When to Harvest Cannabis Plants | Things to Track + Additional Tips & Tricks

Are you planning on growing cannabis in your garden but have no clue when it’ll be ready for harvesting?

We’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll discuss the factors and offer tips to help you know when to harvest cannabis plants.

We’ll go through the steps to ensure that you’re growing high-quality green and know when your cannabis is ready to go.

How to Know When to Harvest Cannabis Plants

when to harvest cannabis

Figuring out if your cannabis plant is ready for harvesting may be challenging, but it’s not too bad if you have a good eye.

You need to be able to look out for the trichome color, pistil color, curling leaves, leaf color, and the cannabis buds’ shape and size. These factors can guide you in determining the optimum time for harvesting.

This will ensure the utmost potency.

1. Trichome Method

The trichome method is the most efficient way of determining harvest times. It entails observing the trichome color from the trichome or resin glands, as this determines if you’re late or on time.

These trichomes (bud appendages) are also efficient ways of telling whether your marijuana plants are high-quality. They can indicate if your results were worth it and if it’ll taste good or bad.

You can already harvest cannabis if the trichomes look milky white. Milky white trichomes are the epitome of first-class cannabis plants in terms of taste, quality, and effect.

It also bears high levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which is responsible for the effects on the mental and psychoactive functions of cannabis in an individual.

However, if your cannabis plants have clear trichomes, they are not yet ready for harvesting and may need some more time to develop.

If you begin to see the trichomes turn amber, this will tell you that it is past its due date or that this batch is already too far gone for harvesting.

These amber trichomes affect your body more than your mental status. Once there is about 5% to 10% of amber trichomes in your mix, it can be detrimental to your health and pot experience.

2. Pistil Method

The pistil method includes observing the pistil of female cannabis plants. As a part of the female cannabis plant, the pistil houses the stigma, style, and ovary where the pollen is developed.

Cannabis plants are ready to harvest if pistils turn darker or when dark pistils outnumber the white pistils.

You can find shades of brown, orange, and red among the darker colors of pistils. These pistils can determine how beneficial the marijuana plants will be to your well-being.

3. Curling Plant Leaves

Another good indicator of when to harvest cannabis plants is the condition of the leaves. But first, you must know that there are two types of cannabis leaves: Sugar leaves and Fan leaves.

  • Sugar leaves grow and stay close to the cannabis buds and their trichomes. It does not grow out of it.
  • Fan leaves extend and protrude and are directly visible compared to the other type.

With this, fan leaves play a vital role as they allow you to know when to harvest cannabis plants once about 40% of the fan leaves curl.

4. Plant Leaf Color

Aside from the curling of leaves, their color also signals that it’s harvesting time. These leaves change color when the cannabis plants are ready to be harvested.

In this case, the fan leaves will take on a more yellow appearance because of the decline in nitrogen, contrary to their primary color, green.

They will also, most likely, look and feel drier to the touch.

5. Bud Shape and Size of Plant

You will see the bud when you look into your cannabis plants using a magnifying glass or under a digital microscope.

The bud is the carrier of trichomes and is considered the flower of cannabis plants, just without the usual petals.

By considering the bud, you can tell if it is ready for harvest or not just yet. The indicators from buds are the following:

  • How compacted or dense the buds are
  • How dark the colors of the hair is

Bud shape and size are your last resort on this list of things to watch out for.

Nonetheless, it is just as important since knowing the buds well can help you determine the best bud state that will give you a psychoactive or couchlock effect once you get to harvesting.

How Long Does It Take Until You Can Harvest Marijuana Plants?

Marijuana plants are cultivated differently – whether grown indoors or outdoors. Yet, both undergo a growth process and will develop after quite some time.

You can proceed with harvesting cannabis indoors after 3 to 8 months and harvest cannabis outdoors after 12 months.

Moreover, autoflowering cannabis plants can be harvested after at most 12 weeks.

A study about the stages of marijuana plant growth presents us with this evolution process before you are ready to harvest the marijuana. Here’s how it goes:

  • First, the cannabis seeds are planted and undergo germination for 3 to 10 days
  • Next, the seedling stage happens for 2 to 3 weeks
  • Then, cannabis experience a vegetative state when left at 25 degrees Celsius temperature 24 hours a day for 3 to 16 weeks
  • Lastly, it will be in its flowering stage within 8 to 11 weeks when left under 25 degrees Celsius conditions for 12 hours a day

After this flowering phase, you can harvest cannabis with its entire plant, dry it for a week, separate it from the stem, and it is ready to use.

How to Know if It’s Too Early to Harvest a Cannabis Plant

As mentioned above, you can tell the harvesting state of cannabis by the trichome color, the pistil color, the leaf color, the shape of the leaves, and the buds.

It is too early to harvest cannabis plants if they possess the following characteristics:

  • Clear trichomes
  • White pistils dominate darker pistils
  • Cannabis leaves are still green or are not yet yellowish
  • Leaves are not yet curled
  • Firm and tight buds

How to Know if It’s Too Late to Harvest a Cannabis Plant

So, how can you tell if it is too late to harvest cannabis?

To do that, you need to observe the state of your cannabis trichomes. Mostly amber trichomes signal that your cannabis flowers are either past the harvesting stage or have been afflicted with plant diseases.

You may also notice that the buds are loose and unstable. These evaluations will tell you that your cannabis harvest is too late for the season. Better luck next time.

How Often Should You Harvest Marijuana Plants?

Since weed plants can grow in indoor and outdoor planting settings, each method will yield a different time to harvest based on their specific considerations, particularly light exposure and water susceptibility.

For indoor cannabis flowers, on the one hand, you can harvest at least four times a year. On the other hand, outdoor cannabis flowers can be harvested yearly.

Additional Tips & Tricks When Harvesting Cannabis Plants

Tricks When Harvesting Cannabis Plants

When you think the flowering stages are coming to an end or feel like the optimal harvest time is at hand, you need to take note of these tips and tricks for dealing with your marijuana plant (homegrown weed).

To do that, you need to observe the state of your cannabis trichomes. Mostly amber trichomes signal that your cannabis flowers are either past the harvesting stage or have been afflicted with plant diseases.

#1 Prepare Equipment for Observing and Harvesting Cannabis

Before you jump into harvesting your marijuana plants, you must first prepare the equipment you will use to determine the perfect harvest period.

Here are the instruments and tools you’ll need when evaluating and preparing to harvest cannabis buds:

  • Keen naked eye
  • Magnifying glass
  • Digital microscope

After evaluating and observing through your naked eye that the flowering cycle is over and that they are ready to harvest, you will need these pieces of equipment to put your green thumbs into motion:

  • Pruning shears
  • Trimming scissors

#2 Different Strains Call for Unique Visual Observations

A particular strain may not turn into amber color but instead stay within the white spectrum. These strains may be the Sativa strain or the Haze strain.

If you have these strains of cannabis among your own plants, you can already harvest them, despite not fitting into the usual observations in color.

Indica strains are also ready for harvest if they turn amber.

#3 Check the Weather

The weather can also dictate when to harvest cannabis so as not to endanger the next cycle of their development and not compromise your current harvests.

Too much sun, moisture, heat, and cold exposure will damage most cannabis plants’ bud production, cells, and appearance. It will ruin your crops.

What to Avoid When You Harvest a Marijuana Plant

To experience the full benefit of your marijuana plant, you must be wary of things you should avoid. Here are some tips for avoiding disaster:

Avoid Planting Buds of a Certain Strain Outside Its Preferred Condition

Like any other plant, varied marijuana strains also require specific conditions to grow and need an environment that is beneficial for their bud potency.

Some strains are fostered in humid environmental conditions like the Sativa strain, and others like Indica, which grows better in cold weather conditions like in the Northern Hemisphere.

Take note also that you need to match the humidity and aridity in your grow room to the specific needs of your buds.

Avoid Overwhelming the Plants With Water and Nutrients

Putting too much water or nutrients on cannabis may affect its flowering stage and growth as it tends to leave brown tips on leaves, deprive plants of enough oxygen, and, worse, cause the plants to die.

What to Do After Harvesting Marijuana Plants

Once you know when to harvest, what to do before it’s time to harvest, and the necessary measures when harvesting weed, you may want to learn more about the next phase after harvesting marijuana.

What to Do After Harvesting Marijuana Plants

These are the steps you need to follow after harvesting weed to ensure that the good times follow:

1. Drying the Harvest Weed

You should dry cannabis for a week after harvest time. This is done in a drying room with a temperature of 15.5 degrees Celsius to 21 degrees Celsius.

You also have the choice to dry your buds by hanging them using clips or laying them in a clean net outdoors.

If unsure what to do, try using sample buds, clipping some off for dry hanging and others for air-drying to see which works best.

2. Trimming the Cannabis

Trimming the cannabis harvest can be done using dry trimming or wet trimming.

Dry trimming must be performed after drying but before curing. You will need a drying room to hang your dried marijuana in for about two weeks.

TAKE NOTE: You must dry it well, as too little and too much drying can affect its shelf life or give it an unpleasant taste.

After having it thoroughly dried, you can go ahead and trim it.

Wet trimming is done before drying and right after harvesting cannabis. All you have to do is to remove the buds and trim the leaves with sugar while it’s still wet. After this, you can dry and cure the cannabis.

Both processes are meant to lessen the sugar levels and prepare the trimmed buds for consumption.

3. Going Over the Curing Process for the Harvest Weed

Curing is a crucial step post-harvesting cannabis as it helps bring out their most acceptable level of potency, smell, and taste.

After drying and trimming, cannabis is placed inside mason jars with a minimum of 55% to 65% humidity and temperature for at least three weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When it is about time to harvest marijuana plants, there are a lot of concerns that you need to address.

To give you utmost comfort and to help you get ready for harvest, we have answered some of your frequently asked questions below:

What Do Trichomes Look Like When Ready to Harvest?

Trichomes look milky white after an average of nine weeks when they are finally ready to harvest. However, you can still harvest marijuana with amber color if it is the minority amongst the milky white bud population.

What Happens if You Wait Too Long to Harvest?

If you wait too long to harvest marijuana, the leaves may wither, it will be less potent, and the plants can be infected with diseases that may not be good for consumption.

Can I Harvest the Top Half of My Plant?

Yes, you can harvest the top half of your plant to provide ample light on the lower half of the growing medium, creating a faster growth and harvest time.

Is It Better to Harvest in the Morning or at Night?

It is better to harvest in the morning when the plants are not yet exposed to sunlight to keep their natural ingredients intact.

Should I Let My Plants Dry Out Before Harvest?

Yes, but not entirely to the point of withering. You can dry the weed just enough that it won’t be drenched in water to make it more ready to harvest. Remember that too much moisture on the roots can affect weed growth.

Should You Leave Plants in Darkness Before Harvest?

Yes, 24 to 48 hours before your plants are ready to harvest, you should leave them in the dark. Doing this can increase the potency of the weed.

When Should I Stop Watering Before Harvesting?

You should make an effort to stop watering your plants 1 to 3 days before the harvest time. This will benefit the resin production of your plants before it is ready for harvest.


Identifying the time to harvest your own marijuana plant is doable when you know what to look for.

This article taught you to evaluate the bud shape, leaves color and appearance, and pistil and trichomes colors.

With this knowledge of the specific time to harvest cannabis, including the weather conditions for buds and the right colors, we believe you are ready to ace your next harvesting operation!