• Marijuana will lose approximately 75 percent of its weight during drying due to water evaporating from plant matter.
A common misconception of marijuana cultivation, especially among first-time growers, is that harvest time is like gym class in grade school—it’s still a class you have to go to but it requires less thought and more fun than an actual science class. Unfortunately, underestimating the final phases of a grow operation can be a very costly mistake when it comes down to grading the outcome of your buds.
As with pistils, trichomes also begin to change color as the buds mature. But in this scenario, a grower wants to harvest buds before they get too dark in color. Even a subtle amber hue in these glands could mean that cannabinoids have begun breaking down and decomposing, which means less potent pot. Using a magnifier between 50x-100x, advanced growers look for a creamy or milky white color in trichomes that tells them it’s time to harvest.
When the big day arrives it is best to start early, before the light period begins in the growroom. If the grow lamps turn on, it’s okay to cut them completely and work by standard room lighting. Begin by cutting the entire plant away from the root ball. If the plants are too large to harvest with one cut at the bottom, start by cutting the larger, heavier branches first. Remember to leave one or two larger stems connected to the branches you are cutting off. These stems will form nice “Vs” on the branches for easy hang drying.
At four to five days into the dry, the tips of some buds might be dry enough to pluck off and sample. After the buds have gone through their full cycle of drying, we want to slow the whole thing down and draw the rest of the moisture out very gradually. This is the curing process.
Now that you’ve harvested and are ready to dry and cure, you will want to preserve as much of the vibrant color and taste of your herb as possible. Buds should hang dry for five to seven days at the ideal temperature of about 70ºF with 50 percent humidity. You want to get most of the water out of the buds in those first days and then slow the process down for another week or so during the curing process.
Remember that a plant is not dead upon cutting—it is still very much alive. A plant is effectively dead when the water pressure inside is too low to continue vascular movement. In other words, when the waterworks stop, the plant is dead. The goal here is to dry the plant as evenly as possible and at a nice slow pace. When buds are rapidly dried, the plant tissue can trap in unwanted starches and nitrates which cause buds to burn unevenly and with an awful taste.
If your herb is harvested correctly, there is very little need for long cures. Long cures are needed to make harsh herb smoke smoother. If you start out with smooth, clean herb, there’s less need for long cures. Most buds should be cured and ready to smoke in less than two weeks after the drying period. Expert growers who harvest properly can complete curing in five or six days, but a good average can easily range from 10 to 14 days.
Outdoor herb is often harvested during the daytime hours and the result is a harsh, difficult burn and an extra long cure. The starches and sugars present in daytime-harvested herb act like fire retardants—not the effect we’re looking for. In addition to tasting and burning bad, these fire retardants also change the chemical make up of the smoke you’re ingesting. This means that the THC, cannabinol, cannabidoil and other active cannabinoids can’t burn at the perfect temperature to get you properly high because they haven’t properly converted to their psychoactive forms.
A common misconception of marijuana cultivation, especially among first-time growers, is that harvest time is like gym class in grade school—it’s still a class