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When To Harvest?

Discussion in 'Newbie Central' started by silvernomad, Aug 12, 2006.


    silvernomad Well-Known Member

    By DJ Short

    There are several important points to consider when choosing the optimum time to harvest your marijuana crop. There are different factors to consider between indoor and outdoor marijuana plants. There is the difference between Sativas and Indicas in bloom duration and final effect.

    There is the difference between early and late harvest to encourage head to body high respectively. There is the issue of chemistry because what we are really considering in terms of the ripeness relates directly to the chemical nature and state of the plant at harvest. Last, but not least, is the concept of the window for marijuana harvest, where I will begin.

    Window For Harvesting Your Marijuana Crop

    This term indicates the period during which the plant is at its optimum state of ripeness. The window opens when the plant is first ripe. Somewhere along the line the plant becomes over-ripe which signifies the closing of the window of harvest.

    For most Indicas grown indoors, the window of harvest is about two weeks long give or take a couple of days for various strains. Indoors, if going directly from an 18/6 hour vegetative light cycle to a 12/12 hour bud cycle, most indicas take about eight weeks to fully mature.

    As to outdoors I can only speak from experience at the 45th parallel and the bloom times there. At the 45th parallel I've found most Indicas to be at peak harvest starting at the beginning of October, sometimes very late September, and running until the end of October, sometimes running into November during mild years or in a greenhouse. My favorite time to harvest a nice Blueberry Indica outdoors is in the second to third week of October.

    For Sativa grown either indoors or outdoors, the window may be open much longer. Some Sativas take up to thirteen weeks to mature indoors. Outdoors many will go well into November and even December, if conditions are right (again, this is near or at the 45th parallel). Head High or Body Stone?

    An important consideration has to do with one's preference for a head high or more of a body high. A good head high can positively influence one's mental state much like a psychedelic; whereas a good body high is more similar to a narcotic effect. Generally, head highs tend to be more up and body highs tend to be more down. Suffice it to say that a good healthy mix of the two is a fine goal to achieve.

    Sativas and early window harvests tend to be more of a head high, whereas Indicas and late window harvests tend to be more of a body high. Given this rule of thumb you can pretty much come up with what you want. That is, if you prefer a very psychedelic head high, then an early harvested Sativa might do best.

    If a very narcotic body high is desired, then a late harvest indicas would probably do best. For that best-of-both worlds high, experimentation with late harvested sativas and early-to-mid harvested indicas usually proves interesting.

    Magnify Your Buds

    When we speak of various highs experienced by different products, we are noting variations in plant chemistry. The chemicals we enjoy are produced within the glandular stalked trichomes, along the surfaces of the bud flowers (calyxes), bracts, leaves and stems, starting in or around the fourth week of the bud cycle. More and more of these trichomes develop as the plant matures.

    I highly recommend that the serious cannabis student acquire a 30X power, illuminated magnifier. These can be found at most local electronics stores, often for under fifteen dollars. With the aid of the magnifier one can learn more about the detail of trichome development and ripeness.

    As far as trichomes are concerned, the tall ones with swollen, clear, bulbous heads are what to shoot for. The denser the concentration, the greater the potency.

    The Cycle Of Marijuana Plant Maturity

    Starting in the third or fourth week of the flowering light cycle, glandular stalked trichomes will begin to form along the surfaces of leaves, flowers, bracts and stems. At the same time, more and more flowers (also called calyxes) develop into densely-packed floral clusters.

    The pistils of the young flowers are bright white and turn reddish brown with age. The pistils and flowers develop from the bottom of the bud to the top. The older, lower pistils are the first to turn reddish brown. For most basic indicas this usually happens by the sixth week in the flowering cycle. It is about this time that the calyxes begin to swell.

    Calyx swelling is a major indicator of peak maturity. The lowest, oldest calyxes swell first and the swelling works its way up to the highest, youngest flowers on each bud. At peak maturity about 90% of the calyxes will almost look seeded, they are so fat.

    Three quarters to 90% of the pistils will have turned reddish brown as well. For a basic Indica this takes well into the seventh week of the flowering cycle.

    By the end of the eighth week most of the calyxes will have swollen and a surge of trichome development has coated most of the buds. It is now that the development of a very discerning palate comes into play to determine the finest harvest time. Remember - patience is a virtue and often a discipline.

    The ripening signs for most Sativas are highly similar, except extended over a longer period of time. Occasionally, some Sativas have windows of peak harvest that actually open and close. That is, for a week or so the plant may exhibit signs of peak ripeness.

    However, a week later the plant may have a growth spurt, which lowers the trichome-to-fibre ratio and overall potency for a little while. Usually a fibrous growth spurt is accompanied by a corresponding trichome increase. Again, time and experience are the key elements in this regard.

    Changes In Marijuana Chemistry

    As the plant matures through its window of harvest its chemistry changes. As the window closes, the more desirable compounds begin breaking down into less desirable ones. Primarily it is THC breaking down in CBNs and CBDs.

    Which particular combination of chemicals is the most desirable is purely a matter of taste and choice, developed over time and with experience. Set and setting also play an important role in determining which type of product is best appreciated.

    Pleasant head highs are often desirable for social occasions, whereas a narcotic late-window Indica may work better as an evening medicinal herb. The main point is that these differences are chemical in nature and more research is needed to more fully understand this phenomenon.

    Another important point is that much can be done to further enhance the chemical process, especially in regard to bouquet, aroma and flavour, given the proper curing process.


    ZoBudd, hibbzy, dabupp and 7 others like this.

    PurpleHazeJohnny Active Member

    Great read! Props

    Mojination Active Member

    Wonderful. I have 2 pure power plants, this is my second grow. The first time I think I harvested a little too early. This time I am going to get a magnifier and try to be precise as possible. I'm going to get the magnifier today because my plants are almost there!

    OCgirl Active Member

    Thx for taking the time to give that wonderful info!
    mckinney madness

    mckinney madness Member

    good thread, good read, i think im going to roll one up and start reading again - Knowledge is POWER!
    bramwell73 likes this.
    grow space

    grow space Well-Known Member

    nice info man
    bramwell73 likes this.

    Boneman Well-Known Member

    I agree...Great info :hump:

    Anyone ever smoke over riped weed?

    pickleslinger Well-Known Member

    I have makes you go night night.Sucks cock

    baller24 Well-Known Member

    This is a lot of help thanks alot. My main cola is maturing faster than the rest of the buds, so when i see they are all cloudy with a few amber trichomes , can i just cut the stalk down??

    BiscoNughuffer Member

    props for the article...very helpful

    jjrd117 Member

    awesome read! thanks for the info, i think it just helped me from going into a late harvest. i never knew that checking the calyxes could help determine peak ripeness....
    Green Cross

    Green Cross Well-Known Member

    That's right, "Magnify your buds"; it's the only way to view the THC production factory.

    brimon Member

    Great literature, much needed help. Also when I start to lose my discipline I revert back to this article to regain it.

    snibbles Member

    brand new at this,..in Ontario,...how does one tell a male from a female plant? There are buds and hairs,...lots of bunches of it,..it is August,..is it good to mist my plant?
    I only have one,..first time trying this,...snibbles needs all the help she can get,..c'mon guys,..do it for me!

    sp62761 Member

    can you post a photo?would help to see the plant.

    sixtreduce Member

    on my plants the tops are ripening before the lowers?????all the hairs on the tops have orange hairs and the lowers are still white how do i know when its time

    Katatawnic Well-Known Member

    That's normal. If you have sufficient, healthy foliage, you can progressively harvest. That's what I do... harvest what's ready, leaving the rest to finish a bit longer. That way I usually don't cut off more than I can trim, as well. :cool:

    Plant on the right shows enough healthy foliage to support the growth of the lower buds. :D

    Attached Files:


    chop400 Member

    man im new to this site but i have a ? im growing 4 plants in the same pot is that bad

    snoozedragon Member

    it honestly depends on how big the pot is and how long. and with 4 plant you would want a pot that is wider as opposed to tall so they can fill out. Can you give a better description of what you have and what light source, a more powerful light makes soil dry out faster so you would need a bigger pot then as oppsed to a flourescent t5 set up. soo many variables. how long vegging is also a variable
    Chicago Gooner

    Chicago Gooner Active Member

    Guys, I am 4 days away from day# 55 of flowering, which is a minimum maturity time according to the seed bank (55-60). I am looking for a heady high on these ladies, the trichomes are milky and the pistils are in majority red/amberish. I need someone to define the early harvest process, is early harvest before the maturity period of 55-60 days?

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