Indica and sativa are the two basic types of marijuana. There are pure sativas, 100% indicas and a mix of both traits. The flowering time of the weed plants will depend on the kind of strain you are growing. Indica marijuana plants mature faster than sativa weed plants. You will know that buds are ready for harvest when white pistils will start to change color. When almost 50% of the trichomes will turn reddish to brown, then you can already begin harvesting.
The timing of bud harvest is a matter of personal preference. If very potent buds are what you want, harvest the flowers earlier and do the harvest at a later time if you want heavier buds. But please note that harvesting late may give you dense buds but potency can be lowered. The THC level of the buds is at peak when the glandular trichomes are whitish with a little discoloration. For people who want a heavy narcotic effect, the cannabinoid content is increased by allowing the resins to form into clusters and change into amber to brown color.
The right time to harvest sativa marijuana plants
Sativa marijuana plants take longer to mature. Some will produce buds up to 12 to 13 weeks. If sativas are grown outdoors, harvest time can be done in November to December. Sativa plants cultivated outdoors will flower late than indicas because they will depend on the growing season.
In general, sativa strains are popular because of their inspirational, uplifting, and energy inducing effects. However, when some hybrids of this specific variety are allowed to develop and grow to their fullest capacity and maturity level, they are expected to produce a unique narcotic effect which is very similar to that of the strongest indica varieties.
When harvesting the Sativa variety, one quality is extremely crucial – patience. From the experiences of most expert growers, sativa dominant hybrids are usually ready for harvesting about 70 to 77 days into their flowering cycle. On the other hand, pure sativa strains, as well as specific sativa dominant hybrids, may need up to 83 to 98 days for them to finish and become ready for harvesting.
Making sure that these varieties can completely develop will provide exciting rewards at the end, such as an elevating, sensational, as well as a complete mind-enriching experience. On the other hand, harvesting them too early may only result in a heart-racing, unpleasant buzz which is quite undesirable to marijuana lovers.
The best time to harvest indica cannabis plants
For indica cannabis plants grown indoors, harvest can be done in about 2 weeks long. Indica types are known to mature earlier than sativas. Some strains will only take 8 weeks to fully mature. For indoor growing, the weed plants can be induced to flower by switching light and dark cycles, from 18/6 hour vegetative light cycle to 12/12 hour flowering cycle. If indica plants are grown outdoors, harvest usually starts in October or late September.
Pure indica, as well as some indica dominant varieties, are usually allowed to complete flowering or about 55 to 70 days before breaking out the shears. However, if you want to experience a sativa-ish kind of effect out of your indica varieties, you may want to start harvesting at around day 55. On the other hand, if you wish to see the full potency of your indica strain, be patient some more and allow your plants to complete about 70 days or more.
Even though these indica strains are known for their tranquilizing, couch-locking, and heavy body-buzz effect, as long as they are harvested early enough, they can produce racing, speedy thoughts.
Early and late harvest produce buds with different high. In choosing the optimum time to harvest the buds, consider what kind of high you want to experience and how much amount of yield you want to obtain. If a strong heady effect is desired, it is best to harvest sativa plants earlier. If you prefer a very narcotic high, harvest the buds of indica marijuana plants late. To make harvest more interesting, try some bit of experimentation by doing early and late harvest until you find the kind of potency you want.
What Expert Marijuana Growers Recommend on Harvesting Cannabis
Most seasoned gardeners identify the best time for harvesting their plants just by looking at the appearance of the plants. However, up until you see some harvests under your care, determining the right time for harvesting may need a little more education and a whole lot of patience.
There are also several other factors that enter the picture when it comes to selecting the best time to harvest your plants. One of the factors that you need to take into consideration when making your decision is the type of psychoactive or high effect that you want to see out of your bud. Do you want a sedative high or a cerebral one?
Generally speaking, the best time for harvesting usually depends on the expertise and the preference of the gardener. Deciphering the actual timeframe for harvesting may turn out to be quite tricky. Most of the currently operating seed companies take their time in creating records on the length of time in which the strain you have selected takes complete maturity, or when they will finish flowering so as to give you the idea of the actual length of time that you need to wait before you can get your harvest ready.
However, it is also important to be aware that there are some companies that list down premature harvest times. This is part of a marketing strategy, allowing them to make a particular strain more easy to cultivate and attractive to new marijuana growers. Make sure to stick and purchase seeds only from dependable seed retailers and breeders when purchasing your marijuana seeds.
Why is it Important to Harvest Marijuana at the Right Time?
The answer to this question all boils down to the desired psychoactive effect of the plants you are trying to harvest. In a technical point of view, the last few weeks of the flowering phase, high levels of THC are being modified with the right amounts of Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabichromene (CBC) and Cannabinol (CBN)., together with some propyl homologs. All of these substances are important when it comes to approximating the desired effects.
Since THC is broken down to CBD at the same time in which they are prepared from the CBD acid, it is recommended to harvest at a specific time in which the production of these THC acids is relatively higher compared to the degradation of the THC acids.
To make it easier to understand, let’s start first with an understanding that the opportunity of getting a crop that has optimal potency is just relatively small. With this, there is a range of about 8 to 14 days towards the end of the flowering phase when they are ready for harvesting before the start of the process for THC acid degradation.
The Actual Time for Harvest
So, how do you actually determine the right time for harvesting, given the fact that what we have been provided so far is a range of days and weeks? The thing is, expert growers use their eyes. This is actually the real beauty of marijuana growing, once the skill has set into you, the practice becomes natural, intuitive.
There are some gardeners who prefer using a magnifying glass, microscope, or even a jeweler’s loop in order to see whether their buds are finally ready for harvesting. The crystals that envelop the buds, or the resins, is a huge determining factor whether or not the plants are now ready.
Under a magnifying glass or any of the tools mentioned above, you can see how far long do these acids still need to have for their development to finish. The trichome heads or the resin heads will appear as clear because fresh resin still continues to be secreted to the glands. This specific period is referred to as the peak flowering stage, when the production of THC acid is at its peak, with CBD levels continuing with their steady pace, as the molecules are rapidly converted to THC acids.
Most marijuana growers would want to see their crops attain their fullest potential, and the highest potency levels without even allowing the plants to go through the degradation process. In order to achieve this, the best harvest time is when what is usually considered as the late flowering stage.
At this stage, your marijuana plants are already past the primary phase for reproduction, and their health is now starting to degenerate. You will also see that several of the bigger leaves have already dropped off, while some of the smaller leaves inside are now beginning to change their color. Colors that are autumn like a start to appear with the older leaves. As such, many of the pistils and the calyxes have already turned brown, wilt, and eventually, start to fall off.
Bonus – Achieving a Double Harvest in a Year
Once the right harvesting pattern is achieved, you can have a bonus as a cultivator. Some growers achieve a double harvest in a year. Some experts in growing marijuana can achieve a double yield in a single growing season. One way to do so is by getting auto-flowering cannabis seeds as they usually take 10 weeks for the growing process, from seed to harvesting.
Other methods can also be used in order to fit in a second harvest for the year. The success of the second harvest may depend on your skill in performing the techniques, as well as your location. If you live in the northern areas, your plants may be vulnerable to early frost, as well as seasonal changes. This can pose challenges to your goal.
On the other hand, if you live in temperate zones, you can be successful in harvesting your plants more than once. It just depends on the techniques used. Keep in mind, however, that you cannot just decide that you want to add a second harvest right after the first one. You need to plan ahead even before the first harvest. After completing the first round, make sure that lots of water and fresh fertilizers are added to the soil in order to stimulate growth.
Determining the right time to harvest your marijuana plants highly depend on the type of strain that you are growing, whether it is indica or sativa. Pure sativa strains are usually ready 83 to 98 days into the flowering phase. Most sativa dominant hybrids are ready for harvest 70 to 77 days to the flowering cycle. Pure indica strains, as well as some indica dominant hybrids, are usually ready 55 to 79 days into the flowering phase. Sativa hybrids, however, are expected to finish about 70 to 98 days into the flowering cycle.
One recommended rule of thumb when it comes to growing and harvesting marijuana plants is that when you think that it is already time for harvesting, it is better to wait for another week. Bottom line is that, a nurturing spirit, patience, as well as the extra willingness to learn new strategies in growing are just among the most important attributes that every gardener is supposed to have.
Most of all, learn from your own experience. Most growers are successful in identifying the best time to harvest their buds just by looking at the appearance the plants. You can also learn this trick and be successful in your next harvest batches!
Complete Marijuana Grow Guide
If you want to learn how to grow marijuana from germination to harvest then you might want to check the growing marijuana book. But before buying the book, make sure to read our growing elite marijuana book review so that you can make sure that it is right for you.