There are countless stories of people tossing a rogue seed from a bad of weed onto the ground only to find a robust cannabis plant growing in that spot a few weeks later.
Those stories rarely end with a successful cannabis harvest because, we can all agree, there are more efficient ways to grow the plant.
The same can be said once the plant has grown and is ready to harvest. Whacking at it with a hacksaw might get it to the ground, but there is definitely a better way.
Growing cannabis always comes with some risk, sometimes it is the risk of losing a crop to bugs, bad irrigation, or a billion other things. When you do get to harvest day with plants you can be proud of, you’ll be doing yourself and your plants a favor by following these 6 Tips for a Successful Cannabis Harvest.
Whether you are growing indoors, in a greenhouse, or outdoors will be the biggest factor in determining how much control you have over the climate on harvest day.
We know that ideal conditions would be a cool (60-70 degrees), dry (45-55% humidity), relatively dark environment. We also know that outdoor crops here in North America are generally harvested in Croptober – that magical span of time from mid-September through mid-November – and that weather can vary quite a bit in that timespan depending on where you live.
Too much heat, too much moisture, too much stress on the plant on harvest day will directly impact the quality of the cannabis at the end of the entire process. Some terpenes begin to degrade at temperatures as low as 70 degrees! Crucial cannabinoids are not far behind.
At a cool enough temperature, non-psychoactive cannabinoids will continue to naturally convert into more “useful” cannabinoids like THCA. Once the ambient temperature rises too high, however, that process comes to a permanent halt, stunting the potential flavor and effects of your dried, cured flowers.
Indoors, of course, it is much easier to dial in your desired climate and conditions. So, even greenhouse and outdoor growers can benefit from being able to transport freshly chopped branches indoors into a cleaner, cooler, climate-controlled workspace.
Knowing when to harvest is a real skill that can only be earned through experience. You can read whatever the seed breeder wrote on the pack as far as flowering times, you can ask a friend what day he plans to harvest the same strain, but there are so many variables involved in bringing a plant to harvest that many growers harvest over several days because plants in the same garden have matured at different rates.
So how can you know when is the perfect time to harvest?
We have talked about ‘Croptober’ for outdoor growers, but even then, a two-month timespan is not all that precise.
Instead, outdoor, indoor, and greenhouse cannabis growers need to keep one eye on the calendar and the other on a magnifying scope aimed at the trichomes on the fully developed buds on each individual plant.
Watching those trichomes swell into perfect form and then begin to fade from perfect clarity toward an amber hue, experienced cannabis cultivators know exactly when to make the call and chop the crop for optimal flavor and effects.
Cut it all down too soon, when those trichomes are still clear, and the effects of the cannabinoid profile will be watered down. Cut it down too late, after they’ve turned to a burnt amber color and the strain will be extra-sedative, regardless of the strain.
If a clean water flush is necessary, you will need to time that several days in advance of an ideal harvest day as well.
There is nothing worse than having the wrong tools for the job.
When harvesting your cannabis crop, particularly outdoors or in a greenhouse, time is of the essence and nobody has time for tools that cannot get the job done.
Whether it is a pair of lop shears too flimsy to cut through the trunk of your cannabis tree, or trim shears that freeze up at the first sign of scissor hash, it pays to spend a little extra on high quality tools. The same goes for your drying space and method, as well as whatever you use to cure your trimmed buds, it’s just not worth it to save a few bucks on solutions that just cause problems.
Everything listed above can be to your benefit with proper planning.
From the initial decision to grow indoors or out, from a seed or a clone, using soil or salts, a successful cannabis harvest starts with a good game plan.
If you know you need to harvest your outdoor crop during a heatwave to avoid an incoming rainstorm, having a plan for getting the chopped pot from Point A to Point B (being somewhere indoors with more ideal climate conditions), a plan help you get it done.
Depending on the size of your grow, you may need help either chopping or trimming. Having a hiring plan, ahead of time, is far more favorable than settling for a stranger or doing it all yourself.
For indoor and light dependent greenhouse growers, the only way to maximize their ability to produce multiple crops per year is by planning the next one well before the current one is cut down. Having seedlings or clones rooted and ready to go right after harvest is the key to keeping the grow room rotation going.
Make a plan.
Learn from your mistakes.
Revise the plan.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
There are many factors that go into a successful harvest and although you may be an expert at your process, external factors can be hard to measure with only your hands.
Regular Research & Development testing of your crop, your soil, and your environment can help keep you on the right track to a successful harvest. That way, when harvest season comes around, and you’re ready to test for compliance, you don’t come across any surprises.
CannaSafe is has experts on staff to help you understand the testing process, analyze your data, and help come up with solutions. No need to guess, we will provide you with real science, real data, and real results.
Regardless of how you grew your cannabis, or how often you can harvest it, you’ll be faced with many of the same decisions once you decide to harvest your crop.
Your patience will be tested at each step, especially if you are desperate for the smoke or the cash to come, but now is no time to cut corners.
It begins with a sufficient drying time, allowing the branched buds to hang and dry until stems snap instead of bend. Three days, five days, a week it will vary depending on so many factors but if you haven’t caught on by now you need a cool, dry, dark space with a bit of airflow and some patience.
Then comes the ultimate test of patience – trimming. This time-consuming process of precisely manicuring each bud for ultimate bag appeal is often delegated to cheaper laborers but this step in the journey from seed to sale/smoke cannot be rushed or overlooked.
Finally comes the cure, a weeks or even months-long process of locking your cannabis away in airtight containers stored in a cool, dry place, “burping” them from time to time to recycle the oxygen inside as the buds age to perfection.
It took months to grow it, will you have the patience to wait another month or two to smoke it?
With some good genetics, a thoughtful plan, a lot of hard work, a healthy dose of patience, and a little bit of luck, your successful cannabis harvest might be just a matter of months away!