With harvest season around the corner, cannabis enthusiasts are excited about this year’s haul. But harvesting can be tedious and very time-consuming, especially when not planned properly.
That is why it is crucial to keep a tab of what to do so as not to waste time, more so waste precious plants.
To help you plan for Croptober efficiently, here are five (5) things you need to take note of.
Time of the Year
The months of September to November are crucial to cannabis & hemp growers and connoisseurs in the northern hemisphere because that is the time of the year that harvest takes place.
Why does harvest take place during this time in the northern hemisphere?
That’s because cannabis plants begin the flowering stage when daytime becomes shorter than nighttime. But because daytime lengths vary from latitudes, this flowering period will still be dependent on your geographical location.
That’s why in Canada, August is just as crucial, since it’s the time of the year when buds begin to grow on cannabis planted in spring. But, the southern hemisphere conducts planting and harvesting in reverse: cannabis is planted between September to November, and harvested by May.
Weather and Climate
Climate conditions also affect how fast cannabis plants complete the maturity cycle. Mild climates help a plant finish flowering sooner, while extreme heat and cold take longer to flower and ripen.
Worse, some strains may not be resilient enough to survive when subjected to extreme climate. That’s why it is imperative to track milestones in every batch you plan to harvest, so you can get an excellent projection of how your cannabis will prosper and other adjustments you may need in your schedule.
With the arrival of harvest season also comes the rain. You do not need to panic, as long as you know what to do.
In anticipation of possible storms while waiting for harvest time, consider trellising to provide structural support to your plants.
As it is, wet buds become heavier and may need more support than you think. So you need to impale robust materials, such as t-posts and rebars, that can serve as a support for your plants and buds.
You will also need to ensure that the primary stalks have adequate support. Ideally, at the early stage, you would want to have cages around the main stalks for protection.
If you are growing cannabis on pots, you should not have any problems with flooding during torrential rains or storms, as long as there are adequate drainages on the pots.
But if you are growing cannabis on the ground, it should have proper drainage so that the roots of your plant will not be soaked for days. That is why it is crucial to check the plot before planting to see whether water gets drained after torrential and consecutive downpours.
Barriers, such as the bedrock underground, cause blockages, or the inability to drain correctly. You can resolve this by adding a perforated drainage pipe to divert water or use another plot for planting.
Another thing to look out for is the wind, especially with storms coming before your scheduled harvest. If you can choose your garden space, factor in how the wind blows usually and plant accordingly. You may also want to plant near denser trees or other foliage that can serve as barriers against the wind. Just be sure you do not block the sun.
In the event a storm passes jut before your scheduled harvest, you should inspect every plant on your garden and look at the buds and branches. At this point, your plants accumulated extra water, so you need to shake them off lightly so as not to damage the plant.
Look for bud rots as well, especially when scorching hot weather immediately follows the rain, as this creates higher humidity in the garden. If you see brown spots, dead branches, and buds, discard them immediately.
Do not cut your plants right after a storm unless needed. You need to let them dry up a bit on their own before harvesting them. If you see molds, discard the affected part before drying them.
Know your Trichomes
The most important thing you need to know is how your plant should look like when it’s ready for harvesting. That is very important, especially if you are new to cannabis growing.
You do not want to harvest something that is not yet ready, as you stand to lose the flavor and potency of your strain. You might have all the top-tier, industry-standard tools and supplements, but if you don’t know how your buds should look like when ready, then all your investments are wasted.
Once the buds start developing, you will need to check the physical appearance of the trichomes forming around the bud. Since trichomes are tiny, it helps to have a magnifying lens to assist you in inspecting the buds.
At the early stage, trichomes appear to be crystal-like or translucent. At this point, the buds are still not ready, so you need to be patient. Trichomes become less translucent over time, transitioning into a milky color.
At this point, your plant is almost ready for harvest.
When the trichomes become amber, it means your buds have matured. A little bit more down the road, expect the flavor to deteriorate.
Note that if you decide to harvest in batches, the maturity of trichomes might differ in the same plant.
While it might not be too far of a difference, any shift in the weather and temperature may increase or decrease the number of days before you can to harvest.
Another sign to look at are the pistils growing around nodes. These tendril-like sprouts have a light yellow hue in the beginning and become orange or amber when mature. You can also take a look at the calyx of the plant, which is usually one of the first parts of the plant that develops.
Over time, they grow and swell towards maturity, another sign of readiness for harvest.
Timing is everything
Some experienced growers take a risk and let the cannabis stay longer for fuller flavor.
Of course, that comes with risks as well.
If you have enough experience, you can let your cannabis reach its peak, just before flavors deteriorate, then proceed to harvest.
But there are risks there, especially if you are unfamiliar with the behavior of your strain.
You need to find that right balance upon hitting maturity so that you don’t waste the flavor of the plant. If you let it stay too long, you risk losing flavor, and in some cases, the plant self-pollinates, which results in intersex.
Now, if you are not the type who wants to take a risk, then read further.
Cannabis maturity is not simultaneous, even with the same plant. Portions that are on top and more exposed are expected to mature faster than those found below.
Thus, if half of your trichomes are already at that mature and the rest are in the milky stage, then you can take the opportunity to start harvesting.
With timing, knowing when your buds are ready is necessary. Because around 7 – 10 days before you start harvesting, you will need to flush your buds of any fertilizer that may be present from the plant.
The flushing your buds is done to bring out the full flavor of your buds, so you don’t taste the fertilizers used to grow your plant.
To flush your buds, you will need to run distilled water onto your plants and into the soil or medium. You will also need to stop giving nutrients, as the water will take care of nurturing your strain until harvest.
When you harvest your cannabis, you need a proper staging area for it to dry, without sacrificing quality.
For you to successfully dry cannabis, you must have a dedicated area with a fully controllable lighting, and an electrical source for your fans, dehumidifier and heater or air-conditioning. You would want to have fans that can circulate air in the whole room, and a humidity and temperature tracker to help you adjust settings accordingly. Lastly, you also need to have a rack that will help you dry your buds properly.
Do not be overwhelmed with the process of making sure your cannabis is ready for harvest.
It may look tedious if you are a first-timer. But with experience, you will be able to get that coveted flavor from your favorite buds.