How to Harvest Cannabis Plants: Ultimate Guide

When is the harvest window, different methods of drying and what to consider before harvesting your Cannabis plants.
18 May 2020
5 min read
How to Harvest Cannabis Plants: Ultimate Guide

  • 1. The harvest window
  • 2. Contaminated flowers
  • 3. Dry or wet trim?
  • 3. a. Wet trimming
  • 3. b. Dry trimming
  • 4. Using the leftover trim
  • 5. In conclusion

As you count down the days to harvesting, there are many things to consider in terms of preparation. Having an understanding of the harvest date, the different methods of trimming, and what to look for prior to the chop will allow you to produce the best end product possible.

In this article, we explain all you need to know about harvesting, what to do with the leftover trim, and our top tips.

1. The Harvest Window

This represents the timeframe in which Cannabis plants can be harvested. There are certain checkpoints to think about before just harvesting on a set date.

Following the guided number of weeks given by the seed bank is one way to assess the harvest window, however, the following list is what a grower should use as a rule of thumb.

1) Under closer inspection, the color of the trichomes will indicate how mature the plants are. The appearance of the heads of the resin will be either clear, translucent, milky, silver, yellow, and amber. The more yellow and amber the trichome looks under a microscope or powerful lens will represent how the flower will be more narcotic in effect.

Decide in advance what type of effect you prefer. Those who crave a heavy-bodied indica effect would definitely like our Zkittlez Auto.

Zkittlez Auto
5 out of 5
Just an easy to grow, solid packed buds. A heavy feeder and can be a bit prone to light burn at the end but otherwise perfection!
Verified customer
Reviewed 21 November 2020

Leave her until all the trichomes are as close to amber as possible. This is when the plant produces the most desirable outcome.

2) During the final few weeks of flowering and typically when plants are being flushed, the size and appearance of the calyx attached to the brown pistils will become swollen. As this happens, the buds will begin to take on a dense, compact, and hard to squeeze appearance.

If you are not happy with the progress of your buds, then leave them in for an extra 5-7 days to give them the time. Harvesting plants too soon can be one of the biggest ways to lose on final dry weight and even resin production in some cases.


How to Harvest Cannabis Plants: States of Cannabis Trichomes

Different states of trichomes on different stages of a cannabis plant's lifecycle.

3) Over time once the white pistils will have faded to a maroon, brown, they will begin to wrap themselves around the calyxes. You should never judge the maturity and ripeness of a Cannabis plant based on the percentage of brown hairs.

It is better to check the ratio of brown to white hairs after inspecting the trichomes, size of buds, and are at the very end of the 14-day flushing period.

2. Contaminated Flowers

It is not always easy to inspect every plant in your grow room, and especially to find out your buds have been attacked by a pathogen late on. There are many forms of contamination ranging from pesticide, dust, and botrytis.

When it comes to harvesting your fresh plants, you will want to inspect the outside and inner parts of the flowers, especially if you have grown dense and compact buds.


How to Harvest Cannabis Plants: Contaminated Cannabis Flowers

As difficult as it may be it's important to get rid of the contaminated buds, smoking them will only cause more damage to your health than you think.

In the event, if pesticides or harmful chemicals were used, you really should think twice about even wanting to smoke the flower, or make hash or extraction with.

Using gloves and sterile scissors, carefully cut away any infected buds and dispose of in the rubbish bin. As difficult as it may be having to abandon your biggest buds, smoking them will only cause more damage to your lungs and seriously affect your health.

3. Dry or Wet Trim?

Once you have chopped your ready to harvest plants down, you will need to decide which method of trimming you prefer. There are two ways to do this and they are known as wet and dry trimming.

Wet Trimming 

This term essentially means when the plants have been freshly cut down and are wet. The trimming process actually takes place before the buds have had a chance to dry. A grower will require a drying net or mesh net screen to allow the fresh buds to air out and become dry. 


How to Harvest Cannabis Plants: Wet trimmming cannabis plants

Wet Trimming means that your cannabis plant has been freshly cut while still wet.

The buds will be cut down to a uniform size and be spread out on the net. Use the sugar leaf cut from the buds to make a fresh-frozen isolator. As the buds and trim are not dry and are decarboxylated, the end product will be classed as live resin.

Dry Trimming 

Performed once the entire plant is left to fully dry. This means all of the fan leaves and high-quality sugar trim are crisp to touch. Commercial growers prefer this method as hand trimming freshly harvested plants can be impractical and a logistical nightmare.


How to Harvest Cannabis Plants: Dry trimming cannabis plants

Dry Trimming is performed once the entire plant is left to fully dry.

•  Top Tip: It is best to remove all of the fan leaves on the plants, prior to hanging. The only leaves that should be left on to dry are the resinous ones wrapped around the buds.

4. Using The Leftover Trim

Before you throw away the leftover trim from the buds and high-grade sugar leaf, you should think about recycling the material to make either bubble hash or dry sift.


How to Harvest Cannabis Plants: Leftover Cannabis Trim

Almost 99% of home growers would discard their leftover leaves and lower buds when they could be using them to produce hash and extracts.

Bubble hash is made using ice, water, and various micron screen bags that will separate the trichomes from 220-45 microns. Growers who choose to wet trim their plant will enjoy making a product that is called live resin and highly sought after commercially.

Dry sifting is the old school traditional way to make a golden sandy hash. By simply rubbing your dried and decarboxylated plant material over the screen, the separation process will refine them down to a full melt, top-quality product.

5.  In Conclusion

Make sure that you consider all of the guidelines mentioned when harvesting your plants. If you are not sure then be confident to give the plants an extra week.

Harvesting plants too early can be very disadvantageous and will seriously impact the effect, terpene, and trichome production, and overall dry weight.

For those who don't want to waist any leftovers after harvesting would appreciate our Wedding Cheesecake Auto strain.

Wedding Cheesecake Auto
5 out of 5
Beautiful plants, and consistent among the three. I topped all of them and got around 115g off each in 2 gallon pots. Very pleased
Verified customer
Reviewed 9 December 2020

This highly productive hybrid will be ideal for those who want to make the top-notch quality bubble hash or extracts with the sugar trim leftovers.

18 May 2020