Most of the time we focus on how growing works, which makes sense because it can be complicated and delicate. For any information on how to get started growing there are articles on How To Grow Cannabis readily available. For those of us who are past that point and ready for the next stage, there is still a lot to figure out. Harvesting, drying and curing aren’t as simple as snipping and hanging. There are different techniques available and depending on the plant, the environment and personal preference harvesting will change. The way the plants are harvested will also often affect the final quality and potency of the buds. This is a very simple step by step guide for those growers who are new to harvesting.
One of the first things we need to know is when we should harvest our plants. Everything we need to know is in this article here. I’ll also provide the quickest of overviews just now. Basically when we harvest depends on the type of high we are after, THC maturity, pistil colour, swollen calyxes and overall growth. This is why choosing when to harvest can be the trickiest aspect of harvesting, we don’t want to ruin the final product from the get go. As I say everything we could possibly want to know about perfect harvesting time is in the article above.
The first thing we will need is a harvesting space separate from the grow space. Depending on the number of plants we will likely need a separate room cleared out for the process. This rooms should be kept at around 21 degrees celsius for optimum plant health.
Powder Free Gloves – These will stop the THC or resin crystals sticking to hands and being wasted. It will also keep the natural oils present on the hands and any wayward dirt away from the precious plants.
Two Plastic Containers – One will be for the trimmings that come off the buds while you prepare them, the other is for the buds themselves. Maintaining the sugar leaves and other trimmings is always a good idea for making extracts, teas or just as joint padding.
Trimmers – For this, we can use handheld scissors or electric trimmers. For best results, I would definitely recommend a pair of quality trimming scissors from a gardening shop. Trimming is probably one of the most important aspects of harvesting and preparing cannabis so delicate, good quality snippers will do a lot more good than run of the mill hand scissors. Spring-loaded trimming scissors can be a good idea for those harvesting a large crop.
Isopropyl Alcohol – This one is optional but generally thought to be a good idea. Get one that is 70% or higher to clean tools and ensure no contamination. For anyone harvesting a few plants, this is pretty much a must-have.
Once everything is ready to go it is time to prepare the plants for harvesting. First, we get started with what is called the pre-harvest trim. Basically remove all of the oldest leaves, the bottom leaves or the yellowing ones. This should be done right before the harvest so that these leaves aren’t using up growing energy that should be going to the rest of the plant.
For anyone spraying their plants stop a couple of weeks before harvesting. This makes sure there won’t be any mould issues or residue on the buds.
Finally, we need to wash the plants or “flush” them which is an important part of the preparation.
This removes any nutrients or chemicals that may be hanging around on the buds and that we don’t want to smoke. This also ensures there are no hanger-on fertilisers or treatments that will mess up the flavour of the smoke.
We flush using clean water which is purified water rather than tap. We can also buy flushing agents if only tap is available. We should start the flushing process a little while before harvesting, maybe a week to ten days before. For anyone who is growing hydroponically, they should replace the nutrient solution with clean water.
For those growing in soil leave the plants dry for the last couple of days, this will make it easier when it comes to actual drying.
Now it’s time to look at the actual harvesting of the plants. There are some very simple and basic ways to harvest that ensure minimal mistakes.
The first option is just harvesting the whole plant. Once the plant has been trimmed we can just snip the bottom of the plant and hang it up to dry.
The second option means cutting the ripest buds from the plant first. By removing these buds it allows the other less impressive buds to catch up, potentially increasing the yield. The most outward buds are the most likely to reach maturity, allowing the inner buds to get a little extra light for a week or so may produce a higher number of fully ripe buds.
Whichever way we choose, we then need to move on to the actual harvest. Most people remove the large trichome-less leaves as they don’t have much use. This can also stop the buds from moulding when they are drying as less moisture will get trapped. Trimming the buds earlier on will dry faster, however, if the buds dry too quickly they can be unpleasant tasting.
Most growers will line dry, meaning they clip the buds or plants to a washing line. The plants should stay on the line until the stems start to break but before they snap.
The last stage is trimming, where we remove any large leaves, anything brown or yellow, and any that have no THC on them.
After all of this is done we go on to the curing stage. We don’t have time to go into curing today but we will certainly revisit it in another article. Come back and visit us again to find out how to finalise and perfect the crop.
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