Story and Photos by SubCool
Choosing when to finally harvest your plants can be an agonizing decision. Many growers lack the patience to wait out the last few days of flowering to insure maximum THC content. Others timidly allow their plants to linger on and on, with diminishing returns. Smart farmers take copious notes on the behavior of their strains and use magnifying scopes to inspect the resin glands as they mature and establish the harvest window—the perfect time to cut down your crop.
Harvesting before this window opens will produce bud that is less potent, containing less essential oils and terpenes, causing your finished stash to take on a green or grassy taste, even if it’s dried and cured correctly.
When growing indica-dominant hybrids, unless you want to end up on the couch, harvest when the trichome heads are fully formed but before they start to cloud over and turn amber. According to the maturation time of the specific strain, this “window” could take as little as five days or as long as two weeks. If you allow an indica to go too long, the high and taste are dramatically affected. I like to study closeup photos taken with a high-resolution digital camera; however, an inexpensive handheld microscope works wonders as well. It almost looks like you’re in an alien world when looking at resinated buds using 50x power.
With sativa-dominant hybrids, make sure that all the trichome heads are fully formed and about 30% amber. Letting a plant mature beyond this will risk the flavor and allow the smoke to become harsher. There are exceptions—Real Haze has three different harvest windows, all very late in flowering.
Another good technique requires harvesting only the most mature buds, the upper or main colas, during the early part of the harvest window. This method allows more light to reach the lower portion of the plant, ensuring that over the next week, the smaller buds swell and ripen to perfection.