After an entire season of taking good care of your marijuana plants, it is easy to sit back and relax during the flowering stage of their life cycle. This is one of the worst things you could do, however, as this stage needs to be just as carefully monitored. Perhaps even more so than the earlier stages of growth. As you have already invested so much time and effort into growing your plants, it would be even worse to lose them, or ruin the harvest this late in the game.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most important tips to have a successful flowering stage for your marijuana plants. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and dig in because following the below tips could mean a vastly better, and more potent, harvest in the end.
Adjust your indoor grow lights as needed
Many growers don’t know that during the early stages of the flowering stage, marijuana plants are prone to shoot upwards in an odd growth spurt. This growth spurt can vary in how extreme it is, according to the strain of marijuana plants you are growing. It can even continue well into the mid-flowering stage.
Because this increase in height is often unexpected, it is easy to forget that you will need to adjust the grow lights, as the plants are probably getting uncomfortably close to them after such a growth spurt. Make sure to adjust the height of the lights to keep them a safe, healthy distance from your plants so they don’t get too warm.
Keep looking for male flowers
Just because you had already identified and removed the male marijuana plants from your crop before the flowering stage began, doesn’t mean you are out of the water. In fact, it is not uncommon for a hermaphrodite to develop during the flowering stage, thus leading to male sex organs that will pollinate your precious female plants.
For this reason, inspect your plants carefully during the flowering stage. If you spot a male flower — characterized either by their clearly male pollen sacs, or the yellow banana-like shape –, you should remove the entire site of the bud to ensure that no pollen escapes, and touches your female flowers. If one pollen sac escapes your notice, it could ruin your entire crop of female buds.
As you may already know, a female plant that has been fertilized will stop focusing its resources on growing its buds, to be bigger and more potent. Instead, it will stop that type of growth altogether, and will grow seeds instead. You don’t want to smoke seeds, so it’s crucial that no males — hermaphrodite or otherwise — are present in your crop.
Go easy on the nutrients
No matter what kind of nutrients you are using — organic compost, or store-bought chemicals — overdosing your plants on nutrients is not a good idea during the flowering stage. It also leads to an unpleasant taste. The reason it is so dangerous to burn your plants with nutrients during the flowering stage is that it is their latest stage of life, and there will be no time to bounce back from the damages caused.
Unless you are seeing clear signs of a specific nutrient deficiency, and you have already tested it to make sure it isn’t masking a pH balance issue, you should never add more nutrients beyond the plants’ normal food. In fact, they need smaller and smaller doses of nutrients as harvest time approaches.
If there is an obvious nutrient deficiency, introduce more of that nutrient very gradually. Always be wary of nutrient burning your plants, and take as many precautions as possible.
Keep an eye on the pH levels
Most issues that occur with marijuana plants are actually just from incorrect pH levels, specifically in the root area. The pH level is crucial regardless of what kind of growing medium or setup you are using. You might be having a pH problem if the leaves are starting to get wrinkled or curled, or if your plant is exhibiting signs of a nutrient deficiency.
Whatever problems you have, always check the pH levels near the roots to see if that is what is causing the issue. If you are growing in soil, the pH level at the roots should be between 6.0 and 7.0 while hydroponic systems should be between 5.5 and 6.5.
The good news is that testing the pH level is quite easy and inexpensive — in addition to being useful at every stage of growing. So regardless of where your plants are in their growing progress, you should buy yourself a pH testing kit.
Keep the humidity down
Another aspect of the growing conditions that is easy to forget during the flowering stage is the humidity level. This is because, for most of your plant’s life, the humidity level is supposed to be higher. During the flowering stage, however, the humidity level must remain below 45% at all times. Use a dehumidifier, if necessary.
If the humidity of your grow room is higher than 45%, it is likely that your plants will begin to develop mold in their buds. And every grower knows that moldy buds are wasted buds. Many times, buds may even appear to be completely fine because the mold is growing on the inside, meaning that the grower won’t notice until it is far too late to do anything about it.
Flush out the nutrients before you harvest
A vital thing to remember — for your own health, as well as the quality of the buds — is that you should flush out the marijuana growing medium a week or two before you actually harvest the plants. The idea is to completely remove the nutrients you have been feeding your plants — whether chemical or organic — so that none of it remains in the consumable product at the end.
The way to flush out the system is to use neutralized water, which means it has an absolutely balanced pH level. Test it before pouring it into your grow system. This can also be utilized in the case of a pH imbalance in the soil, or if you have a nutrient toxicity issue.
Time the harvest right
One big question that many new growers ask is how long they should keep their indoor marijuana plants in their flowering stage of growth. The answer is that this only depends on the strain, what you want the end result to be like, and your own personal preferences. Most strains require between two and four months to be in the flowering stage. After that point, the harvest should be done.
The timing of your harvest also depends on what type of effects you would like your marijuana to have on the user. If you prefer a more energetic high, you should err on the earlier side. If you prefer a relaxed high with the classic feeling of couchlock, harvest a bit later. Just don’t harvest too late or too early, as it will either decrease the effects or it will change them to a type of high that is undesirable.
Do not harvest until the pistils are at least half (preferably more) darkened, or when the trichomes are mostly white and milky, as can be seen with a microscope or magnifying glass. Patience is key when timing the harvest right.
Curing marijuana buds
Once you have removed the buds and dried them properly (again, patience is key in this stage), it is important to remember that curing the buds plays an equally important role in keeping your plants healthy during their flowering stage. Store them in airtight jars in a dark, cool environment.
Every day, open the jar and move the buds around, as well as check on them to make sure there is no mold developing. After a while, limit this to twice a week. If you do this consistently for several weeks, your buds will be even higher quality than they would have been otherwise. Longer curing is also an option (for several months, for example) if you would like to keep improving the flavor and aroma more and more.
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It can be difficult to know exactly when your cannabis crop is ready to harvest. After harvesting the plant matter you’re after, you have to process it. Curing and drying are vital steps towards getting a tasty, usable product.
Harvesting your crop can be the ultimate victory for any marijuana grower, However, the key to reaping the best marijuana lies in knowing when to harvest and how to dry your plants properly.
In this section, we’ll teach you the basics of what to look for, and how to handle the harvesting process when the time is right. We will explain the drying process and give a lot of tips to produce the best buds possible. Without these steps, no one with a nose or tongue will touch your buds – so pay close attention!
When to harvest
After your plant has gone through its flowering phase, it will begin to slide into a decline in health. There are a number of different symptoms which can flag this for you. You’ll notice that the pistils of the cannabis plant are turning red. The stem might begin to broaden. Any resin on the buds will begin to brown and darken, and the leaves of the plant will start to yellow and die back. If your plant has flowered and you begin to notice any of these symptoms occur, chances are good that you are ready to harvest!
There’s some contention between growers on the precise ‘best’ time to harvest your cannabis. It depends in part on your own personal tastes. It’s not so different from harvesting other plants, even fruits or vegetables.
The best way to be able to properly see if your plants are ready for harvest is to use a magnifying tool of some sort. You should be looking for trichomes in your buds that are glittery and filled with resin. If you are seeing them this way, you will be able to harvest at the perfect time.
Magnifying Tools There are a number of different kinds of magnifying tools you can use to look more closely at your plants. Each will get the job done, but like with any aspect of growing and harvesting your marijuana plants, you need to understand what they all do and what the best tool for you is.
Jewelers Loupe A Jewelers Loupe is perfect for someone working on a budget. It’s not very high-tech, making it the least helpful in seeing the details for the stage of life your buds are in. That being said, it should give you enough information to identify if it is harvest time yet or not.
Handheld Magnifier More powerful than a jewelers loupe, a handheld magnifier of some sort will zoom in enough to give you an even better idea of your buds’ status. Such high magnification can cause some problems, however, since sometimes it makes it difficult for you to focus.
Digital Microscope If you’re someone who likes state-of-the-art technology, this might be the route for you. It’s more expensive, as these types of technologies always are, but it will give you a black-and-white answer to your question: Are my plants ready for harvest? You just need to connect it to your laptop to see the information at hand. You should read up on the methods of using it before purchasing one of these.
The latest possible harvest will net you the best results, but with cannabis, that can mean an overpowering and unpleasant flavor if you wait too long. The color of the pistils is the most common way for growers to determine when they want to harvest their plants and begin processing them for use.
Some growers harvest as soon as the pistils begin to turn red. Others wait until the pistils are almost entirely red and the resin of the plant is dark. In general, the later you harvest, the more you will get, but it is also likely to have a stronger flavor. If you wait too long, you could see decreased effectiveness of the active ingredients.
Besides the color of the pistils, examining the resin on your flowering plants is probably the best way to know if they’re ready for harvest. You will notice that the glands covered in resin become enlarged when the plant is mature, and they will also start to swell and look deformed. The resin will darken from transparent to opaque amber as it becomes more mature. When the resin is still sticky and transparent, the plant is ready to be harvest. Once that resin darkens and becomes more amber-hued, you should make sure to harvest quickly because the plant will go through a deterioration of active ingredients.
The pistils of the cannabis plant will be white before the flowering phase. When they begin to turn red, you’ll know you’ve entered the period of time during which you can harvest your crop. If all of the pistils are white, it’s too soon: don’t try to harvest. A safe bet is when anywhere from 25-75% of the pistils have turned red or are beginning to turn red. Although it’s not a bad idea to remain patient during this harvesting phase, you don’t want to wait too long. If you let the plant go too far, you’ll end up with a lower quality product. If the plant goes too long without being harvested, the entire crop could actually be ruined.
When you choose to harvest will also affect the qualities of the bud. Harvesting earlier will give the plant a more stimulating effect when the ingredients are activated, while harvesting at peak ripeness will offer a more numbing hazy effect. This is another area where it comes down to personal taste. To figure out where you stand on the matter, a good bet is to harvest some of your plants early and some late. That way you can decide for yourself which is a better fit for your style as a grower.
Watch the trichomes
There is a second method of identifying whether your plants are ready to be harvested or not, in case the pistil method isn’t quite working for you. The trichome method is actually considered the more accurate one, so read carefully for it to truly benefit your judgment around harvest time.
The concept is simple: you simply need to take a look at the trichomes on your plants’ buds to be able to establish whether or not they are ready for harvest. Trichomes are the growths that resemble mushrooms in shape. Some trichomes are known as resin glands, which have a crystalline structure or appear frosty as they grow on the leaves and buds of your plants. If you have ever noticed the stickiness of weed, this is also responsible for that texture.
The trichomes you need to be paying close attention to are the ones that have a little ball on top of them since that is where much of the THC and other fun chemicals are housed. The key is being able to determine when they are at their highest THC level, so when is the peak time for harvesting them. Since it’s difficult to see with the naked eye, you should use one of the magnifying tools listed above to get a closer look.
So when do you know that the trichomes are ready? You need to compare them with the following color and texture rules:
Clear, White Hairs This is definitely not the time to harvest. If the trichomes are clear, they won’t be potent enough for harvest, and your final yield will suffer because of it. You should wait until nearly half of the hairs are darker in color and are no longer sticking out so straight.
Half Clear or Cloudy Trichomes It is still rather early for a harvest. The buds have not reached their full-size potential, although they will still produce a high if you harvest them now. This type of high will most likely be more energetic or “speedy.” The strain’s odor will develop further if you wait to harvest.
Mostly Cloudy Trichomes Congratulations, you have reached the perfect stage for harvesting your buds! This is the point when they have the highest levels of THC, so if you want to maximize your yield outcome then you have to act fast. You will know your plants have reached this stage when 50 to 70 percent of the hairs have darkened from their original white color. Because of this peak amount of potency, the high that comes with the buds harvested at this time will give you some serious euphoria and will even relieve pain. This can be considered the most “intense” high you can get.
Amber and Cloudy Trichomes This is a bit later than the absolute peak time for the greatest amount of potency, but only because the buds have slightly less THC and more CBN. If you are looking for a more relaxing, anxiety-reducing high, then this could actually be the perfect time for you to harvest. This high is more narcotic and often results in a “couchlock” result. You will be able to identify this stage when 70 to 90 percent of all the hairs have darkened.
You can look even more into the effects of harvesting your buds slightly earlier and later, depending on the exact type of high you are looking for. You can even harvest some during the peak time and some later, giving you a variety of options. Just make sure to label correctly so you don’t find yourself extremely relaxed when you were looking for a more energetic effect.
How to harvest
When you’re ready to harvest, you’ll carefully cut off all the sticky buds from your plant so that you can finish the cultivation process that you started months ago. You’ll want a heavy duty shears or scissors to handle the thickness of the plant matter, and a dish of isopropyl alcohol on hand so that you can clean sticky resin off of your scissors and hands. You’re best off wearing gloves for the cutting process, it can get pretty gooey.
Take off any of the biggest leaves that don’t have any resin: you can dispose of these. Remove small leaves and leaves which are curled up around the buds. These will usually have a lot of resin, and if you’re being thrifty, you’ll want to keep them.
Then simply remove the remaining buds from the plant and continue with the drying process.
How to dry marijuana
Finally! You’re almost done with the cultivation process. You’ve got a bunch of buds sitting there, just waiting to be dried and processed. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet, though. The drying process is the most important part of making sure your Cannabis product has a good taste. It’s easy to ruin your product with poor practice, so dry your buds with care.
Right after you harvest, the plant matter will still be chock full of chlorophyll. Remember that you want as much chlorophyll as possible to be changed into glucose. It will taste bitter, and it definitely isn’t ready to be used. You still need to activate the tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) in the plant. This only takes a few days of drying, but it’s absolutely vital that it’s done right if you want a smokable bud.
During the first phase of drying, you will need to make sure that your buds are drying out fairly slowly – between 4 and 10 days. The key thing to look out for, during this process, is preventing mold from developing while you are drying them.
It’s very important to put the same amount of care and effort into drying and curing your Cannabis buds that you did into growing them. This is where you can have the most control over what the plant actually tastes like. If the process isn’t done properly, you can easily ruin all of your hard work thus far. Right after you harvest the plant, it will still be full of chlorophyll, and activating the THC only takes a few days, so remember to stay patient until the whole project is complete. The light is at the end of the tunnel.
You’ll want to stop photosynthesis from occurring in the plant after you harvest, so put the buds in a cool dark location. This will prevent transpiration from occurring due to heat and light.
Hanging the buds upside down will help you trick the plant matter into thinking that it is still alive, as long as there is still circulation inside the plant tissue. The last thing the plant will do is use up the remaining chlorophyll in its cells as energy. You want the plant to dry relatively slowly because of this, so there is time for the plant to convert all of the chlorophyll into sugar. Don’t use fans or heaters to quicken the process.
The ideal temperature for drying is somewhere around 18 degrees Celsius. Keep the humidity moderately high, too (around 60%). Again, you don’t want the plant matter to dry out too quickly.
During this process, always remember to treat the buds gently and with care. All that sticky resin will stick to anything it touches, and will pick up dust, so don’t forget about the importance of the environment. Stay mindful!
Within a few days, the leaves of your Cannabis plants will have bent around the buds, curling up over them. Some growers advocate removing these leaves before drying the plant, but there are a number of disadvantages to doing this.
If the big leaves have been removed, the plant will have less mass and a smaller quantity of chlorophyll. Having less mass means it will dry more quickly. Again, just because you want the plant to dry doesn’t mean you want it to dry quickly.
When the leaves are present over the buds, moisture has to evaporate through them. In addition to slowing the evaporation process, this will help lower the risk of mold developing on the buds. Plus, it will help protect against dust and other negative factors.
After a couple weeks, the leaves will be totally dry, and the buds and stem should still be a little bit flexible (and likely very sticky). Keep handling them carefully so that you don’t lose any of the precious resin. If the plant matter has become brittle or easily crushed into powder, it’s too dry. The bud should be sticky and have a sweet fruity flavor.
Fast drying buds
If your final product is bitter, it’s very likely that it was dried too quickly. Keeping humidity up in the drying room will help prevent this. It’s important to remember this. Sometimes it can be tempting to use fans or ventilators or dehumidifiers to speed the process along, but you’ll only do yourself a disservice by doing this.
The one time you are ok using these extra tools is if the environment you’re drying is naturally too moist. Also, if you’re in desperate need of accelerating the drying process, you’re better off using a dehumidifier than a heater.
Throughout the drying process, make sure that you’re keeping a weather eye out for mold. Don’t let the plants touch or crowd each other during the drying process. If some of the buds are just too big to dry at the center, cut them up into smaller pieces and dry them on a sieve or filter which allows air to circulate.
How to cure cannabis
There are a number of reasons why you should cure the buds right after you’ve harvested them. There are even more (and more important reasons) for why you should make absolutely certain that you’re curing them the correctly.
Curing is the best way to make your buds taste good. It’s as simple as that. This is because curing them breaks down the chlorophyll. It allows the most subtle flavors that make your harvested buds taste unique to come out. The smoke itself will be smoother and less likely to cause you to cough or have a headache.
Curing even makes your buds smell better. Instead of smelling like fresh hay or newly cut grass (which is typical in buds that have just been harvested), they will have a more unique and enjoyable scent. They even will have a better smell and taste for turning into edibles, in case that is what you would like to use some of them for.
Enjoyment aside, curing your buds is useful from a purely practical perspective. When you cure your buds, they are less likely to develop mold. Their potency increases, giving you “more bang for your buck,” and the response to them will even be different – you probably won’t feel as anxious or paranoid, nor will you develop racing thoughts. All in all, curing your buds just makes them better.
If you are still not convinced, you should try it out for yourself. Smoke some weed that comes straight from the plant, then compare it to smoking a cured or dried version of the same harvest. You will certainly see a distinct difference, and this is all it will take to convince you.
How to store buds
The final step is safely storing your cannabis harvest after it’s been dried and cured and processed. Above all else, remember that it will keep longer if it isn’t exposed to oxygen, heat, or light.
Before you put the buds away and seal them, make sure that they haven’t gotten too dry. It should remain flexible, soft and supple. Without a little moisture, it will crumble into an unpleasant dust.
The best bet for storage is air-tight jars. Some growers favor vacuum sealing the end product in plastic, but the jars are sturdier and less susceptible to being torn open or letting pressure be applied to the plant matter itself.
Check the buds 24 hours after you first store them and make sure everything still looks and smells right. If it smells strange, let it air out. Repeat this step as many times as necessary until the cannabis has a pleasant smell, rather than smelling of leaves/freshly mowed lawn.
Using smaller jars will help the buds last longer since they won’t be exposed to as much oxygen over the long term. If you’re trying to maximize the amount of time you store the buds, you can also use a freezer.
Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or questions below and don’t forget to download my free grow bible
High-quality cannabis starts with good genetics. If you know what you’re hoping to get out of your buds, then you’ll want to do some research on available strains to make sure you maximize your chances. As a bottom line, you want to make sure that you are using healthy viable marijuana seeds, otherwise you won’t get any crop at all! The best place to start is with a reputable seed company.
The first step for most new growers is to extract seeds from large commercially purchased bags of cannabis. This is likely the easiest way to get seeds, but be warned— the cannabis has already been heavily processed and packaged. Huge quantities of bud are dried and cured together en masse, and then snipped and stuffed into big vacuum-sealed bags.
Throughout all of this, they might go through a lot of rough handling and questionable environments. Since the legality surrounding cannabis cultivation is hazy in most parts of the world, there aren’t very many regulations that need to be followed. Instead of leaving it to hope that you might find quality seeds in your stash, read this guide first. If you want to make your own feminized seeds, read my article How to make feminized seeds.
What are quality marijuana seeds
What this means for the consumer is that it can be difficult to get good seeds. Seeds are, in fact, considered undesirable by most commercial growers, and many of the seeds that sneak into the end product never reached full maturity before being harvested. There’s just no good reason for commercial cultivators to ensure that each and every bud has reached maximum maturity and that the seeds are robust and healthy.
The only reason you’ll be able to find marijuana seeds at all is the difficulty growers have in finding and removing all of the seeds. Commercial growers have nothing to gain by offering free seeds to consumers. Another factor that can come up is freezing seeds, especially in northern latitudes. You won’t know if the seeds have been frozen when you get your cannabis, but if the seeds have in fact been frozen, they are far less likely to produce viable plants.
With moderately healthy stock, you’re likely to see about one in every three cannabis seeds actually sprout. Although relatively robust, there are many factors which can prevent sprouting: seeds with damaged husks, immature seeds, or seeds that have been damaged by environmental extremes. Additionally, seeds won’t last forever. If the seeds are too old, they are also very unlikely to sprout.
There are a couple steps to take when culling seeds to make sure you are saving the best candidates for sprouting. While you’ll never reach a perfect success rate, you can learn to discern good seeds from bad ones. Mature cannabis seeds are a dark brown, often marbled through with lighter shades or stripes. In general, you’re better off avoiding seeds that are pale green or white since these probably aren’t mature. Big fat seeds are ideal, and they should have a fairly rounded shape. You can use smaller seeds too, but as a rule of thumb, you’re more likely to develop a healthy sprout from a bigger healthier seed.
How to find the best seeds
Cannabis seeds grow underneath the buds themselves, sandwiched in between the plant matter and the parent stem. They’re difficult to see because of these and have a cushion of protection to guards against all of the drying, curing, processing, and packaging that they’ll go through before they get to you. This is why seeds manage to survive at all.
Young marijuana seeds are also protected by a white-green cellulose sheath that will wither and fall away as the seed matures. To remove them from the plant itself, the best method is to simply find them and gently nudge them free of the stems with a little finger or thumbnail. Feel free to discard any seeds with damaged or scratched surfaces. The same is true for any immature seeds with white seed coats.
Veteran growers might want to grow a mix of both male and female plants, but this is not recommended for most growers, especially inexperienced ones. There is a high risk of inadvertent fertilization, which can ruin the yield of an entire crop. Unfertilized female plants produce the biggest and best yields.
Fertilized females can still provide a crop, but the end yield will inevitably be much smaller and the buds filled with seeds. Mainly they can provide the seeds necessary for the next generation. Multigenerational breeding is extremely complex, however, and extends beyond the scope of what we’ll talk about here. For now, consider purchasing feminized seeds from a commercial distributor. This will simplify the process, and make it much easier to get started if you’re new to cannabis cultivation.
Keep in mind that if you do end up purchasing feminized seeds, you will get only female plants. With no males in the area to pollinate the female plants, you won’t get very many seeds if you get any at all. Over the long-term, this can be something of a drawback for a home grower since it’s impossible to harvest seeds for the next crop. It also means you won’t be able to reproduce the same crop, which can be frustrating if you find a strain that you really like. Read more in the article What are regular, feminized and autoflowering marijuana seeds
Buying top shelf seed
It takes a lot of trust to buy cannabis seeds. There’s no way to know what strain you’re getting by looking at the seeds themselves. You won’t know anything about the genetics, except the information you’re given by whomever you’re purchasing from. This is one of the biggest reasons why you’d want to purchase your seeds from a reputable company or seed bank. Random dealers won’t necessarily know any better than you what strain they have.
When you buy seeds, try to choose a seed bank or company that offers some client support. Cultivating cannabis isn’t too difficult, but because of the nature of the plant, you can’t just ask friends and family for help and support. Usually seed banks and commercial companies will be available for some troubleshooting since it’s in their best interest to help customers and maintain a positive reputation.
It takes a lot of experience and expertise to produce high-quality seeds. The entire process of selecting, testing and producing a batch of seeds can take up to a year or more. Still, it’s worth it to know you have the right strain, and in a feminized form.
The knowledge and ability to make marijuana clones is an added bonus for any successful grower – as well as growers of any type of plant. Cloning is a reliable way to have a better harvest and yield without risking certain important factors such as potency. As long as you know which of your plants are the healthiest and most successful, as well as which are males and females, you will be able to clone correctly. If you don’t know these things at this stage in the growing season, you may want to take up a new hobby.
You might even have a specific favorite plant already, which will make the decision process quite easy when it comes to cloning. Cloning is about as close to a guarantee as you can get in the marijuana growing business, so proceed with confidence because it has a very high success rate.
Marijuana has an undeniably, strong, unique smell that anyone can recognize. How many times have you been out and suddenly you were hit with it? I am pretty sure you were 100% aware of what it was you were smelling.
This odor is appealing to some, however, it can completely blow up your spot in the wrong way if the wrong people catch a hint of it coming from your grow room.
With each passing day, marijuana is becoming more and more popular worldwide as people begin discovering its medical benefits or enjoy it for a real high. We now have more people growing marijuana indoors than ever before so there is a pressing need to help growers learn to cover up the odor these plants give off. The smell while growing marijuana is what makes the practice so risky since the last thing you need is this to get the attention of people living in your area.