When to harvest and how to prune cannabis?

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Any new grower faces a host of doubts and questions that keep piling up as harvest time approaches. You’ve spent time on your plants. You pampered them. You fed them. You healed them. Now is the time to reap the rewards of your efforts. What a shame to spoil all this work by doing it wrong! So here is a series of tips to help you decide when to harvest and how to prune cannabis flowers you will harvest.

harvest and how to prune cannabis
harvest and how to prune cannabis

Table of Contents

The harvest window

You may have heard this term before without fully understanding its meaning. Does it match the flowering time stated on the seed box? Does it refer to the size of the buds? Does it relate to the overall appearance of the plant? Does it evoke a specific harvesting method?

In fact, it designates the interval during which the harvest must be done, the period during which the flowers are perfect, the moment during which the collection of the buds will give the most successful end product. There are five key factors in accurately identifying the harvest window for cannabis flowers.

1. Appearance

When the flowering time indicated on the seed box has elapsed, evaluating the appearance of your plants will give you a first idea of ​​their ripening state. Do not be fooled by the amount of flowers produced or the ratio of white and brown pistils . Instead, focus on the trichomes and calyces. If the first are well developed and the second are well inflated (see below), do not hesitate to pick your flowers. They are mature. 

2. Flowering times

The flowering time stipulated by seed banks often varies depending on growing conditions, light, fertilisers, phenotype, varieties etc. Although the indications given by the seed banks are relevant, do not hesitate to exceed the prescribed deadlines if the general appearance, the calyces and the trichomes do not appear mature enough and do not seem ready for harvest yet.

3. Swelling of calyces

Eager to taste these flowers to which they have taken so much care, many growers harvest them too early and do not give the calyxes time to swell as they should.

When the buds start to show signs of fox trailing, it’s because the plants have been over-fertilised by a grower in a hurry to watch them grow. Always remember that impatience is your worst enemy. Give your plants time to grow and develop slowly. The results you get will only be better.

4. Development of trichomes

Most of the cannabinoids, terpenes and essential oils that make each strain unique are stored in trichomes . Seen under a microscope, a trichome looks like a translucent white fungus. It is by inspecting its hat that you will know its ripening state. Its color will then give you a clear indication of the development of its terpene profile and therefore, its potency and its effect. As a general rule, the darker the head of a trichome (dark yellow with hints of red), the more potent the effect it will generate. Conversely, the clearer, silvery and nebulous it is, the lighter its effect.

5. Leaching

If you use liquid fertilisers, you are likely feeding your plants with mineral salts which over time saturate the soil where they cannot all be dissolved. During the two weeks preceding the harvest, leach your growing medium and the root zone.

In other dulls, sprinkle generously with clear water. You will thus force your plants to consume their reserves of these nutrients, you will evacuate the surplus of mineral salts from the culture medium and, in this way, you will considerably improve the flavor of the final product, removing any artificial or chemical flavor from it and giving it back a natural and pure taste. So do not harvest until you have devoted two whole weeks to this fundamental operation.

Some tips for harvesting cannabis

  • Get rid of any flowers that show signs of rotting. Cut them up and throw them away. Do not consume them.
  • Also get rid of leaves infected with downy mildew (powdery mold).
  • Don’t harvest your flowers too early. You would miss this harvest window which is characterised by the perfect affirmation and optimal maturation of the terpene profile of your plants.
  • Don’t harvest them too late either. You could end up with plants with an already degraded terpene profile.
  • Do not determine when to harvest based on the respective proportions of brown and white pistils. See above for key considerations in determining when to harvest.

Also Read: The 2020 year of cannabis

Drying flowers

You have gone to great lengths to ensure optimal development of your plants and to accurately determine when to harvest flowers. Do not stop there and do not neglect the drying of your flowers. Scorching with impatience, many growers waste weeks of work by rushing the drying process, ending up with a poor end product. Before even harvesting your flowers, decide how you are going to prune them.

harvest and how to prune cannabis
harvest and how to prune cannabis

Dry waste or wet waste?

Pruning consists of the careful removal of large leaves and resinous leaves and cutting of the flowers. Several options are available to you.

Those who opt for the wet size give themselves the possibility of obtaining Live Resin of the first freshness. Indeed, as long as the buds have not dried, they have not decarboxylated and therefore present a particularly rich and complex terpene profile when converted into bubble hash or pressed into rosin.

Those who are reluctant to handle their plants that are still green, or who simply have too many plants to perform wet pruning, opt for dry pruning: they therefore simply remove the larger leaves and let their plants air out. a drying net for 10 to 14 days. The removal of the resinous leaves does not begin until the buds are completely dry. During this operation, be sure to place a container or sieve under your workspace to collect any trichomes that accidentally come off the flowers.

The pollen thus obtained can be immediately smoked, which is not possible with wet pruning, which requires the resin to dry before consumption. Ultimately , the material consumed must be dried sooner or later, whether before (dry pruning) or after (wet pruning) pruning.

There is an intermediary between dry and wet pruning. If you wish, you can remove the larger leaves and then let the buds air on a drying net for 10 to 14 days before removing the resinous leaves.

Manual or mechanical cannabis pruning?

The best way to manicure a flower to perfection is still the traditional method. But the size of the crop can obviously make such an operation impractical. Commercial growers are therefore often forced to turn to specific equipment, machines like leaf strippers that process their crop for them.

Although they are gladly viewed with contempt by true connoisseurs, these machines are often the only ones that allow the size of large quantities of flowers. The work they do can certainly leave something to be desired and a second pass may sometimes be necessary. However, they save a lot of time for large-scale growers.

Some argue that the weed so treated lacks the personality and identity that a manual manicure gives cannabis. But this type of debate between “home-made” and “industrial” is not confined to the world of cannabis. It’s up to you to see what you want and how much effort you are willing to put into achieving your goals.

How long will the cannabis buds take to dry?

Whichever pruning method you choose (wet, dry or intermediate), allow around 14 days of drying time. The little flowers could certainly be ready faster. But in most cases, waiting 14 days is the key to success.

The temperature of the space in which you will leave your harvest to dry should be as close as possible to 15º C. As for the humidity level, it should be around 50%. The most suitable place to carry out drying is the culture chamber itself or a makeshift drying chamber equipped with air extractors.

What to expect from efficient drying?

  • The flowers will have gained in density what they will have lost in volume.
  • They will be dry to the touch and, when handled, they will release a powerful aroma.
  • The peduncles (part of the flower that connects it to the stem or branch) will be brittle and slightly coloured.
  • Any odour of chlorophyll, however slight, will be gone.
  • The buds will be sticky to the touch.
  • They will not have the airy appearance.

Curing or how to enhance the aroma and effect of cannabis

Just as the refining of ham or cheese enhances their flavor, the refining of cannabis flowers makes it possible to enhance their characteristics. The curing process is often misunderstood and confused with storing or simply preserving cannabis flowers. However, these are two distinct processes since, unlike the second, the first involves the oxidation of the product.

Placing the cannabis buds in an airtight container and opening it daily for about ten minutes allows the product to react with oxygen and thus gradually degrade the THC into CBD. A more or less long refining therefore generates more or less distinct effects. As a general rule, the longer the ripening, the more physical and overwhelming the effect of consuming a flower will be.

Also Read: How To Grow Cannabis Outdoor Tips!

Types of pruning for cannabis

Here we are going to tell you about the most common types of cannabis pruning that we can use to “shape” our plants depending on the growing space we are working on.

There are many prunings that we know today given the extensive knowledge we have about the cultivation of our beloved ones such as bass, FIM, apical … all of them focused to achieve different objectives although today I will talk only about these three to introduce you in the world of pruning.

Bass pruning in cannabis

very successful technique and also very common in cannabis cultivation, it is an improvement pruning that consists of eliminating the lower and less productive branches of the plants to concentrate the force in the upper part.

Low pruning of marijuana plants

In cases of indoor cultivation, I could say that it is essential since the light will never reach that lower part since it is fixed in the upper part and the rays do not have as much penetration, also with this better aeration is achieved and therefore they are prevented attacks of fungi and other pests.

In outdoor crops it is a more optional pruning since having lighting such as the Sun that crosses the sky and reaches all parts of the plant, the production of these lower branches will be greater all and that many growers prefer to eliminate them.

Apical pruning of cannabis

This is a pruning technique that is focused on inverting the typical structure of plants that, as you know, tend to grow in the shape of a Christmas tree in order to achieve greater penetration of light and thus an increase in production.

Apical pruning or mariahuana tips

When apical pruning is carried out, the growth of the tip of the plant slows down and two new main tails appear but also the growth of the lower branches is stimulated, this is due to the fact that the growth hormones located in the apical bud are distributed throughout the rest of the plant.

Outdoors it will work very well to limit the height of the plants and thus obtain specimens that tend more to the shape of a bush than to that of a tree, which will always be more indiscreet.

In Inside it is also widely used because it allows optimize growing space getting is more take the light and thus can increase production in a small space.

How is apical pruning done?

It is a very simple process, you only have to take a disinfected scissors or scalpel and make a clean and horizontal cut on the apical bud, which as you can see has two shoots under it that we will respect so that they can grow and form secondary tails.

Pruning FIM cannabis

We are talking about a pruning that was accidentally discovered by an American grower who made a wrong cut but which a few days later proved to be beneficial, it is a practice very similar to apical pruning but with a slight variation.

The practical difference is that FIM pruning slows down vertical growth less than apical pruning, but on the other hand it also generates a greater number of secondary branches that will increase plant performance.

A technique highly appreciated by growers who only have 1 or 2 plants but seek to get the most out of them while controlling their height.

How is the FIM pruning done?

The way to carry out this type of pruning is practically the same as in the case of the apical, the difference is that instead of completely eliminating the apical bud, what we will do is cut it almost entirely, leaving between 30 and 40% of the bud from where later 4 to a maximum of 8 new branches will come out.

A very simple and really effective technique for crops seeking high yield, it must be said that both prunings give the best results if we practice them in a SCROG crop.

So far this small article to introduce you to the most common and simple pruning techniques that you can practice to improve the quality of your crops and harvests, I hope you have found it useful and that you do not hesitate to apply these pruning.


Understanding how each strain matures and matures takes time. Identifying the best method of pruning each genetics is time consuming. Learning how to cut cannabis optimally takes a lot of practice. Once you have determined your preferred varieties and are able to leach them and harvest, prune and refine the flowers, you will be able to produce a unique flavoured herb or resin.

exceptional. As is always the case in this world, cutting, drying and curing cannabis efficiently requires a long and complex learning process. So take your time and think carefully before taking any action.

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