attention to your flowers and use a hand magnifying glass to inspect the trichomes, the shiny crystal glands covering the buds, and some leaves. Trichomes will start to turn from clear and translucent to a cloudy, milky white when ready to harvest.
Some growers like to harvest when the majority of trichomes are cloudy, and about 20% have turned to an amber-looking color. Cloudy trichomes produce a more cerebral effect, while amber trichomes produce more of a profound effect on the body. The biggest factor contributing to the effect of your cannabis will be seed genetics. Know your genetics and carefully inspect plant trichomes daily to choose the perfect time to harvest.
How to Harvest
You will need a good set of pruners, some high-quality trimming scissors, and a way to hang your harvested plans to dry unless you use drying and curing racks. You also want to grab a bag to throw away waste like dead leaves and grow media.
Use your pruning shears to cut off the stalks, the colas with the buds attached, and either trim them before hanging, which is known as wet trimming, or hang them to dry first, which is known as dry trimming. Many commercial growers choose dry trimming and use trimming machines, although wet trimming is fine for home growers as it allows for better precision and generally results in a higher-end quality product with fewer lost trichomes.
Removing large fan leaves the day before you harvest can make the trimming job easier. Manicure and trim your buds as much as you like, as the less leafy material present, the better tasting and smoother your bud will smoke. You can save your trim to create potent and tasty extracts to get as much use out of your plant as possible.
Drying Harvested Cannabis
After choosing the perfect harvest time and carefully trimming your buds, they need to dry out slowly in the right environmental conditions to preserve potency and avoid mold, which will definitely ruin the entire crop. Drying and curing are extremely important, and you must be patient, or the last 2 to 3 months of nurturing your plants and taking time for trimming will all be for nothing.
The perfect drying conditions are at about 70°F with 50% humidity. Be sure to avoid excess moisture, which leads to bud rot. Some growers think they can speed up the drying time by increasing the heat, this is not a good idea and causes your buds to become harsh and brittle. Controlled, slow drying drastically improves bud quality in the end. You can hang your stalks upside down for a low and slow dry or use drying racks which are excellent for conserving space and evenly removing moisture.
Curing Your Buds
After harvesting, trimming, and drying, you are in the home stretch but not finished yet. Proper curing is a critical step that allows your buds to finish developing their full flavor, aroma, and smoothness and increases potency. Amateurs might be tempted to test their buds prematurely, although proper curing is worth the wait.
Place your dried buds inside an airtight stainless steel or Mason jar no more than three-quarters of the way full, as your buds need some room to breathe. Make sure they are sealed and stored in a dark, cool location and open them at least once per day to allow in some fresh air and release excess humidity. Failure to do this can still allow mold and bud rot and can ruin otherwise good, potent buds.
Good buds are like fine wine in that they get better with time. You should cure your buds for at least 2 to 3 weeks and even up to 8 weeks to ensure maximum potency. As you can tell, harvesting, drying, trimming, and curing can add 2 to 3 months on top of your grow time but is essential to produce the potent cannabis buds you desire.
RainMakers Supply is your full-service hydroponics grow store in Chicago, offering quality products and knowledgeable customer service. Our horticultural and hydroponics experts can help you determine the perfect time for harvesting and offer suggestions for proper trimming, drying, and curing to achieve quality, potent buds. Contact us with any questions and to learn more from your favorite Midwest hydroponic grow store.