The outdoor cannabis season is coming to an end, and soon all of our favorite flowers will be ready to harvest. For cannabis cultivators, appropriate timing and proper techniques are essential for producing the finest quality buds. Smoke Reports feels that the cannabis harvest deserves the spotlight, so that regular consumers have a better idea of the hard work needed to yield top shelf flowers.
Determining the Right Time to Harvest
When it comes to cutting down cannabis plants, timing is everything. As the plant nears the end of its grow cycle, the resinous trichomes reach their peak production. In order to produce a high grade crop, cultivators observe each individual plant to make sure it is not cut before trichome production is at its highest.
The trickiest part for cannabis cultivators is making sure that the resin production does not pass its peak, because that is when the trichomes begin to degrade, and the cannabis loses cannabinoid potency. Knowing when to cut you cannabis plants requires daily vigilance, and a keen eye for the ripest resin glands.
Flushing the Plants of Extra Nutrients
Before cutting down any plants, there are some very important steps that cultivators must take to cleanse their cannabis. Plants nearing the end of their cycle still have excess nutrients, like sugar and starches, that will alter the quality of the cannabis if left in the plant. The removal process is called “flushing,” and should begin roughly two weeks before the harvest.
There are several techniques for flushing nutrients out of cannabis, but essentially the flushing period is when the cultivator feeds the cannabis using pure water without any nutrients. By over-irrigating the growing medium, the nutrients dissolve and wash away, leaving plants with only water in their systems.
Removing nutrients by flushing the plant with pure water leads to nitrogen deficiency, which turns the leaves yellow. Experienced growers test the liquid flowing from the cannabis stem, and once the bitterness is gone, the plant is successfully flushed.
Final 24 Hours
The final forty-eight hours before the harvest is a crucial time for cannabis cultivation. There are many techniques for producing the highest potency flowers, but a majority of techniques agree that right before harvesting, there should be a final flush followed by a full day of dryness. Plants that are left to slowly dehydrate generally see a boost in their final hours of trichome production.
During the final twenty-four hours, growers employ various methods like exposing the plants to dry air, and prolonged periods of darkness. These methods are thought to boost resin production as well as draw any leftover plant nutrients to the root section, and away from the flowers.
Harvesting and Manicuring
After painstaking preparation in the final days of the cannabis flowering cycle, the plants are ready to harvest in sync with peak trichome production. The entire plant is cut away from the root ball, and the leaves are removed from the branches, exposing the pockets of resinous flowers along the stems.
At this time, cultivators begin to manicure the cannabis flowers by snipping away the smaller sugar leaves that surround the cannabis flowers, leaving aesthetic buds with minimal excess plant material. The branches are then hung to dry for roughly a week in order to remove moisture.
The quality of cannabis can be determined by potency or by taste. Properly curing cannabis flowers can improve the overall quality of the buds by evenly removing the final bits of moisture. The time needed to cure depends on the initial quality of the flowers, and good cannabis cultivators have a lot of experience at when to begin and end the curing process.
Curing is the process of removing the half-dried buds from the branches and sealing them in air-tight containers. This containment causes the buds to “sweat,” and become evenly moist. The containers are periodically opened, and the moisture within the container is exchanged with the dry fresh air. By opening the container several times a day, the air exchange removes the moisture within the herb, sucking nearly 75% of the weight of the original plant matter.
Cultivating perfect cannabis flowers is truly an art. There are thousands of cannabis farms across California, and in a few weeks all of them will be going through these steps with varying levels of complexity. Still, it is important that consumers and patients recognize the importance of technique during the cannabis harvest. Cannabis flowers do vary from every grow, but consistent quality is almost always produced by careful attention from the cultivator.
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