Harvesting your Marijuana
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As with drying out your harvest it is important not to let impatience get the better of you. It is impossible to give an exact time to harvest for the best results this as it varies from strain to strain. Normally you can count on 2 – 3 months from germination. The only way to know the right time to harvest is through careful observation.
As the female flowers grow they form heavy kolas or cones. You will notice each ovary swell and tiny crystals will be visible around the flowers. The flowers will become sticky to the touch and the aroma will become pungent. As the flowers swell the white pistils begin to darken, growing from white to a reddish brown.
During this time some of the larger fan leaves will begin to yellow and wilt. This is a perfectly natural part of the grow stage. It is OK to remove these leaves and allow more light to the lower parts of the plant.
It is also a good idea to flush the plants with clean, nutrient-free water once during the flowering phase and again after 6 weeks and then again just before harvesting. This will help remove any build up of fertilizers within the plants or growing medium, making for a cleaner smoke.
When to Harvest – Head or body stone?
There are many different active compounds in marijuana. Two of the main psychoactive compounds are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). It is generally thought that a higher percentage of THC gives a more cerebral, lighter high whilst a higher CBD content gives a heady, lethargic body stone.
During the flowering stage plants dramatically increase their THC content, towards the end of this phase the THC begins to degrade and CBD content increases.
Most growers wish to harvest marijuana plants when THC production has reached its maximum. A rough guide is to wait until around 60% of the white pistils have darkened.
Another method of determining when to harvest is through careful observation of the plant’s trichomes. Trichomes look like tiny hairs and form on the swelling buds. They are difficult to see with the naked eye so use a decent magnifying glass. Trichomes produce resin glands which in turn produce resin, which is rich in THC.
Initially trichomes are clear; they then turn a milky colour with THC production. As the THC degrades into CBD the trichomes darken and turn a golden brown colour.
The time to harvest your plants will depend on the desired effect. For maximum THC content, and consequently a lighter and more energetic high, harvest your plants when about 50% of trichomes have turned from clear to a milky colour. If you wait until the trichomes are mostly darkened to amber/brown you will get a heavier, lazy, stoned effect.
As a rule of thumb, the longer you leave it the heavier stone you’ll get.
Drying your Marijuana
Remove all extraneous leaves from the plants leaving only the buds. Hang your plants upside down from a wire or string in a cool dark room with plenty of air movement. Buds that are forced to dry too quickly retain some of their chlorophyll giving a harsh ‘green’ taste. Allow around 4 – 7 days to dry thoroughly. You can check them by squeezing the buds between your fingers and thumb. When they are dry you should seal them in an airtight jar or bag. For the next few days you should allow them to breathe for 15 minutes twice a day. This cures the buds, ensuring all water is removed and giving the buds a smooth, sweet taste and ensuring an even burn.
And finally the most important stage of all. Light up. Enjoy. Boomshaka!