Croptober is just around the corner, and all across New Mexico, producers and home-growers are preparing to reap the rewards of all their hard work. After all these months of waiting and stressing over whether your plants will produce mad yields, you don’t want to mess it all up by harvesting too soon or too late.
There are a few things home cultivators can look for when determining if it’s time to collect the crop.
Some of the visible indicators that a plant is ready for harvest include swollen buds and yellowing leaves. The yellowing leaves are a sign that the plant is pumping all of its nutrients into the buds and is neglecting the rest of the plant—a clear indication that it’s nearing the end of its life.
Another important indicator is the color and shape of the pistils. Pistils are the colored “hairs” that grow all over a female plant’s flowers. These hairs help to catch male pollen and develop seeds. They start out translucent or white and slightly curvy but slowly turn amber in color and curl up.
When most of the pistils curl up and go amber, it’s a good indication that the flower is ready for harvest. But it isn’t always as easy as tracking changes in hair color. Different strains may produce pistils that turn amber early or late in the flowering cycle.
Local resident and home-grower Jessica Rodriguez, who has been growing indoors for two years, says getting a close look at a flower’s trichomes is a much more accurate way of determining maturity.
“There’s visible signs like the pistils curling in and turning darker, but certain strains won’t do that,” she told The Paper. “So you can’t just go by that alone. The best thing to do is get in there with a magnifying glass and check out what the trichomes look like.”
She says that the trichomes—the crystals found covering the bud—start out clear and glassy but eventually become a milky white when they have reached their limit for THC production.
“It’s important to consider what effects you’re looking for when you harvest, because the level of maturity can affect the chemical profile of the flower,” says Rodriguez. “If you want your weed to have more of an exhilarating effect—what you might associate with sativa strains—you’ll want to harvest right when the trichomes turn milky.”
“If you want more of the effects that are associated with an indica strain—if you want it to be more relaxing and sedating—then you need to wait until some of the crystals begin to turn amber,” she said.
Once you’re sure that your plant is at the right stage to be harvested, it’s time to start cutting.
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