We are here to ensure the fruits of your labour don't go to waste by helping you through the process of Harvesting & Curing Cannabis Plants. Imagine losing your precious dagga because you missed a single step while harvesting your cannabis plant. Even worse, you used the wrong equipment. These errors can be avoided if you read this article.
With our guide, you'll discover that harvesting and curing your cannabis plant is relatively easy. We've provided all you need to know on how to harvest and cure dagga in South Africa.
Preparation for Harvest
Before you begin harvesting weed, you need to make sure they're actually ready by preparing them for harvest. How do you prepare your cannabis before harvest, you ask? Read along!
Below are crucial steps to prepare for harvesting and curing weed:
1. Flush your plants: Flushing is basically bathing your plants to get rid of excess salt and minerals. It is highly recommended to start flushing 2 weeks for harvesting with clean, room temperature water.
2. Check for Impurities: Ensure you meticulously cross-check for pests and fungi on your plant. You'll also need to get rid of any damaged part of the plant.
3. Cut out oversized fan leaves: Large fan leaves are an indicator that your plants are thriving in a good environment. However, you may need to trim or cut them out, depending on your choice. Oversized fan leaves are usually less potent because they have lower trichome count.
4. Trim & collect sugar leaves: Sugar leaves around the bud should be trimmed and can be collected to make extracts as a by product or in cooking with the correct oil extraction methods in place. Trimming of sugar leaves and be done wet or dry. We discuss this later.
When To Harvest Cannabis For Maximum Cannabinoids & Potency
Harvesting weed is a delicate process whereby the grower has to take note of certain signs from the plant before deciding to harvest. Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring compounds that are found in Cannabis sativa plants. The most popular compound present in the plant is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. It is the ingredient responsible for the 'high' feel when ingested. To get the most cannabinoids from your dagga, you need to know the right time to harvest.
Each strain of cannabis is peculiar, so signs can vary. Notwithstanding, there are a few general signs to look out for:
- Curling and colour of buds: The fan leaves turn yellow and begin to fall off. Your buds should be ready for harvest when the curly hairs are darkened and are very curly.
- Size and weight of your branches: The buds become plump, showing that it's developed. At this stage, they look like they won't grow any larger. The branches become heavy and begin to hang lower due to the weight of the fully developed buds.
- Colour of trichomes: The entire growth and development of your cannabis relies primarily on the trichomes. Trichomes are sticky, shiny and tiny crystals that cover your plant buds. In the early stages of your growing phase, they'll appear to be clear and glassy but when your plant is mature, the trichomes turn glossy, glittery white. Alternatively, if you're looking for lower levels of THC and a more relaxing effect, you can wait for the trichomes to turn golden/amber before harvesting.
Note that it can be helpful to observe the exact date your plants started flowering. Nevertheless, you shouldn't solely rely on it as your harvesting guideline because the growth span differs from strain to strain. It takes as early as 7-8 weeks for indica-dominant strains to finish flowering, while sativa-dominant strains can take up to 24 weeks at a time or longer.
Now that you know what to pay attention to, it's time for the next par; harvesting!
How To Harvest Marijuana
The entire harvesting process includes four essential parts; cutting down the cannabis plant, drying, trimming and curing it. When you want to start harvesting your cannabis, it is advisable to cut it down sectionally instead of cutting down the whole plant. Cut the cannabis plant into manageable arm lengths. This will ensure the buds dry uniformly.
Additionally, harvesting your cannabis by sections saves you some time by allowing you to operate smoothly. There is more to the process of harvesting and curing if you want to grow cannabis like a pro. Essentially, you want to make sure you have all the necessary tools which begs the next question.
What Equipment for Harvesting & Curing Cannabis?
There is a handful of tools and equipment needed by every grower to successfully complete the entire harvesting process. They include:
Nitrile Gloves: Wearing gloves prevents easy contamination of your buds and when you handle them. The nitrile gloves are perfect for harvest time and they are useful for a lot of activities like trimming of buds, routine checks etc.
Pruning Shears: It helps with cutting branches and fan leaves precisely.
Drying Rack: The drying rack is an equipment you can use to hang your cannabis plant for drying.
Cleaning Wipes: These are multifunctional wipes used to clean and get rid of stubborn resins on various equipment in your grow room.
Trimming Tray: It is used to collect residuals and resins while and after trimming your buds.
Rubbing Alcohol: It is a solution which works as a disinfectant for your grow room tools as well as the entire workspace.
Scissors: This is basically used to trim buds precisely.
Pocket Microscope: This is a small handy microscope used to check on the trichomes on the buds of your cannabis plant.
Scale: To weigh the buds when dry for comparative purposes and recording your goals.
The aforementioned tools should always be present in your grow room to ensure an efficient cultivation process. Fortunately, many of them are easily accessible at a tested and trusted supplier of all things hydroponics, Grow Guru.
Now that you have an idea of each equipment and their use, let's head back to the remaining process of harvesting; trimming and drying. Some growers prefer to trim while the plant is wet while some others prefer drying it first. Whichever your preference is, we have the guide for you here!
Dry Trimming & Wet Trimming Cannabis
Trimming your cannabis plant means cutting off fan leaves and other extension from your bud, giving it the right shape. Trimming makes it easy to transfer the cannabis, and it also prevents a messy and haggard-looking bud.
- Firstly, if you prefer drying your plant before trimming, you'll need to prepare a drying room.
- Then, you'll hang your plants up to dry for a few days before trimming. We recommend a 10-14 days drying period; 10 days for loose buds and 14 days for denser buds. The dry room should be 15-16°c and 60% relative humidity. Furthermore, there should be an even air circulation without having direct air flow on drying buds.
- After the initial hang, buck the buds and place them into paper bags to sweat out all of the inner moisture to the surface.
- To trim successfully, you'll need to start with cutting off the big branches. Be careful around the buds. While trimming, make sure the branches are easy to handle. Once the trimming process is completed, your cannabis buds are ready for whatever use you grew them for.
This equipment is available on Grow Guru; the No 1 hydroponic online site in South Africa where you can also learn all you need to know about growing cannabis.
How To Cure Marijuana
If you want to learn how to cure marijuana, be prepared to dedicate two weeks to six months to the complete removal of moisture from the plant.
Curing is an age long practice of preserving food like meat and other degradable edibles, typically by using salt or sugar. Although it is safe to consume, cannabis is no meat; therefore, you don't require salt or sugar. So, what do you need to cure cannabis? Only patience and proper technique. We don't have much say on your level of patience but we do posses the guide for the latter.
There are a few things to know before starting the process of curing your cannabis, which are:
- Avoid light exposure: Light shone directly on your weed can cause degradation and reduce its potency. It's advisable to keep them away from UV rays and sunlight.
- Protect your weed from high temperature: Like light, heat can also cause degradation of your weed and also reduce the potency of THC in it. It's best stored in a low temperature environment
- Maintaining proper humidity: Too much humidity can cause mold to develop on your weed and too low can cause it to become crispy. You should ensure it stays at the zone of 60-65% humidity. The Boveda Humidity Control Pack is perfect for curing jars and containers.
Considering these factors, you can now get started on curing your cannabis correctly. While there are several ways to go about curing cannabis, grove bags are arguably the most effective and straightforward process. Let's take a look!
Curing With Grove Bags
Terploc Grove bags are the latest packaging modifications for curing and storage of cannabis. These bags ensure that your cannabis is kept at a proper relative humidity of 58-62%. Grove bags posses the following:
- Oxygen and humidity layers which work together to release oxygen and excess water vapor to prevent mold growth on the buds.
- Durability & Odor Layer which prevent the bag from punctures and external smell thus preserving the fresh smell of your cannabis.
- UV Layer that prevents extra light from penetrating the bag in order preserve the bud and avoid degrading of the buds.
Before using the grove bags, the cannabis should be dried to at least a .45w water activity level or below to avoid microbial growth. As long as your cannabis is properly dried, you can place it in a grove bag. These bags work to create the perfect microclimate to cure your cannabis in but do not overfill the bags or pouches. Grove bags are specially designed to bring the internal environment into the 58-62% RH range and also outgas excess oxygen to reduce oxidation while curing.
The Importance Of Curing Cannabis
Food is cured to preserve its freshness, likewise cannabis. Proper curing of your cannabis plant preserves its youth and stops any degrading effect. From the moment the plant is harvested, it starts to degrade as enzymes and bacteria break down the terpenes and cannabinoids into unfavourable compounds. As a result, it greatly affects the plant's potency and reduces its quality. Regardless, the long-term process of curing cannabis kills all bacteria and enzymes that break down the plant matter.
Curing ensures that the fresh scent and aroma of the plant remains no matter how long it has been harvested. It's no different from storing vegetables in the freezer except cannabis has to be kept at a particular relative humidity throughout the curing process. A proper curing process should take time if you seek a premium result; to create quality weed, patience is virtue.
Harvesting and curing cannabis is generally a long and tedious process. Every grower needs to be patient while undergoing the process. This guide isn't just about how to harvest cannabis for dummies. As an expert, you can have the best methods to harvest and cure cannabis but slow and steady wins the race.
Hopefully, you've learnt enough in this article to understand you need three vital elements to harvest and cure cannabis successfully; our guidance, our supplies, and your patience. Good luck!