Harvest Time in Your Cannabis Garden
Fall is upon us. The nights are waning longer and the days shorter. Temperatures cooling, rains beginning: Nature’s heads-up that it’s nearly harvest time for your cannabis garden.
Cannabis plants respond to photoperiod – the relationship between the duration of days and uninterrupted nights. It’s the length of dark of night that gives cannabis plants the signal to start flowering. Cannabis flowering occurs in the late summer and fall, when the dark of night increases to at least 10-12 hours. In Canada, cannabis plants generally begin to flower in mid-August and continue into October.
As you prepare to harvest your cannabis garden, here are some tips:
1. Harvest at peak ripeness
Your window for peak ripeness lasts about 1 week. As this window approaches, cannabinoid levels in your plant’s resin glands steadily increase. It is important to harvest your cannabis plants during peak ripeness because this is when cannabinoid levels are highest. When the flowering cycle ends, check for the signs of readiness. White “hairs” will turn rust-orange. Trichome heads become spherical and swollen; resin will become cloudy and turn yellow to amber.
2. Flush out fertilizers 1-2 weeks before harvest
Remove residual pesticide and fertilizer build-up by flushing your plants with plain water at least 1 week before harvest. If you’ve been heavy-handed with chemicals, flush them for 2 weeks. Simply apply water to the soil until it runs clear out the bottom of the pot. This will leach out any salt that has built up in the soil. Do not apply any additives to the soil during the flushing period – and avoid spraying your plants while they are in flower.
3. Avoid watering 1-2 days before harvest
When you’ve reached the window of peak ripeness, check the weather. Schedule your harvest for the driest day. Avoid watering your cannabis plants 1-2 days before cutting them down. This will speed up your drying time and prevent mould within the bud structure. It will not affect the quality of your plant’s cannabinoids.
Note: Cool, dry nights (5-10oC) with lots of sun during the days will promote resin development and increase the chance of flowers turning the desired purple hue.
4. Hang branches upside-down
Cannabinoid production ends when the plant is cut down. When harvesting, cut branches as far down the plant as needed to ensure you can hang it upside-down on a line. Clip away large fan leaves and lightly trim before hanging. Harvesting outdoor plants in stages will help you keep your workload under control and ensure flowers are sufficiently ripe when cut.
Hanging branches upside-down on a line is both the convenient and practical way to dry your cannabis. Contrary to what you may have heard, hanging your branches will not drain cannabinoids into the buds.
5. Keep your drying room dark and cool
Cannabis plants have fragrance and flavour because their resin glands retain chemical compounds called terpenes. Terpenes degrade when exposed to light and heat, which translates to tasteless cannabis. Therefore, it’s important to keep your drying room dark and cool (15-20oC is ideal) to maximize the flavour of your finished product. Also, run an oscillating fan. Circulating cool air will reduce the chance of your cannabis developing mould as it dries.
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