When shall I harvest?
A very sensitive moment in the whole process of outdoor cannabis cultivation is the time of harvest, given that we do not have any control over the environmental variables as in indoor cultivation. Harvesting too early or too late can have catastrophic consequences for our product so, to avoid unpleasant surprises, we should observe the following tips:
Know your plants
Knowing the approximate ripening cycle of the variety of your crop will allow you to be aware of the approximate time when your plants should be harvested. In the same way, commercial seed packets usually recommend an approximate harvest date that we will take as a reference, since this can vary depending on different factors such as latitude.
Observes the pistils
Establishing the time of harvest is a process that we approach from the general to the particular. The harvest date provided to us by the seed bank is an approximation that we will be nuanced according to the look of our plant. A next step to know if our crop is mature is to observe the pistils. These are the ones that give the buds an orange or brown tone as the plant matures (in some varieties they can present other colors). Generally, when about half of these hairs acquire this shade, we can be pretty sure that we should harvest soon.
However, be careful, brown or orange pistils are not always indicative of the correct state of maturation of the plant, since they can alter their appearance due to climatic or chemical stress. It should also be taken into account that there are varieties of cannabis that continue to produce white pistils when the plant is already mature.
In any case you should keep in mind that, depending on the variety of your plants, cannabinoid levels will be affected depending on whether you harvest earlier or later, something that expert growers can take into account depending on the characteristics they are looking for in their product.
Observes the trichomes
To make it easy, when you see that about half of the pistils are brown or orange, it is time to determine more accurately the maturity of your plants by observing the trichomes. For this you will need a hand lens or, better yet, a portable microscope that will allow magnifications of more than 50x. Since, depending on the variety, the trichomes can have a different look, it is best to find out about the maturation characteristics of your plants to determine their optimal maturity point.
In summary, the ideal way to determine the time of harvest is to go from the general to the particular, combining all these factors: first be aware of the approximate date of harvest according to our variety; then observe the browning of the pistils; and finally, determine in more detail the appearance of the trichomes.
What do I need to harvest?
Once you have determined that it is time to harvest, be sure to start cutting your plants at a time of day when the relative humidity is as low as possible, to prevent it from accumulating in your buds.
In any case, and depending on several factors such as the size of your crop or your possibilities, you will need a minimum of equipment: pruning shears, latex gloves (new and powder-free), plastic buckets to place the cut branches, string and a clothesline or similar to hang them. You should also take into account that for the drying phase, you should have a dark and ventilated place, where you can maintain a temperature between 65 and 75°F (18 and 24°C) and a relative humidity of about 50%. Of course, the use of a fan is highly recommended.
If your plants are small, you can cut them from the stem. If they are large, cut the main branches separately. Proceed to trimming by removing the larger outer leaves and hang them, either by string or by hooking the V-cut branches on the clothesline.
Of course, the drying time may vary depending on the variety of your crop and the characteristics of your installation.
Alternatively, if you have a larger crop and it is important to you to optimize production times, you should consider using a bud trimming machine. This type of device allows much faster processing, even matching the quality of manual cutting. At Master Products we have several models to suit your production level, from the small MT Pocket to the powerful MT Tumbler 500, but we will talk about them in our next post.