- Only highly experienced growers have the ability to distinguish the different stages cannabis goes through as it ripens, allowing them to pick the flowers at their desired level of ripeness.
- But sine practice makes perfect and there’s always a first time, in this post we give you some tips so that you can start to harvest plants that have the characteristics you’re looking for.
- Read on to find out when’s the best time to harvest sativas, indicas, autoflowering and CBD-rich strains, and learn how to harvest according to your own preferences while improving the quality of your crop.
How to determine the level of ripeness of your cannabis plants
Knowing exactly when your plants are ready for harvest is a key aspect of cannabis growing. This involves being able to tell if the flowers are fully developed and have reached maturity. At the beginning of flowering, from week two or three - after changing the photoperiod to 12/12h indoors, or when the days become shorter outdoors and bloom occurs naturally - you will see that the white pistils of flowers start to develop and become denser, while the calyxes grow in number and get gradually puffier.
One good way to exactly determine the ripeness level of the flowers is to analyses the trichomes under a magnifying glass with built-in light.
As flowering progresses, these changes become increasingly apparent, and flowers start to form the first resin trichomes. It is important that all strains, whether indica, sativa, autoflowering or CBD-rich, are fully ripe before harvest, which you can check by looking at the appearance of the resin trichomes in flowers.
The ripening stage will be over when the flowers are bulky enough and have produced a significant amount of resin - even on the leaflets - when the pistils no longer reproduce and when the flowers stop developing.
If you want your flowers to deliver an invigorating, slightly euphoric high, then you should harvest when 15–20% of the trichomes have turned to an amber colour - this applies also to indicas - but if you're after a relaxing, narcotic effect that promotes sleep and helps you unwind, then wait until you have 80–100% of amber trichomes.
When to harvest indica-dominant cannabis strains
Indica-dominant strains flower fast (in a maximum of 7-9 weeks) and form highly compact, dense flowers, to the point that sometimes the weight is disproportionate in relation to the size. Generally, they are very resinous and deliver a relaxing, soothing effect, as is the case with Bubba Kush, White Widow, Shark Attack, Critical + and Purple Afghan Kush, among others.
The effect, however, varies greatly depending on how ripe the plants are when you harvest them. When indica hybrids are harvested shortly before they reach full ripeness - 15-20% of amber trichomes - the effect is relaxing and slightly invigorating. Once they're fully ripe, however, (30% of amber trichomes) they will deliver a more relaxing, slightly sedative effect that soothes the muscles and promotes sleep. Lastly, flowers that are harvested when 80-100% of the trichomes have turned amber induce a heavy, sedative, numbing effect.
When to harvest sativa-dominant cannabis strains
Sativa-dominant strains take the longest to blossom - between 9 and 22 weeks- forming elongated, quite open flowers that, contrary to indicas, weigh less than you would expect from their larger size. This means they're not as dense and, while resinous, they rarely equal or outperform indicas. The effect is clear and psychedelic, like in the case of Super Silver, Royale Haze, Dinamex, Moby Dick and Santa Sativa.
Here too, the effect varys greatly depending on the ripeness level of the plants at the time of harvest. Flowers that are harvested when 15-20% of the trichomes are amber induce a stimulating, clear, euphoric high, while plants harvested when amber trichomes account for 30% of the total have also a psychedelic edge. Lastly, flowers that are cut when 80-100% of the trichomes are amber deliver a heavy, narcotic effect that is highly psychedelic.
When to harvest autoflowering cannabis strains
Autoflowering cannabis strains are harvested like any other indica, sativa or CBD-rich strain. The only difference here is in the structure of the flowers, which have a puffier calyx and are slightly more open - somewhere between an indica and a sativa. Resin production, instead, is very similar to that of sativas. These traits are the result of the ruderalis parentage and are typical of autos such as Moby Dick XXL Auto, Amnesia XXL Auto, Haze XXL Auto and Critical + 2.0 Auto.
As for the level of ripeness, which, again, has a large bearing on the effect, just consider if your autoflowering plant is an indica or a sativa and follow the tips above.
When to harvest CBD-rich cannabis strains
Just like with autoflowering strains, what's key here is the indica/sativa dominance. So with that in mind, just check the trichomes as explained above and use that information to choose the most opportune moment to harvest. CBD-rich strains are not as psychoactive as their THC counterparts, but depending on the cannabinoid content and THC-CBD ratio, the effect will be light or medium light.
If you want to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and savour its flavour and aroma but are put off by the psychoactive effect, you can try Dinamed CBD Autoflowering or Dinamed CBD Plus. But if what you're after is a CBD-rich strain with a slightly uplifting effect you can go for Critical Mass CBD, Shark Shock CBD, Moby Dick CBD or Amnesia CBD.