Today we will take a closer look at the second half of the flowering period or flowering phase (called ‚flower‘ in short) in our series of SSSC Do’s and Don’ts. In this time period the plant develops her buds and produces trichomes. The trichomes contain the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG, THCV, etc.), which we want to maximize before harvesting the plants.
The SSSC Do’s and Don’ts Nr.5:
Do’s and Don’ts for the second half of flower:
- Battle insects with predators
- Use UV-C light against powdery mildew
- Flush your medium
- Check your trichomes
- Spray poison on your buds
- Feed your plants until harvest
- Harvest after a given time
Battle insects with predators:
In our last blog-article we have explained how to check for infestations of your plants with thrips and spider-mites. Both insects are a pest and are very bad for your plants and need to be battled right away. The best way to get rid of them in an organic way without the use of any poison, are predatory insects. Those are the natural enemies of thrips and spidermites. They hunt them all over the plant and eat the insects and the eggs and larvae, so the pest cannot reproduce anymore. There are different predator insects for different pest insects. We like to use the SWIRSKI-MITE-PLUS (=predatory mite: Amblyseius swirskii) and THRIPEX (=predatory mite: Neoseiulus cucumeris) against thrips and SPIDEX-VITAL (predatory mite: Phytoseiulus persimilis) against spider-mites.
Use UV-C light against powdery mildew:
One of the worst things for a grower is an infestation with powdery mildew (a special kind of fungi) during flowering. The common way to fight it, would mean spraying your plants with a poisonous anti-fungicide. Spraying your plants with any poison during flowering means that your buds will get poison on them and that has to be avoided at all costs. Since the buds are meant to be smoked after harvest, the poison on them would be combusted as well and then ingested with the smoke. Since we do not want any poison in our lungs, we have to find an alternative.
A very effective way to battle fungi, bacteria and viruses on your plants is UV-C light. It will kill any living matter, if applied long enough (even your plants when you use it too long!), but it is especially effective on small living organisms. There are special plant-protection-lamps, like the Cleanlight from cleanlight.nl, which utilize UV-C bulbs to produce pure UV-C light. While using them, you have to wear special UV-C protection glasses and gloves (both come with the lamp). The lamp is slowly moved over and around the plant, so the light can shine on any surface for appr. 2 to 3 seconds. That is enough to kill any spores from the powdery mildew, but still does not hurt the plant in any way. Applied every second day the Cleanlight plant-protection-lamp will prevent any powdery mildew from growing and stop the infestation. The best way is to use the lamp out of precaution and apply it during the whole flowering period, already before any infestation occurs.
Flush your medium before harvest:
Before you harvest your plants, it is of the utmost importance to flush your growing-medium (e.g. soil) well. During the waterings with added nutrients, a build up of salts and minerals happens over time inside the soil. The plant also stores excess nutrient inside her plant matter (inside the leaves and buds) to some degree. If you feed your plants up until you harvest them, the nutrients will be left inside the buds and when dried they will burn slow and produce a very black ash. The smoke will be harsh in the throat and will make you cough with every puff. Therefore it is very important to stop feeding your plants 7 to 10 days before the planned harvest and only give them pure water (and then lots of it). The plant will then use the remaining nutrients inside the soil and plant. All the big fan-leaves should get yellow and then start to wilt during the flush. This is a good sign and means your buds will be free of nutrients at harvest time. A well flushed dried bud burns well and produces white ash, but most importantly, it will not hurt in the throat and will not make you cough. A properly flushed bud should smoke smooth like warm air!
Check your trichomes to pinpoint your perfect harvest moment:
The end of flowering is first signaled when the pistils of the plant turn brown. During flowering, when the pistils grow, they are white and later, when the plant is ripe, they turn brown. As a rule of thumb, you can harvest when almost all pistils on a plant have turned brown. Only at the top, where the newest growth is, she will still have some white hairs left. A more precise method is to look at the trichomes of the plant with a handheld microscope or loupe.
The trichomes are growing on the surface of the buds (and leaves) and they contain all the cannabinoids of the plant. Without magnification they look like small shiny crystals on the surface of the plant.
Under a microscope a trichome looks like a tiny mushroom, with a stem and little ball (=the head of the trichome) on top of the stem. The color of the liquid inside the trichome-head will tell you how ripe the plant is.
During flowering the trichome head is transparent and clear, you can see through it. When the plant gets ripe, the trichome-head will start to turn milky, the liquid inside will turn white and you cannot see through it anymore. When all trichome-heads have turned milky, you have reached PEAK-THC, the moment with the highest THC-content inside the trichomes. Once the plant gets over-ripe the trichome-heads will turn amber in color. The liquid inside will take on a golden yellow color and you still cannot see through them anymore. At this point THC breaks down again to other cannabinoids. The more amber trichomes you have, the more sedative the effect of the plant gets and it will make you more sleepy when you smoke it.
Most growers like to harvest at PEAK-THC when all trichomes are milky, since the cannabis has the strongest effect at this time.
For patients with chronic pain it can be more effective, to let the plants go until one third of the trichomes have turned amber, before they harvest them. At this point the sedative effect when smoked will battle any pain more effective and relax the patient right away.
Do not harvest following a recommended flowering schedule:
Most producers of cannabis seeds will give you a recommended flowering time until the plants of a certain strain get ripe. It is very important to see this recommended flowering time as a guideline and not as a strict schedule. You should never harvest, only because a certain amount of days has passed in the calendar! You should always check the pistils or even better the trichomes of your plants in order to see, if your plants are ready to harvest. We hope our tips will help you to grow your SSSC-seeds to the maximum and we will continue with the harvesting and drying in our following article.