How to Check Trichome Ripeness

An in-depth guide on how to check trichome ripeness for a picture-perfect cannabis harvest.

How to Check Trichome Ripeness Cover PhotoAfter months of hard work, your cannabis plants are ready to harvest — or are they?

At this moment, you must ask yourself — have my marijuana buds reached peak maturity? If you’re unsure how to answer this question, you are inexperienced in the art of checking if it’s time to harvest your cannabis plant.

If your goal is to harvest massive, aromatic, flavorful, and potent weed — this is the guide to read. You’ll discover how to check trichome ripeness in a few easy steps and max-out your cannabis flower’s utmost potential.

Ready to harvest top-shelf buds? Let’s go!

What Are Trichomes and Why Do They Matter?

At first glance, your marijuana buds look ready.

From the orange hairs (pistils) and fat calyxes — everything looks like it’s go-time for the “big chop.” However, cannabis flowers are not ready for harvest until the resin glands mature.

Trichomes aren’t just the structures that make weed sticky — they contain everything you love about cannabis. Here’s a list of what trichomes contain inside their sticky resin glands:

  • All forms of cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG, etc.)
  • Terpenes
  • Flavonoids

In other words, trichomes contain all of the essential compounds that provide:

  • Psychoactive and therapeutic effects
  • Aroma
  • Flavor

Now that we’ve got your attention let’s talk about why trichomes matter when gearing up for harvest day.

First and foremost, cannabis trichomes have a lifespan. Depending on when you harvest your cannabis flowers, the trichomes will be:

  • Underripe
  • Ripe
  • Overripe

Now, can you guess which of the two stages you want to avoid? If you answered underripe and overripe — you’re correct!

You must harvest weed flowers when the trichomes are ripe because that’s when they contain peak levels of cannabinoids and terpenes. If you miss the window of opportunity — your weed may lack potency, flavor, or aroma.

Now that you understand the gravity of trichomes and their role during harvest — let’s discuss how and when to check trichome ripeness in a few easy steps.

How to Check Trichome Ripeness With a Hand-Held Loupe in Three Steps

cannabis loupe

Now that you’re ready to find the perfect time to harvest your cannabis flowers — let’s begin!

You must, however, have an essential tool for the job of checking resin glands — a loupe. Unless your eyes can zoom in to observe the color of trichome heads — we suggest your purchase an affordable loupe as soon as possible.

Step One: Timing is Key

First and foremost — what week of flowering are the buds at?

Your cannabis seed pack should have an estimated flowering time — such as 8-9-weeks. However, this figure is an estimate and does not consider varying phenotypes that may flower sooner or later.

To pinpoint the perfect harvest time — you’ll need to rely on trichome ripeness. Once you determine that you’re within the harvest window according to the seed pack — it’s time to break out the loupe.

Step Two: Find the Trichomes

Trichome Cannabis Gland

Next, it’s time to zoom in on the resin glands and see “where they’re at.”

Gently place the loupe on the cannabis bud and set your eye on the viewer. You must remain still, so you don’t shake the marijuana flower. Unless pre-set, focus the loupe until you have a clear picture of the trichomes.

The trichomes are spherical glands that rest on top of a stalk. If it’s week-7 and beyond of flowering — there will be thousands of trichomes to view.

Step Three: Determining Trichome Ripeness

The last step is to determine trichome ripeness.

As you look at the trichomes — what color are they? The best way to determine the maturity is by viewing our trichome ripeness chart:

  • Underripe: Clear trichomes
  • Ripe: Milky/cloudy trichomes
  • Overripe: Amber trichomes

Of the three — you want to harvest once most trichomes are cloudy/milky in color.

If the trichomes are still clear, you must check every 24-48-hours until the majority of resin glands turn cloudy. Until then — you must patiently wait.

If you overshoot the harvest window, most trichome glands will be amber, and you must harvest your cannabis flowers immediately.

What Happens if You Harvest Marijuana Flowers Too Soon or Too Late?

We advocate learning how to check trichome ripeness because your weed’s potency, flavor, and aroma depend on it.

If you harvest too early (clear trichomes), here’s what you may experience:

  • Undeveloped cannabinoids (low potency)
  • Undeveloped terpenes
  • Decreased yield

If you harvest too late (amber trichomes), here’s what you may experience:

  • Degraded cannabinoids (low potency)
  • Degraded terpenes

As you can see, it’s never a good idea to harvest too soon or too late. Instead, you must rely on your loupe and compare them to pictures of trichomes that are ready to harvest.

Yield The Best Weed Possible By Learning How to Harvest With a Loupe

Now that you understand how to determine if your weed plants are ready for harvest — it’s time to yield High Times-grade cannabis buds.

By using a loupe, you’ll harvest trichome-coated buds that are filled to the brim with cannabinoids and terpenes that’ll blow your hair back. Furthermore, you’ll increase your yield by allowing your weed plants to pack a few more ounces during the trichome ripening stage.

By following our guide — you’ll always choose the perfect time to harvest your buds. Are you ready for the next step? If so, read our guide on How to Harvest Cannabis Flowers next!

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Ricky R Dunn
Ricky R Dunn
1 year ago

the entire plant doesn’t ripen can you just cut of the ripe branches and let the rest develop.