How to Harvest Cannabis Flowers

An informative guide on how to harvest ripe cannabis flowers in a few easy-to-follow steps.

How to Harvest Cannabis Flowers Cover PhotoWhether the weather’s getting frostier or the trichomes are bursting with ripeness — the time is nigh to harvest your cannabis flowers.

From indoor cannabis gardens to outdoor weed plots — the time to harvest is a special occasion for every cannabis cultivator. If you want to harvest your buds like a pro, however, there are a few tried-and-true steps that’ll make this moment everything you dreamed of.

Ready to learn how to harvest marijuana buds in a few easy-to-follow steps? Once you’re through with this guide — you’ll be prepared for anything once it comes time for the big chop.

Why You Need to Learn How to Harvest Cannabis Flowers And Why It Matters

You may say to yourself — what can be so difficult about harvesting weed?

Although harvesting cannabis is easy — most beginners ruin their entire crop by performing a lackluster harvest. Unless you want to throw your time and money to the proverbial wind, it’s time to sit down and learn everything there is to know about the harvesting process.

Harvesting is the act that all farmers perform when their crop is ready. In this case, our crop is cannabis, and we harvest its flowers.

If you fail to harvest your cannabis crop, your buds will become:

  • Overripe
  • Moldy

As you can imagine, neither of these outcomes is desirable. When marijuana flowers become overripe, the pungent aroma and mouth-watering flavors disappear as the terpenes degrade. Even worse, THC is known to degrade into CBN, which decreases psychoactive effects.

Therefore, failing to harvest your cannabis flowers at the perfect time will negatively impact your weed crop.

When To Harvest Marijuana Plants

Deciding when to harvest weed plants is a visual affair.

Cannabis plants are annuals, which means to germinate and flower within the same season. Once harvest time is near, cannabis plants make it very obvious that it’s time to chop them down.

Here’s a list of visual cues that determine when a cannabis plant is ready for harvest:

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Orange pistils
  • Cloudy trichomes

Of the three visual cues, cloudy trichomes signify the most crucial clue for cannabis cultivators to determine the perfect harvest window. If you remember, our guide on How to Determine Trichome Ripeness details each step to ensure you harvest your weed flowers at the best time.

Remember, you must always keep track of the time that your marijuana plants are flowering. Depending on your specific feminized or autoflowering strain — the flowering process may take seven or more weeks to finish.

However, cannabis cultivators are forced on occasion to harvest their crops early. The primary reasons that may cause you to chop your green beauties ahead of schedule are:

  • The weather is getting worse (cold, high winds, rain, snow)
  • A pest or disease outbreak is relentlessly attacking your crop
  • The potential of theft
  • You can no longer watch over your plants

If you experience any of these examples — you may be better off harvesting your cannabis buds ASAP instead of allowing your hard work to be for nothing.

How to Harvest Cannabis Flowers in Five Easy Steps

Cannabis harvesting tools

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for — harvest time.

However, your journey isn’t over yet. As long as you follow these five steps — you’ll harvest your resin-covered buds like a pro!

Before you can even begin the harvesting weed process, here’s a list of tools that you need to get the job done.

  • Trimming scissors
  • Large plastic buckets

Ready to harvest your buds? Let’s start!

Step One: Check Trichome Ripeness

First and foremost, double-check your cannabis flowers are ripe.

Refer back to our guide — How to Determine Trichome Ripeness to ensure the trichomes of milky or cloudy in appearance.

After you give the thumb’s up — move on to step two.

Step Two: Lights Out

lights off switch

Now that you’re positive that your marijuana buds are ripe for the picking — it’s time to use our age-old lights-out technique.

If growing weed indoors, turn off the lights in the grow room entirely for 24-48-hours. If you grow marijuana outdoors in pots, bring them into the garage and keep them away from light for 24-48-hours.

By plunging cannabis plants into darkness, chlorophyll within the leaves rapidly degrades. Excess chlorophyll causes a “grassy” taste in dried marijuana flowers for those of you who don’t know. Therefore, you may use this technique to remove as much chlorophyll as possible.

Furthermore, this lights-out technique pre-dries your weed flowers, saving you time once you start the drying process.

Step Three: Prep

After step two is complete, it’s time to prep the harvest area.

Whether you harvest weed in your basement or attic, your harvest area should be sanitized and ready with your tools.

Step Four: Time to Chop

Next, it’s time to harvest your cannabis plants.

If your cannabis plants are small — take your trimming scissors or shears and cut the primary stem at the plant’s base while holding the plant’s weight with the freehand.

If your weed plants are large — take your trimming scissors and cut each main branch until your cannabis plant is “stripped bare” of branches.

Whether you’re harvesting sizable feminized cannabis plants or small autoflowering buds, place the harvested material directly into the plastic bins.

Step Five: Label Them

Once your cannabis plants and flowers are harvested and placed into bins — it’s time to label them.

Do not cover the bins because the flowers contain an excessive amount of moisture. If you cover the containers, you risk a mold outbreak.

Once complete — you’ve officially harvested your cannabis crop!

Get Your Cannabis Buds Ready For The Next Steps

Although harvesting your cannabis flowers was a monumental step — there’s still more to do!

Immediately after harvesting your marijuana plants, you must prep yourself for the drying, trimming, and curing phase. Ready to learn how to dry, trim, and cure your trichome-dusted nugs to absolute perfection?

Learn how with our guides — How to Dry and Trim Marijuana Flowers, How to Cure Weed, and How to Store Weed For Maximum Terpene and Cannabinoid Preservation.

Remember, growing weed is a process. However, we’re here every step of the way to ensure your cannabis haul is everything and more than you expect. Until then — keep growing!

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