HARVESTING MARIJUANA BASICS

Now that you have waited patiently for your plants to flower, the time has come to harvest but how can you be sure they are ready? Most experts agree marijuana plants have a five to seven day window of maximum ripeness and potency. To identify this you will need a 10X or 30X magnifying lens or jeweler’s loupe. You need to be able to clearly see the trichome heads at the top of the stalks resin glands. Harvesting too early will not produce the THC levels that are desired by medical cannabis growers, too late and the potency of your crop will be reduced. It is recommended that you harvest your crop when at least 50% of the trichomes have changed from clear to milky or amber in color. The more developed glands will turn from milky to amber in hue. Make sure you harvest while your plants are showing some clear, some milky, and some amber color trichomes for maximum potency. Growers offer differing opinions about what is the best time and different strains will require more amber or clear trichomes for best results.

FLUSHING

Flushing is done at the very end of the flowering cycle to clean out any chemicals that may remain in your buds and to improve flavor. By feeding your plants only water, or a very weak nutrient solution, you will be able to remove the majority of impurities. If your plants have been fed heavily, or exclusively, on chemical-based nutrients you may require a flush as long as two weeks. Organically grown crops may only need a few days, or no flush at all before you harvest. The length of your flush all depends on what nutrients were used in your grow and your personal preference regarding taste and flavor. Flushing will also give you a cleaner burning smoke that leaves white or gray ash compared to the heavy black ash of chemical laden buds.

DRYING

To dry your marijuana, carefully take the trimmed branches and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area. Do not put your harvest in sunlight or where any bright lights can get to them. Many growers will hang the branches from clothes hangers inside a closet or use a clothes line to string out the buds. Your garage or attic may provide and excellent area to dry your harvest, provided that it has ventilation and is not muggy or humid. Also since the temperature changes in these areas from day to night, you are helping to recreate the natural surroundings and this will remove a bit more chlorophyll to provide a cleaner smoke. You may choose to use paper bags to dry your harvest as well. By placing the buds gently inside paper bags you will dry them out slowly to provide excellent taste. Both options are highly recommended. Check the buds daily and when the stems are brittle enough to snap, your crop is ready for curing.

CURING

Once your buds are dried properly, place them very carefully inside plastic or glass containers. Some growers prefer to use tuperware because it allows a tiny bit of air flow, while others will only use sealed glass jars. Either way you want to try and avoid the buds overlapping too much and prevent them from getting pressed against the sides. Every day you will need to open, or burp, the containers for a few moments to turn your buds and allow moisture to escape and fresh air to enter. After one to two weeks or so of doing this, your crop is now fully finished medicine and ready for ingestion.

STORAGE

 

Now that your harvest is dried and cured, your will want to safely store it for future use. There are several ways to do this but the two most popular methods involve glass jars and sealable bags. Many glass jars are available but they are not all created equal. The tried and true Mason jar, or canning jar, has a sealable top and this will help keep out any moisture. Large glass jars with hinged lids and rubber seals also work very well. Clean the inside of your jars and sterilize to ensure no mold spores or bacteria will get on your hard work. Make sure your harvest is completely dry before you place it into the jars or you will have problems. Be sure the jars are fully sealed; place them in a cool, dry place around 60 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not let your jars become exposed to any light as this will reduce potency and can dry them out too much to the point of becoming stale.

If you choose to keep your buds in sealable bags you must select only heavy duty plastic vacuum sealable bags. By placing the buds inside the bags and removing all the air, you are now ready to keep your crop inside your freezer for years if need be. This method may squish some of your buds and THC crystals will stick to the sides of the bags but your freezer is too cold for mold or fungus to grow so that is a major concern avoided. Since your harvest has been properly dried it will not freeze, just get really cold. You will want to check on your crop every now and then regardless of the method you opt for. Moisture can sneak into a jar not fully sealed or a bag with a tiny hole and this creates problems for the shelf-life of your medicine. Look for the cloudy moisture on the jars or bags; similar to what you see when your windows fog up.

Until next time,

Keep it GREEN, keep it LOVING and full of LIGHT.

PEACE.

~Ryan

 

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