How To Tell If Your Plant is Ready to Harvest

With the Canadian Cannabis Law allowing you to only grow four marijuana plants per household, you want to make sure they produce high-quality buds. To do this, you need to harvest your plants at the right time during the end of their flowering period.

Many first time breeders are likely asking when the right time to pick the buds is. To help you increase the chances of getting quality marijuana strains, we provide you with a guide on how to tell if your plant is ready to harvest.

Be Familiar With the Plant’s Flowering Phase

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It is important to know the flowering period of the strain you are cultivating. This period is the last phase of a cannabis plant’s growth development. At the end of the phase is when the buds are ready for harvest. Being familiar with the flowering period will help you be ready for picking the plant’s yield.

As a rule of thumb, pure indica strains have a faster flowering period with an average of eight weeks. Pure Sativa strains, on the other hand, have an average of 10 weeks. In regards to hybrids, their flowering period vastly differs from pure strains. For example, some sativa dominant crosses have a flowering period of around seven to nine weeks.

Auto-flowering plants have a much shorter flowering time. You can get a harvest ready plant from a seed within an average of 10 weeks.

You can get a better grasp on a specific strain’s flowering period from the dispensary you bought them. Another way is to go through cannabis seed sites or forum boards. These places can give you the average flowering period of the seed you want to cultivate.

Observe the Pistils

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Most of the plant’s resources go towards the production of its buds such as the high inducing THC. During the final period of a cannabis plant’s flowering phase, it draws all resources from the parts of the plant itself including the pistils. Pistils are the white tendrils or hairs that are sprouting out of your plants. As your plants divert its energy towards the buds, the surrounding pistils curl up and turn darkish brown.

The number of darkened pistils is one way of knowing if your plants are ready for harvest. If most of them look white or are still fresh, the buds will barely have any THC in them. You will want your plants to have around 60 to 70 percent darkened pistils before harvesting them. This indicates that the strain has the maximum amount of possible THC in them.

Check the Colors of the Trichomes

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Another method in knowing if the cannabis plants are ready for harvest is to check on the trichomes. Trichomes are the small white sprouts that are growing on the surface of your plants. From a distance, they look like dusted sugar crystals on the leaves and buds.

For this method, you will need a magnifying glass to see the trichomes clearly. It is important to note that you do not need a complicated one. However, you will need one that lets you zoom in on the top of the small sprouts to check on their colors. The best magnifying glass is the kind that jeweler use.

Trichomes usually have a clear crystal white color throughout the cannabis plant’s growth period. Think of the color as droplets of water. By the end of its flowering phase, the trichomes will develop cloudy white color. This color will look like milk or cream. Trichomes will turn amber over time, indicating the extraction of all cannabinoid and nutrients from them.

Avoid plucking the buds from your plants if there are more than half clear white trichomes than cloudy white ones. The strains will barely have any THC and none of its signature aroma if you harvest it with this ratio of trichomes. You will want to have most of the trichomes to be cloudy while some have an amber color. These trichomes indicate that the buds will have the maximum level of THC possible with the strain you are cultivating.

It is important to note that some sativa plants will have trichomes that do not turn its color to amber. Consider harvesting these plants if nearly all of the trichomes turn cloudy. This indicates that the buds will have a powerful psychoactive factor when you pluck them from the plants.

Benefits of Harvesting Late


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You may encounter some breeders who harvest the buds much later than the point when the THC is at their maximum. What they are aiming for is to have the THC content of their buds to turn into CBN. CBN is a sedative or calming cannabinoid of marijuana.

Many people want this because CBN has a low psychoactive effect as THC. Strains with more CBN than THC will help you sleep at night or cope with intense pain while letting you experience a mild high.

If CBN rich strains are your bud of choice, you will need to wait longer for more pistils to turn curled brown. Plants that have around 70 to 90 percent darkened pistils will have CBN buds. Another indicator is the ratio of cloudy and amber trichomes. A 50:50 of the two colored trichomes means that the THC in the buds will turn into CBN.

Take note that the window to harvest your CBN buds is a critical period. If more than 90 percent of pistils are darkened brown and when more than 50 percent of trichomes are amber, you will have an overripe bud. This type of bud has a less appealing flavor to many people.


Knowing the flowering period and what to check on your plants are key on how to tell if your plant is ready to harvest or not. A good practice is to examine both the pistils and the trichomes if possible. Doing both methods will give you a double indicator, which can help you pinpoint the right time to cut the buds from the plant.