When to harvest cannabis
Another sign that you’re ready to harvest will be apparent all over the marijuana plant in the leaves and the buds themselves. The physical characteristics of the plant will change considerably. The larger leaves will turn a yellow-brown color which tells you that the marijuana plant is dying. The stigmas of mature plants will wither at the base of the buds, while remaining a healthy white color on top.
Another sign, and one in which there is a bit of latitude, is in the color of the marijuana buds themselves. It is a good idea to pick them at the first sign that they are losing their rich green color. If they turn brown, a sign that they’ve withered a bit, the buds will smoke more harshly. The one benefit to waiting until you near this point is that the resin glands will contain more resin, and some people don’t mind the harsher smoke since they bargain that they are receiving a stronger, more intense high. This is a personal decision and one that you’ll learn more about over your successive harvests.
The changing hours of the sunlight are of course the most important aspect of your marijuana plants’ lives. Plants are naturally in tune to the changing amounts of light and darkness that they are receiving, and the increasingly longer hours of darkness sends a signal to a plant that it must mature. Depending on where you grew your marijuana plants, and whether or not they were started indoors and then replanted, the sun will be the most important predictor in knowing that harvest is approaching.
Some cannabis growers, like those in many parts of Australia, Hawaii, and the southern parts of North America, can often get two or more harvests a year, because the sun provides plenty of light throughout the year. In that case, the marijuana plants will grow large, flower as if to reproduce naturally and then begin again. But since they are already quite large, and have plenty of leaves to catch the sunlight, the second harvest occurs in much less time than did the first.
For the rest of us though, cannabis growers in areas in which it is important to have your marijuana plants removed by the end of summer and the onset of the first frost, the sun is a lifeline to our finished product. The middle of the summer, which in the Northern Hemisphere falls on the 21st of June, has as much as 15 hours of sunshine. Marijuana plants will not typically flower unless they receive at least 12 hours of darkness a day. Indoor cannabis growers are typically able to harvest more often because they control the light. The trade-off for the outdoor grower is receiving more in less frequent harvests. If you only have a few marijuana plants, it is some- times possible to cover them completely and induce harvesting, but this is not a functional reality for most cannabis growers.
The light and darkness factor works 170th ways though. Some growers will actually shine very bright lights, like halogens, on their marijuana plants during the night in order to reset the internal clock. This is useful if you wish your plant to grow in size and not begin its flowering. In Australia some Sativa varieties can grow to 16 feet with internodes around 3 to 4 inches in variety. Obviously a plant of that size will produce a large amount of recoverable crop, but getting it that size requires a year-round growing season. To get it that size they may need to convince the marijuana plant that it is not quite time to flower, and that perhaps it should continue using its energy toward leaf production and upward reaching.
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