What Happens If You Wait Too Long To Harvest Your Cannabis? (Wrong Timing) - WeedMania420 (2023)

Growing cannabis comes with strict timelines. And no time is more critical than harvesting time. It can either break or make your growing experience. Waiting too long to harvest, just like harvesting too early, can hurt the quality of your yield considerably.

If you harvest at the right time, you reap the benefits of your hard labor and get more value for the resources you put into the growing project.

On the other hand, if you wait too long to harvest your cannabis plants or harvest them too early, you’re bound to lose essential compounds from the buds.

Knowing when to harvest is a skill that involves observing your plant’s progress and nipping the buds when the time is right. But how bad can it get? How does waiting too long for the buds affect their overall quality? Let’s find out!

When you wait too long to harvest, the THC begins to degrade, resulting in a more lethargic high. When the buds stay on the plant too long, THC turns into CBN, a compound that’s known for its sedating effect. CBN is responsible for the couch-lock high— a less vibrant high that pulls you towards sleep.

Also, some strains are more susceptible to self-pollination. This spoils your chances of harvesting sinsemilla— seedless buds, when left for long before harvesting.

Harvesting late alters the effects from your buds. Sativa-dominant strains are known for a mellow, energetic high that most stoners enjoy. However, when harvested late, even sativas will give a drowsy, lethargic high that indica-dominant strains are known for.

Though sativas take longer than indicas to mature, sometimes you wait for too long, and the buds’ THC levels reduce, lowering their potency.

If you’re going for the couch-lock high, then fine, but if you want the full-body, vibrant high, you better harvest on time.

Harvesting too late also means your buds are left exposed for longer to the ravages of the environment. Late harvesters, more often than not, fall prey to mold.

What Happens If You Wait Too Long To Harvest Your Cannabis? (Wrong Timing) - WeedMania420 (1)

The plant will also begin to senesce, and with that comes bud rot— a natural process that happens when the plant nears the end of its lifespan.

I wrote a lengthy article explaining the dangers of flowering for too long. It delves deeper into the matter and helps you know when to harvest at peak potency. Please, check it out!

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A Peek Into THC Degradation

THC degradation is no indication that your buds are inferior or that their growth condition wasn’t optimal. It’s something that happens naturally after harvesting.

Because of the volatility of the cannabinoid compounds, you should dry and cure your buds appropriately.

When you rush the process, you hasten the degradation, making your buds less suitable for consumption.

On the other hand, when you dry your buds slowly and cure them appropriately, you can retain and keep the essential cannabinoids.

Slow drying also ensures the buds retain their original smell because the terpenes aren’t evaporated as it happens with quick drying. This enriches your weed experience.

THC degradation, thus, happens naturally but can be tamed and kept in control when you harvest on time and give your buds better care after harvesting.

If you leave the buds on the plant for longer than they should, THC turns into CBN. Harvest time influences the amount of THC in the buds at harvest, but these other conditions can hasten the degradation processbefore and afterharvest;

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High Temperatures Degrade THC

THC, unlike terpenes, cannot be evaporated from the buds, but when you expose your buds to high temperatures for a long time, it initiates decarboxylation.

Decarboxylation is the process through which the non-psychoactive precursor to THC,THC-A, is converted to THC.

This process is essential when you’re prepared to use the buds right away, but not when they’re intended for storage. Once the THC-A is converted to THC, it begins to degrade.

Decarboxylation is what gives you a high. The buds must be exposed to high temperatures to activate the intoxicating compound, THC.

You get high if you smoke a joint; the same can’t be said if you chewed it. You have to heat it to turn THC-A to its psychoactive form, THC, then get high!

Exposure To Light Degrades THC

Keeping your buds out of light is one sure way to prolong their lifespan. When exposed to light, the buds begin to degrade.

Light comes in different spectrums, and while already harvested buds can’t photosynthesize anymore, UV rays hasten the breakdown of the bud’s components, reducing THC concentrations.

Light might be essential during plants’ growth, but after harvesting, it is the thing you should avoid most.

Exposure to light won’t only degrade the cannabinoids. It also hastens terpene loss, altering the aroma and taste of your buds.

Oxidation Degrades THC

Your buds are better off kept in airtight mason jars. When kept in the open, the buds will be subjected to oxidation that depletes the cannabinoid content, degrading your buds.

Before you think about storing the buds, also make sure to limit the buds’ interaction with air throughout the curing process.

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Time your burping sessions favorably because long exposure to the air hastens THC degradation through oxidation.

After proper curing, keep the buds in an airtight container. It also helps you control humidity as no moist air reaches your buds.

How Do You Know When To Harvest Cannabis?

The best way to tell when to harvest is to examine the trichomes’ color changes. Use a jeweler’s loupe to view the trichomes closely, harvest when 70% of the buds have turned milky white. If you wait until the trichomes turn amber, most THC shall have degraded into CBN.

Using the jeweler’s loupe to examine the trichome color changes is the most reliable way to tell when to harvest.

Sometimes, those who grow for medicinal use leave their buds a little longer because CBD takes a little longer to mature, but most growers want to harvest while THC is at its absolute peak.

What Happens If You Wait Too Long To Harvest Your Cannabis? (Wrong Timing) - WeedMania420 (2)

Though some growers observe the color changes on pistils to inform their harvesting time, it isn’t a reliable method. If you decide to use it, harvest when 70-85% of the pistils have turned brown/reddish.

If you wait until 90+% of the pistils have turned brown and curled, the THC will have degraded considerably, resulting in a couch-lock high.

What Happens If I Harvest My Cannabis TooEarly?

When you harvest your buds too early, you detach them from the plant before they are nourished and matured enough. Early harvesting gives you immature, less potent buds because they haven’t reached peak THC concentrations.

Harvesting early is just as counter-productive to your harvest as harvesting late. Both extremes deny you the chance to enjoy your buds at peak potency.

I realised some novice growers leave their buds on the plant for long in hope that they will fatten up. This is entirely wrong. Perhaps you should this article on ways to fatten your buds before harvest. It helps!

Can You Harvest With White Pistils?

You should never harvest when the pistils are white because the THC shall not have matured enough to be harvested. At white pistils, the buds will still need a couple of weeks to withdraw essential nutrients from the plant to nourish the buds, potentiate the cannabinoids, and pronounce the terpenes.

Wait until 70-85% of the pistils have turned brown/reddish before harvesting your buds.

(Video) EP 108 - Summer's here! Is your cannabis stored properly?

In conclusion, harvesting either too early or too late will reduce the quality of your yield significantly. Harvesting too late degrades the THC, reducing your bud’s potency while harvesting early gives you immature, less potent buds.

External References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14987422/
  2. https://cryocure.com/drying-cannabis/thc-degradation/
  3. https://wayofleaf.com/cannabis/growing/right-time-to-harvest-cannabis
  4. https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/blog-is-it-better-to-harvest-your-cannabis-early-or-late-n1001
  5. https://www.wikileaf.com/thestash/degradation-thc/

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What happens to cannabis if you wait too long to harvest? ›

Many novice cannabis growers wait too long to harvest their plants. In doing so, marijuana plants will overripen, which may reduce the quality, potency, and even size of your harvest. Overripened cannabis flower can also become harsh or unpleasant when smoked.

What happens if you don't harvest in time? ›

All plants will eventually die when it's the end of their growing season or the optimal growing conditions for that plant have come to an end. Supporting unused produce is stressful to a plant, and therefore will cause it to stop producing fruits or vegetables.

How late can you Reveg cannabis? ›

You can re-veg as long as you want/need to. Most people tend to allow 4-6 weeks or so. But once you are ready, just set your lights to 12/12 and you can start another bloom cycle. Keep monitoring your plant and feed/water according to your plant requirements in the normal way.

Should all pistils be brown before harvest? ›

Guideline #2: Harvest marijuana when 70% of the pistils have turned brown or orange. Most cultivators who base their harvest date on the Pistil Method take down their plants when 70% of the pistils have changed color and curled inward. If 90% of the pistils are brown/orange, the plant is past its peak.

What does over ripe cannabis look like? ›

Beware of overripe cannabis buds

Plants given a little too much bloom time may have a general appearance of overripeness. Trichomes may be all amber, the terpene profile may be past it's best (possibly with a light aroma of fermentation) and the buds/leaves may take on a browner, less inviting, appearance.

Does the harvest date matter for cannabis? ›

Yes, the harvest date affects the weed quality. Generally, you don't want weed that was harvested more than six months ago. However, by researching the drying/curing process and subjecting your weed to the pinch test you are likely to know just as much if not more about the quality of the bud in question.

Can I harvest when pistils are white? ›

Never harvest your buds when most of the pistils are still white. This indicates your plants should be left to mature for a little longer. To ensure optimal THC levels, you should wait until at least 60-70 percent of your pistils have turned an amber color before you begin harvesting.

When should I stop watering before harvest? ›

Stop Watering 1-3 Days Before Harvest – After flushing, in the final days of harvest, you can further stress your plants by stopping watering. You want to allow the plant to start to wilt just a small amount, because then the plant “thinks” it is dying and as a last-ditch effort, it will increase resin development.

What is a failed harvest? ›

Crop failure (also known as harvest failure) is an absent or greatly diminished crop yield relative to expectation, caused by the plants being damaged, killed, or destroyed, or affected in some way that they fail to form edible fruit, seeds, or leaves in their expected abundance.

What will happen if you harvest the crop too soon or too late? ›

While harvesting too soon may result in only a reduction in yield, harvesting too late can result in poor quality due to development of objectionable fiber and the conversion of sugars into starches. A late harvest can also cause plants to terminate, or stop producing as they complete their reproduction process.

What causes a poor harvest? ›

Seeds of poor quality, inadequate farming practices, or insect attacks in the field can provoke losses of products even before their harvest.

What is the longest veg time for cannabis? ›

This marks the beginning of the vegetative phase.
  • The vegetative phase can last anywhere between 3–16 weeks (or longer), depending on the genetics of a cultivar and the goals of the grower. ...
  • The vegetative phase is a vital period in the life cycle of a cannabis plant.

Can cannabis be too ripe? ›

When cannabis buds are too ripe, they may have a noticeable decline in potency and aroma, and the trichomes on the buds will have turned from clear to milky or amber in color. Overripe buds may also have a dry, crumbly texture and can potentially lead to a harsh smoke.

What happens if you don't flush before harvest? ›

You see, during the growing cycle, your plants store excess amounts of nutrients, salts and other compounds. If you don't allow the plants a chance to dispose of these surplus compounds by flushing them before harvest, your final product will be much harsher and more bitter tasting.

When should I start flushing my pistils? ›

Generally, flushing cannabis normally takes place two weeks before it is harvested. If the plant has an 8-week flowering period, flushing should start 6-weeks after the beginning of the flowering stage when trichomes begin to form a cloudy white color.

Should I harvest when all trichomes are cloudy? ›

When the color turns cloudy or opaque, the trichomes are closer to what you want, but not quite ready for harvest. This is the time to really keep a close eye on your plants. Soon, 50 to 70 percent of the trichomes will turn cloudy or amber. At that point, it's time to harvest for strong, highly euphoric buds.

Does sugar increase trichomes? ›

After a sugar application, the resulting sugar-like crystals are the flower's trichomes, which are believed to double in production after the plant is treated with sugar.

What do trichomes look like when ready to harvest? ›

When trichomes are cloudy and ready for harvest, you'll likely notice that 50-70% of the white “hairs” on your buds have turned amber. Keep in mind that if you wait too long and trichomes turn amber you will lose THC potency. The key thing to look for is milky, cloudy trichomes, as they contain the highest THC levels.

What do ripe trichomes look like? ›

Under magnification from a jewelers loupe, the bulbous tips of these trichomes will appear clear while still developing, but will begin to turn amber or milky as they reach and pass full maturity. This milky or amber is color is what shows you the cannabinoids have reached full maturity and have begun to degrade.

How long should I dry my cannabis in harvest? ›

An ideal time to dry cannabis is around 5-7 days. However, the time it takes to reach the ideal dryness (explained below) will vary depending on your climate and drying location. Also, the condition of your plant will play a role, such as how fat the buds are, how many fan leaves are still attached, and so on.

What time of day is best to pick cannabis? ›

Most commercial cultivators and home growers agree that the best time to harvest your cannabis plants is in the early hours of the morning before the next light cycle of daytime begins.

How long after pistils turn brown to harvest? ›

The best way to tell when to harvest is by using a microscope; if you don't have one, wait until its pistils are more or less all brown and then wait another week or two. If the seed bank says 60 days, you're better off stretching it to 75 days. When done right, you can harvest enormous flowers.

What week do pistils darken? ›

Week 5: Buds Grow More and More

Cannabis plants get fatter and fatter every day. This is a good sign that the plant is in full flowering mode. The odor will be very strong at this point. Some of the plant's white pistil hairs may turn into a darker amber or brownish color.

How long do trichomes stay milky? ›

Trichomes remain milky for about two weeks during the lifecycle of a cannabis plant. Growers may choose to harvest the buds at this time if they plan to pair the strain with CBD oil.

How do you get heavy buds? ›

Grow More Big Buds Indoors
  1. Turn Up The Lights. ...
  2. Change Nutrients for Each Stage. ...
  3. Train Your Plants. ...
  4. Bone Up On Your Feeding. ...
  5. Control Temperature and Humidity. ...
  6. Pump Up CO2. ...
  7. Be Patient.

How do you tighten up buds? ›

A bud hardener is an additive you can use at the end of the flower cycle to tighten up your flowers and pack on weight. They are typically used in the final 3 weeks or so of the grow cycle and contain a mix of macronutrients, micronutrients, minerals, essential oils, etc.

Is it better to harvest in a day or night? ›

Timing the harvest is Paramount to the final quality. Harvest your precious buds in the dark, just before the lights normally come on. If possible, do not allow the plants to see direct light as long as their roots are attached.

What happens if it rains during harvest? ›

Yield loss- Eventually, given enough rain, even tolerant crops like canola can start to lose yield. How does this happen? Quite simply, the rain washes the seed so much and so aggressively that it begins to lose weight. The lighter each seed gets, the fewer tonnes of grain you end up with at the end of the day.

What is acceptable harvest losses? ›

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) recommend that machine harvest losses (from the rear of the harvester) should be 1% of grain yield or less for all grains.

What are the three post harvest losses? ›

Postharvest loss includes the food loss across the food supply chain from harvesting of crop until its consumption [9]. The losses can broadly be categorized as weight loss due to spoilage, quality loss, nutritional loss, seed viability loss, and commercial loss [11].

Can you harvest some buds at different times? ›

To answer your question—yes, you can cut the mature buds from the top of the plant and clear the branches and leaves to allow better light penetration to the lower portion of the plant. And the lower buds will continue to grow and ripen and can be harvested a week or two later.

What happens if you plant the same crop over and over again? ›

Growing the same crop in the same place for many years in a row, known as monocropping, gradually depletes the soil of certain nutrients and selects for a highly competitive pest and weed community.

What color are the pistils when harvested? ›

Orange pistils are a sign that cannabis buds are mature, filled with cannabinoids and terpenes, and ready to harvest.

What is the biggest threat to harvest? ›

1. Climate Change and Environmental Shocks. The climate crisis is changing weather patterns and increasing the chances of extreme events such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts. It is also responsible for changing and polluting entire ecosystems, compromising biodiversity and destroying harvests.

What is the most common cause of crop failure? ›

Crops fail due to drought, floods, pest attack or any other calamity. Infertility of land does not lead to crop failure. It leads to lower yields.

Does longer veg mean more yield? ›

The longer you keep your plants in the vegetative stage, the bigger your plant will be, resulting in bigger yields from plants that were vegetated longer.

Can you veg cannabis with 16 hours of light? ›

Ideally plants should have more than 16 hours of light to be on the safe side; and in fact, most cannabis operations provide 18 hours of continuous light. This method adds hours of daylight as the sun sets or slightly before.

How many times can you top a cannabis plant in veg? ›

Most growers top their plants early in the vegetative stage when plants are still relatively small. It's typical to top plants 1-3 times throughout the veg cycle. Again, topping can be stressful, so observe you plants for about 2-weeks between toppings to ensure they are healthy enough for further trimming.

What happens if you wait too long to harvest cannabis? ›

Harvesting at the right time is crucial when it comes to growing cannabis. If you harvest too early, you will have premature buds which leads to a poor product and a smaller yield. Harvest too late and the potency of your weed takes a steep decline or turns to rot.

What happens if you let cannabis flower too long? ›

If you notice that the trichomes fell off, you let the plant grow too long and most of the cannabinoids are gone meaning you won't get the THC or CBD effects and will have to start over with a new batch. Trichomes turn from cloudy white to brown once THC begins to weaken.

Did I dry my cannabis too long? ›

If you over-dry your cannabis, it'll be more likely to go moldy, so it's important to monitor the drying process closely. If your buds are too dry, they'll be more likely to crumble when you try to break them up for smoking, so it's important to take them out of the drying chamber before they become too dry.

Should I wait for all pistils be brown before harvest? ›

Guideline #2: Harvest marijuana when 70% of the pistils have turned brown or orange. Most cultivators who base their harvest date on the Pistil Method take down their plants when 70% of the pistils have changed color and curled inward. If 90% of the pistils are brown/orange, the plant is past its peak.

What Week Do buds swell the most? ›

Week 7: The calyxes in the seven-week varieties swell to near bursting as THC is produced in the glands. At the end of the week they will be ready. The trichomes stand more erect and the caps swell with newly produced resin. At the end of the week the flowers reach the peak zone.

Do trichomes fall off during drying? ›

It's important to avoid losing trichomes during the drying process by not letting your branches hit and surface while hang-drying. Contact with a surface can damage trichomes and break them off the plant. Depending on environmental conditions, the initial drying process usually take three to seven days.

How long should I keep my plant in the dark before harvest? ›

Essentially, the idea is to “shock” your plant in the days leading up to harvest in hopes of increasing the potency of your buds. The most common tactic is to place your plants in total darkness for 3 days before harvest.

Do buds ripen during flush? ›

Plants, however, do not stop growing when they are being flushed. Rapidly expanding buds can be seen even while the flush is removing nutrients.

Does Bud Washing destroy trichomes? ›

Bud washing can destroy THC structures and the form of the bud itself. The structure of buds is fragile and if you swirl and touch them a lot, and dunk the buds repeatedly, they might end up losing trichomes.

Should I wait till trichomes turn amber? ›

The cloudy trichomes produce more uplifting and stimulating clear-headed cerebral effects while amber trichomes tend to result in heavier, more intense effects. If you are growing Indica-dominant strains, it is ideal to wait until at least 60% of the trichomes have turned amber.

Can I harvest with white pistils? ›

Never harvest your buds when most of the pistils are still white. This indicates your plants should be left to mature for a little longer. To ensure optimal THC levels, you should wait until at least 60-70 percent of your pistils have turned an amber color before you begin harvesting.

How do you fatten up buds during flowering? ›

To some degree, more light translates to fatter buds and higher yields (you'll need to pay attention to the distance between your grow light and plants or your plant may suffer from light burn). Increasing light intensity is the most effective way to fatten up buds.

What nutrients boost trichome production? ›

As previously stated, moderate levels of nitrogen and phosphorus work best to sustain trichome growth to the maximum level. Dumping nutrients on your plant during the second half of the flowering cycle can result in reduced cannabinoid and terpene content, thereby lowering your bud quality in both flavor and potency.

What damages trichomes? ›

Mishandling live cannabis plants will damage trichomes and result in lower-quality products.

What happens if you don't flush cannabis before harvest? ›

You see, during the growing cycle, your plants store excess amounts of nutrients, salts and other compounds. If you don't allow the plants a chance to dispose of these surplus compounds by flushing them before harvest, your final product will be much harsher and more bitter tasting.

Should I let my plants dry out before harvest? ›

Always irrigate in the morning so that the majority of water is used during the day. Soggy roots at night will slow growth substantially. Do not water for one or two days before harvest. The soil should be fairly dry, but not dry enough that plants wilt.

Are over ripe buds bad? ›

Overripe buds are usually good to smoke, and may even be desirable for those who like the properties of CBN.


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