Cannabis growers spend a lot of time taking care of their plants in order to produce much better results. Sometimes it can be hard to wait until the time is right to harvest; between impatience and that feeling of being near harvest time, it can be hard to resist. Knowing when to harvest cannabis is quite subjective; growers all have their own method, plus it depends on the substrate, water quality and other determining factors.

This post is designed to help growers that have just started out and have questions regarding when to remove the flowers from their plants in order to cure and dry them. We’re going to have a look at some of the most important things to keep in mind when harvesting cannabis and knowing what a mature plant looks like.

When to Harvest Cannabis

How to Tell if your Plant is Ready to Harvest

There are plenty of signs that can show you when to harvest your cannabis plants. There are also lots of myths and legends that end up causing growers to harvest too early or late. Some people even think harvesting early will stop them from going bad – most growers have had that thought at least once, but if you let them keep growing without getting too impatient, you can get some amazing results. There are still many things you can keep in mind when figuring out when to harvest cannabis. For best results, use a good pair of pruning shears.

Seed Bank Reference

Whenever you get your cannabis seeds, we highly recommend checking out the dates given by the seed bank and their recommendation. They know their strain perfectly and they’ll be able to guide growers with the correct information. Keep in mind that these dates are still just guides, and aren’t 100% accurate. There are many different factors that intervene when it comes to each plant (growing conditions, outdoors or indoors, level of care, latitude etc.). Nirvana Seeds, Seedsman Seeds, Barney’s Farm, Ministry of Cannabis, Exotic Seeds and GB Strains all have an amazing selection of cannabis strains.

Pistil Color

We all know that the pistils are the little brown “hairs” on your cannabis flowers when they begin to mature. These pistils can, in some cases, be a sign that your plants are almost entirely ready to harvest. The less brown, the more psychoactive and the more brown pistils the more intense the narcotic effect. Some growers recommend harvesting when more or less half of the pistils are brown, while also keeping in mind the effect/flavor/aroma that you’re looking to get.

Keep in mind that pistils going brown doesn’t almost indicate that your plants are ready to harvest; it could be caused by excess watering, spraying at night, having used a certain type of spray product, stress etc. Once your cannabis plant is ready to harvest it won’t be thirsty anymore, absorbing much less water than usual.

Trichome Shape

Trichomes are small cells that appear on the surface of your plants’ leaves and flowers. They contain cannabinoids, which produce psychoactive and narcotic effects in your buds. They look like droplets, and keep growing until they take on a mushroom shape. A good sign is that they’re no longer producing any more trichomes. Essentially, you should see calyxes covered in resin, which essentially look like mushrooms when looked at under a microscope, and they’ll want to have a creamy, milky color and some should be an Ambar-like color. The best way to check if your plants are ready is to use a Mini 60x Microscope With White LEDS.

When the top of the trichome is perfectly round, it’s too early to harvest. You’ll need to wait until they look like a sort of an over-pumped ball, slightly deformed. This indicates that there are more cannabinoids inside. If you don’t harvest early, they’ll explode and degrade – if you wait until they explode, you’ll have waited too long.

What Happens When you Harvest Cannabis at The Wrong Time

All of the previous signs can help you to figure out when your cannabis plants are ready to harvest. However, it’s pretty easy to get impatient towards the end – you’re itching to taste your buds and see how the effect hits. However, this usually leads to issues with your harvest.

If you harvest too early, you may run into quality issues with your harvest; the flavor will most likely be less intense, its buds will produce less chlorophyll and therefore less terpenes. Plus, their buds will probably be a lot smaller and less dense than what you were expecting. Keep in mind that it can also influence the effect, as the pistils haven’t finished growing yet – you can lose a large part of your harvest if you don’t wait long enough.

If you wait too long to harvest, it’ll will essentially go “bad”. The flavor will be much softer and it’ll take less time to cure. The more time goes by the less psychoactive the effect is. This is because THC turns into CBN when it begins to degrade, losing most of its characteristic effects. If you wait longer, your cannabis will have a more relaxing, intensely narcotic effect.

Recommendations for When to Harvest Cannabis

We highly recommend following the previous advice as much as you can; if you don’t have the tools to fully check on your plants, don’t just go by the amount of brown pistils on your plant, pay closer attention to the state of the leaves and how they begin to use up their reserves and fall off. The best way to tell when to harvest is by using a microscope; if you don’t have one, wait until its pistils are more or less all brown and then wait another week or two. If the seed bank says 60 days, you’re better off stretching it to 75 days.

When done right, you can harvest enormous flowers. These tips and tricks can help you to harvest delicious, large and high quality yields. We hope this information has been useful, and that this year you have a better idea regarding when to harvest cannabis plants! If you have any questions or suggestions, go ahead and leave a comment below.

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Erik Collado

With more than 10 years of background in the cannabis sector, his experience and knowledge are the base of GB The Green Brand’s success

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29 replies on “When to Harvest Cannabis Plants”

Hello my name is Pete I have one plant as I am new at this for my first time ever Letting a plant grow all the way I am growing outside in a big bucket and my plant is about 4 feet tall and it looks great however it has been growing for 90 some days now and it has not started to flower at all and I only give it water nothing else as of yet can you give me a little hand as to what I should be doing to get the buds or will they come as I know good things take time and I have all the time in the world lol I am not in a rush at all so please give me some input please and thank you

Hey there Peter

Some plants simply take longer than others to flower. Your plant is most likely a sativa-dominant strain, which can take quite a long time to flower, so be prepared for that. There is no way to induce flowering via nutrients, the only way to do this is to grow plants inside and reduce the amount of light they get to 12h cycles. In order to do this you need a full grow tent set up, with an extraction system, humidity controllers etc.
Your plant sounds like it’s doing fine! Like you said, you have all the time in the world. If you take a close look at them they probably have grown pre-flowers already, as they start pre-flowering as soon as the hours of daylight during the day begin to decrease.

Hope this helps! If you have any serious concerns about how your plant looks, hit us up at [email protected] with some pics and our expert growers will help you out.

For plant to Flower requires two things Only my freind that’s the good part, those are plant being mature enough which yours definitely , the other is light.
For the plant to register it’s time to flower it MUST have (12) Hrs min of Darkness, this means not slightest bit which outdoors is hard to do.
Fix = Get a Big/xLrg BLACK BAG,
Religiously Put this Bag over the plant for 12 Hrs for 2-3 Days, then stretch it to 14-16 Hrs for next 3 Days, this will send a strong signal for it to flower or else.
It WiLL take about (1)-2 Weeks for the plant to show its first pistons, once this happens make sure to give it food/ nutrients due to being outside especially, DONT give it full dose but use Tiger Bloom, only use 1/3 of recommended dose, EVERY OTHER Watering, always give 3 Gallons H2O, they like water with food. Week after that I assure you , that you will be amazed how accurate my words help you. Salute my fellow grower

Add bloom fertilizer to your water. As you become more knowledgeable, things like Vit B, magnesium, calcium can be added

Love the legit wisdom shared on this website. Keep doing what you do best. Making information, experience, and technique readily available at your fingertips. Especially when time is of the essence and trees need help. Thanks to all those who share herbal wisdom on here.

My plants are in the flower garden stage and the little hairs are just turning amber color. But some of the leaves are turning yellow and falling off. About 10-20 leaves per day. Yes s that an indication that the buds are almost ready? Or is it due to the 105 degree weather last week. All my plants are outside plants too. Thank you

I live in New York first time at this hairs are just starting to turn brown (Lucy and Ethel look real good ) temps getting as look as 47 do I need to bring in ? How much water should I give them, so sun highs 76,

Hi MaryAnn
The amount of water depends on how much your plants need and how much they’re capable of absorbing at a time, which also depends on the substrate you’re using. You shouldn’t need to bring them in if they don’t have too long to go, in fact lower temperatures towards the end of the flowering period can actually be beneficial for cannabis plants. Cover them if you can in order to keep them safe from any possible rain, but apart from that you should be good.
Keep in mind that bringing them in during the flowering stage can be delicate; if they don’t get an exact timetable of light/dark they may revert to veg.

Probably too late but rain water is the best water for your plants . I grew some of the best bud I’ve ever smoked off rain water with it growing inside of a red solo cup I forgot about it and a few months later I come back from college it’s a beautiful white widow plant frosty as the ice age

I am a newbie and have plants that I think are close can I send you a pic?

Can I cut the big top buds off and let the buds underneath get the light as the top buds look just right for harvest and drying ????????


Yes, you can cut those buds and let the others until they are finished.

Best regards.

Yes, but it’ll stunt all the flowers in the immediate vicinity. Like on the same branch, and a few branches nearby. For at least 5 days. When you cut a flower off, the plant goes into repair mode, which means all the nutrients are diverted to the damaged area and growth ls halted. Good luck, it was a while ago but perhaps someone else is thinking about the same issue. Its a balance, but with a big flower gone a whole lot of energy has now become available to go to the remaining flowers. Just wait, 2 or 3 weeks after the cut and all those smaller buds will now be much bigger. They’ll never be as big as the main big bud at the end of a branch though, but perhaps 2 or 3 times bigger is possible with a really healthy well looked after plany. Feed extra Nitrogen for 4 days after the cut and use super thrive. Old timer tip 😉

When you cut your plants to hang do you trim the leaves off or wait until they dry

Hello Cindy,

We advice to cut the majority of leaves, just let the leaves with resin. After when it is dry you can cut more leaves if it is necessary.

Best regards

I am a first grower of Strawberry Caugh in my outside garden. There are a lot of flowers and it looks like I am close to harvest time. In two days it will be 10 weeks into flowering. I have about 40 % of Pistils that have turned brown and turned into the flower. I am NOT seeing any amber Tricombs. That’s what is bothering me. Does this Sativa even develope any amber tricombs? That’s my question. Only someone who has grown Strawberry Caught would know. Thanks

Hi. Here on Long Island NY. Firstimer my plant had a bud turn brown on the top. I cut it off. Is now a good time to harvest the rest of the plant? It’s covered outside. Has the whole plant gone bad?

I would like to check it by myself before telling you the wrong answer. You can send me some pics to our email “[email protected]” and I’ll be pleased to help and recommend you.
Best regards.

Thank you for reminding us that pistils turning brown don’t necessarily mean that your plants are ready for harvest. My husband has stated his desire to begin hemp harvesting. I’ll send him this information so he may learn some harvesting tips.

I flushed plants 10/22 and have been checking every few days for amber trichomes milky white but no amber can u look at pics and give me an idea of how much longer til harvest first timer and don’t want to screw up this point inntim

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