Learn the Best Time to Harvest Marijuana

Learn the Best Time to Harvest Marijuana

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Determining the best time to harvest your cannabis plants is always difficult, and there is never an easy answer. However, we're here to help you review all of the aspects that you should consider to help identify when it's the best time to harvest your marijuana plants. The importance of each factor will depend on the grower.

Determining When to Harvest Using Trichomes

Producing cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes which play a major role in the potency and overall profile of your cannabis, trichomes are microscopic growths found on cannabis buds. Best viewed underneath 60x magnification, trichomes are produced on the surface and throughout marijuana buds.

When marijuana plants mature and become ready for harvest, the trichomes will undergo a gradual change. Initially, the trichomes will be small and transparent with a glass like appearance. As cannabis plants continue to flower, the trichomes will begin to swell with the oils begin produced within. At this stage, many of the trichomes will become a milky color and have grown in size.

Clear Trichomes
You should avoid harvesting while many of the trichomes are still clear and premature. Consuming these buds will lead to a minor yet uncomfortable high. This is because they are missing the cannabinoid balance which provides the experience we are accustomed.

Milky Trichomes
When the trichomes are cloudy and milky in appearance, you can begin to consider whether to harves your marijuana plants. At this point in time, your cannabis will have the highest amounts of THC potential.

Amber Trichomes
As the marijuana plants near their time for harvest, the trichomes will continue changing appearance and take on an amber glow. This occurs as the THC oxidizes into CBD, leading to a balanced cannabinoid profile. 

Amber Trichomes

Many growers will consider the best time to harvest marijuana plants to be when approximately 10% of the trichomes have turned amber. This is simply a rule of thumb, intended to ensure to highest number of milky trichomes. 

Since marijuana plants do not mature all at once, this gives the lower and inside buds a chance to continue turning milky - even though the upper buds may be already beginning to turn slightly amber. These growers are aiming for a happy medium. 

In order to see trichomes effectively, you will need a 60x magnification scope, preferably one with a built in LED Light. These can be obtained for around $15, usually - you don't need anything fancy.

Remember, not all strains have such predictable trichome development. These are one of many indicators of your plants being ready for harvest - with many other factors to consider for achieving the best harvest possible.

Harvesting Marijuana Based on Color of Pistils

Pistils are best described as the hairs growing out of your cannabis buds. These will continue to grow during the flowering stage. When the plant is reaching maturity however, the pistils will undergo a change in appearance and become a darker color. Depending on the strain, the pistils will usually become a light orange or brown color.

You will want to wait until at least 70 - 90% of the pistils on your flowering marijuana plant have began to change color. If there are still a lot of white pistils, it means there is growth which has not yet matured: You're better off waiting, if you're looking to maximize the efforts of your harvest.


Responsible for both the taste and smell of marijuana, terpenes are found in the buds of cannabis. In order to achieve the best flavor profile and strongest odors - the only thing left to do at this point is let the terpenes mature. If you are trying to maximize the profile of your bud, this might mean letting your cannabis grow a little longer, leading to more amber trichomes (CBD).

Cannabis Terpenes

While most of the efforts responsible for terpene production will have taken place in the genetics of your seeds, and overall growing environment. Maximizing terpenes requires healthy soil fed with the proper amounts of nutrients, and a stable growing environment without dangerous temperatures


Almost to the point of becoming competitive, many growers use the yield as their benchmark for each grow. If you are looking to maximize the yield of your grow, the best time to harvest marijuana for you could be after a larger percentage of trichomes has become amber; approximately 30%. 

The reason for delaying the harvest is because the marijuana plant will continue to gain mass despite otherwise having reached maturity. If you let the plant become too mature, you will end up with too much CBD and less THC potential. It's a balancing act.

One more time: It's a balancing act. For many growers, taking this to an extreme will not lead to a larger yield on a bigger scale. The extra week (or three) could have been used for your next crop!

Furthermore, as the plant has reached maturity it will begin drinking less water - leading to diminishing returns. If you are using a soil or coco growing medium and are looking to maximize yield, you may be able to use this cue to identify one of the best times to harvest your cannabis plants.

When is the best time to harvest marijuana plants for you?

If you are looking to grow marijuana that motivates you and provides an upbeat and energetic feeling, you will want to avoid amber trichomes and harvest when majority of your trichomes have become milky. In this case, you will need to stay vigilant as the color of the trichomes can turn amber seemingly overnight.

On the other hand, if you want something to help you get ready for bed or help with a variety of other ailments, you may be looking for more of the CBD effects associated with a higher percentage of amber trichomes and will benefit from letting your plants mature longer.

Using the factors detailed above, you will need to consider what you are hoping to achieve from your grow, and eventual cannabis. The trichome color will determine many of the effects when consuming the cannabis you grow.

Remember, if you want to maximize quality you will need to prevent unnecessary stress and degradation of cannabinoid and terpenes. This can be done by providing an optimum growing environment for your plants throughout the flowering process.