Good thread - there can't be enough said about what may arguably be the most important stage of growing, the harvest.
"Buy a scope" isn't the best advice that can be given in this community, and we've all seen outdated and inaccurate information cut and pasted... most of which only leaves most - newbies - scratching their heads. The available guides on harvest just aren't that good.
I'm continue to learn as my harvest approaches, but here are few things I have figured out, with the help of others here, and researching on the internet.
The majority of breeders, experienced growers, and coffee-shop connoisseurs generally look for 30 - 40% amber trichomes. Others like to harvest a little earlier or later, depending on their personal preferences, but most home growers continue to harvest too early. As long as patience is a vertue, I expect this trend to continue.
I have heard complains about weed that has been harvested too early, but I have never heard anyone say "I let it go too long", and that says a lot.
There may be some difference in the amount of time it takes for one strain to ripen over another, and the breeders are known to exaggerate... Sativa's are notoriously slow to ripen under artificial lights.
The pistol argument: It's valid! I don't know of any strain that matures with 50% white pistols still showing. Many strains aren't finished until 90% of the pistols turn and curl-up into the false seedpod, they emerged from, before they are finished! Next time, I'll leave the scope in the drawer until I see the pistols turn...
More on withering pistols:
"Many times you'll read from new marijuana growers, "My hairs are 50% changed to brown or red, looks like its ready to come down." Calyx hairs turning color is one thing, calyx hairs withering, is another. When they have withered, they are for the most part, as ripe as they will get.
But just turning red/brown does not necessarily mean the weed plant is ready.Calyx hairs are just an indicator that the marijuana plant is ripening , not necessarily ripe yet. I have taken full Indica strains with 60% hairs turned, and sativas when 90% hairs have turned, and they were all at peak ripeness. The trichome color is the only true indicator!" source the amsterdam seedbank
I've noticed the tops of my plants tend to finish first, but I see little discussion about staggered harvests - taking the tops of the plant first, and then allowing the lower buds to ripen with the additional available light.
Next time you look in the scope check the upper leaves, the tops, and the lower buds and you'll see the indoor MJ plant doesn't usually ripen all at once. There really is no rush to harvest; if the tops look done, most likely the lower buds aren't even close, and you're better off waiting at least another week.
All comments and discussion welcome