When To Harvest Cannabis Without a Microscope, And With One

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    Harvesting Guide For Marijuana (With and Without a Microscope)

    You could have done everything perfectly. (Applied the correct nutrients, set up the perfect growing environment, no pest infestation, etc.) But, if you harvest either too soon or late, all of your hard work may result in sub-standard buds. On the other hand, if you learn to harvest weed, at the correct time, you could have perfect, dank, buds that you’d be proud to share with your friends.

    The Pistil and Cannabis Trichome Method For Harvesting Weed

    The Trichome and the Pistil Method, (Also what I call the Microscope or Non-Microscope method) are the two most common ways for you to tell when the marijuana bud is ready to be processed. Of these two methods, the Trichome Method is the most accurate. The downside of this method is that requires a microscope.

    A microscope or magnifying glass is not needed for the Pistil Method. The Pistil Method though is not the most accurate way to find out if your marijuana plant is ready for harvest. Each of these methods will be explained below.

    Get A Trichome Microscope of Magnifting Glass

    A microscope or some type of magnifying glass is all that is necessary for you to view the trichome development. And, you don’t even necessarily have to purchase a microscope as a jewelers loupe will work just fine. As a result, I would recommend that you purchase a microscope/jeweler loupe, like the one listed below.

    40X Jewelers Loupe Magnifier Hand Lens LED/UV Illuminated Jewelry Magnifying Glass with Travel Case for Gardening, Kids, Coin, Stamp and Rock Collecting by Wesley's as you wish

    However, if your microscope broke, check out the Pistil Method for knowing when to harvest cannabis without a microscope.

    Timing Is Everything

    What Happens If You Harvest Too Early?

    Harvesting too soon is bad for several reasons, which the major reasons are listed below:

    YieldCannabis buds harvested too early will not have enough time to fully develop.

    Quality-Buds harvested too early will, more than likely, have a harsh and unpleasant flavor.

    Potency-Buds harvested before their time is almost always less potent than if you were to wait till they are at their peak.

    What Happen If You Harvest Too Late?

    Marijuana plants harvested, too late, will be past their peak potency, which results, THC will start degrading, and the flavor and smell of the bud will go bad. Also, with some strains, if you wait too long, your female plant may also begin to self pollinate.

    Signals That Your Weed Crop Is Ready For Harvest

    How To Known When To Harvest Cannabis Without Microscope

    The Pistil Method

    Cannabis Pistil

    Most growers will be satisfied if they examine the pistils and look into other signs, which indicate when you can start harvesting cannabis. Or, more importantly, when you should wait. Below are several factors, that only require you to use your naked eye that you take into account when you are wondering if you can start the drying, curing, and best yet, smoking your weed.


    The pistil is the reproductive organ of the female cannabis plant that is pollinated by a male plant.

    A marijuana plant has reached its peak maturity when all of the plant’s pistils are brown. Peak maturity though is likely too late. Instead, the best time, to start harvesting is when half of the pistils are shaded brown.

    Recommended Grower’s Schedule

    As a general rule of thumb, a typical Indica strain should be ready at eight weeks, Sativas at ten weeks, and autoflower strains will range between seven to ten weeks.

    A better indicator though for when your babies should be ready to go is your cannabis Seed Provider. (“Provider”), which should be able to provide you with a growing timeline concerning when “X” seed-strain should be ready for harvest.

    Do not take the Provider’s suggested growth timeline as gospel, as there are just too many variables when it comes to growing weed., I.E. Weather, Pest Infestation, Growing Mistakes, etc. for you to blindly accept the provider’s recommendations. Therefore, use your Providers growth timeline only as a rough guideline on when you should check to see if you are ready to start processing your crops. As an example, thoroughly check your plants for harvest, if you are at week ten and the Provider’s timeline says that “X” strain should be done on week ten.

    Bud Shape

    A firm and tight-looking bud is a potential indicator that your plants are ready for processing.


    Nitrogen gives the leaf its green color. However, when the flowering stage is ending, nitrogen will decrease, which in turn will turn the leaves yellow. The leaves will also start to curl and eventually fall off. So, your plants may be ready for harvest when the leaves are yellow and curly.

    The leaf color and curling is an example of how relying on one indicator could result in trouble. If your fan and sugar leaves have turned yellow and are curling, your plants may be in fact ready for processing. However, yellow and curly leaves also can indicate pest infestation, nutrient deficiencies, plant diseases, etc. So, use the leaf test in conjunction with the pistil color, bud shape, and the seed grower’s recommendations.

    Each of these above signs should be used to help you find out the best time for harvesting cannabis. However, be sure to use common sense when you are using each of the above factors. For example, if your pistils are half brown, but if the flower buds are not tight, you should possibly wait for a week or so before harvesting.

    Trichome Method (With Microscope)

    All Of The Above

    First, you should take into account all of the above signs that I included in the Pistil or Non-Microscope method. For example, you should ask the following questions:

    • Are the pistils brown?
    • What does X cannabis seeds supplier say when X strain should be ready for harvesting?
    • Is the bud, tight and firm?
    • Are the leaves turning yellow, curling, and falling off?


    The three kinds of cannabis trichomes are bulbous trichomes, capitate sessile trichomes, and capitate stalked trichomes. For this article, all you need to know is that trichomes are glandular resin glands that are shiny and resemble crystals. The trichome is responsible for the cannabinoid, terpene, and other good stuff that makes for a great high. Additionally, cannabis trichome resin glands are used to make cannabis concentrates. (Crumble, Dabs, Wax, Cannabis Oil, etc.)

    Using a microscope to examine the trichomes is the most accurate indicator for when a cannabis plant is ready for harvest. Trichomes have three distinctive colors. And each of these colors indicates when the weed is either at its peak THC levels or if you will be disappointed if your start harvesting Each of the trichome colors is listed below:

    • Clear Trichome– When the trichomes are clear the buds will be less potent and your yield will also be decreased. So, wait for a while before you start processing.
    • Cloudy or Milky Trichome-If you smoke bud that has only a milky or cloudy trichome you. H will only likely feel an energetic high. However, the body high will be minimal.
    • Amber Trichome-When the trichomes are solely amber your cannabis bud will be essentially a sleep aid, as the couch lock effect of weed will dominate. This will happen even when you are growing high-energy, creative, Sativa cannabis strains.

    When Should You Harvest?

    The best time to harvest is when the trichomes have a 50/50 mixture of milky white and amber trichomes, which will result in the sought-after combined head and body high.

    Final Thoughts

    For most cannabis strains, it will not make that much of a difference in the taste, or the overall effects of the high if you harvest your weed a week early or a week late. So, if you don’t have a microscope, it is not the end of the world. Microscopes though are cheap, and harvesting at the correct time is quite crucial. Also, it would be a shame to go through all that hard work of growing and mess up by harvesting too soon or late. So, I would highly recommend you buy a microscope that, to help you best prevent the costly mistake of harvesting your weed either too early or too late.


    Top 10 Newbie Friendly Cannabis Seeds

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