harvest cannabis

The Ultimate Guide: When Should You Harvest Cannabis?

Harvesting cannabis at the right time is not only crucial for obtaining the highest quality and potency from your plants, but it can also be a complex process. It requires careful consideration of various factors that can influence the ideal harvest time. For example, the strain of cannabis, the growing conditions, and the desired effects can all impact when the plant is ready to be harvested.

In addition, timing the harvest correctly ensures that the cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are at their peak levels. This results in a more enjoyable and effective cannabis experience. The THC and CBD levels can vary depending on when the plant is harvested. If harvested too early, the buds may not have reached their full potential and may not be as potent. On the other hand, if harvested too late, the THC may have started to degrade, leading to a less potent product.

The ultimate guide that you are about to read will provide you with comprehensive information on when to harvest your cannabis plants, taking into consideration the various factors mentioned above. By the end of this guide, you will be equipped with the knowledge to ensure that you harvest your cannabis plants at the right time, resulting in the highest quality and potency possible.

Consider the Strain

When cultivating cannabis, it is very important to mention that different strains have their unique characteristics. One of the key factors to consider is the flowering time, which varies among strains. Typically, Sativa strains take longer to flower compared to Indica strains. However, there are other factors that can influence the flowering duration, such as environmental conditions, nutrient availability, and cultivation techniques. Therefore, it is important to have a good understanding of the specific strain you are growing. By doing so, you can estimate the approximate flowering duration and the expected harvest window. Additionally, knowing the unique characteristics of the strain can also help you tailor your cultivation practices to optimize yield and quality. For example, some strains may require more frequent watering or a specific nutrient regimen. By understanding the unique needs of your cannabis strain, you can create an ideal growing environment that promotes healthy growth and maximizes your yield potential.

Observe the Trichomes

One of the most reliable methods to determine the optimal harvest time is by observing the trichomes, the tiny resin glands found on the buds and leaves of the cannabis plant. Trichomes change in appearance as the plant matures, and their color can be an excellent indicator of readiness for harvest. Use a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe to examine the trichomes closely.

It is important to note that there are other factors to consider when determining the best time to harvest. These include the strain of cannabis being grown, the growing conditions, and the desired effects of the final product. For example, if the goal is to produce a more calming and relaxing strain, it may be best to harvest the plant when the trichomes are mostly cloudy and amber in color. On the other hand, if the goal is to produce a more energizing and uplifting strain, it may be best to harvest the plant when the trichomes are mostly clear and milky in color.

In addition to observing the trichomes, it is also important to pay attention to the plant’s overall appearance and growth patterns. A plant that is starting to yellow and lose its vigor may be overripe, while a plant that is still actively growing and producing new leaves may not be ready for harvest yet. By taking all of these factors into consideration, growers can ensure that they are harvesting their cannabis at the perfect time for their desired end result.

Clear Trichomes

During the early stages of flowering, trichomes begin to appear on the bud. These small, mushroom-shaped glands contain the compounds that give cannabis its unique aroma and effects. At first, these trichomes will appear clear, indicating that they are still developing. Harvesting cannabis at this stage may result in a less potent and more cerebral effect, as the THC has not fully developed yet. It is generally recommended to wait until the trichomes turn cloudy or amber in color before harvesting, as this indicates that the THC has reached its peak potency. While it may be tempting to harvest early in order to get a quicker yield, the resulting product will likely be less desirable in terms of both potency and flavor.

Milky White Trichomes

As the plant reaches maturity, there are a few visual cues that growers can look for to assess the quality of their harvest. One such cue is the color of the trichomes. Initially, the trichomes are clear, but as the plant matures, they start turning milky white. This is an important stage as it indicates that the THC levels are reaching their peak. Higher THC levels often result in a more balanced and potent effect, making it a highly sought-after stage of maturity for many growers. It is important to note, however, that harvesting at this stage requires a certain level of experience and expertise. Harvesting too early or too late can result in a suboptimal yield or potency, which can be disappointing for growers who have invested time and effort into their crops.

Amber Trichomes

When harvesting cannabis plants, it’s important to pay attention to the trichomes on the buds. These small, crystal-like structures contain the plant’s cannabinoids, including THC. If you’re aiming for a more uplifting, energetic high, it’s best to harvest when the trichomes are mostly milky white. However, if you’re looking for a more sedative, relaxing effect, it’s better to wait until some of the milky trichomes turn amber or brown.

This change in color indicates that THC is degrading into CBN, which is a cannabinoid that has a more sedative effect. Harvesting during this stage can lead to a more couch-lock experience, which can be ideal for those who want to unwind at the end of a busy day. However, it’s important to note that waiting too long can also result in a decrease in potency, so it’s important to monitor the trichomes closely and harvest at the right time.

Monitor Pistil Color

Pistils are a critical part of the cannabis plant’s reproductive system. They grow on the flowers of female cannabis plants and are responsible for catching the pollen from male plants. Once the pollen is caught, it travels down to the plant’s ovaries, where it fertilizes the eggs and causes the plant to produce seeds. Pistils are also an essential indicator of the plant’s maturity. Initially, they are white and vibrant, but as the plant matures, they start changing color, from white to yellow, orange, and finally to a deep red. The color of the pistils is an essential factor in determining the optimal time for harvesting the plant. It is crucial to wait until the majority of the pistils have turned to a deep red color before harvesting to ensure that the plant has reached its full potential in terms of potency, flavor, and aroma.

White Pistils

During the white pistils stage, it’s important to be patient and let the plant continue to mature. While most of the pistils may still be white and sticking out, you can start to see small changes in the buds as they develop. You may also notice that the plant is growing taller and producing more leaves. This is a sign that it is still in the vegetative stage, and not yet ready for harvest. During this time, it’s important to continue to monitor the plant’s growth and make sure it has the right nutrients and growing conditions to thrive. With the right care and attention, your plant will soon be ready for the next stage of growth and eventually produce high-quality buds for harvest.

Orange/Brown Pistils

As the plant matures, its pistils will start changing color to shades of orange, red, or brown. This is because the plant is producing more pigments, which give the buds their characteristic color. Once the pistils have changed color, they will start to curl and recede into the bud. This is a good indication that the plant is approaching harvest readiness. However, it is important to note that different strains of cannabis have different maturation times, so it is important to check the trichomes under a microscope to ensure that the plant is ready for harvest. In addition, factors such as temperature, humidity, and light exposure can affect the maturation time of the plant, so it is important to monitor these conditions closely.

Check the Bud Structure

One way to gain a deeper understanding of a plant’s growth cycle is to examine the buds that it produces. This can reveal valuable information about the plant’s maturity and readiness for harvest, as well as its overall health and well-being. In particular, paying close attention to the size, shape, and color of the buds can help growers to identify any issues that might be affecting the plant’s growth, such as nutrient deficiencies or pest infestations. By taking the time to carefully observe and analyze the buds, growers can fine-tune their cultivation practices and improve the quality and yield of their crops.

Bud Size and Density

The size and density of buds are important indicators of maturity. While well-developed buds with a compact and dense structure are desirable, they are not the only factors to consider. Buds should feel firm to the touch and not too fluffy or loose. Moreover, buds should be harvested at the right time to ensure maximum potency and flavor. This involves closely monitoring the plant’s development and waiting until the right moment to harvest. Additionally, the curing process after harvest is crucial in preserving the quality of the buds. Proper curing involves drying the buds slowly in a controlled environment, which allows them to retain their potency and flavor. Finally, storing the buds properly is also important to prevent mold and preserve their freshness. This can be achieved by storing them in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.

Bud Swelling

As the plant reaches its peak, the buds will continue to swell and increase in size. This period of growth can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the circumstances. The buds will gradually fill out and become denser, and the pistils may begin to change shade from white to red or orange. This is a sign that the plant is preparing to enter the flowering stage, during which the buds will continue to develop and mature. As the buds grow, they will also become more resinous, producing a greater concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes. It is important to monitor the buds closely during this time to ensure they are developing properly and free from any signs of mold or pest infestations. Proper care and attention during this phase will help produce high-quality buds that are potent and flavorful, making for a more enjoyable and satisfying smoking experience.

Consider the Growing Environment

The growing environment is a crucial aspect to consider when cultivating plants as it can significantly affect the harvest time. In addition to the type of plant and growing technique used, factors such as temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions all play critical roles in the plant’s development. For instance, if the temperature is too high, the plant may not develop properly, while low humidity levels can cause stunted growth. Therefore, it is essential to strive for optimal environmental conditions throughout the flowering period to ensure healthy plant growth and development. This includes monitoring the temperature and humidity levels and adjusting them accordingly. Additionally, providing appropriate lighting conditions, such as sufficient light intensity and duration, can also improve plant growth and ultimately lead to a better harvest yield.


Determining the ideal time to harvest cannabis plants can be a complex and multi-faceted process. It involves the careful consideration of various factors, including the unique characteristics of different strains, such as their maturation rates and levels of resin production. In addition, it is important to pay close attention to the appearance of the plant, including the color and structure of the buds, as well as the development of the trichomes and pistils. Finally, it is essential to take into account the environmental conditions in which the plants are growing, as these can have a significant impact on their growth and development.

By monitoring these indicators and using the guidelines provided in this ultimate guide, you will be able to harvest your cannabis plants at the optimal time, ensuring the best possible quality and potency. Additionally, harvesting at the right time can help to maximize the yield of your crop and minimize the risk of mold or other types of damage. So whether you are an experienced grower or just starting out, taking the time to carefully assess these various factors can help to ensure a successful and rewarding cannabis harvest.