People will say the appearance of the leaves, the colour of the pistils, the size of the buds. None of these signs are as reliable as looking carefully at the trichomes. You’ve taken weeks of work in your marijuana plantation why throw it away with a poorly timed harvest. The translucent and sticky tubular bumps that appear on the surface of the plant are Trichomes. Trichomes provide the taste and potency of your weed. They are the best reference to choose the time to cut the buds. A magnifying glass or microscope in hand we will teach you to interpret these tiny structures to obtain the right potency and affect.
The trichomes, the best indicators for the harvest
Growing weed requires time, money and effort, so it is advisable to pay attention to the different phases of cultivation. All phases are essential to obtain a final quality product. The main steps of weed growth are germination, vegetative, flowering, and harvest. Perhaps one of the most neglected is to determine the time of harvest. Mistakes occur because of the impatience of the grower. Often they do not understand what happens in the last weeks of flowering.
The fact is that sometimes unreliable indicators are taken to understand that the plant is ready to be cut. Mistakes are made by looking at the leaves or pistils, those long hairs that come out to the buds. Although these elements indicate the maturity of the plant, we can not ignore the most essential component, trichomes. Let’s see what they are, what their function is, and how we should interpret them.
THC and terpenes
Trichomes are small glands that grow on the surface of plants for a defensive purpose. Not only marijuana develops these tiny appendages: also nettles, mauve or alfalfa. These mushroom-shaped glands can contain all kinds of substances that help protect the plant, such as terpenes, cannabinoids and other protective compounds.
In the case of weed, trichomes are responsible for the psychoactive effects (THC, CBD, CBN …) of the plant. The production of cannabinoids concentrates in the glands of the trichome. These compounds are meant to be a deterrent to animals. The animal receives a sedative and psychedelic effects that for most are unpleasant. For us it is exactly what we are looking for.
Why are mature trichomes important?
Trichomes also produce terpenes, the chemical compounds that give flavour and aroma unique to each variety of marijuana. The smell and taste also manage to scare away mammals and insects. Insects especially find these glands sticky and sometimes get trapped in them. The transparent resin layer isolates the flowers from the low humidity levels in summer and protects the plant from UV-B rays. The THC secreted by trichomes manages to absorb solar radiation and transform it into a resin.
In short, the trichomes are the weed plants THC factory. Harvesting weed before they have fully developed reduces the amount of expected THC. Harvesting too late when they have already lost production will affect the potency and aromatic essence of your buds. A late weed harvest produces CBN. Although CBN has medicinal value, it is not our target. You must monitor development in the last stage of weed maturation. The microscopic glands will illustrate the appropriate time when they are at a maximum yield to start the harvest.
Interpret the trichomes
When the resin-rich trichomes approach their peak of THC concentration. The trichomes transfer from a clear to a whitish colour at the head of the protuberance. It is the moment of higher production of THC, while the CBD remains stable, and the optimum point of creation of terpenes. For many growers, it is the key moment to harvest, since, during this period, the plant produces buds with a clearer and cerebral (heady) psychoactive effect.
However, not all varieties are harvested better at the peak of THC production, as some require a little more ripening time. Depending on the effect we seek and the type of weed variety, we will harvest according to one phase or another of the trichomes maturation.
When all the heads of the trichomes have formed but still have a transparent colour, we can cut the buds to achieve a cleaner and stimulating effect, less sedative. Some growers of substantial Indica varieties usually harvest a little before the glands turn white, to soften their drowsy effects.
Best time to harvest your weed
As we explained earlier, the best time to harvest most varieties is when the trichomes have changed to a milder, whiter colour. However, some weed producers allow at least 30% of the trichomes to go from white to amber. This is usually done with varieties that take a long time to mature, like Sativas, in order to later use the trichomes to make hashish.
The only thing that must be avoided at all costs is to harvest the trichomes prematurely, that is before they are perfectly formed. This would make the buds less potent and less fragrant, leaving a taste of grass or hay. Unfortunately, it is a fairly common mistake among the most inexperienced growers.
Another useful trick is to harvest only the most mature buds, which are usually those found on the top of the plant. Sometimes the trichomes do not mature in a homogeneous way. If you remove those that are ready, the others will receive more light, and therefore they will develop buds with full potential. Remember: depending on the variety of seed, you must be guided by the different aspects of the trichomes.