Harvesting and then drying Cannabis is a sweet science that depends on the perfect time frame to chop your plants down. Harvesting Cannabis involves knowing the optimum time to achieve peak terpene profiles, maximum dry weight and overall bag appeal. Judging a flowering plant based on the flowering time alone, may not be the best idea, so in this article we provide 10 top tips for harvesting and drying Cannabis plants.
Top tip #1 - Swollen calyxes
When harvesting Cannabis, you must consider that the calyx is what makes up the bud which will be smoked, and as Cannabis plants draw closer to their harvest date, you will notice the small pip sized calyx become fat and swell up. How swollen the buds are by harvest time can make a big difference in the overall yield per plant, so our top tip here is to leave the plants until the buds look swollen and have a hard to squeeze characteristic.
Top tip #2 - 14 days of water
There is no point in growing kilos of buds that when smoked taste awful and cause a coughing fit. Unflushed Cannabis will have tell-tale signs such as charcoal black ash, a slow burning ember which needs constant lighting and a harsh and hot smoke which uncomfortably tickles the lungs. Our top tip here is to make sure you correctly flush your Cannabis plants for a full 14 days using plain water only, and in some cases enzymes if you are familiar with them. With non flushed plants, you may not know how badly the smoking experience is until drying Cannabis plants out.
Top tip #3 - Smell proof dry rooms
One of the biggest mistakes that beginner growers or bedroom scale growers seem to make after harvesting Cannabis plants, is to let them dry out in an open room which is not temperature controlled or smell proof. Usually an old cupboard or attic will suffice, which oftentimes can result in the entire street stinking of dank high grade, and also causes the flowers to dry out freely instead of over a 14-day period. Our tip here is simply use the tent or room you grew the plants in, and simply hang them upside down with no concern of any unwanted odors.
Top tip #4 - Leave large sized plants longer
Before harvesting large sized Cannabis plants, you may need to consider leaving them for 5–10 days longer, depending on the strain. Cannabis plants which have undergone plant training techniques to produce large sized canopies, will often yield more than normal-sized plants, however will require an extra week or so, due to their large size. Our top tip here is to use a microscope to check trichome maturity, then pay attention to the calyx development.
Top tip #5 - Invest in a microscope lens
Nowadays, there are many pocket sized microscope lenses and phone attachments available for looking at extracts, hash and flowers close up. These are an excellent device to keep inside the grow room prior to harvesting and drying Cannabis. Terpenes inside the trichomes will be at their peak when the trichomes are slightly cloudy. Our top tip here is to use these to inspect the trichome maturity of your buds in the final week. The trichomes will show themselves as clear, milky or a shade of amber and red.
Top tip #6 - Don’t focus on the ratio of brown hairs
Old school growers have certainly heard about harvesting plants when the hairs are a certain ratio of brown rule, however this is not really accurate and there are many other factors to consider. The number of brown hairs present on a flowering plant will begin to darken during the final 2–3 weeks, so our top tip is to simply neglect this rule and pay close attention to resin production, trichome maturity, color, and terpene profiles.
Top tip #7 - The dry room
Drying Cannabis plants is as important as the growing stage and will make or break your crop. What environment your drying room is set to will play a role in if the flower is speed dried and becomes lifeless and too dry, or if the buds become spongy and seem hard to grind and smoke. Our top tip here is to set your grow room to be 15–18 degrees Celsius with a relative humidity level of 50-60%. It should take 14 full days before the flowers have the best aroma, flavor and bag appeal.
Top tip #8 - Label everything!
When harvesting Cannabis plants, in order to make life easy for you and avoid any type of mix up or confusion, it is important to label everything before the drying process. Plants without tags or labels are once harvested can easily become mixed up with other strains, and there is nothing more frustrating than mixing your strains up by mistake. Our top tip here is to use cable ties and plastic tags with the names written on, so you can always see which plant is hanging up.
Top tip #9 - Curing those buds
After successfully drying out your labeled Cannabis plants in the smell proof dry room, now you are ready to label tubs with the name and date. It may be a good idea to make additional notes also, for example which phenotype it was or if it is an organic batch or hydro grown. Labeling jars after drying Cannabis is a great reference to how many days the buds have been curing for since harvesting. Our top tip here is to fill the curing jars to 75% full and to remove the lid for 10 minutes per day for the best long term slow cure.
Top tip #10 - Save your leftover leaves
There was once a time in history before hash making and rosin was the craze, when growers would throw out all of their leftover leaves, small buds and stems. Many growers would dump their trim in the countryside, at tipping sites or add it straight to an old compost pile, never to be seen again. Harvesting Cannabis plants is very different nowadays, and our top tip here is to save all your leftover plant material and learn to make hash with. You may be pleasantly surprised with what returns you get back and will teach you more about trichomes and terpenes when harvesting Cannabis plants!