When and How to Harvest Marijuana | Best Time To Harvest

Growing weed comes to a near end when it is harvest time. Many growers can finally take a breather from the hard work of seeing their crop through all the other phases, which start with buying the seedlings or clones, germinating the seedlings, taking them through the vegetative and flowering phases and ensuring that they get enough lighting, nutrients and water. Though this is an exciting stage for the grower, it is also one of the most delicate phases and harvesting your crop wrongly could see you ending with low yields or poor quality yields.

When is the right time to harvest weed

It is essential to carry out a properly executed harvest if you want to get the best out of your hard work. Many people especially the ones growing weed for the first time do not know the best time to harvest their weed. through this article, we give you a guideline of all the steps to take when harvesting your weed and to answer one of the most frequently questions which is when is the right time to harvest weed?

When is the right time to harvest weed?

You have to wait until your crop is mature enough before harvesting in order to ensure that you get high THC potency and maximum bud growth. If you wait any longer than the right time to harvest, THC will breakdown and lose its potency and quality. Harvesting your weed is also a phase that you should take as much attention to, as you did through all the other stages. Though timing is the best driving force when it comes to harvesting weed, the optimum harvesting time also depends on various factors. Some of the factors are the grow space you are using. It takes different timeframes to grow and harvest marijuana grown outdoors than it does with weed that grows indoors.

When is the right time to harvest weed

The strains you have will also determine the length it takes for the plants to mature. The most popular strains are the INDICA and SATIVA strains. Indica strain matures much faster than the sativa strain averaging about six to eight weeks while the sativa strain takes an average of eight to twelve weeks. For the indica strain, you should start examining the trichomes from the 5th and 6th weeks while for the sativa strains; you can start checking for trichome maturity from the 8th week.

The grow medium also determines the length of time it takes to harvest as some have very short growth periods while others take longer. Those that grow their weed HYDROPONICALLY have much faster growths than those that use soil. Also to determine the time of harvest is how long you plan to keep the plants on the flowering stage in order to encourage body and head height of the weed. Other factors to consider are the chemical natures of the plants and the state of the plants.



Why timing is essential in weed harvesting

While some growers choose their harvest time according to their preferences, it is always good to harvest when you are certain that the trichomes are clear with no coloration. During this period, the THC levels are usually at their peak. It also means that CBD and CBN levels cannot influence THC with any sedative effects. Others may want their drops to stay longer because they want more overwhelming effects. Keeping the plants longer in their grow medium allows the resin glands to darken which in turn increases the cannabinoid content. Therefore, besides the required growth period, which is anything from 4 to 10 weeks, we can say that harvesting mainly depends on the preference of the grower. The main reason why timing is essential for determining your harvest tine is that it determines the cannabinoid levels in the buds.

This will of course depend on what you want your marijuana for after the whole process of harvesting drying and curing. If you are looking for a harvest of buds that will offer a yield for recreational, strong, subtle and medical purposes, then you will want to keep your plants longer in the flowering stage to maximize the THC and CBD levels. Harvesting early means that you may lose all the great stuff you are aiming at harvesting. If you wait too long, chances are you will also miss the good stuff. Harvesting too late would also lead to having a yield with very high potency. It could also lead to having weed with sedative qualities that are probably more than you intended to have before you began growing you cannabis.

Harvesting tips

Flush the plants


Flush the plants

Before harvesting the plants, flush them with just plain water in the last week or two when they are still in their flowering phase. This move helps to wash out any remaining nutrients that could negatively affect the smell of your cannabis. If you want a final product with high THC potency, you must wait until the bud resins coat all the buds in the last stages of the flowering phase. If you wait longer than this, the THC levels will degrade to CBN. The only benefit you can get from the degradation of THC is that you get larger CBD benefits, which are essential for medical effects.

Check if the buds are ready for harvest

Below are the signs to look out for in order to know when your buds are ready for harvesting.

  • Heavy loads merge from the flowers
  • You will notice tiny crystals around the flowers
  • Check the ovaries to see if they are swollen
  • If the flowers feel sticky to the touch
  • The pistils are no longer white but a dark brown to reddish color
  • Check if the pistils curl up
  • Some of the larger leaves have a yellow color
  • You will know by the intense smell of the weed. At this juncture, you should keep the carbon filters running for a good airflow and odor absorption especially if you are growing your weed indoors. Check out one of the best carbon filters below.

VIVOSUN 4-Inch Air Carbon Filter

VIVOSUN has some of the best and quality products from grow tents and grow rooms. This particular carbon filter uses Australian virgin charcoal for its filtration mechanism. The carbon filter provides a good airflow that many other carbon filters cannot beat. You can rest assured that the odor from your cannabis will not leak out of the grow tent because the carbon filter absorbs it all. The filter is also durable and long lasting. Some of the accessories that come with the filter are changeable Velcro pre-filters and carbon filter belts. If you want better airflow, you can use the product alongside a VIVOSUN inline fan.

Study the trichomes

It is also important to know the difference between the trichomes with the hair on the pistils. Hairs are longer than trichomes and they do not glitter as much. Trichomes are the ones responsible for carrying THC and their color helps you to determine when it is the right time to harvest. To get a clearer view of the trichomes, you might need a magnifying glass because fully inspecting them with a naked eye may not show you the right results. Trichomes go through three stages to indicate the plants maturity.

During the first stage, trichomes have a mushroom shape. They are also clear indicating that their level of potency is still not developed. During the second stage, the trichomes change from clear to a milky or white color. During this stage, the buds have an energetic high and THC is at its peak. During the last stage, trichomes change color to a light brown. This is past the required harvest time and this is when you can harvest buds with a high CBD potency. When trichomes are this collar, it means that the THC levels are low or degraded. Using weed at this point also makes you feel more relaxed and have a narcotic high

Harvesting the buds

Now that you know what to look for to ensure that your buds are ready for harvesting, it is time to do the necessary. Before you begin the harvest, you must first make sure that you are ready and that you have everything you need for the job. Below are the things you need to ensure are in order before harvesting the buds

Harvesting space

You will need a designated safe for harvesting your buds. Make sure that the area you choose is clean and will not spread the weed odor outside. It is also safer to use the same space that you will start curing your buds immediately after the harvest. To keep the cannabis oils from volatizing, keep the harvest area at 21C or below. This also helps to reduce the odor from the buds. You can seal the vents and use a carbon filter to minimize the odor too.


After choosing the place for your harvest, you should ensure that the environment is conducive for your harvest to ensure that you only get quality weed. The environment should not have intense light or high temperatures. It should also be completely dry and make sure there is very little friction from handling the buds. All these do not favor THC potency and they could easily degrade its quality.


Harvesting any crop requires tools and with cannabis, there are tools specially made for this. While some of the tools are necessary, others make the harvesting easier and faster. The tools you will need are;

  • Trimmers are very essential and they may be mechanical or electrical and hand held scissors.
  • Trim trays are optional but they make harvesting easier, their main purpose is to provide comfort and support when you are trimming the plants. They also have a mesh screen that helps to catch excess kief and sugar leaves.
  • Gloves are also necessary and you can choose between latex and nitrile. Gloves help to keep bud contamination at bay and protect your hands from the resin. They also prevent your hands from smelling the strong marijuana smell.
  • Lines that are necessary after you finish trimming the plants and want to hang your buds up to dry. It does not matter what material you use for your lines as long as they are sturdy.


Now that you have your tools ready, you also need to prepare your plants for the harvest. Below is how to ensure you have ready plants for a good yield.

Make sure you remove all the old leaves because they take up energy from the buds. The yellow color on the leaves is an indicator that they are useless. It is important to do this only a few days to the harvest leaving on about 25%.

Two weeks before harvesting, stop spraying the crops to prevent residue from forming on the buds. This also prevents the formation of mold and the reduction of potency.

Use plain water to flush the plants to get rid of the nutrients that may affect the potency and quality of the final product. Flushing should be 7 to 10 days before harvesting. during the flushing period, you should not use any fertilizers or feed the plants with any more nutrients., if your growing medium is soil, water your plants with clean water during the period before harvest and if you are planting hydroponically, then change the water in the reservoir and replace it with clean water. Let the water in the reservoir for three days and then refill it again with more clean water for another 3 days.

Cutting the buds

Now this is one of the trickiest parts in harvesting. Some people especially those harvesting for the first time do not know where to begin and how to cut the buds. Weed growers that have more experience with the crop and all its growth phases have it easier because majority of them know how to do it right. You can harvest your buds using two methods. The first is to by cutting the plant from the main stem and the other is by harvesting only the mature buds. Let us look at both methods

Cutting the whole plant from the stem


Many people prefer to use this method, as it is very simple to carry out. It is also faster and requires less monitoring of the buds. All you do is, cut the main stem of the weed plant, then hang it as it or divide the plant into further pieces and hang them. When cutting the stem, you may also need a pair of pruning shears besides the trimming scissors.

Harvesting only the ripe buds

ripe buds

This is a much better method of harvesting your weed because it gives more yields and better quality weed. Unlike the method of cutting the main stem, harvesting only the ripe buds however requires monitoring and too much care. Once you ensure that the buds are mature enough to harvest, you first harvest the ripest buds. After this you give the remaining buds another 5 to 10 days for them to ripen. Once you are sure they have the ripeness you are looking for, you can then harvest them. The buds rat mature first are the outer ones as they receive more direct light. Those that receive less light take longer to mature and they will not nature until they receive their share of direct light. Besides the trimming scissors, you may also need a pair of pruning shears even for this method.

Buds manicure

After you are through with your harvest, it is now time to manicure your buds. There are different manicuring approaches you can use to trim your crop. You can choose to trim all the leafy buds down to their frosty nuggets after the harvest or you can choose to dry them on the line first. Immediate trimming of the leafy buds has ore advantages over drying the buds as it offers you easier trimming and the buds take a shorter time to dry.

Buds manicure

After the harvest, the leaves still contain water. These wet leaves also referred to as turgid are firm making it easier to cut them. The other advantage of trimming or manicuring the buds when they are still in this state is because the trichomes are still malleable and less likely to come off when handling the buds. Having less leaves also allows the buds to dry faster. To get pleasant weed, make sure the humidity is high. Quick drying over low humidity will give you harsh and unpleasant weed.

What to trim from your weed plants

How you trim and manicure your buds has a huge impact on the final product. People trim their plants according to their preferences though it is important to note that if you are planting your cannabis for commercial purposes, customers prefer tightly trimmed buds to loosely trimmed ones. You have to use your eyes keenly when trimming, as they will guide you into seeing what should stay and what should go away.

  • To begin with, get rid of all the large leaves that protrude from the buds
  • Check out if there are any yellow or brown leaves and get rid of them too as they will affect the bud aesthetics and taste of the weed.
  • If you see any leaves that you think do not contain any trichomes, remove them too. The reason for removing this is because any absence of crystals means the absence of THC making it useless.

Buds manicure tools and methods

Manicuring is not an easy task for both new growers and even the professionals. It is tiring, time consuming and for some people it can get boring too. You can however make the whole exercise less laborious by using easy to use methods and tools to make the whole manicuring easier.

Some Best Bud Trimmers On Amazon:

Trimming methods

While trimming the leaves, leave a few inches of stem to enable you to get something to hold onto while you are trimming

Make sure your scissors are all clean prior to trimming. You can use a razor to clean up the scissors. This you have to do frequently throughout your trimming period because the scissors collect resin, which clogs them preventing you from trimming your buds efficiently.

Trimming tools

Curved trimmers

Curved trimmers are very handy especially when trimming oddly shaped buds. They have a curved blade that helps to reduce the need to put the trimmers at an angle when manicuring. They grip the bud making it possible to achieve a perfect cut, which saves you time and energy.

Bowl trimmers

With these bowls, you can move your buds around easily as have steel blade linings and an attached crank that sweeps easily when you place your buds in it. All you do is, put your buds inside the bowl, turn the crank to get a shorter trimming period.

Trim trays

Trim trays come with ergonomic design that makes them comfortable to use when you are trimming your buds. They also collect any excess material that you get from the buds while trimming. The trays also have a micron steel screen that catches sugar and kief leaves.

Trim tray product review:


This is one of the best trim trays in the market for weed bud trimming. The bin, which has a top and a bottom, is made from recyclable polypropylene materials. The top side of the bin has 150-micron stainless steel screen while the bottom has a mirror finish. The bin also comes with a static brush, which comes in handy during the harvest and trimming. The bin is also ergonomically designed which makes it comfortable and easier to use. Growers using the bin have the advantage of fast and efficient trimming without too much fatigue. Made by Harvest More, the bin is easy to clean, easily portable and collects pollen using the static brush and mirror finish tray.

Wrapping it up

The above is the harvesting stage, with all the guidelines you need for a perfect harvest. it includes all the tools needed for harvesting and for ensuring that you get clean buds with high potency and the dos and don’ts about harvesting your buds.. Though this phase is tricky and laborious, it gets you closer to fulfilling your dream of a good harvest. It is however not the last step to enjoy the fruits of your labor. There are two more other important processes for you to sell or enjoy your weed. The two steps are drying and curing which you can read all about in our next articles.

We hope with these guidelines, you will have a great harvest. If you have any comments and questions, reach out to us and we will get back to you. 

Read How to Grow Cannabis Series:

Chapter 1-> : How to Grow Cannabis
Chapter 4-> : How To Clone Weed
Chapter 8-> : When to Harvest Weed
Chapter 10-> : How to Cure Weed
Chapter 11-> : How To Store Weed 
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Bowden draws from over a decade of home growing experience as well as consulting for small-scale and hobbyist-level growers. He has written hundreds of articles, thought pieces, and tutorials about growing cannabis at home

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