Possibly the most crucial and of course the most exciting part of growing autoflowering cannabis plants is harvest time. It’s during harvest when you find out how much weed you were able to produce and the profits you have made. But most of all, harvest time is the best time to find out if your breeding and growing techniques have worked. And harvest time is not the same for all cannabis strains. You must have an idea when your crops are ready and this is by identifying the following harvest time signs in autoflowering cannabis plants.
- Look for yellowing of the leaves – in autoflowering plants this is a surefire sign that the cannabis is ready for harvest. Yellowing of the leaves is the result of auto flower trichomes and this is more evident in autoflower plants as with photo-sensitive plants. The yellowing of the leaves is present on the plant’s fan leaves and as soon as you see these leaves changing from green to yellow it’s time to harvest. Make sure to flush your plants first to remove fertilizers and chemicals before cutting them down. Also, fertilizers should not be considered when your plant has reached their flowering phase because too much nitrogen will eliminate this very important harvesting sign. You will end up missing the peak harvest time when the THC levels of your cannabis are at their peak.
- Trichome color and trichome amount – these are standard measures of readiness for harvest in cannabis plants. Trichome color and appearance is one of the best determinants for harvest and in order to check for trichome color, you need a digital camera, magnifying glass or a microscope to check for these pigments.
Trichomes are in three different colors or states: clear, cloudy and amber color. The ideal time to harvest is when the trichomes are half amber and half clear or cloudy. Trichome amount on the other hand is the presence of trichomes on the plant; more trichomes could indicate harvest time since trichome is produced more and more before harvest as the plant sucks up all the energy from the leaves to be used for bud production.
- The presence of pistils or stigmas – one of the most popular ways to determine if a cannabis plant is ready for harvest is the presence of pistils or stigmas. Once the pistils have turned brown, it is time to harvest. Pistils are white hairs that are used to capture pollen. These turn brown and wilt indicating that you need to harvest quickly. But as this method is popular for some cannabis plants, it could be unreliable for autoflowering plants. Pistils in autos can turn darker, wither and the dies however the plant may still need a few days to completely mature. You may only end up cutting the plant down too early.
- Drying and curving of small leaves – small sugar leaves could dry out curl indicating that harvest is due. At this period, the plant is also taking up less water which could be the reason for leaves curving and wilting. So look for drying of these leaves and after which it’s curling which are significant signs that you are due to harvest time really soon.
Taking up less water than usual is another trait of cannabis that is ready for harvest. The plant detects that there are no other new growths happening that it stops relying on water. Although this is not exactly true for all cannabis plants it is still a good harvest sign to consider.
- Breeder’s advice for harvesting species – most breeders share information about their experience in growing different strains and one of the most important information is the time when growers should expect harvest. And although this information could be very helpful, it may just be an approximate date and everything still depends on the growing conditions of your plants and environmental conditions. Breeder’s advice will surely help in determining harvest readiness in an autoflowering cannabis plant.
Harvesting too early
There are many reasons why you might need to harvest early and it may not be a good thing but it beats no harvest at all. You might need to harvest early because of unforeseen circumstances like mold infestation, bugs or any kind of potential hazards that can affect the health and well-being of your plants. Actually, you can harvest early and still get good yields but with very low THC levels. You might also want to test harvest some of your weed but take note that this may not be as potent as you wish your weed would be because your autos are still missing a few days to mature.
Harvesting too late
Another thing is harvesting too late. A late harvest may be because you let your auto plants to completely mature without checking for any signs of harvest. This is not a good method because THC levels degrade and the buds could taste bad.
This is a preferred method of harvesting and this is done by harvesting the top buds first and then allowing the lower buds to mature for a few more days before chopping them off. Sequential harvesting is a good method that could work for small grow rooms where there is very limited amount of light. This will increase your yield effectively however you may need more time and energy to use this method. In sequential harvesting involves taking care of the top buds including removing the fan leaves, manicuring the buds and then gather the sugar leaves. After a few days, you need to do this all over again on the secondary buds that you allowed to mature.
Important tips in harvesting
Flushing your plants before harvesting is necessary to remove unwanted chemicals. Remove the fan leaves first as you harvest so you will have a better view and access to your buds that need special attention. Manicure your buds after you have removed them. Reserve the sugar leaves to make hash and other edible marijuana products. After cleaning your buds, dry them for a few days to remove moisture.