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It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice grower or have loads of experience under your belt; getting the timing right for your cannabis harvest can be a challenging skill to perfect.
There’s typically a sweet spot when it comes to harvesting your cannabis plants. If you harvest your cannabis too soon, the buds will not have had enough time to fully mature and will be less developed and smaller as a result. They also won’t be as potent.
On the flip side of things, if you wait too long for harvest, you will end up with buds that are past their prime, and possibly will be left with low-quality or unsmokable weed.
In this article, we are going to tell you all that you need to know about cannabis harvesting, how to tell when it’s time to do so, what signs you need to look out for when checking if the plant is overripe, and how to avoid getting overly ripe buds the next time you cultivate it!
How Cannabis Matures During Its Growth
The exact harvesting timetable of your cannabis plants will be determined by a variety of factors, such as the type of strain, the type of seed, the environment, and the amount of sunlight/indoor light the plants get.
In a general sense, it can take marijuana plants anywhere from seven to twelve weeks to reach their full growth potential and for the buds to mature.
To have an idea of the schedule, you will need to think about your unique setup for growing, as well as the strain you’ve planted.
While you are cultivating cannabis, if you let the buds remain on the plant for an excessive amount of time without harvesting them, the buds will become too ripe.
If you observe that the trichomes on your plant have turned an amber color rather than a milky white color, this is an important indicator that the buds are getting close to becoming overripe.
Cannabis that has been allowed to become overripe can still be smoked, although doing so may not be a very pleasant experience.
Not only may you have to cope with a pretty gross taste, but the actual effects of smoking the plant will be much weaker.
It can also be difficult to even use this weed in the first place, as over-ripe buds are very brittle and dry.
If you are familiar with the general growing schedule of your cannabis plant, you will have a better knowledge of which week you should be harvesting them.
If you’re not sure though, then keep reading to learn the signs that your plant is close to being overripe.
How To Tell If My Buds Are Getting Over Ripe
If you observe any of the following signs in your plants, then it could be that your cannabis is getting too ripe and that it’s time to harvest:
The Color Of The Trichomes
Cannabinoid production occurs in the plant via structures called trichomes. Because of the production of resin that is rich in THC, CBD, and terpenes by these glands, the flowers acquire an alluring appearance and aroma.
As the plant matures, the resin will change color from clear to amber, showing you that its chemical makeup has changed as the plant has developed.
At the pinnacle of ripeness, only about ten percent of the trichomes have an amber hue, while the remainder continues to be foggy and milky white.
When the buds have reached their full maturity, the trichomes become completely brown and some even begin to border on black/dark purple.
If more than seventy percent of your buds have this milky white tint, then this could indicate that your buds have been allowed to mature for too long.
The Plant Looks And Feels Dry/Brittle
A surge in growth is one of the earliest indicators that the flowering stage has begun in your plant. As this phase continues, bud sites will begin to appear here and there across your plant.
After many weeks, the majority of the fan leaves fall off, and the plant’s chlorophyll concentration diminishes.
Even though there are no longer any vibrant greens in late bloom, the plant will still appear to be in good health.
If your crops begin to have a dry, brown, and brittle appearance, you have reached the stage of overripe weed.
The Smell Has Changed
When cannabis reaches maturity, the resin heads begin to accumulate terpenes, which are fragrant compounds that produce a potent odor.
When harvest time comes around, your garden emits a pleasant aroma that is difficult, if not impossible, to cover up without the use of a carbon filter.
Trichomes that have become overripe emit a smell that is slightly reminiscent of fermentation, and the buds may look like they’ve passed their prime.
The pine, apple, or skunk aromas that are anticipated in weed tends to become more muted if the plant is over-ripe as well.
If the aroma starts to lose some of its potency and is even starting to take on a scent more akin to that of garbage, then this could also be an indication that your plants have picked up some kind of ailment or sickness, like mold or any other kind of “plant-killer”.
If you think this has happened to one of your cannabis plants, then you must keep these sick plants isolated from the rest of the garden so that the disease does not spread.
Change In Bud Color
The mature flowers of weed have a yellow-orange coloration. They have a high concentration of trichomes that look like crystals, and sugar leaves surround the cola.
As the blossoms age, they take on a brown color rather than the faded green and orange hues that were anticipated. In addition to varying hues, they take on the appearance of being shrunken and little.
When flowering lasts for an excessively long time, the stems become brittle and bow, and the colas hang crookedly.
If you’re growing your cannabis plants outdoors, there are a few other signs you need to look out for.
Keep in mind that when the days get shorter and the temperature drops in the early fall, overripe buds that are exposed to the elements may turn purple or blue.
As the buds age, a portion of their psychoactive properties are lost, and they gradually become darker and darker.
What Happens If I Let My Cannabis Become Over Ripe?
If you wait too long before harvesting the cannabis buds you have grown, a lot of different things could end up happening.
The primary effect of this would be buds that have reached their full maturity too early, but in worse cases, the cannabis could become utterly unusable and would have to be thrown away.
In addition to this, even if the buds are still smokable, if you wait too long for harvest you’ll be left with smaller yields, less potent weed, and a general reduction in the overall quality of your cannabis product.
Can I Fix Over Ripe Cannabis?
If you wait too long to harvest your cannabis, there’s nothing you can do to turn back the clock to make your weed usable again.
Once your buds have lost their strength and experienced decreases in THC levels, you can’t then boost these levels back up.
The only thing you can truly do is learn from your mistake and become familiar with the telltale indicators that the buds have reached their full maturity so that when you grow again, you can ensure that you harvest at the appropriate time.
Is It Safe To Smoke Over Ripe Cannabis?
If you have harvested your cannabis grows a little bit late, you may be questioning whether or not it is possible for you to still smoke your product safely. Some buds that are past their prime can still be smoked, while others should be discarded right away.
If you have seen that all of the leaves of the cannabis plant have turned brown, you must get rid of these buds and remove them from your garden.
This color is typically the result of harvesting later than normal or experiencing nutrient burn, which can actually spread to other plants in your grow.
If the overripe buds on your plant aren’t too far gone, and if the only signs of their deterioration are slightly off-color and a less potent scent, you should still be able to pick them and smoke them.
Although the quantities of THC and terpenes may be lower and the effects may be less potent, you should still be able to smoke and ingest the cannabis even if it has become overripe.
Cannabis buds that have been allowed to mature for too long can get overripe. The buds from this plant can still be smoked for the most part, although they will have a significantly reduced potency.
To help you avoid this happening to your cannabis plant, you should keep an extra close eye on them throughout the last weeks of ripening, and you should hopefully hit the sweet spot for harvesting.
Learn all of the telltale signs of an overripe plant and how to avoid them, and you should be able to harvest some perfectly ripe weed every time.
I’m an avid gardener and cannabis enthusiast. You can usually find me in my garden caring for my plants or at my computer crafting helpful blogs for my readers.