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let cannabis seed dry on plant

How to harvest, trim, and dry your indoor cannabis crop, by TheCapn.

This is a single DinaFem OG Kush in a 44″ x 44″ scrog (trellis).

You planted your seed, you babied it for four months, by now, you have many hours of labor into your pride and joy. Now it’s time to chop it down. All your work could be ruined if this last step isn’t done correctly.

Let’s take a look at the things we will need before we start.

1. A place to hang and dry your harvest. You’ll need a tent or a room that has airflow, odor control, and a humidity of about 60%. The place to hang your bud should be dark or dimly lit. When you hang your harvest, it can be pretty dank, so you’ll need the same odor control you have in the flower room.

2. A good set of shears. A good set of scissors makes all the difference in the world. You’ll also need some wire cutters or heavy duty scissors to cut the thick branches.

3. Vinyl gloves will prevent your hands from getting smelly and sticky.

4. An airtight container to cure and store your cannabis.

Let’s get started:

1. Use your heavy duty scissors or wire cutters to cut your branches. Cut a few branches off the plant, while it’s still in it’s pot. Then get straight to trimming. If you let the branches sit around for too long, the fan leaves wont break off the branch as easily, and leaves get limp and are harder to trim.

NOTE: Some people prefer to hang the entire plant with all leaves attached up to dry, and trim leaves later. The advantage to that method is it slows down the drying process, creating better tasting bud. The disadvantage is it is much more difficult to trim wilted or dried leaves off your bud.

Cutting off a branch

2. Pull out the large fan leaves by hand. Pull each large fan leaf downward with your thumb and index figer, and it will break off easily (as long as the plant is well hydrated). Try to hold it by the branch, not the bud. Keep your hands off your bud as much as possible. This will give you the best looking end result. If the fan leaf doesn’t come out easily, you can use your middle finger to push back on the bud (as you can see in this picture). You will have some fan leaves that have a TINY bit of frost. You can throw them away or keep them. I throw them away.

Pull down on the fan leaves to break them off at the stem.

3. Now that all the big fan leaves are off and in the trash can, it’s time to pull off any leaves that have frost on them (aka sugar leaves). We will throw these in our trim container and later we can make BHO, RSO, coconut oil, butter, ice hash, dry ice kief, whatever. Pull off all you the sugar leaves you can. It’s easier to pull them off than to cut them out. The more you can pull out, the better your finished bud will taste, since you won’t be smoking so many leaf stems.

That’s some frosty goodness right here! It’s great medicine so don’t throw it away. At first you may be confused about which tiny leaves to pull out and which ones to trim out. In my opinion, if it is covered with frost, that’s medicine, and you can leave it on. However, leaf stems don’t taste as good as bud, so it’s a trade off. Find a happy medium, and don’t get worry too much.

Pull out the sugar leaves and save them for later use.

In a future article, I’ll show you how to make medicine out of these sugar leaves, including some delicious peanut butter cups:

Peanut Butter Canna Cups

When you’re done pulling out all the smaller frosty fan leaves, your bud should look like this:

Fan Leaves are out and we are ready to trim.

4. It’s time to start trimming with the scissors. Make sure you have a big tote like the one you see above for the trim to fall into. Hold the scissors up to the bud as shown, and start trimming off any leaves coming out of the bud.

Notice I’m holding it by the branch. I close and open the scissors rapidly and turn the leaves into them, rather than moving the scissors around the bud. This part takes some practice. With time, you should be able to trim about 2oz of dried bud, per hour.

Cutting off all sugar trim.

5. Final trim. You can see a few leaves in the middle that didn’t get trimmed well, because they don’t protrude from the bud. If you’re a connoisseur, and want the finest tasting smoke, you’ll need to get in the with the tips of your shears to get to it. If you’re not picky, leave it.

IMPORTANT: While trimming, you WILL stink up your house or apartment. Since you’ve been there the entire time, you may not notice how dank the smell is. If you live in an apartment, your neighbors WILL smell it. If you live in a house, you have a little more freedom, but if you get a knock on the door, just opening the door, the visitors will smell it. When you’re done trimming, change your clothes before going out.

6. Hang the branch on a wire hanger and then put it in an area that is odor controlled, and about 60% humidity. I hang from the ceiling in the vegetative growth room. It is ok if the bud gets a little ambient light but no direct light! The buds should hang for about 4 days in 55-65% humidity. A fan should be running in the room, but don’t blow it on on buds, or they may dry too quickly.

Hanging branches to dry.

NOTE: Some people cut the buds off the branches and / or lay branches in a drying rack. I prefer to hang branches on a wire clothes hanger for a few reasons:

>>>> When the buds are attached to the branch, they dry slower. Slower dry = better tasting smoke.

>>>> If the buds are resting on a drying rack, the weight of the bud tends to make a flat spot on the bud.

>>>> Some medicine is left behind on the drying rack. That wastes medicine, and now you have a dank drying rack you need to store somewhere.

>>>> The best “bag appeal” is achieved when branches are hung, instead of them rolling around in a drying rack.

7. After 4 – 5 days, when we squeeze a bud, it should feel somewhat dry, not wet and spongy. When we bend a branch, it should not be so dry that it snaps, but it should fracture slightly. If we leave them hanging any longer, the outside of the buds will get too crispy. It’s time to take them down. Use your own judgement here.

8. Now it’s time to cut the buds off the branches into our drying container. Use a container that is long and flat, like you see in this picture. Cut the buds off the branches into the container. The buds should be no more than 2″ deep. Put the lid on the container and let it sit for 4 hours. Come back and check your buds.

Cutting the buds off the branches.

After 4-6 hours, you should notice the buds have become spongy. This is because the INSIDE of the bud is more moist than the outside. Keeping them closed up, evens out the moisture thru the entire bud (some people refer to this as “Sweating” the buds). Take the lid off, and let it sit for about 5 hours, or until the buds feel dry again. Be sure the buds are not sitting in direct light, as this may degrade the quality.

Keep repeating this, over and over for 2-3 days, turning the bud over gently. You will know when you are done, when you can’t tell a difference after the lid has been on or off for 6 hours.

IMPORTANT: If you leave the buds in the closed container for too long (before they are completely dry), the buds could mold, wasting your entire harvest. Set an alarm and don’t forget to check it. Error on the side of letting them get too dry, rather than staying too moist.

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When you’re done, dried bud should look like this:

Tray Full of dried bud.

9. Now it is time to put your bud in a glass jar, or other sealed container, such as a “c-vault”. The perfect humidity is around 60-62%. Open the jar (aka “burp”) for 10 minutes, once a day for the next week, and check your buds to make sure they are not spongy or too moist. If you notice they are spongy, they were put in the jar too soon. I cannot stress this point enough. You’ve done all this work, don’t ruin it now, by rushing the drying process.

I use a “Boveda” 62% humidity back in my containers. This is no substitute for “burping” your jars.

10. After another week (2 weeks from being cut), your bud is smoke-able. But the taste and potency will get much better after a month or two. This is because of the natual decarboxylation process (the process that turns thca into THC).

Finished, cured, premium bud.

Enjoy your harvest, and remember, nothing good comes quickly. Take your time with the curing process and you will reap the rewards of great tasting, potent smoke.

Watering Autoflowering Cannabis

Fast growing autoflowering cannabis plants can use a lot of water but over watering can slow down the growth and can also lead to a number of diseases and fungus infections.

So first of all we need to understand why autoflowers need water? Well, basically water is the plants fluid of life and it takes up more than 80 % of the plants total weight. When you water the soil water dissolves nutrients and then that nutrient rich solution is absorbed by the roots and transferred upwards to the stem and eventually to those green leafs. This flow of water from the plants roots to leaves is called the transpiration stream because when the water gets to leafs more than 99 % of this water evaporates into the air. The remaining water is used by the plant in the photosynthesis process.

What water to use for autoflowers?

Before watering the plant we need to know what kind of water to use. in all honesty any tap water will do just fine and many growers all around the world use plain tap water and grow beautiful plants. One more solution is to use rainwater, because it is almost pure from salts and other chemicals and cannabis plant will love it. Before watering the plants with tap or any other water you should let it sit for couple of days in open top container. This process will allow the water temperature to reach the temperature of the surrounding air and the autoflower plants like to be watered with water that is not too cold or not too hot because cold water can shock the plants roots and stun the growth for a wile.

When the water sits in the open top container there is another process occuring and that is the dissipation of Chlorine which can harm your plants if it is found in high concentration in your water when you apply it to your plants. This chlorine dissipation happens by releasing bubbles so for the first day or two you will be able to see bubbles form on the container walls and when they are gone this water is ready for usage. After your water has sat for several days in that open top container and is ready to use you also need to check it’s PH level!
The PH of the water you give your autoflowers should be around 6.5 to 7.0 but a little variance to each side won’t damage them that much.

When to water ?

This probably is the most asked question by new growers but the truth is that there isn’t one schedule or one amount of water that will fit any cannabis grow operation. There are too many variables to the equation – some of them are: size of the pot, soil composition, air temperature, air humidity, air circulation, plant size, plants age and so on. After this long list you can see that there is just too many of these factors and you can’t introduce one formula for every grower but a general watering guide can be established!

Watering before germination

Before putting your precious autoflowering cannabis seeds in the growing medium you need to completely saturate the soil from top to bottom. What you need to do is pour two or three times the amount what the pot can hold and let it run off the bottom. This pre-planting flushing process is needed for the whole soil to get completely wet. If there are some dry soil pockets then your plants roots wont grow there and those dry spots can also be good places where high nutrient concentrations can appear when they eventually get wet! When all the excess amount of water is drained away you still need couple of hours to let the soil dry up a little. This drying process means that the time before you can put your seeds in the pot, after completely saturating the growing medium, is somewhere from 3 to 5 hours depending on the surrounding temperature and how fast the water drains and evaporates.

Watering at the germination stage

In the germination phase of the plants life you should be very careful with watering because that autoflower seedling is very fragile and it will easily bend if you water the soil surface too hard. When that little sprout is in this stage of growth it is better to keep the surface moist but not too wet and it is better to use a hand sprayer to moisture the growing medium. When you are watering this little herb don’t pour/spray water directly on the stem of the plant but around it because it can easily get a stem rot or fungus / mold. Basically you need to keep the surface of the soil wet and that is it for this stage of growth.

Watering after germination

After the seedling has established itself and the first couple of true leaves have showed you need to let the surface of the soil dry up before the next watering. When you see that the surface of the soil (2 to 4 centimeters, 1 to 2 inches) deep is dry then you can water it again till a little runoff water starts showing at the bottom of the pot. You can also use soil humidity meters for a more accurate reading but it is not necessary for beginner growers.

Over-watering

Over-watering is almost impossible to do in just one watering, it occurs when you water your plant too often and don’t let the plant use all the water before watering again. It is better to let the plant experience a little dry period than over watering it. If you over-water your autoflower plant the roots will not be able to get any oxygen so the plant will suffer and will start turning yellow. Over watering the plant also introduces the risk of fungus and root rot and those are some serious issues better avoided by just not watering your plants that often.

Over watering can be fixed by just letting the plant soak up all the water for a couple of days and dont give it additional water till the growing medium is completely dry again.

Under-watering

Under-watering isn’t as big of an issue because the plant can survive long periods of drought and the soil is kept well irrigated and full with nutrients when you underwater rather than over-water.
When your plant doesn’t receive enough water it will start to wilt, because the plant cells that kept stems and leaves rigid by the water pressure in the cells won’t be able to get enough water and start shrinking and your autoflower plant will start to wilt.

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This process can be reversed simply getting water to your plant as soon as possible and in a couple of hours those leafs will be up and they will look as new.

Best Watering methods (watering guide):

1) Watering when the soil surface is dry by pouring water till there is a little runoff water at the bottom of the pot. This method needs you to touch the growing medium and can get a little messy so avoid this if you need to do anything else in your garden.

2) Watering by the weight of the pot. This method is one of the easiest and most commonly used methods. After watering the pot feels heavy, but when the plant has used all the moisture your pot becomes light and you can water it again.You just need to lift the autoflower plant up every day and judge the weight of the pot. At first it will be a little hard to know when to water but practice makes perfect and soon you will be able to tell when your plant needs water just by tipping the pot sideways.

3) The third and the most controlled method is to get a soil moisture meter that shows exactly how moist the soil is and you know exactly when to water the plant!

There is also a method that you can water your plants by pouring water directly in the planter tray and let the growing medium and roots collect the water by sucking it up from the tray. This method is great for tall pots as it makes your plant roots to strive for water and grow deeper so you can get much better root mass.

When to Harvest My Autoflowers: Autoflower Harvest Guide

Harvest time is the most crucial process of any grow operation because at this time all your hard work taking care of your plants will pay off and you will finally get those buds that you have grown yourself!

But there are a lot of variables included in this harvesting process. And you have to know when to harvest, how to harvest, and what to do with your buds after harvest.

Let’s be real the question “When to harvest my autoflowers?” is one of the most asked questions on any cannabis-related forum. So, here is a complete autoflower harvest guide that you can use when the time comes to harvest your plants!

Some background information

Cannabis plants produce the active ingredients THC and CBD inside tiny ball-shaped things called trichomes. These trichomes are the white “snow” that covers any marijuana bud. When a cannabis plant starts the flowering process and bud production then at the same time also this trichome production process is started and believe it or not but in nature cannabis plants produce these trichomes to protect itself and the seeds that it produces from UV radiation that could damage them.

So when the plant starts to end its life cycle then there is the most trichome production as it prepares those buds and protects them from future UV radiation. This is why many growers use UVB lamps at the end of their flowering cycles to promote more rapid trichome and in that sense THC production.

But if you let your plants grow for too long then that precious THC will start to degrade and your buds will not be as good as they could be. So that is why getting the harvest process just right is so crucial!

Harvest checkpoints

Here are the checkpoints that must happen when you want to harvest your cannabis plants

  • Flushing – Flushing before harvest is necessary to get rid of any unwanted chemicals especially if you are using inorganic fertilizers.
  • Find the right time to harvest – This is the time when your plants have the highest amount of THC in them and are in their peak potency.
  • Remove big fan leafs – before starting the harvest process I usually like to remove all the fan leaves so I have a better view and access to all the bud sides and branches.
  • Cut off the buds one by one – You should start from the top and work your way downwards chopping down those buds.
  • Manicure buds – After you have removed a bud you should manicure it from all the bigger sun leaves and also those so-called sugar leaves that can be later used to make hash or edibles.
  • Dry your buds – After manicuring those buds you should let them dry for a couple of days in a cold and dark room so all the moisture evaporates and you can have a great smoke.
  • Curing – And the last part is to cure your plants and in this process you will allow all the moisture that is left inside those buds to come out and be evenly distributed throughout the plant.

If you manage to do all these things properly then you should have an amazing stash of home-grown cannabis that you can proudly use any way you like. But probably the most important thing is that autoflower harvest time and getting it right is by far the hardest thing, especially for beginners.

Usually, growers use one or two harvest signs that give them insight into when is the right time to chop that bud off but because autoflowers are a whole other beast and they grow according to a pre-set time period then you can’t rely only on just one of those signs and you have to take into consideration almost all of them.

But even with all that information you could miss and chop your buds off too early or too late and the real experience and skill will only come with time and experimentation.

How to tell if my autoflower is ready for harvest: autoflower harvest signs

Here is a list of all the possible signs that your autoflower plant is getting closer to the chopping day that you can use all together or pick just some of those signs that you feel are the most important.

But keep in mind that each plant is different and what worked for one strain may not work for another and that is where all that experience comes into play as you grow more and more plants you will start to get a feel of when it is ready and the time has come to cut it down!

Yellow leaves

For autoflowering plants maybe the best sign of when your cannabis is ready for harvest is yellowing of leaves as autoflower trichomes usually don’t change color as fast as it is with photo-sensitive plants.

When your plants larger fan leaves are starting to yellow then you can start flushing your plants but when the larger leaves start to fall down by themselves then it is probably time to cut your lady down.

Autoflower cannabis plant that is ready for harvest

But be careful with fertilizers because if you give your plants too much nitrogen in the flowering phase then this leaf yellowing will not happen as fast as you would like and you can miss that peak harvest time.

Trichome color

Trichomes or specifically trichome color and appearance is considered the standard measurement when finding the right time when to cut your plant down. You will need a good digital camera, magnifying glass, or a microscope that is able to magnify those trichomes and give you the exact status of your plant.

Trichomes usually have about 3 different states that are clear/cloudy/amber and the best time to harvest is when about half of those trichomes are amber and half are still clear or cloudy. But because autoflowers have different growing patterns and usually the top buds ripen earlier it can be hard to tell when exactly the right time is by just looking at your trichome color.

Trichome amount

Then there is also the amount of trichomes that can be a general sign that your plant is nearing the end of its lifetime as usually you will get more and more trichome production as your autoflower sucks up all the energy from those leaves and pushes it into bud production.

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Pistils/Stigmas

For Photo sensitive plants the second most used method is to check the pistils or also called stigmas and to harvest your plant when about half of those pistils have turned brown.

Pistils are those white hairs that usually are made for catching pollen but when they don’t get that pollen then those hairs start to turn brown and wilt. But again for autoflowers this method is not that accurate and even when half of those pistils have turned brown your plant might still need a couple of days to fully mature.

Water usage

If you like to get your buds full of CBD then you can let your autoflower go almost as long as it can and when your plant starts to take up less water because there is no new growth happening it is time for harvest.

This is not an exact science but when the soil stays moist for a day or two after watering then that may be a sign you can chop that autoflower off.

Smaller leafs curving/drying out

Another method you can use to tell if your plant is ready to harvest is the curling and drying of those smaller sugar leaves that are around the bud. This starts to happen at the same time that the plants start taking up less water and it is in its final stages of its life.

Breeder’s schedule?

And the last method is to go by the seed breeders schedule that is supplied on the seed packaging. This schedule usually is just an approximate number and depending on the growing conditions your plants can take more or less time to fully mature but like a general guideline, it can be used to know approximately when to start looking for all those other tell-tell signs of harvest readiness.

Usually, all these signs can be used together to tell if your plant is ready for harvest or you have to still wait and there is not one exact measurement you can take to know if your plant is ready for harvesting.

Different growers like different buds and some like to harvest early to get only a head high but others allow their plants to mature to their end and get that CBD rich body high. You have to experiment and test yourself which one of these options works for you!

Early Harvest

Harvesting your autoflowering plants early might not be a great idea as you are losing precious bud production time but there are many different reasons why you might have to do it. Molds, bugs, and misplaced fingers knocking a plant over can be causes for early harvests as well as an unwanted house guest or some other stealth grow problems.

The thing is that you can start harvesting your plants almost as soon as they start producing flowers and trichomes but in the first few weeks the THC content will be very low and you will probably don’t get any high.

New growers usually want to harvest some early buds to “test” their plant and that is doable but just remember that it might not be as potent as it could be and you are losing the most important days of the flowering phase when all that real flower and bud production happens.

Early harvested buds usually have higher THC content and lower CBD content but that is true only if you don’t harvest too early before those trichomes have started to produce some real buds. And in general, you should avoid pre-mature harvests but if you have to then it will still be better than no harvest at all!

Late harvest

Late harvest means that you allow your autoflower plants to fully mature and die off themselves without looking at any of these harvest signs.

This method usually is considered wrong and many “experts” will tell you that THC degrades and those buds that are over ripen will taste bad. But in my experience even if you allow your plant to start drying while it is still in the pot you can get a great smoke and a very great product.

Usually, if you harvest your autoflowers later than their peak potency you will get more of that “couch-lock” feeling that will make you sleepy and relaxed and will be more like the effect from Indica dominant strains.

With sativa dominant autoflowers you can increase this effect by harvesting them later than usual but if you do that to indica dominant autos then you will definitely feel the effect and you better smoke a plant that is harvested late in the afternoon because it will so to speak “knock you out”!

Some strains, sometimes, will produce male pollen sacks at the very end of their lifetime because that plant feels that its life is ending soon but it still has no seeds and so it can turn into a hermaphrodite and self pollinate, so be careful and watch out for those pollen sacks.

Sequential harvest

One of the best methods to harvest your plants if you have the time and energy is the sequential harvest method that basically means harvesting the top buds first and letting those lower buds grow for a couple of days and ripen before chopping them off.

This method is very powerful in small grow spaces with a limited amount of light and can increase the total yield that you can get from your plants but you will definitely need more energy and space to do this process.

Usually harvesting your plants is a very messy ordeal and you need to wear gloves, cut down those fan leaves, manicure those buds as well as collect all those sugar leaves for later usage and that can be time-consuming. But when you do a partial harvest you have to prepare all that at least two times if not three and for some growers, those couple of extra grams that you can get is just not worth that hassle.

Dry vs Wet Trimming

And another question that I see asked a lot is about the trimming process and if it is better to trim your buds before drying or after drying.

I think that the best method is to trim those plants right after the harvesting process and then hang them to dry because afterward those smaller leaves will curl up and be very hard to trim as well as the drying process will take longer and there is a greater chance of mold infections.

But for some growers, the dry trimming method is more convenient and they just chop off their buds and hang them to dry for a week or two and then afterward those smaller leaves will easily break apart and can be trimmed with ease. The choice is yours but the vast majority of growers use that wet trimming method.

Some key points about curing

When your plants have properly dried and when a branch is bent it snaps not bends your harvest is almost done but one more crucial thing remains to be done and that is the long curing process.

There is a lot of misconception about curing and some growers swear that curing increases potency but in general this process will just make your buds taste better because the moisture that is trapped inside those dense nugs will get evenly distributed and you will get an all-around great smoke.

Curing usually is done in glass airtight jars and after loosely compacting them inside those jars you need to open them once a day for a half an hour to let that excess moisture out. In the second week, you can open them once a day for 10 minutes but in third week you can open them for a couple of minutes every other day. And by the end of week three your buds should be properly cured and can be stored for months or even years.

Curing is not an obligatory thing and if you like you can consume your buds right after drying the but with this process, you can make them taste and smell even better!