If you live in a state where cannabis is legal and have taken to growing it yourself for the first time, you’ve probably been researching all about harvesting, drying, and curing outdoor cannabis.
As professional cultivators, we know this is a bittersweet time.
You’ve spent months nurturing and caring for your cannabis and are proud of your lush and beautiful plants. But now it’s time to bid them farewell.
Just remember, it will be so worth it. And you’ll get to do it all again next year (if you so choose).
The 411 on Harvesting, Drying, and Curing Outdoor Cannabis
If you’re finding the whole process of harvesting, drying, and curing a bit daunting, you’re not alone. It can be rather involved. So we’ll simplify the processes for you to help ease you into this new territory for the first time.
Is It Time to Harvest?
The best time of day to harvest cannabis plants in the early morning hours.
And while it would be great if there were a specific month or time period as to when to harvest, it’s much more complex than that. First, the proper time to harvest depends on the strain, the type of plant, your location and growing conditions.
There are some obvious indicators that you’re moving toward harvest though. For instance, the leaves on the plant will start to yellow and curl, the buds will be big and plump, and the branches will hang from their weight.
But there’s one aspect to notice in particular.
It All Comes Down to Trichomes
At the end of the day, the biggest indicator of whether it’s time to harvest is in the trichomes. If you’re growing cannabis on your own, you probably already know about trichomes. They’re the tiny little crystal-like appendages all over your cannabis flowers. And their color and opacity are the best measure for when it’s time to harvest.
Generally speaking, when the trichomes are clear, the plant is considered immature. As the plant ages though, the trichomes move from clear to milky to cloudy. Once they reach the fully cloudy stage, that’s a good sign that the plant is ready for harvesting.
It’s important to note that the stage after fully cloudy is “amber.” Given their minuscule size, it’s often difficult to see this shift. But if you’re paying close attention, when the trichomes are still fully cloudy but begin to take on an amber hue, this is a sign that the plant is quite well-balanced.
You can still harvest once the trichomes have gone completely to amber. However, this usually results in a heavier and more lethargic high. This is great if you’re looking for a more chill and sedating vibe from your plant.
Whatever the case, you’re always better off harvesting plants on the later end than the “too early” end. So go for the harvest when the trichomes are mostly cloudy with a little amber rather than a combo of clear and cloudy.
The Drying Process
Some growers prefer trimming the buds of excess plant material when they’re fresh off the plant. Others like to wait until they’re dried. You can experiment to determine your preference.
Whatever the case, drying plants does require some planning. If you live in a place where it gets cold in the autumn, you may want to invest in specialist drying equipment to use at your home.
For example, you may want to acquire a small tent, drying racks, and a dehumidifier. To dry the buds, you can hang larger branches from hangers or a cord suspended across the top of the tent. If you haven’t already, be sure to purchase an extraction fan and a carbon filter to eliminate the smell which can be very powerful with outdoor plants.
In general, buds take about a week to dry. Set the dehumidifier to 60% for the first few days then work it down to 55% for a few more days. At the seven to ten day mark, you can keep the dehumidifier at 50% until they’re dried.
You’ll know the buds are ready when the branches are about to or actually start to snap. Also, it’s not unusual to see brown coloration or some blue or red hues emerge during the drying process.
Once the cannabis is dry, it isn’t quite ready to enjoy yet though. You still have to cure it.
Curing is essentially a continuation of the drying process. It’s just done in a slower and more controlled environment. Namely, in sealed jars .
The point of curing is to stop the degradation process so that the plant can maintain its terpenes and cannabinoids or prevent them from turning into something less desirable.
Purchasing some hygrometers to place in the jars is a wise investment – especially if you plan to grow again next year. These will help keep you abreast of the humidity levels in the jars.
Once the buds are dry, you’ll want to achieve a humidity level of 62-68% and then place them in the airtight jars (or other containers). Store them in a dark and temperate place.
In the course of the following weeks you’ll need to periodically open the jars for 10 to 15 minutes and then reseal them. This is known as “burping.” The purpose of burping is to introduce oxygen and release any excess and potentially damaging moisture.
This is done once or twice per day in the first couple of weeks. The time the jar is left open will be longer if the buds are stored at the higher end of the humidity range. Be sure to take a whiff. If you pick up an odor of ammonia, it means there was too much humidity and the buds may be ruined.
Once you’ve passed the first two weeks, you can take burping down to once per week for two months. From that point forward, the buds should be ready to use and fine as long as you burp once per month.
Have No Fear…
While harvesting, drying, and curing outdoor cannabis can seem like a lot at first, you’ll eventually get the hang of it. Especially if you continue to grow it year after year.
On the other hand, if it all just ends up being too much, no worries. You’ll still have access to top-shelf cannabis from our stellar grow house.
Just click here to find a location near you that sells our amazing cannabis products. It’s that simple!