Harvesting Cannabis By Looking At The Trichomes

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Categories : Cannabis cultivation

Harvesting Cannabis By Looking At The Trichomes

Finding just the right moment to harvest can be tricky, as cutting down both to early or too late will hurt the yield. Judging by the development of the trichomes is the best way to find just the right moment.

After months of carefully tending your plants, they are finally approaching maturity and you are excited like a little kid on Christmas eve. It is at this moment when the temptation to harvest is the most urgent, but impatience can destroy months of dedicated work.

While most are aware that white pistils mean it’s too early to harvest, it’s more tricky when the hairs turn brown. Often, the amount of brown hairs is used to determine the harvest window, but this method can be misleading. That is because the maturity of the plant is primarily related to the development of the trichomes, and not to the browning of the pistils. While they tend to develop roughly at the same time, judging only by the color of the hairs can be hit or miss.

The best way to judge the maturity of the plants is by examining the resign glands, also called trichomes. Using a microscope with ideally a 100x magnification, you can easily determine the state of the resin glands and take the guesswork out of the equation. The trichomes will go through 3 different stages:

1. Transparent

Clear trichomes only contain precursor cannabinoids and those are not psychoactive. Harvesting at this stage will not give you a potent product.
Cannabis Transparant Trichomes

2. Cloudy

Milky resin glands contain fully matured THC. To obtain the most potent buds you want to get as close to 100% cloudy trichomes. Note that it is impossible to get 100% cloudy trichomes, since new resin glands are continuously being produced. Also, even after you harvest the trichomes will continue to develop.
Cannabis Milky Trichomes

3. Amber

Amber resin glands signal that the THC has been converted into CBN, which is a degraded form of THC. This means your product has lost a large part of its potency. CBN is not desirable in any harvest, since it produces a more narcotic feeling rather than a true high.
Cannabis Amber Trichomes

Since it is impossible to obtain a product with 100% cloudy resin glands, the rule of thumb is to harvest when around 85% of the trichomes are milky, 10% amber and 5% clear.

You can control the effect of your bud by harvesting a little earlier or later. By harvesting early you will obtain a product that provides a more cerebral inebriation („high“), whereas harvesting late will give you buds that trigger a more body-centered effect („stoned"). Thus you are able to obtain buds that will provide the kind of effect that best fits your needs.