When and How to Harvest Cannabis

Harvesting Marijuana Tutorial

Congrats! Your hard work finally paid off, and your labor is ready for harvest – or is it really ready? 

Perhaps, you already know that every weed harvesting has its distinctiveness. Your actions to take to harvest your plant will determine the outcome of your smoke quality.

If you are a beginner in cannabis growing and unsure how to handle the harvesting phase of your farming, no worries, this article will offer you a comprehensive step-by-step guide on harvesting weed, whether you’re a newbie or one looking to improve harvesting practice.

harvesting marijuana guide

Step 1 – The Right Time to Harvest Marijuana

Most farmers are more concerned about ‘How to’ harvest their weed plant, but knowing ‘When to’ is as much important. For example, the THC quality (high-causing compounds in cannabis) depends on the harvest time.

So, “when to harvest?” your plant will depend on your assumptions from your final product. Therefore, harvesting time may vary across farmers based on individual end-product expectations.

What THC percentage do you anticipate from your harvest?

The harvest time, strain type, and cannabis variety are vital determinants of the kind of high you get from your cannabis plant. Cannabis herbs offer a sleep-inducing couch lock, an energetic head high, or a mix of both. Understanding your ‘high’ needs is key to defining a perfect harvest time.

Let’s quickly analyze factors that influence the high obtainable with your harvest.


Cannabis comes in a truckload of varieties – skunk, haze, bubba, are among others — these variations of marijuana have their unique high based on the Indica-Sativa proportion.


The marijuana effect primarily leans on the strain. While Indicas are widely known for a physical ‘high,’ Sativas are associated with mental ‘high.’ Hybrid, on its part, offers a mix of Sativa and Indica.

Learn more: Best Weed Strains to Grow Indoors


The period following the beginning of flowering determines the expected ‘high’ in the final product. The timing of your harvest will determine the chemical composition of your yield- particularly the THC.

The level of THC maturity at harvest largely dictates everything about the ‘high.’

Learn more: Week by Week Guide to Flowering Stages

THC Maturity Explained

The much sought-after THC is stored in the little white crystals (called trichomes) covering your cannabis buds. You’d see the trichomes appearing a few weeks after flowering begins.

The tiny whitish crystals grow and continue to increase until they become mature. Watch out for these trichomes. They are your best ‘informants’ about cannabis maturity.

To determine the timeline of your trichrome, check out its color and cloudiness. While Immature trichomes appear translucent and transparent, matured ones are amber and cloudy.

Checking for Maturity

Remember, timing is the key to the right harvesting. Indica and Sativa strains have different maturity rates for trichomes. Typically, Sativa strains take anywhere between 8 to 12 or even more weeks to fully mature. You may start checking for trichome about the eighth week after flowering begins.

How do you check trichomes’ maturity?

Use a microscope. While these THC-filled covers may look big in images, they are, in reality, microscopic. You may not need some lab-standard lens; a handheld pocket-sized version will do.

Keep tabs on your trichomes appearance until they reach the ‘high;’ your wish.

If the trichomes look good enough, get ready, harvest time is here!

Pro tip: use latex or nitrile gloves and handle your plants with care. You do not want to damage your plants, and your hands need protection from adhesiveness.

how to harvest cannabis

Other Factors to Consider

Besides trichomes, here are some other signs that determine the buds’ maturity:

Pistil color

As the plants mature, the pistil color gradually changes from yellow-white to amber and orange. 


If the cannabis plant were pollinated, the calyxes are responsible for holding the seeds. At maturity or near maturity, the calyxes get swollen.


Buds’ growth stops or significantly reduces during maturity. While this may not be a reliable indication, it works better when used with other signs to predict an ideal harvest time. 

If all the signs indicate “ready for harvest,” congrats, your labor has paid off.

The Second step – Prepare for Harvest

Before you cut down the buds, some key things must be put together.

The Harvest Area

Designate an area, perhaps a room for your harvest. The dedicated space will help reduce odor emitted during the process and expedite the curing process after harvest. 

To prevent the volatilization of the cannabis oil; the room should be 70°F (21°C) for proper odor reduction. You may even seal the place and use a carbon filter for ventilation. It will help to handle the odor better.

Required Tools for Harvesting Cannabis

For a better harvesting experience, some tools may come in handy. 

You’d be better off getting these items ready as harvest time approaches.

Trimmers: these are essential tools needed for your weed harvest. Trimmers may be electric, mechanical, or handheld scissors. 

Gloves: A pair of latex or nitrile gloves is required. The gloves serve dual purposes to protect the buds from damage and your hand from the stickiness and the aftermath smell. 

Trim trays: Although not essential, trays simplify the harvesting process, offering comfort and support while trimming. 

String or a wire: anything or something you can hang your plants. Anything strong enough to hang-dry your harvest will do. 

The Plants: The plants themselves needs some final attention before harvest, including:

Prune dying leaves

Cut out those leaves that are turning pale/yellowish. These leaves are energy-suckers. They mean no good for your buds. 

However, wait not perform this practice near harvest. 

Stop spraying

About a week or two before harvest, all forms of spraying should stop. This practice helps avoid possible residue on or within your buds. Besides, it also helps prevent molding.

Step 3 – Flush

Although a simple process, a wrongful approach still may reduce the quality of your final product.

Flushing helps remove residual chemicals and nutrients held in the flowers over time.

To flush, simply sprinkle with strictly clean water 7 to 10 days before harvest.

If you skip flushing, the residual compounds might affect the joint’s flavor and aroma; Then, the buds, when smoked, may become unpleasant and harsh.

Farmers who apply synthetic fertilizers are most in need of this practice.

Step 4 – Harvesting

Here’s the highlight of all your hard work, the fun part. It’s essential to handle your buds and plants rightly and in a conducive environment.

Friction while harvesting, intense lighting, temperatures over 80°F (27°C), and humid/damp conditions are factors that may reduce THC content and quality.

Adequate preparation of your harvesting area and proper handling will help reduce these possible problems.

Cutting your buds

There are two ways to do it:

  • Cutting the main plant stem
  • Cutting only matured buds

Cutting The Whole Plant

A straightforward method, you may not need close monitoring of each buds’ maturity.

Simply cut off the main stem, divide it into small parts, or hang it without cutting.

Removing The Most matured Buds

Removing the ripest buds first can double your final products’ quality and overall yield.

Wait between 5 to 10 days for other buds to attain enough stage.

Typically, outer buds mature first since they are exposed to direct light. The shielded ones may delay reaching maturity until matured ones are taken off to give direct light.

how to trim weed

Fifth Step – Manicure the Buds

On completion of your harvest, you can manicure the buds in two different ways. You either trim the buds to frosty nuggets right away or hang them to dry on the cable. Quick trimming offers a more comfortable trimming and a speedy drying duration.

Drying your cut buds on a string or wire is a slow way to dry the buds with excess plant material and initiate the curing process. It may take 3 to 10 days – depending on bud size, environment, and already-extracted material.

Trimming Time

Whether you trim immediately or wait for it to dry, the cannabis trimming process is virtually the same.

This process aims at removing unnecessary parties from the buds.

Trimming closeness depends on individual preference; with that said, take note that the demand for tightly trimmed buds is relatively higher.

What to Trim?

Cut off big leaves pushing out from the buds and yellow or brown-tinged leaves. Those leaves will only reduce the aesthetics and taste of your buds. 

If you’re in doubt, get rid of leaves that seem to have no trichomes instead. If there are no crystals, then there’s likely no THC. Where is the fun, then?

Final Thoughts

Now that you’re well-versed on when and how to harvest your cannabis plant. Before you embark on your next harvest, ensure you follow this step-by-step harvesting procedure again. 

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