Finally, after months of hard work and labor, the time has arrived to harvest your plants. There are many different methodologies when it comes to growing cannabis flower, but regardless of what you prefer, there are 4 stages each cultivator has to go through:
In this article we cover the basics of harvesting and what it entails.
About two weeks before you plan on harvesting, it's important to flush your plants of nutrients and fertilizer. Flushing is the process of slowly adding excess water to your soil and washing away the remaining nutrients. Make sure you're not adding any additional nutrients or fertilizer to your soil after this point.
Once that time has passed and your cannabis trichomes have fully matured, it's time to cut down your plant! Start to remove leaves and trim individual branches off the main stem. After cutting, use a scale to determine the wet weight of your harvest. Weighing before and after curing allows you to track yields of your different strains. Make sure to inspect your plants for fungus and pests while cutting down your crop and immediately dispose of compromised materials.
Now that your main stems have been cut and your branches are cleared of leaves, it's time to hang and dry them. The most common drying technique is to hang your branches upside down in a well ventilated room until they're sufficiently dry. Setting the proper temperature and humidity levels of your drying room is very important in the drying process. Most recommend a temperature of about 55° - 65° F and 40% - 50% humidity, with a drying time of about 1 - 2 weeks.
It's important to note that each strain dries differently and not everyone has the same dry room conditions, so regularly checking your branches for signs of proper drying is often the best approach.
Use trimming scissors to remove foliage around your buds on each branch. Continue to break down your larger branches into smaller segments and clear out leaves so that only the flower buds and bare stem remain. Lastly, make sure to prune away larf and excess stems from your buds. Trimming can often be a long process, so it's important that you have a reliable pair of gloves, trimming scissors, and a trim bucket that can carry you through the process. Having 70% - 99% isopropyl alcohol will also help clean your trimming scissors once they start sticking together.
Curing is the last and arguably most important step of harvesting, especially if your bud will be displayed in retail locations. Properly curing your cannabis buds prevents further loss of moisture, as well as best preserving the terpenes for longer term storage. Flower is cured by placing buds in airtight sealed containers, while periodically burping the containers on a daily basis. The type of sealed container used (glass jars, turkey bags, etc.) will have a direct effect on the curing process, so it's important not to assume that your cure protocol for one container type works exactly on another.
The cure time of cannabis is highly variable, so it's hard to suggest exactly how long you should cure your flower; some strains take a few weeks while others take much longer. An easy way to tell if buds are fully cured is to press a small nugget between your fingers and examine the pressure used to press + how the bud reacts once you remove pressure. Ideally, it should take some pressure to press and will return close to form once you remove pressure. You do not want it to feel like the bud is wet and see it retain a squished-like shape after pressing.
This is just a general overview of the cannabis harvesting process, as there are many more details to cover during each step. As any cultivator would know, harvesting isn't as simple as "just cutting down the plant." There's a lot of long term planning, labor, and data tracking that goes into a harvest. Distru's Harvesting Module helps by tracking and reporting your harvests to Metrc!
Use your phone as a portable scanner to scan multiple Metrc plant tags and record flower weights transmitted from Bluetooth-enabled scales with ease. Inventory from harvesting breakdowns are immediately reported to Metrc and available for you in Distru for further sales, distribution, or processing.
Imagine automatically having all that harvesting data formatted and reported to answer questions like, “Which of my cultivars yields the most?” and “What’s the average flowering time of my strains?” Distru’s Cultivation Analytics does this and more, giving you a birds-eye view of your cultivation operations. Reach out to us today and let's chat about how we can help you!