After weeks of tending your autoflowering marijuana plants, you are now at the point where your buds are ripe, flavorful and ready to smoke. The buds are still on your lovely auto plants, waiting for harvest time. How do you tell if your autoflowering plants are ready for harvest?
Table of Contents
When does Harvest Time Happen with Autoflowering Marijuana
The harvest time of a regular plant and an autoflowering counterpart is quite different considering that autos grow faster than regular cannabis. Autoflowering cannabis plants will flower in just 7 to 9 weeks compared to regular plants that can take up to 12 weeks.
Autoflowering counterparts will be ready for harvest sooner but determining if the plant is ready for harvest is another thing. You need to learn how to look for harvest time indicators, signs found in your cannabis plants that tell you that these are ready to be cut down and dried.
You may have thought that harvest time is the easiest phase of a cannabis plant’s life but actually, harvest time is crucial to the overall effect and flavor of the weed.
Harvest Time Indicators
Before you begin learning how to identify certain harvest time indicators, make sure that you have the right tools handy. A good tool that most growers and breeders use is a magnifying glass. This is available almost everywhere and is very cheap to purchase. Invest in a high-quality type of magnifying glass with an LED light so you can easily check your buds.
Take note of the following signs that your plants are telling you:
The pistils are the tiny hairs that you can see sticking out from the buds. These structure change color to indicate that the buds are ready to be harvested. When the pistils are about 50% to 70% brown in color, expect that the buds are ready for harvest and you should expect a very young weed with a light effect.
If you see the pistils starting to become 70% to 90% brown then your buds will be ripe and therefore have very heavy effects. This is a good strain for recreational and possibly medicinal use. Finally, if the pistils have become 90% to 100% brown, then you should expect that the weed is narcotic and hence has very potent recreational effects. To fully check the pistil color, use a flashlight and a magnifying tool.
Trichome clarity means how clear or how cloudy the trichomes are. The trichomes are the small mushroom head-like structures that are found outside and inside the buds.
Usually, buds are covered with trichomes and these change color to indicate that the buds are ready to be harvested.
Use a magnifying glass and an LED flashlight to evaluate the clarity of the trichomes. If the structures are clear then it is not yet harvesting time. You need to wait longer. When the trichomes are whitish or amber-colored, you can now harvest your plants. When your trichomes are all amber-colored then these buds are overripe.
Use your magnifying lens to compare trichome clarity from one bud to another. It’s best to check trichome clarity under good lighting.
Putting all These Together
Most growers will tell you that instead of just checking the pistils of your plants, you must also combine this with trichome clarity to get the best results. This means that to get the best results the pistils should be around 70% to 90% brown and should have milky white or amber-colored trichomes. These mean that your buds are ripe and heavy, perfect as a recreational or medicinal strain.
Some important points about harvest time
Checking the resin
Checking the resin color is another way to identify if it is time for harvest time. Resin actually changes in color as your plants’ age. This darkens as your plants become more mature. Resin starts out as clear and then becomes opaque yellowish in color.
Ideally, the plants are ready for harvest when the resin is still sticky and clear but as this becomes darker, it changes color and characteristics. When you spot resin that has become darker, harvest your plants ASAP because this means that the compounds that make up the resin are in the process of being broken down. In other words, your plants will not be good for recreation or therapeutic use.
Flowering Time Gives you Clues
Another timeless method to indicate that it is time for harvest is by referring to your plants’ flowering time. Although this is not as precise as checking the trichome clarity and the pistil color, this is easier to do and is consistent. You don’t need to use a magnifying glass to do this as well.
Indica vs sativa
Generally speaking, indica plants will be ready for harvest in just 8 weeks while on the flowering phase. Sativa strains will be ready in a matter of 10 weeks. Auto-flowering plants harvest after 10 weeks from the seedling phase to flowering phase.
Sativa strains naturally have longer harvesting times because it has longer flowering times and grows taller than other strains as well. Indica plants are smaller and bushier and thus will flower and harvest faster. Ruderalis strains are the smallest and will harvest in 10 weeks.
How to Harvest Autoflowering Marijuana Plants
Once you have established that your autoflowering plants are ready for harvest, start to prepare your plants.
- Decide which cannabis plants areas.
Now that harvest time is here, decide which plants are ready. Set these ready plants aside and prepare your tools and your drying area. If you are reusing tools, clean and sterilize your scissors and blades and any other tools that will touch your plants.
- Stop feeding your plants at least a week before harvest time.
At this time, you need plants that are free from nutrients and fertilizer because this can affect the overall taste and aroma of the chemicals.
Instead of fertilizer, water your plants regularly. But on a few days before harvest time stop watering your plants as well.
- Adding flavor to weed
If you have tasted weed with a unique flavor, this is the time to add these. By watering your plants with juice or any liquid with flavor, your weed plants will soon taste and smell like the liquid you used. You may also use wine and natural fruit juices.
- Use sharp scissors or blade for harvesting your plants
Use sharp and clean tools to cut your plants. Some growers will harvest the buds only while some will use the entire plant.
The buds are dried and you can use the entire body of the plant as plant matter for joints, concentrates, teas and other cannabis products. To harvest only the buds, cut directly underneath the buds and place these in a small basket or basin.
For the entire plant just take your scissors or blade and cut the plant from the ground. Place your plants inside a basket or a large vat. These will be dried later.
- Decide the best way to dry your buds
Marijuana has to be dried slowly to get the best results. Use a specific room where you can adjust the humidity levels and lighting to dry your buds well. An abandoned room like your attic, a guest room, your garage or your basement can serve this purpose.
- Leave your buds and plant parts inside the drying area
Install a wire clothes hanger inside your room and hang your plants. You may also scatter the newspaper inside the room where you can place your plants. The buds need to be dried in a separate area inside the drying room. This will help you easily identify where they are.
Use clothespins to hang your buds or just arrange these side by side in a large vat or on top of newspapers. Use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity inside the growing area. Maintain low humidity levels. Keep the drying area dry and dark.
- Cure your buds
After two weeks, your buds and plant material should be very dry to touch. You may try to smoke a small amount to find out.
But before you can actually smoke your buds for recreation or therapeutic relief, you must cure these well. Curing is preserving the natural characteristics of your buds and will help make these buds last longer when stored. Curing also removes the newly mowed grass smell that uncured weed has.
Curing is placing your buds in jars without light. Place these inside a cabinet or a cupboard for at least two weeks.
- Store your dried cannabis
Now that your buds and plant material have been dried and stored, place these inside containers like a mason jar or a simple microwavable plastic container. Place desiccant or small bits of rice inside to preserve your buds and to remove moisture. When stored right, your buds can last for years. Properly label these with your name, the date it was harvested and the name of the strain as well.