“IS MY PLANT READY TO HARVEST? A MULTIVERSE GUIDE TO HARVESTING”
Its that time of year again! CROPtober is upon us! So, let’s get into how to tell if your cannabis is ready to harvest. When it comes to harvesting your cannabis, there are a few things that people have used for a long time to assess the “ripeness” or maturity, that in our opinion here at multiverse beans, are not the end all be all when it comes to harvesting your cannabis at the right time.
For as long as harvesting has been around, people have used the color of the trichome as the sole indicator of maturity for the cannabis plant. Traditionally it has been thought that the trichome goes through three stages of development, lets list them below
Clear Trichome Head– This is a fully bulbous head that has not begun to become opaque, here is a picture of a clear trichome head. You will notice that the head is still totally translucent, and hasn’t started to turn “milky” or opaque
“Milky” or Opaque Trichome Head– This trichome head has started to go from completely clear to a more opaque or “milky” Notice how these trichomes are starting to go milky towards the bottom, but still remain clear at the top. This is a good example of the transition from clear to milky.
Amber Trichome Head– This is the final stage of trichome development, and it is thought that this is when it is fully mature
In our opinion, trichome color alone is NOT the best way to tell if your cannabis plant is ready to harvest. We definitely recommend a more in depth and overall plant assessment versus that one particular my aspect of the plant. This is especially true for autoflowers, there are some strains that will never fully turn amber. Some will, some won’t. It’s still kind of a mystery as to what specifically changes the color of a trichome.
Below is the way we determine ripeness here in the multiverse:
First:, Bract size. Are the bracts fully formed and swollen? This is something that we always look for first, are the calyxes fully formed and all the way swollen. One way to determine this is by feeling the bud, give it a gentle squeeze and see how much firmness the bud has. If it still feels “airy” or light in any way, that means it still has some swelling to do
Next: Pistil recession, are 90% or more of the hairs recessed and orange. This is a sign that the plant has given up on reproducing for the most part and understands its going to die. Once the hairs have gone brownish or orange, that is when you really can start to think about chopping
Next: leaf fade, this is when the plant is consuming its nutrient reserves in a last ditch effort to stay alive. This process is the same thing that happens when the leaves change on the trees in the mountains. When the leaves start to lose their green chlorophyll, it can turn all kinds of beautiful colors. This is another reason to make sure to let your cannabis get fully mature, the leaf color fade is always such a beautiful thing to see.
Lastly: Looking at the trichomes, but not in the way most people think. Instead of focusing solely on the color, we always recommend looking at the structure of the trichome. Specifically, how the head is attached to the stalk.
Now you will need a microscope of some kind (even the cheap ones will work). You can find these on Amazon, just search for a handheld microscope or a microscope lens for your phone or camera.
This photo shows what you are looking for when it comes to the stalk and head separating, similar to a piece of fruit or a mushroom. When it gets ripe the head begins to separate from the stem, stalk or stipe. You are looking for something similar in your trichome heads.
Yes, while color can play a factor, the newer research shows that light and other outside influences can affect the color as well as maturity. That’s why it’s not the best indicator of maturity.
Look at the trichs and see if the head has started to separate from the stalk, once this has happened in 80% or more of the trichomes, you are ready for harvest!
As with most things when it comes to growing cannabis, this process takes time to learn and is an acquired and learned skill. Very rarely in cannabis cultivation do we find a “one size fits all” method of doing anything. We are constantly evolving in what we know about this plant, and as science improves and access evolves. We will learn exactly what causes the change in color of trichomes, along with many other things. We believe this is a more complete way of answering the question, “is my plant ready to harvest?” Using the entire plant as a way to tell you when she is ready to harvest, will allow you to get more familiar with how the cannabis life cycle works.