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How To Harvest Autoflowering Cannabis Plants

Knowing when and how to harvest buds is very critical if you're growing autoflowers. Reap rewards in a big way with these tips!
1 year ago
7 min read
How To Harvest Autoflowering Cannabis Plants


After months of waiting, your big day has finally arrived. A cannabis seed that was so tiny has now grown into a big bush. It’s time to bid adieu, but not before we get to our favorite part – harvesting the buds.

I know you want to chop it as soon as possible. You want to skip these stages and directly smoke the bud. But slow down my padawan, because haste makes waste. Now is the time you have to be careful.

The stage of harvesting the buds is very critical. It can make all the difference in the world. So, take some time and read this article to understand how to harvest autoflowering cannabis buds.

When To Harvest Autoflowering Cannabis Buds?

A few tips to maximize your yield:

  • Make sure the plants get at least 14-18 hours of light because more light equals more yield.
  • Use the best nutrients and containers to get the best results.
  • Train the plants using LST (Low Stress Training).
  • Water them well but don’t overwater them – follow the wet and dry cycle.

You can also increase your autoflowering strain yields using other techniques. If you’re an experienced grower, you definitely know when to harvest the plants. But for beginners, it can be confusing. The timing is crucial when it comes to harvesting.

Wait, what? Fastbuds clearly mentions the time required to harvest, so why do I need to figure out when to harvest, you ask?

Yes, you’re right. Fastbuds does mention that detail, but a few things can go wrong and delay the growth of the plants. And, as expected, it can intimidate you. So, why is the timing so important? I’ll tell you why.

Some people smoke marijuana for its psychoactive effects. It enhances the creativity and boosts their spirits. If you harvest cannabis buds a little early, these psychoactive effects will be more.

On the other hand, if you harvest them a little late, the sedative effects increase. The most common way of identifying the harvest date is to look at the pistils.

The Pistil technique

Cannabis Pistils

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If the pistils are white without any signs of amber, it’s definitely too early to harvest. The psychoactive effects will be way too much to handle. Conversely, if the pistils are completely amber with no signs of white, you’re going to couch-locked.

You don’t want to drop like a stone whenever you smoke a joint, do you? So, it’s best to wait until you see 50:50 ratio of white and amber. Of course, you can play around with this ratio a bit.

For example, 30/70 of white/amber will make you relax and enjoy the evening. And 70/30 of white/amber will give you a nice buzz that tempts your creative juices. Remember that you just gotta watch the pistils until they change colors.

The Trichome Technique

Cannabis bud trichomes

This is another way to identify when to harvest the plants. The pistil technique is pretty accurate but pistils sometimes go brown or amber in color due to many issues. In such cases, you will waste your bud.

For growers who don’t want to take any chances with the pistils, the trichome technique is the way to go. But for this, you’ll need a nice jeweler’s loupe or a magnifying lens that shows the trichomes in great detail.

When you focus on the buds with a magnifying lens, the trichomes resemble mushrooms. They are also known as resin glands or crystals. The trichomes are responsible for the effects you absolutely love when smoking cannabis.

If the trichomes are clear, it’s too early to harvest. If they are half milky/cloudy and half clear, wait a little more because the plant is still maturing. It’s recommended to harvest when at least 70% of the trichomes turn cloudy. At this point, you get to enjoy the best medicinal and sedative effects.

How To Increase THC or CBD In The Bud?

Cannabis macro trichomes

Another reason to harvest autoflowering cannabis strains at the right time is to maximize CBD or THC in the buds. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids and scientists are discovering positive results in treating pain and spasticity. 

Those white crystals you see on the plant? Yeah, that’s what we want. THC or white crystals develop on the plant at its last stage. Your autoflowering marijuana plant will be completely covered in resin in the last two weeks.

So, if you wait until the plant develops the trichomes, the THC content will simultaneously increase, thereby resulting in some super potent bud. However, if you wait too long, the THC will degrade and you might experience unpleasant sedative effects.

You’ve got a catch here though.

There are people that actually wait for the THC to degrade. But that’s because they want to get more benefits from CBD. Like THC, CBD is also a cannabinoid, but it doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects.

CBD has more therapeutic effects and has shown promise to relieve some illnesses including schizophrenia. So, if you want to increase the CBD, wait a bit longer after the trichomes turn milky. Just don’t wait too long, though – about 80 to 90% of milky trichomes should give you enough CBD.

Also keep in mind that while Indica offers relaxing effects, Sativas gives you a cerebral buzz. So, for strains like Zkittlez Auto, Cream Cookies Auto, and Blackberry Auto that are indica-dominant, you don’t need to wait for the buds to turn very amber. Even if the buds turn 40-50% amber, you’re good to go.

On the other hand, strains like Lemon AK, Blue Dream´matic and Mexican Airlines Auto are Sativa-dominant. For such strains that make you extremely creative, you can wait until 35% of the trichomes turn amber.

Here’s a quick lesson to harvest autoflowering cannabis buds.

How to Harvest Autoflowering Cannabis Buds?

Now that we got the criticality of timing the harvest out of the way, we can focus on how to harvest autoflowering cannabis buds. The first thing you need to remember is to flush your plants.

Why is Flushing Important?

As a cannabis grower, you’ve probably used different nutrients to help your babies. The nutrients help the buds swell up. But if the plant hasn’t used all the nutrients, the nutrients remain on different parts of the plant.

They can produce a very harsh taste when you smoke the buds. And this happens even if you’ve dried and cured the buds well. Plus, the buds can produce a chemical taste if you’ve used too many nutrients.

No, it won’t taste like diesel like your imagining. Think of a harsh, acrid taste. So, to avoid this problem, you can flush the plants.

Flushing is the process of using fresh water to flush away all the nutrients remaining in the soil. Stop using nutrients just about a week or 10 days before the harvest. Use fresh water and wait until some of the water drains out of the container.

It’s okay if the leaves turn yellow – it’s expected. You can flush the plants even if you suspect something wrong with the plant. But that’s a topic for another day.

Flushing also improves the quality of the buds, so don’t forget to flush them well. If you want to completely skip flushing, then switch to organic or super soil. The best part is that you can make super soil at home!

Chop Those Plants Down

Now proceed with your happy dance if you’re at this stage! Some people harvest sequentially, especially if they are growing autoflowers. Buds at the lower part of the plant don’t swell too much because they don’t receive a lot of light.

If you want to maximize the harvest, harvest only the main colas and leave the remaining on the plant. However, you can harvest the entire plant if you’re not patient to wait. Both ways work.

To harvest the plant, start by removing the fan leaves only. Then, proceed to remove the smaller leaves. Use gloves to prevent the resin from sticking to your hands.

The next step is to cut the stems one by one. Don’t uproot the plant before you cut the stems!


Trimming the plants can take a while. Choose the stems one after another and if you’re interrupted for some reason while trimming, you can leave the plants in the soil. But, uprooting the plant straightaway will force you to cut all the stems.

Use the sharpest pair of pruning clippers or Fiskars you own. Obviously, they need to be sterilized and clean. Handle the colas carefully because you don’t want the trichomes dropping off.

There are two ways of trimming those girls.


The first way is to cut the leaves before drying the buds, known as wet trimming. And the second way is to cut the leaves after they harvested and dried, known as dry trimming. Most growers follow the wet trimming process because it’s very difficult to cut the leaves after they dry.

The next step is to get the sugar leaves. Some growers let the sugar leaves stay. However, this is a matter of choice. Sugar leaves are the small leaves that are attached to the buds. They are coated with crystals and you might be tempted to not remove them.

It’s understandable – after all, you don’t want to waste anything coated with resin. But, sugar leaves can make your buds taste harsh. Smoking pure bud sans all the leaves is an incredible experience. Don’t be dejected, though!

You can still use the sugar leaves to make edibles or concentrates instead of throwing them. There’s no point in throwing away anything that’s coated with resin!

Cut the stems in such a way that it gives you options to hang them to dry. If you’re not going to hang them, cut them any way you want. Just remember that the smaller the buds, the faster they dry.

Leave the colas alone. They are so majestic and beautiful that it’s worth the wait for them to dry. Place the colas and smaller buds on a clean, parchment or baking paper. Remember that they are sticky, so prevent any dust from settling on them.

Once you’ve harvested all the stems, you can uproot the plants. The final step is to dry and then cure the buds. But for now, take a good look at the buds you have grown and pat yourself on the back! It’s time for the next big yield now.

Take advantage of the Fastbuds bonus seeds that are free with every order and start growing cannabis plants now!

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Cream Cookies Auto
Cream Cookies Auto
Mostly Indica
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10 weeks
60 - 90 cm
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