Tips for Harvest Season
Whether it’s your first plant or your hundredth, growers know that cultivating your own cannabis is a labour of love. You spend months tending to your plants, caring for them in the hopes that they’ll yield an amazing product for you. Caring for your cannabis plants doesn’t just come through the growing phases, however. There are still lots of considerations that need to be made before, during, and after you harvest your crop in order to ensure the quality of your end product. In this post we’ve broken down some of our top tips, and things to keep in mind at harvest time!
Timing is everything when it comes to cropping your plants. If you crop too early, you’ll end up with a weak, ineffective product, and if you crop too late THC production is halted which could result in an undesirable taste, aroma, and high. You’ll always want to be sure to time your harvest so that you have at least a week to flush the plants, and make sure leftover nutrients are used up so as not to affect the taste. You can use a flushing agent (such as Cyco’s Kleanse) or plain water to finish up the last of the nutrients. Now is also a good time to make sure the space where you will be harvesting, trimming, and storing your plants is a cool, dry, and well-ventilated room for best results and maximum odor control. You’ll want to remove any harsh lighting (cover windows, etc.) and consider switching to green bulbs to prevent the overproduction of THC in your buds. Make space for drying buds by hanging up a line for branches to hang from, or installing a drying rack to save on space (such as this 6-level one by Sahara).
How do I know the plants are ready?
The most common and effective way to check plants for maturity is by inspecting the trichomes. Since every strain, plant, and setup is different there is no universal exact timing to say when a plant will be ready, and you will want to check your strain’s genetics for recommended flowering times. Generally, indica strains reach maturity between 6-8 weeks of flowering, so you’ll want to start inspecting trichomes at 5-6 weeks. Sativa strains generally start maturing between 8-12 weeks of flower, so start inspecting at 8 weeks.
You’ll need some type of magnifier, whether it’s a simple jeweler's loupe or the zoom tool on your camera to see the trichomes close up. When the colour of them starts to change from clear to a cloudy, milky colour you’ll know the plants are almost ready. When the majority of trichomes (over 50%, up to about 70%) have turned cloudy this is when you’ll get the best THC:CBD ratio. If you leave them longer, they will turn to an amber colour which as mentioned above, means higher levels of CBD are being produced which could drastically affect your finished product and high you get from it.
Once you’ve determined your plant is ready, start to cut down the main branches first. Try to handle the buds as little as possible, since they’re covered in resin you’ll jeopardize the THC levels and get your hands sticky (we recommend wearing gloves!). Whether you’re planning to trim wet or dry, the goal is to neatly manicure all spare branches, and leaves away so that only the bud remains. It can certainly be time consuming, but it’s time well spent. Same as maturity times, your dry time will completely vary based on your method of trimming, as well as the environment you’re drying in. Ideally the dry time is 7-10 days for wet trimmed buds, and 10-14 days for dry trim ones, however there are lots of varying factors so check on them frequently to avoid over drying or moldy buds.
Wet Trim Vs Dry Trim
The main difference between wet and dry trimming is when you choose to do the most amount of manicuring to your buds. They both involve the same amount of labour in the end, but have different advantages. Wet trimming is when you immediately cut down each individual branch & trim leaves away from the buds as soon as they're ready, laying or hanging them to dry afterwards. This method can allow you to trim your buds shorter and more meticulously. Dry trimming is done by cutting down whole branches and hanging them up to dry before you begin to cut individual branches and trim the buds. This method can lead to a better tasting product.
After your buds have been dried and trimmed, you’ll want to store them in an airtight container, something like a Mason (or other canning jar) that is easily sealed. As you begin to pack dried buds into the jars, be sure not to overfill them or press too tightly as you can lose crystals and too much oxygen in the jar. Seal the lids tightly, and store jars in a cool, dark room for 2-4 weeks (ideally at least 4 for the best tasting product, patience is key!). Try to open the lid a few times a day to allow fresh air into the jar at least for the first week or so, afterwards you can reduce it to once per day or every other day.
Properly curing cannabis in jars is essential after drying to properly preserve them so buds don’t get moldy or overly dry. It also greatly helps to mellow out the flavors so it’s not so harsh, and improve the potency of your product (think of an aging wine!). Throughout the process of drying & curing chlorophyll is broken down within the buds, which is what can give it a “harsh” taste. Maintaining the temperature and humidity in the environment where the cannabis is stored is crucial to the curing process, which is why we recommend including something such as Integra’s Boost Packsto ensure consistent ideal humidity in your jar.
All the products mentioned in this article are available for purchase on our website, in addition to a collection of harvest tools and post-harvest necessities. If you still have questions or prefer to shop in person please stop our store at 376 Kingston Road in Pickering, and one of our experts will be happy to walk you through your purchase!