Original Post: High Times: 8 Plant-Training Techniques Explained
Well trained plants yield far more than those left to their own devices/ Erik Biksa
[Canniseur: There many ways to trim and promote growth to create a larger crop. Different methods to promote plant growth are described in this article for an excellent primer.]
From basic to advanced, here are some methods that increase plant size and provide bigger yields.
Removing the main crown shoot of your growing tip will ensure that two new shoots will grow back in its place. Pinching out once will create two tops; pinching out twice will create four tops; and so on. This technique is as simple as cleanly removing the growth tip until a lighter, fleshy-colored part of the plant tissue is exposed.
This will heal over and then form new growth shoots. It is very important to create a clean cut to avoid “fimming” (see below). I personally like to use a clean pair of nail cutters and to really get in and cut as close as possible. When incorporating a screen into the garden, topping is essential in creating a symmetrical canopy base from which to work.
Benefits: A plant’s height is basically cut in half-instead of one tall plant, the plant is separated into two parts. With this technique, the growth hormone that is responsible for apical dominance-in which a plant’s central stem is dominant-is cut off and a new hormone is emitted that promotes lateral growth. When the canopy is pinched out until the plant is flat-topped and multi-branched, canopy control is at its maximum.
Topping plants out will produce a greater number of smaller-size colas, as opposed to a main cola with supporting side branches if left untrained. This technique is ideal for growers who have limited space and want to avoid tall, lanky plants, and those growing plants with long vegetative periods, as this technique will produce a vibrant plant with eight heads in about 4-5 weeks.
When fimming, 80 percent of the crown shoot is removed, with a very small amount left behind. In response, the plant will cease to produce upper growth, focusing its energy on the rest of itself underneath the highest part where it has been fimmed. Growth at the low part of the plant, from the very base of the pot and each internode upward, will increase, creating a thicker-looking plant. To use this technique, simply take a pair of scissors and snip away three-quarters of the tip of the crown shoot of the main cola or on the top shoots of the supporting side branches. “Fimming” is short for “Fuck, I missed!” because the technique was discovered by accident.
Benefits: Plants will have time to focus on enhancing the growth tips that are below the fimmed shoot. The lowest buds will have a chance to catch up with the rest of the upper growth, so when the top shoot does grow back to normal, the entire plant has increased in size. Fimming can create really bushy plants, and it can help avoid weak-producing lower buds.
This is my favorite technique for pushing my plants to the limit. It’s a hands-on high-stress method that involves breaking the inner cell walls of a branch by popping it between your fingers. When successfully performing this technique, you’ll be able to hear an audible snap as the plant’s inner walls collapse-or at least feel a change in the pressure inside the plant.
With young softwood plants, popping the center parts of each internode will suffice; however, with plants that are more woody, it’s much easier to twist and a bend, and there’s a quicker healing response.
Benefits: If you have ever seen a plant that has an almost-round, knuckle-shaped growth forming over a bent branch, it’s been super-cropped. Once the inner cell walls in a branch collapse, growth hormones are sent to the break.
The result is a hardwood, protective growth that will not only provide added support, it will also boost the plant’s vigor and ability to respond to stress. A plant that has been super-cropped will be noticeably stronger in terms of vigor, stature and overall yield.
Tie and Bend
Otherwise known as low-stress training (LST), this technique involves tying and bending certain parts of the plant at certain times to compel the canopy to grow symmetrically. This technique involves tying the plant down with string or metal cables and lowering the highest point of the crown shoot. The plant will respond with the rest of the growth tips now competing to produce the main cola. Through careful calculation and planning, a grower can simply use leverage to compel the plant to form into a short and stout bush in which the main cola is unidentifiable come flowering time.
Benefits: The benefit of LST is that the canopy will be round with heavy side branches. Additionally, as the plant grows sideways, the axillary shoots that would’ve once produced small flowering sites will not grow upward and toward the light.
The end result comes down to how many times the plant’s been tied down to create new vertical shoots. This technique is also very important when using a screen, and it’s a great way to make those once tiny nugs into main colas.
Screens provide a trellis for branches to fill/ Erik Biksa
Using a Screen
Referred to as screen of green or ScrOG, this technique involves the application of a screen or net to act as a trellis through which your upper canopy will grow while clearing away the lowest part of the plant below the screen, ensuring a maximum yield of symmetrical flowering sites.
This method requires longer vegetative times than other plant-training techniques, as selected shoots must be fed through the screen over the growing phase. Making a screen is as simple as laying chicken wire over a wooden frame, tying bamboo shoots together in a square formation or even using wire or pea netting.
Benefits: Using a screen not only allows the grower to be totally hands-on with his plants; it also allows those with very small plant counts to achieve large yields in a small grow space. The plants have no choice but to dedicate all their growth above the screen, resulting in no low-hanging schwag buds and improved air flow below the canopy.
Getting rid of fan leaves and low-growing tips is something that all growers should consider doing, but only at the proper time. Plants use their energy on whatever growth there is, so knowing when to cut away and strip the parts that are less productive than the upper parts is important. Take a pair of scissors and, as if you were taking clones, cut away the lowest growth of the plant that will take away from the prize buds you desire.
You should cut away everything from side branches to big healthy fan leaves. A good rule of thumb is to remove around 60 to 70 percent of the growth from the base of pots upward. You can also use your finger and thumb to strip away from the branches. Be vigilant to check for any new growth forming where the pruning took place.
Benefits: During the flowering stage, plants will exhibit the lollipop effect, where the main central stem has been stripped bare under a healthy, vibrant top canopy.
If you don’t prune the lowest parts of the plants, you’ll always struggle with the low-producing, light-deprived growth.
By clearing away a large proportion of the lowest plant parts, you can be assured that during the blooming phase the plant’s energy is being used as efficiently as possible and is focused on the heavy nugs on top. Pruning can make a big difference in the overall production of a cannabis plant, ranging from flower size to overall consistency.
This technique is slightly more complicated than traditional low-stress training, and it focuses solely on symmetrical plant growth. The principle behind mainlining is to remove the top shoot and all of a plant’s lower growth to create a bare stem. This allows the two axillary shoots to grow upward to form two primary shoots. If you picture a capital-Y shape and then grow from this starting figure, you can then tie the two shoots down to allow them to grow in a letter-T figure.
Benefits: Although it can seem like a very stressful training method and can certainly feel counterproductive, the important thing is to stick with it. Due to a carefully arranged symmetrical design, the plant will send signals to each pathway to make sure that each bud flowers and grows the same as all the others. The end result can be very impressive, but keep in mind that this method is for more experienced gardeners and requires much patience.
Strip and Flip
This method involves pruning away everything underneath the top internode of the plant’s branches a few days before flowering. This focuses all the plant’s energy into the remaining nodes. A full-scale prune can be quite drastic, and it’s the last thing anyone would do to their precious plants, yet this technique works. What’s left is a very skinny-looking structure with only one top shoot, but when it flowers it grows quite top-heavy.
Benefits: This technique removes the risk of any lower-producing popcorn nugs, provides an excellent opportunity to take some healthy cuttings for future grows, improves air flow and reduces insect and pest infestations. The flowers that the plant produces will be thick and dense. The end result will be uniform nugs that are each around 3-5 inches in size with substantial biomass.
Using proper techniques, growers can produce plenty of flowers with fewer plants/ Erik Biksa
Top Tips on Plant Count
Growing large-size plants that take up quite a bit of room requires long vegetative periods to produce as much productive foliage as possible. One can argue about which method produces larger yields: one large plant or many smaller plants under the same grow light. My tip here is to dedicate a grow tent for one or two very large plants. Avoid vegging many plants in a tent as they’ll fight for light and overshadow one another as blooming commences.
You may have purchased a 10-pack of the latest and greatest genetics, and although you calculate that planting 9 seeds under a 600-watt lamp will result in a 9-ounce yield, it really depends on the integrity of your lighting setup. Grow lights are measured in lumen count and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR). My tip here is to find out the amount of PAR your lights are emitting, then work out if it’s adequate enough to produce heavy-yielding plants.
This method requires very short vegging times and a quick introduction to flowering.
The principle behind SOG is to grow as many small plants as possible in a limited space. The turnaround time may be a week longer than the flowering period for commercial growers. Make sure the strain you’re growing is well suited for a SOG grow (such as a short-flowering /nd/’ca-dominant variety) to make the process as straightforward as possible.
There are many varieties of cannabis on the market these days, each displaying traits of indica, sativa or a mixture of both. Growing indica-dominant varieties will allow a grower to produce smaller-size plants. Hybrids can extend taller, and saf/Va-dominant strains will tend to stretch out even more. My tip here is to learn as much as possible about the strain you’re growing. It can determine a short or long vegging period, as well as if SOG or ScrOG is the right method to use.
Skill Level and Experience
If you’re new to growing cannabis, it’s better to grow a few smaller-size plants at first to learn the ways of the plant. If you’re more experienced, then generally having a larger plant is the norm, and the level of plant training that can be provided will result in a huge difference in terms of canopy control and final yield. A shorter vegetative time is more forgiving to the beginner, providing less time
to make catastrophic mistakes. Grow according to your skill level in terms of plant count, strain selection and nutrient use.
Your plant count and vegging time may be limited due to your budget; for example, electricity costs soar during the longer 18-hour lights-on periods. You may also be limited in nutrients and prefer to flower as soon as possible to save more during the growing stage. You may also be restricted to pot size, lighting capacity and many other things due to financial restrictions, so plan ahead to spend and grow within your time and financial constraints.
For growers who have a vegging tent and a flowering tent, growing larger plants is probably not necessary, as a constant rotation of smaller-size plants is beneficial and practical. Invest in a tent solely for growing seedlings and clones until they are mature enough to be transferred to the flowering tent.
With the above options for training your plants, you’ll be able to find a technique that is well-suited for your individual space, time and financial considerations. Experiment and have fun-when harvest time comes around you’ll have some dank nugs to celebrate with and begin to plan your next grow!
Originally published in the March, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.
8 Plant-Training Techniques Explained was posted on High Times.
Original Post: High Times: A Quick and Easy Guide to Getting Started with Growing Cannabis Indoors
[Canniseur: As summer turns to autumn, thoughts turn to growing cannabis indoors. If you want to have a nice supply of your favorite plant during the cold short days of winter, here’s a terrific guide to starting your own grow indoors. You can’t start too soon – there are only about 16 or 17 weeks until the end of the year.]
We all want to see big frosty buds but, as with everything else in the plant world, you have to start at the beginning—by germinating the seeds. Although they should pop open within a couple of days, be patient—it can take up to 7 days for a seedling to emerge from the surface of your growing medium.
Things to Consider: Seedlings require warm and wet conditions to thrive. If you think of typical spring weather, this will give you a great idea of how warm and moist the environment should be.
The taproot of your seedling will grow deep down into your growing medium, searching for moisture and nutrients as it expands its root hairs to every corner of the grow pot. Avoid overwatering the seedlings and always encourage the roots to grow as deeply as possible by creating a wet-to-dry cycle, only watering when necessary.
Foliar feeding, or misting your seedlings using a spray bottle, will help keep the environment humid while also allowing the leaves to utilize any mild nutrients in the spray. Be sure to spray with a light mist, taking care to spray the undersides of the leaves as well to keep them clean.
Use feminized seeds to ensure that all your seeds produce only female plants. The advantage in using these seeds is that there’s no need to determine the sex of the plants and remove the males from the garden, allowing the grower to maximize space at all times.
When using regular seeds, the grower will be required to look for pre-flowers to identify male and female plants. Some growers prefer to use regular seeds to grow out a mother plant from which to take clones, so both regular and feminized seeds have their advantages.
The Vegetative Stage
When plants are kept under a lighting regime timed to replicate the spring and summer months, they remain in their vegetative stage, growing only leaves and branches but no flowers. During this stage, most growers set their light timers for an 18/6-hour day/night light cycle (18 hours on and 6 hours off). The plants will only begin blooming later, after the light cycle is changed to 12/12-hour day/night. Unless you are working against a deadline, it’s a good idea to keep your plants in the vegetative stage for 4 to 6 weeks.
Things to Consider: It’s very important to make sure that your vegging room’s temperatures and humidity are on point. You want to achieve an average temperature of 68-75°F (20-24°C) with a relative humidity between 60 and 70 percent. Buy a humidity-and temperature-reading device. They are inexpensive and will tell you how far you are off the ideal range.
Use an exhaust fan to remove hot, stagnant air from inside your tent. A constant exchange of cool, fresh air is key. Most grow tents give you the option to install an intake fan at the base, or you can open the mesh windows, which will help bring fresh air in.
If the garden is too hot due to excessive lighting, the plants will respond by ceasing growth and eventually dying. Remove heat judiciously.
The vegetative stage is an opportune time in which to train your plants. During this period, you will be able to perform a number of techniques to improve canopy coverage and overall yield. These methods include tying and bending, pruning, snapping and twisting, ScrOG (screen of green), topping and fimming.
During this stage, plants consume nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, with nitrogen as the primary nutrient used for leaf growth and some phosphorus used for the root zone.
The Flowering Stage
Now that your plants are strong and healthy, they’re triggered to begin flowering as they respond to shorter days by your changing of the settings on your lighting timer. You’re replicating August through October by giving the plants alternating periods of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark, which will get your plants blooming.
Things to Consider: Your plants will go through a transition stage once the lighting regime has changed. This will involve the plants stretching and growing up to 150-250 percent in size by the end of the flowering cycle. The plant’s growth spurt will be most noticeable during the first 3 weeks of flowering.
Just as it’s essential to maintain the correct temperature and humidity in the growing stage, the same is true for the flowering stage. You will want the temperatures at 70-75°F (22-24°C) with a relative humidity of 30-40 percent.
The plants will also need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; however, they’ll need phosphorus and potassium more in the flowering stage than in the vegetative stage to help produce buds.
Keep your oscillating and exhaust fans on permanently to prevent stagnant and moist air from surrounding your plants. Poor air circulation can result in mold and mildew on the flowers and foliage of your plants.
An Indoor Grow Checklist for Beginners
Below is a list of the essential equipment for setting up an indoor grow, and the perfect guide for a beginner grower to get started properly.
Choosing a Grow Light
Your choice of a grow light depends on your budgetary concerns, spatial logistics, growing experience and a few other factors mainly based around practicality. The cheapest option is generally a fluorescent system, which uses minimal electricity while producing little heat. An HID (high-intensity discharge) lighting setup such as HPS (high-pressure sodium) or MH (metal halide) is a pricier option that generates more heat, but it also produces fuller, denser flowers. LED (light-emitting diode) technology runs cooler and shows promising gains in production, but it remains an expensive choice due to the initial upfront costs.
Do You Need a Ballast?
A ballast is required when operating an HID lighting system. There are a range of ballasts available, from basic cheaper versions to more high-tech digital models with optional power outputs.
Intake fans bring in fresh air from the bottom of the grow tent. The intake fan will have a smaller capacity than the main exhaust fan. which is connected to the carbon filter at the top of the tent. An intake fan, which provides fresh air throughout the tent and increases the integrity of the air exchange, is not absolutely essential if your exhaust fan works well and there is a good amount of air being sucked through the filtered vents placed at the lowest parts of the tent.
Exhaust Air Out
Generally, you will want to select a powerful fan to expel stagnant air from inside the grow tent.
This fan is also connected to a charcoal filter, which will control odor. A good exhaust fan will ensure that the airflow in the tent is recycled at a rate that is ideal for the plants, along with temperature and humidity levels.
Carbon Filter for Odor Control
The carbon filter is installed in the upper part of the grow tent, through which the exhaust fan blows the air directly outside and away from the fresh-air intake. Make sure that your filter and fan have the same airflow-rate capacity.
This silver flexible tubing is what facilitates air movement from the intake fan and the exhaust fan.
A cheap alternative is standard ducting; however, if you spend a bit more, you can invest in a noise-proof version. This is well worth the investment and will distribute the airflow as quietly as possible. When setting up ducting, make sure that there is no sagging to make it efficient as possible.
Plastic or Felt Pots
Traditional plastic pots are cheap and easy to find, while felt pots cost a bit more. Felt pots have their advantages—they keep roots warmer and make pruning them easier—and I would personally advise investing in them as they can be recycled and are much more beneficial to the overall health of the plant roots.
Selecting a Growing Medium
If this is your first grow, then selecting an organic growing medium is probably the easiest solution. There are many “soils” available, but most are actually soilless mixes based on peat or coco coir. I also advise beginning growers to avoid hydroponic growing until they’ve mastered the more forgiving soilless or coco mediums.
You should buy a sufficient amount of nutrients for your entire your first grow, making an effort to cover all the bases in terms of nutrition. There are many nutrient brands available with a wide range of foods covering all parts of a plant’s life cycle. Most nutrient companies provide a grow chart, so you can follow the weekly step-by-step guide, but err on the side of caution and avoid overfeeding your plants.
Temperature and Humidity Monitor
These small displays can fit anywhere and use sensors to determine and display the temperature and humidity of your indoor environment. Some also have the option to check the lowest and highest readings to see if the grow conditions are off in any way, and some even have apps so that you can read the data remotely on your phone.
During the vegetative stage, humidity should be close to 60 percent and decreased as the flowering stage commences. A humidifier generates a fine mist and can be placed either directly in the tent or in the room from where the tent is pulling air.
A dehumidifier will remove the moisture content of the air. This is important during the flowering stage. If you’re pulling fresh air from outside where the humidity is very high, it can cause an imbalance and lead to serious problems.
PPM OR EC Pen
These pen-size devices measure the parts per million and electrical conductivity of your nutrient solution. It’s extremely important for the grower to have an accurate measure in order to avoid issues with toxicity or deficiencies.
This device measures the acidity or alkalinity of your nutrient solution on a scale of 1-14 (from most acidic to most alkaline). Roots require a certain pH in order to absorb primary nutrients and trace elements. In soil, a solution should have a pH of 6.0-6.5; a hydroponic grow requires a slightly lower pH of 5.5-6.0. You’ll also need solutions to adjust the acidity or alkalinity of your nutrient solution (pH up and down).
Chains and Hooks
I’m old-school and still use chains and hooks for everything. Sourcing precut chain and metal S hooks is an easy task, and you know that you can’t go wrong with metal. Using modern bungee cords and metal wire works well, but when it comes to suspending heavy fans, large-size carbon filters and heavy LED grow lights, chains and metal hooks are the most reliable.
Thick Waterproof Tape
Always make sure you have a thick, waterproof packaging tape to firmly wrap all the connecting parts of your ducting and fans. This will keep everything airtight and waterproof—and it’s just handy to have some industrial-strength tape close by. Plastic cable ties and metal clips also work well; however, thick tape is cheap and easy to find.
Once you have an exhaust fan and an intake fan set up and working, you’ll next want to add some additional airflow at the bottoms and tops of your plants. Oscillating fans will create a gentle breeze that will keep C02-rich air flowing around the leaves.
A timer is required to control all of the electrical devices inside the tent, according to your light regime of either a 18/6- or 12/12-hour day/night light cycle. Carbon filters and fans should be left on permanently. Don’t skimp on your timer, as cheap ones can easily malfunction or break.
You can never have too many plug sockets available when growing indoors. To avoid a mess of wires, I personally like to have all my fans connected to one plug extension, which is left on permanently. I have a second separate plug extension for the grow lights and ballast. Some timers are quite chunky and can take up a lot of the space, so having extra plugs is always a good plan.
Foliar feeding with water or a mild nutrient solution contributes greatly to a plant’s health and vigor, so it’s a good idea to purchase a few different spray bottles from your local hardware store. Spray bottles become smelly over time, so they’ll eventually need replacing.
White Sticky Labels
I personally like to have a few packs of white sticky labels lying around for when I’m growing many different strains. It can be too easy to mix up the strains, so I avoid any confusion by labeling the pots early on.
Now that you have your equipment, get growing!
A Quick and Easy Guide to Getting Started with Growing Cannabis Indoors was posted on High Times.
Original Post: High Times: Pick The Finest Flower Every Time With These Three Tips
[Editor’s Note: Learn how to identify a great bud of weed. Whether you’re growing or buying, you want the best.]
Don’t know how to pick the bad from the good? Consider these wise tips next time you’re looking to get some fine herb to puff.
Growing weed is an earthly joy that everyone across the world should experience. But the ability to legally buy the herb makes things even sweeter. As laws begin to relax across the world and a newfound acceptance towards recreational and medicinal-use and culture continues to grow, it’s crucial to know what to look for and how flower should smell and taste– which, most of the time, is easier said than done. Below are three factors to keep in mind the next time you’re legally buying cannabis.
Courtesy of Spliffseeds
Appearance: The First Impression
They say you only get one chance to make a first good impression, and that certainly rings true when it comes to cannabis flower. At a street level, it can be challenging to acquire consistency as well as variety. That’s why going to an established dispensary, coffee shop (we’re looking at you, Amsterdam!), social club, or smoking lounge is ideal because the rigmarole of filtering out the schwag from the good-good is already done for you. That said, there are a few ways to indicate the quality of a flower’s genetics, how apt the grower was, if the trimmers were experienced, how long the bouquet cured for, and the quality of care a cultivation group put toward their product–and, thus, the customer.
Top quality flower should primarily be bud with almost zero leaf ratio. The color of the flower should not be dark brown or yellow, and the actual biomass will have a dense look to it. Calyx development should be totally swollen and, in some cases, displaying signs of foxtailing. The pistils coating the buds will be a mature brown or maroon, and there certainly should not be any white pistils on the flower or signs of seeds. As far as removing all twigs and sugar leaf, this can reflect whether the growers are considerate of using trim for isolator or making oil.
Not all varieties of dried cannabis flower will share the same appearance and structure; so in most cases, “Kush” and indica-dominant strains will produce smaller, dense nugs that looks like it would yield only a few nugs. On the other hand, sativa varieties such as “Haze” will produce buds slightly elongated. They offer more in terms of shape and calyx size.
Everyone is different and basing your experience on which flower offers more value will drastically reduce how much you learn about the plant. It’ll also stop you from enjoying the full-spectrum of flavor, taste, and effects this wonderful plant has to offer.
Courtesy of Spliffseeds
Aroma – The Overall Body
When it comes to properly grown cannabis, people often think of “loud,” “dank,” or “stinking” weed. But it’s so much more than that. The cannabis plant is an extremely unique flower. It posses terpene groups crafted by nature to entice humans, animals, and insects. Today, the market is dominated by extracts and vape pens (which often lack the plant’s natural terpenes, and thus, smell). But the flower scene is still enormous and will only become more popular as society begins to permit smoking-clubs.
When first assessing a strain, pay attention to the complexity of its smell. Perhaps its aroma falls under fruity, floral, earthy, or gassy. Or, better yet, maybe the buds have an even more layered combination that you cannot easily put your finger on. There’s a huge range of flavors and aromas that are present in well-grown flower. The intensity and longevity of an aroma is a true reflection of how the flower will taste.
A poorly grown and dried flower will have an aroma that’s not pleasant to the nose and will most likely taste like plant matter. Over-dried flower can also have the same smell–many describe it as hay or deadwood. Buds that have been picked too early will have an earthy, chlorophyll-based smell to them and will usually have twigs that are soft or unable to snap. You should avoid buying wet flower especially because you’ll lose out per gram in the long run, and the overall experience will be a waste of time and money– it doesn’t even smoke!
Courtesy of Spliffseeds
Taste – An Infusion of Terps
This is what it’s all about for a majority of smokers– it’s what makes or breaks an experience. On the basis your flower has an appealing aroma, the flavor will compliment said aroma with a unique cocktail of terpenes that’ll coat the mouth like a fine, smokey glass of wine. Dry-puffing a joint or blunt that hasn’t been lit yet will reveal how intense the flavor profile is going to be.
After lighting up the joint, there will be an immediate lung expanding inhale that resonates in the mouth for a short time. A licking of the lips as you breathe in will also reveal the depth of the bud’s flavor, while exhaling will emphasize the richness of taste in a different way. Flowers that possess serious terpenes will display a full range of flavors that can be fruity, zesty, earthy, musky, fuel, gassy, skunky, floral, etc.– the list goes on and on.
Thanks to complex breeding programs and the rise of poly-hybrid cannabis strains, a flavor palette seems to be a huge focus not only for smokers, but also for marketing and branding. Girl Scout Cookies breathed fresh life into marketing in the Cannabis industry, so expecting a flavor-rich hybrid is easier acquired than ever.
Pick The Finest Flower Every Time With These Three Tips was posted on High Times.
Original Post: High Times: Identifying The Ideal Harvest Window For Big Beautiful Buds
[Editor’s Note: When is your cannabis ripe? Various schools of thought are explored within the article.]
When it comes to flowering cannabis plants, the best part of being a grower is during this stage. The anticipation of watching your babies grow into mature ladies, packed with dense buds, oozing resin, and stinking up your grow room. Knowing when to harvest your plants can be the difference in the amount of resin, trichome ripeness, calyx development, and overall psychoactive experience. Below better explains the harvest window and knowing when’s the perfect time to pull down your plants.
What To Look For With Trichomes
The trichome is a fascinating part of the cannabis flower. Within the walls of the resin glands are where the essential terpenes and cannabinoids are found—what an extractor is looking to remove from the head of the terpene. A good way to think about trichomes is comparing them to eggs: Inside the shell is a maturing and developing nucleus that contains all the essential vitamins and minerals for life to begin. A trichome is very similar, especially when the resin gland is shattered and a sticky resinous sap is released.
The body of a trichome closely resembles a mushroom formation, with a long neck followed by a round head that often appears translucent in color. Hash makers specifically pay attention to the ripeness of a trichome neck. The structure can begin to deteriorate and fall down, representing a perfect harvesting window. Once you are able to view the trichomes close up with the aid of a lupe, inspecting the color of the trichome gland can be somewhat tricky and there is no set way to determine what color is perfect.
It’s down to the grower’s preference. It should be known, however, that the later flower is picked, the heavier in trichomes it will be. Trichomes go through various stages of color and development, ranging from a clear transparent glass to a darker white, and then shifting to a darker amber. For those seeking a more psychoactive experience, pick your flowers when the resin glands are clear and lightly white.
For smokers who prefer a couch lock night nurse, allow your plant to develop to the latest possible stage and wait for trichomes to become a dark yellowish amber with hints of red in some varieties of cannabis. Different varieties also produce different sized neck and heads, which is why trying to identify every strain with a set color, size and stage is difficult.
The calyx is the part of the flower in which the pistils emerge from and resemble a pip shape. Inside the calyx is where a seed will form if the pistil was pollinated during the early parts of the 12/12 cycle. When you look at a calyx closely you will see there is a cluster of trichomes forming around the surface area.
When a plant is fully matured and the calyx are left to swell as much as possible, the grower not only benefits from a maximum yield, they also enjoy buds coated in frosty resin glands. We always give plants a week longer than when we first think they’re ready to go in order to push them as much as possible as they endure a flush. This is a successful way to grow couch-locking flowers.
These are the white hairs that first begin to show themselves during the early stages of flowering. Cannabis plants will display either male flowers or female pistils. Each can easily be identified with a little bit of experience, however, it should be known that the female is the one with the white hair emerging from the inner parts of the internodes. Once plants enter the 12/12 cycle, the pre-flowering stage will reveal the male or female preflowers very quickly and normally male plants will begin to flower slightly earlier than females.
There’s a common misconception about what color pistils should be and to what ratio before the plants tells you it should be chopped. One thing for sure is harvesting plants when the pistils are mainly white is not the best idea. There’s no rule about what color a pistils needs to be, and we’ve personally grown some strains that have thrown out pink and red pistils before. If you are new to growing then a good tip is to wait for the pistils to brown off by 90 percent. Avoid harvesting any parts still clustered in white hairs and especially any undeveloped lower buds unable to receive substantial light.
There’s a balancing act that must be performed to not only harvest plants at their peak, but also to flush them to ensure a smoking experience that teleports you back to puffing luscious Amsterdam bud. It can seem convenient to apply as much feed as possible during the final stages and to pack those carbs on like no tomorrow. There is not really much point in growing top shelf flower that has a harsh taste and leads to an ashtray full of black ash.
Leaving the right amount of time to water your plants, whilst knowing when your buds are as fat and swollen as can be is a skill that will develop over time. From my experience it is far better to have a plant that’s smooth, deep, and tastes properly that’s had an extra week of flush as the plants were maturing; instead of a plant that was cut short on the flush period just to purposely fit in with a set number of weeks according to a feeding chart or seed catalogue.
A cannabis plant that is drawing close to the end of its life cycle will be very noticeable. The characteristics you’ll see are a plant that’s slowly depleting itself of all leftover nutrients and trace elements. The first thing that is noticeable is how the chlorophyll of the leaves will change pigment and switch from green to a mixture of yellows, reds, purples, and orange.
Often referred to as seasonal colors, this represents the end of the season for outdoor farmers. Of course not every plant will display uniform seasonal colors and some may flourish with a dark, velvet purple and black. Other strains may stay completely lush green if growing with a strict true life organics program.
The most important thing to consider is that water is, in fact, a solvent: It can dissolve sugar or salt. And the same principle applies deep in the root zone. Have you ever done a grow that was bottom feeding plants and at the very end of the grow, you were left with a layer of chalk white residue that seems impossible to clean off?
Imagine what the insides of the pots were like with the leftover salts and toxins that the roots naturally excreted. This is why supplying enough water over a certain time frame towards the end of the plant’s life cycle is important. It not only pushes the plants to their limit, it also guarantees a smooth flavor and white ash.
Get a close look at the trichome gland heads; Stoney Tark
Frequently Asked Questions About Harvesting Plants:
What Happens If I Harvest Too Early?
There are a number of downsides to harvesting cannabis early. There is no reason it should ever be chopped prior to a recommended harvest time. Growers who face tough challenges towards the very last stages of the flowering may be forced to cut down early and wipe their mouth off any profits due to security risks, insect infestation, attacked by mould and mildew, unexpected power cuts, hermaphrodite crop or perhaps due to keeping up with a strict schedule which guarantees a certain number of grows are run.
Harvesting plants too early will cause the flower to seem underdeveloped in size, the trichomes will be a shadow of what they would have been and the psychoactive experience can be edgy, racy, and uncomfortable for those who use cannabis to relax. Pistils will turn brown (even if white) when harvested early. But a well-versed smoker will know from the undeveloped calyx and minimal trichome production.
How To Tell Ripeness If I Don’t Have A Loop?
If you are unable to get your hands on some type of loop or magnifying glass that allows you to see up close, then you should follow a list of things to look out for to see how swollen your buds are and what density they have formed. How smelly your plants are will also indicate how close the terpenes are to ripeness, in the same way a flower has a point of maximum aroma. Be sure to check that the majority of the pistils have become dark red and maroon.
Should I Harvest Lower Popcorn Buds?
If under your top buds, you are left with smaller buds that did not receive as much light as the top parts, then there are two things that can be done. Either leave the lower buds in the tent to be flowered for a further week or two and give them the chance to swell up in biomass.
If that seems counterproductive to you in terms of resources then just use the lowest buds for making hash or extracting oil. There are ways to train plants to make sure that you do not end up with lower schwag buds, as these are always the last to develop and the ones that take the most time to trim.
Can I Grow My Plant Under 18/6 Again Once Harvested?
Cannabis is a phototropic plant, so like many other fruits and vegetables, it will respond in accordance with the seasons, particularly the lighting periods. When growing seedlings or vegging clones the plants are given 18 hours of light and six hours dark. When plants flower and receive 12 hours or more of darkness they will go through hormonal changes, and as a result, stretch and flower.
There’s a way to revert your plant from a flowering plant back into the growing stage. By leaving enough growth on the plant after buds have been harvested, the plant will begin to focus its energy on growing new shoots and will respond back to the long days and short nights once again of the 18/6 cycle.
You must be really patient and this can be a very slow process, especially depending on which varietal species you are growing. Usually, indica dominant hybrids tend to reveg quicker than sativas, which can take much longer.
Identifying The Ideal Harvest Window For Big Beautiful Buds was posted on High Times.