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Cannabis Harvest: How and When to Harvest a Weed Plant

The Cannabis harvest: what is the best way to do it?

The magical moment that every cannabis grower awaits has come: we will finally be able to harvest our precious Marijuana flowers! In the last chapter we saw what plants need in the last stage of Cannabis flowering, from environmental parameters to crop recommendations. Today we will carefully observe the time of harvest, how and when to harvest the buds, trying to get the maximum potential!

What’s Cannabis harvest?

Cannabis harvest is the long awaited moment for every avid cannabis grower: “what will my marijuana look like?”

Previously we saw the main requirements and rules to  respect for each development phase. In fact, they will be essential to achieve an abundant harvest, as well as determine the final quality of the harvest. If you are approaching the world of cannabis growing for the first time, you will be disappointed if you think you can get Dutch coffeeshop buds without studying the basics!

By the time they are in their final weeks of flowering, the plants must have consumed most of the nutrients available in the soil. You will notice this from the common yellowing of the “sundeck” leaves (larger leaves which, in fact, have the function of absorbing as much light as possible). This will mean having a clean, full-bodied and light-tasting weed that will stay on the taste buds of your tongue even minutes after smoking.

To achieve this, you will have to stop feeding any fertilizers (especially nitrogen) during the last 3-4 weeks of flowering. Indoors, a well-performed Flush (rinsing of the substrate) will speed up the absorption process (to learn more, our article). Outdoors, all this happens naturally with the first autumn rains in September-October, bringing down all the minerals present on the surface.

How to harvest Cannabis?

There are many guides that recommend cutting your plants during the harvest period in complete darkness. We of the Annibale’s Team, on the other hand, think that it possible do it even in broad daylight without suffering losses in the final quality of the flowers. The same applies to the dark period prior to the day of collection. You will read from many places that giving 24, 48 or even 72 hours of darkness to the plant before it is pruned can increase active ingredients, weight, amount of trichomes and other urban legends. The cannabis plant must respond to the most natural light cycle possible, including UV-B rays, if possible.

Normally, we recommend cutting all sun leaves during the last two weeks of flowering before cutting. This will favor a wider penetration of light into the foliage, increasing the quantity and quality of the flowers. Avoid watering your cannabis plants the last few days before cutting to speed up the drying process. Only give demineralised water in the last 2-3 weeks of flowering.

For cutting, be sure to use sturdy clippers or scissors. The stem of hemp are thick and very resistant, therefore it will need cut it by sharp blades. It will then be hung upside down, we at Annibale Seedshop prefer to hang it whole. The plant will thus be able to face a slow drying that can preserve as many aromas and essential oils as possible. However, you can cut the individual branches if you want to speed up the drying process by a couple of days.

When to harvest Cannabis?

This is a very delicate point of the final stage of cannabis cultivation. Even the most experienced growers are hesitant about when the plant should be cut, as each individual phenotype of each genetics responds to its own biological time dictated by the genes.

To believe on the contrary and to want to establish a “standard time” for all genetics would be like wanting to believe that every human being reaches its maturity at the same time as the others: it is impossible!

Surely it will be possible to refer to two famous indices: the oxidation state of the pistils, and the color of the trichomes. In the first case, it will be enough to carefully observe the tops of the plants to capture the ideal moment. When about 70-80% of the pistils have oxidized or fallen off, the plant will be ready for cutting. This is the less accurate of the two, and the most used by commercial growers.

Observing the color of trichomes is the most accurate and common practice in professional growers. You will have to equip yourself with a pocket microscope to be able to analyze them closely. 30-60x zoom will be good for you! The trichomes are born and grow transparent, but when the active ingredients mature, the color becomes opaque. With most trichomes in this state, the effect will be stronger and more immediate, the high more intense. If, on the other hand, you wait a few more days to harvest, the active ingredients contained within the trichomes themselves will slowly begin to degrade, changing their color to an amber brown. With the majority of amber trichomes, the effect will be more relaxing and lasting, as a consequence of a higher presence of CBD. See more about flowering stage of Cannabis plant!

As you may have understood, only personal experience will tell you when the right time to harvest will be!

Cannabis drying

The drying of Cannabis is a fundamental moment to preserve the organoleptic aspects of your Marijuana flowers. If you want a full-bodied and delicious herb, you will need to carefully follow the rules of proper drying.

The ambient humidity must be in a range between 45% and 55% in the first three days. This will eliminate the risk of mold appearing that was not present before. Subsequently, you can change to about 60-65% for a slower drying, which can keep the more volatile aromas intact.

A temperature between 18 °-21 ° will ensure the preservation of the terpenes, flavenoids and the active ingredients. Do not forget to record and always keep under observation the environmental parameters during the drying phase.

best way to do a cannabis harvest and drying

Cannabis cure

The “Cannabis Tanning” (or Cannabis cure) is the moment after drying, and it is not a mandatory step. If you think it will be okay, you can safely finish your reading here.

If, on the other hand, you want to get to the bottom of what is a cult of cannabis cultivation, we ask you for a few more minutes of your attention, and you will not be disappointed.

In fact, Cannabis cure can give surprising benefits if done right. Consists in drying the cannabis slowly, by evaporating all the chlorophyll trapped inside the innermost parts of the flowers. To do this, you will have to place your crop in vacuum tupperware. Subsequently, the excess moisture present in your flowers will have to be released daily, which you will already see a few hours after putting the Marijuana inside the vacuum jars for the first time.

In fact, you will notice that the flowers that previously seemed dry and ready are no longer so. They will have regained a wetter state, resulting in difficulty in burning and a weed aroma. This is normal, as the chlorophyll inside the stem and the innermost flowers slowly comes out as moisture. Open the tupperware 2-3 times a day for first week of tanning, just a couple of minutes at time. From the second week, you can do it once a day, and then once every 2 or 3 days thereafter.

Always remember to close your airtight jars so that the sugar maturation process can take place correctly.

After about a month of curing, your precious cannabis buds will be ready to be stored for months. They will also have assumed a much more characteristic, strong and intense aroma and taste! The relative humidity inside the cans will need to be around 58-63% to keep the quality of your Marijuana intact.

best way to do a cannabis harvest and cure

Annibale’s tips for Cannabis harvest

Don’t touch the flowers too much with your hands, thus ruining some of the quality obtained from the work done. The glands of the trichomes can in fact break easily. Do particular attention for this reason when handle dried flowers!

Use gloves if you are working with a large flower production, or resin may leave your fingers stuck with scissors!

Pay close attention to when you want to cut your plants: the first few times, haste can play tricks!

While not a mandatory step, we recommend cannabis tanning to anyone who wants the most out of their flowers.

Will a well-ripened mango be better than a still unripe one…?

best way to do a cannabis harvest trimming

That is all about best way to do a Cannabis harvest. Follow us to find our next article on “Cannabis Flowering Week by Week” and stay tuned!

See you soon, greetings from Annibale’s Team!


Davide, CEO, Founder and Geneticist