Can I Harvest The Top Half Of My Cannabis Plant?

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The final step of the homegrown weed process, harvesting your buds is the most rewarding and anticipated moment throughout the weeks of vegetative growth and flowering. Allowing you to reap the profits of your hard work and patience, harvesting your cannabis plants should be approached with the same precision as many of the previous steps.

Because plants will each have their own variability when it comes to the length of time it takes to reach the peak time to harvest, you may wonder when it is appropriate to begin to cultivate your crop. Not only will this ensure you the most flavorful taste while you smoke, but also the most potent buds.

Interestingly, the buds on your plant will mature at different points throughout the flowering process. Which begs the question, can you harvest the top half of your plant before the bottom half?

How To Harvest Your Plants

The first piece of information to understand when harvesting revolves around the time frame you can expect your buds to mature. In general, your plants will have three different set time windows depending on the strain:

  • Autflowers: 10 weeks (total)
  • Sativa: 10 weeks (from flowering)
  • Indica: 8 weeks (from flowering)

While these are good for a rough time window, there are more accurate indicators to signal your buds are in the perfect stage for harvesting.

Analyzing The Trichomes

The best indicator for ripeness of your buds will come with the trichomes that cover the bud itself. These are the spiky or hair-like substances that will surround the buds, changing color with time throughout the flowering stage. In the latter stages of growth, the trichomes will have almost a clear or opaque look.

As the buds begin to mature, these will turn completely white with time, with the buds becoming more potent. Once they reach this stage they will have their highest THC potency, however, you may want to wait a bit longer to harvest.

Marijuana Plant Macro Bud

After this milky white stage for the trichomes, they will start to become a darker amber or brown color. This will increase the “body high” or the physical effects while you smoke.

Finding a 50% mix between the white and amber look of the trichomes will be a sweet spot between the psychological effects of the high THC and the more relaxing effects that come with maturation. You can view the trichomes through a loupe or microscope for easier viewing.

What Do You Need To Harvest?

A fairly straight forward process, once your buds have reached the right color during flowering you are able to begin to clip the branches for the final stage. By using standard plant clippers and a pair of gloves, clip each matured branch and hang them for the drying process.

Along the way, be sure to clip off any dried or dead leaves on your plants for easier manicuring later on.

After you have clipped and hung up all of your branches, leave them to dry between 3-7 days in a dark and dry room. This will help to keep the trichomes from degrading their THC potency while also avoiding any plant rot or mold.

Marijuana CBD plant bud, plant mix of Indian Indica

After your buds have fully dried to a point of crisp or brittle texture on the leaves, you can begin to trim off the buds and excess leaves. You can then place your buds in an airtight container, leaving them to cure for up to four weeks until they are ready to smoke.

You should occasionally open the containers to release the moisture build up inside, with the plants eventually creating a strong smell as an indicator of the curing process reaching an acceptable length.

Can You Harvest The Top Of Your Plants Early?

Due to light exposure, the top of your plants will ripen and mature earlier than the buds below. This will give excited and impatient growers the opportunity to harvest the top of the plants before the rest of the plant has reached the ideal color on the trichomes.

You can do this by simply trimming the top branches and starting the drying and curing process prior to the buds below. You can then leave your lower and less mature buds under the same lighting and flowering conditions you have had in the previous weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do with the rest of the plant after harvesting the buds?

After you have properly harvested your buds and begun the drying and curing process, there isn’t much left to do with the rest of the plant. Be sure to not disregard the smaller buds and sugar leaves found on the plant, as these can be dried and used along with the normal buds.

Cannabis plant close-up marijuana leaf

As for the rest of the bigger plant leaves and stems, they can be thrown away as there won’t be any value in keeping them.

What happens to a cannabis plant if it isn’t harvested properly and instead is left to keep growing?

If you do not harvest on time the plant buds will lose its potency and eventually die throughout the flowering cycle. While there is a process of “re-vegging”, taking your plant from the flowering process back to the vegetative stage, this doesn’t have any massive benefit other than saving a plant from going to waste.

Can cannabis grow for more than a year?

Cannabis is considered an “annual” plant, meaning they will have one grow cycle and then die. This is in contrast to perennial plants which will have multiple growth cycles with the same plant.

While you can clone certain plants, for the most part each cannabis plant will have one life cycle.