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Everyone Should Know About Trichomes

Discussion in 'Harvesting And Curing' started by HappyHomeGrower, Apr 27, 2009.


    HappyHomeGrower Well-Known Member

    An interesting article I found that every grower should read...

    Pic 1



    Trichomes are small appendages that look like hairs. They are produced by marijuana, and other plants. Female marijuana plants produce certain trichomes that are a rich source of THC. These trichomes can be found in their largest concentration on the buds. They start out clear, turn a milky color, then turn amber (light brown).

    The trichomes in picture 1 are clear. After the plant has flowered for a few weeks, the trichomes start to turn a milky color (picture 2). After a few more weeks, they will be totally milky in color. In the later stages of flowering, trichomes will turn to a light brown color (picture 3). The amount of time required to get to this point depends on the marijuana strain and the growing conditions.

    In picture 2 you can see the stems have started to turn from a clear color to a milky translucent color. For maximum THC content and a more cerebral and energetic high, harvest your plants when a majority of the trichomes on the plants in your garden are a fully milky translucent color.

    You can wait until most of the trichomes have started to turn amber, but the resulting marijuana will produce more of a sleepy body stone than it would if plants were harvested earlier. The trichome in picture 3 is about 90% amber, with just a trace of the milky translucent color it previously possessed.

    After the trichome is fully amber in color, the THC starts to degrade. This makes it very important to harvest marijuana at the time before a majority of the trichomes have attained a total amber color. If not, the marijuana will not be as potent as it could have been.

    On your first harvest, if you are having a hard time judging when to cut the plants down, a good rough guide as to when to harvest a plant is to wait until 50%-80% of the white pistils (hairs) have turned dark (usually brown or red) and about 10% of the trichomes start to turn amber.

    Do not be in too much of a rush and harvest when you see the first amber trichome. It is normal for a small number of trichomes to mature several weeks prior to optimal harvest time. But when 10% or more of the trichomes are turning amber and 50%-80% of the white pistils (hairs) have turned dark, you should consider harvesting your plants.

    Note that trichomes are too small to be seen properly with the human eye. To see them properly, use a pocket microscope rated at somewhere between 20x to 70x. The greatest concentration of trichomes can be found on the growing buds.
    Big smo, ljak1407, Beblunted and 4 others like this.

    SpruceZeus Well-Known Member

    Even though it's been posted a million times +rep for posting accurate information.
    I'd just like to elaborate on bud "ripeness"a bit further.

    I'm personally of the opinion that 90% of the growers on this site (And probably in general) harvest too early. By letting the plants go a little longer you're ensuring that the've plumped as much as they're going to.
    Despite popular opinion to the contrary(and don't fool yourself, the jury is still out on this one) Recent studies have shown ;contrary to what was previously believed, that THC itself (And its predecessor THC-A) are quite guilty of causing the confusion and drowsyness associated with burnout and other cannabinoids (our friend CBN, and a handful of others) to be the catylist (along with THC) to being 'high' rather than 'baked'
    Regardless, whether or not theres any substance to the aforementioned study, its easy to get the high you want.
    If you want a soaring 'cerebral' high: Get yourself a tropical sativa that contains a high level of THC-V and grow it until it is ripe.
    If you want the narcotic couchlock stone, grow a rugged indica until its ripe.
    Notice a pattern of growing it until its ripe? Its a really good rule to live by.
    OF course we have to remember that there is more to a good high than just THC. At last count there are at least 66 cannabinoids, and we don't know what most of them do.

    Now alot of people will tell you that you should harvest based on the colour of your trichomes. But (again, in my opinion) that is far too simplistic and there are too many variables to make that an effective strategy. I've made that point a million times before and i'm not going to re-hash it here, but rest assured there is more to the picture than just trich colour.

    A ripe marijuana plant will be filled in, will have an amber tinge to the buds. The pistils should have browned (or orange-d) off and receded into the buds. The seed bracts should be swollen and the trichomes should be sticking straight out with bulbous ends. Also, because you're coming close to the end of plant's life cycle, the leaves should have yellowed off and started to die.

    one of my plants, 3 days before chop-chop.

    Another very important (imho) reason to let your plants mature is Terpenoid production. Terpenes are responsible for alot of the complex (And enjoyable) flavours that cannabis produces. Some of the most intense flavours are produced on the "downslope" of cannabis's life cycle. My personal experience with this came when i was growing GH cheese. One of the plants i harvested at 8 weeks and it tasted pretty nice and had pretty dense buds. The other i grew until about 9 1/2 weeks and it had most amazing, sour, skunky, delicious taste with rock hard buds.

    Here is my interpretation (and maybe exaggeration) of a scenario i see all too often...
    That plant is 4 weeks into 12/12. Granted not all of the trichomes are that far along. And most people arent going to harvest weed that looks like this. But my point with this is that you have to look at the big picture. Stop being so scientific and start being practical.
    I'm not anti knowledge, i just cant stand these "rules" that more often than not lead people down the wrong path.
    Lets cut through the bullshit and spread good information in a way that is not so absoloute. Or at very least explain the growth stages of cannabis making sure to mention that the pistils should have receded back into the bud before you chop. Regardless of trichome colour.

    Sorry for what could be interpreted as a thread jack. :peace:

    ceilingbeds Active Member

    can you elaborate more on the pistils? i take it they are different then the trichomes? you are saying that they should have receded back into the buds when it is time to harvest? what do you mean by that?

    I will need to first distinguish what you mean these pistils are so if you could point that out that would be great.

    AND I 100% agree with your explanation as to how we should have general botany knowledge...to people who are serious about wanting to grow quality cannabis this type of knowledge goes a lot further then a straight rule with no explanation.

    Fadedlady likes this.
    Green Cross

    Green Cross Well-Known Member

    Pistols are just part of the flower. Trichomes are resin (THC) glands (factories).

    Pistol production comes and goes, and comes again, throughout flowering, but trichome production reaches a peak, and then reaches a point of diminishing returns.

    There's about a one week window in which to harvest at peak THC, and that is at the point when amber trichomes (degrading THC) start to out number clear trichomes. At this stage (harvest time) most trichomes will appear cloudy, or clear, and 10 - 50% will appear amber.

    One the number of amber trichomes (degrading THC) starts to out number clear and cloudy trichomes (peak THC), you're harvesting late, but most folks harvest too soon.

    I would wait until 10% amber on a sativa, if you're looking for a racy up sativa high, and up to 50% amber on an indica if you're looking for a narcotic body stone. anywhere in between these 2 points is just a matter of personal preference, but within the window of peak THC content. :weed:
    Fadedlady likes this.

    doogidie Well-Known Member

    can you lick off the trichomes? haha they look so tasty!
    Fadedlady and skylight crop like this.

    SirTitanium Well-Known Member

    Good information. So, from the plants perspective, are the trichomes the resins that prevent it from drying out in hostile, late-summer conditions? If so, would cutting down on the watering (as well as flushing) facilitate trichome production?
    Fadedlady likes this.

    Mongobud Well-Known Member

    Hmm..What about the theory that trichrome production comes in waves?..Some say that the last and final wave of trichrome production comes right before the plant dies.
    Fadedlady likes this.

    SirTitanium Well-Known Member

    Pardon me while I rack my 12g. All living things should react to that sound. Lord knows, I do.
    Fadedlady likes this.

    Binkie Member

    i have a 60x to 100x microscope is that too much? or will it work?

    Mr.GreenJeans Well-Known Member

    I have heard some here that adhere to that theory. My personal experience doesn't support it, but I have never attempted a comprehensive set of experiments to test the idea (but I'm betting someone here has!).
    Fadedlady likes this.

    OZUT Active Member


    That's just beautiful man...
    Fadedlady likes this.

    Stoneshield Active Member

    im personally a fan of chopping when she looks like she has nothing more to offer. fans starting/finishing degrading. canabidoids is what locks ur ass to the couch. goodtimez
    Fadedlady likes this.

    sensisensai Well-Known Member

    I applaud you just for spelling trichome right, its amazing how bad it tends to get butchered, the worst I've seen is trycombs. Lol. To the 2nd poster if I could have chosen any way to put it, that wouldve been it, bravo on a very excellent start to a promising thread,
    As for the ? About drought based reactions. There's so many varying opinions on this subject its not even funny. But ill give mine, the stress it will endure is more lilely to impact yield or cause a hermie than it is to significantly increase anything. One big misconception is tend to see is that people think "molasses" "cal-mag" etc." Made all the difference, there's something called genetic potential. THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO, OR FEED UR PLANT THAT WILL SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVE POTENCY OR ANYTHING ELSE beyond what its genetic potential is. A clone from the same plant, grown in my garden and urs ending products would be within 5% of each other in terms or flavanoids thc etc. Reguardless of what happens, to a degree of course, given u may have a better drying technique, or maybe one of us didn't flush long enough/at all. The smoke won't be near as enjoyable thus a "placebo" effect may take hold causing u to think, this taste like shit, must be shit, I'm not high. However the potency itself will be so close it would hardly be distinguishable aside from smell or taste. This is all my opinion but read around and ull see there is some strong evidence supporting it, I know it mess's with my credability but its like 1am so I'm not going link hunting on a blackberry. All that said, trichome production can be increased given optimal conditions, uv-b stimulation, well balanced diet rich in colonizers, carbs, l- amino acids etc. I know people that have actually intentionally infested plants with insects then treat a few weeks later in hopes of trichome production increasing, these are because its thought that the intentions of trichomes are mainly to catch pollen, act as a sunscreen, and repel insects, tyhey tend to get stuck and die before they can damage gland covered leaves ( plz don't do this lol)
    The main thing that's mistaken is when people hear increase trich production they think, oh snap, more potent weed. NO. Not neccesarily, this is again the genetic potential playing havok. By increasing trichome production ur not at all likely to get more potent weed per say, however it is much more likely to smell better, taste better, feel stickier when dry. Because trichomes contain as mention terpenes, flavanoids, and as many as 66 know compounds that all mold and shape the high, if you can increase that, well u see where I'm going, bottom line is if you want frosty buds get proven genetics, YOU CANT IMPROVE ON SOMETHING THATS NOT THERE. Tga rocks for this dilemma, sanni seeds. Imo avoid fem'd.
    That turned into a fkin rant, all I was trying to say was get good genetics if u want a good trich profile, dial your shit in and watch them reward you.
    Fadedlady, CaliBudMan and lovemymj like this.

    avier101 Member

    Good info sensi. You spit the truth there. When I first grew I thought I could make any weed the best. Then I realized; if that was the truth then why do people breed hyrids? Why not just take one plant and make it better? Because you can't! But if you take two plants; one with a good yield and one with proven genetics to be high in THC, then you should have the best of both worlds... My point is if you could just take any plant and make it better and better, then why breed hyrids? There is a reason why THC has grew to massive percentages in the last 20 years. because people breed the best strains together and make them even better. Plain and simple. You can not take a strain that has always had a 5% THC content and make it magically increase to 30% It will not happen sorry. Cross breeding the best strains for a superior hybrid strain is the only way..............
    Fadedlady likes this.

    themallacht Active Member

    This thread has nothing to do with hybridizing... You are right that a strain can only be as good as it's genetics, but this thread is about knowing when to harvest based upon trichome production and making sure that one harvests before some of those trichomes degrade and lower the potency of your final product. Also, no strain has ever had 30%. Last I heard the highest THC% ever achieved was with White Widow and it was around 25%
    Fadedlady likes this.

    sparkyzappa Member

    IMG_0020.jpg So I need to wait 2-3 more weeks,this is week 10,almost 100% Sativa. IMG_0004.JPG

    Attached Files:

    Fadedlady likes this.

    deprave New Member

    Fadedlady likes this.

    deprave New Member

    This is a good thread and you make some good points but I feel that it fails to explain trichomes properly for me If I was just learning. When examining your trichomes it is important to note that opacity trumps the actual color of the trichome as far as judging levels of THC - So I am going to try to put it in simple terms for the layman:

    If you can't see thru your trichomes (they are solid/opaque white/amber) with bulbous caps this means they are past the peak potency and your bud is just beyond peak potency this is a good time to harvest.

    If you can see thru the trichomes and your bud looks 'sparkley/shiney' then it has not reached the peak potency yet.

    so Ideally you want to harvest before all the trichomes are solid amber or white but its physically impossible to tell exactly when this will occur so its ideal to harvest when your sure it has passed (little to no clear/milky trichomes remaining - no translucent nor transparent you want solid/Opaque - a little translucent or transparent is going to happen but you want to avoid them)

    This is what I have learned over the years and also my interpretation from text books but please keep in mind two things:
    1- You must observe all signs of maturation the trichomes are the LAST thing you look at.
    2-I am an amateur and this is only my observation after growing roughly a few thousand plants.

    I felt it was important to give my take on it here because of the mass confusion around harvesting and also some misconceptions about trichomes in particular, It seems like a lot of these guides on the web kind of put their own spin on it and stray from the text books and it always confused me when I was learning, although this article was quite good and very thorough with lots of great facts, easily the best trichome article with color pictures I have read on the web. If you want to learn about trichomes pick up a few good books on cannabis in particuliar the popular breeding books, I think I learned the most about harvest from those books not including what I have learned from personnel experience.

    The reality is this - you don't need a microscope and to scope out your buds everyday to tell when they are ready - when they are ready it will be clear for you to see after some experience - I do poke around with a magnifying glass to make sure there isn't milky ones tricking my eyes but the most important thing is just watch your plants mature on every level - if the cycle is truly complete then you will see your buds wont be sparkley shiney with clear trichomes at the end it will have solid colored trichomes with large heads.
    Friction1957 and Fadedlady like this.

    direwolf71 Well-Known Member

    Very good thread, worth reading.
    Fadedlady likes this.
    Bud Haze

    Bud Haze Member

    At what week of flowering do the Trichomes start to apeer? ....and is that the frosty fuzzy look they seem to devolope?...when do they start to get frosty??
    Fadedlady likes this.

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