When harvesting cannabis, timing is the key to a high-grade bud. And, to discover excellent timing, trichomes can help you. All growers collecting cannabis produce should know: What do trichomes look like when ready to harvest?
Let’s be clear: no one wants their plant grown with patience to go to waste because they missed harvesting time and didn’t know how to look at trichomes.
Trichomes ripeness recognition and their preservation equal a quality cannabis flower. They are the most helpful indicator of whether a cannabis plant is ripe, and they can significantly contribute to the potency and taste of the buds, as well as their psychoactive, therapeutic, and medicinal characteristics.
If you are ready, let’s give you the answers to all your questions about trichomes and tell you how to get the most potent and enjoyable buds from your harvest!
What Are Cannabis Trichomes?
Maybe you are already familiar with cannabis trichomes.
However, we must explain in depth what they are and why they are crucial for obtaining high-quality cannabis flowers.
When you observe the cannabis flowers thoroughly, you can notice dome-like glands that overlay the leaves and buds of the flower.
These beautiful tiny crystals, called trichomes, begin to appear when the female cannabis flower enters its flowering stage.
The trichomes got their name from the Greek “trikhoma”, meaning “growth of hair.”
They are maybe the most critical part of the cannabis flower because, in them, the essential compounds are found.
In detail, the trichomes are packed with THC, THCA, CBD, CBN, and other vital cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
That’s why trichomes are indispensable for quality, potency, and protecting the cannabis flower.
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Different stages of cannabis growth and trichomes development
Like every plant, the cannabis flower has its maturation stages, during which the trichomes emerge and develop.
It’s good to know that sativa cannabis flowers often have a flowering duration between 10 and 12 weeks, while indica flowering time is shorter, or between 8 and 12 weeks.
The two main stages of cannabis development are vegetative and flowering.
During the vegetative stage, the plant starts growing and building its structure. On the other hand, during flowering, the plant ripens, buds develop, trichomes appear, and resin production advances.
When the first flowering stage commences, trichomes are transparent and still haven’t produced cannabinoids or terpenes.
During the second flowering stage, they become milky white, and the amount of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids increases. This is when their THC levels are at most, and the flower can produce the strongest “high.”
The final stage of the flowering is when trichomes turn amber. That’s when THC levels start to decrease, and CBD levels increase.
Types of trichomes
There are two types of trichomes: glandular and non-glandular.
The central role of the glandular trichomes is to produce and store the active compounds of cannabis. They are waxy and have a glandular head.
In contrast, non-glandular trichomes don’t have a head and aren’t active in the production process. Nevertheless, they protect the plant from UV light and environmental impacts.
Furthermore, there are three sorts of glandular trichomes: bulbous, capitate-sessile, and capitate-stalked.
- Bulbous trichomes are the tiniest and can be only noticed under a microscope. They don’t contain cannabinoids and are often seen on the stems and leaves.
- Capitate-sessile trichomes can be seen with the naked eye. They appear on the leaves and flowers and contain numerous cannabinoids.
- Capitate-stalked trichomes are visible, abundant, and paramount to the cannabis flower. They produce almost all cannabinoids and terpenes and must be handled with care.
Now that you know all of the basics about cannabis trichomes, let’s find out how to check trichomes. Also, what do trichomes look like when ready to harvest?
When to Harvest Trichomes?
Trichomes’ color can indicate the trichomes’ readiness for harvest. However, when to harvest trichomes often depends on personal preference and the type of cannabis flower.
Different farmers decide to harvest the cannabis at different terms during the flowering stage. However, most growers usually harvest when 70-80% of the trichomes are milky and 20-30% are amber. You may ask, how long do trichomes take to turn amber?
Many can tell you that it depends on the plant, yet most cannabis plants remain in the milky stage for two weeks, and after that, the trichomes turn amber.
This two-week period is crucial for the ripeness of trichomes for harvest because it can be the perfect time to get a potent flower.
The THC levels peak during this span, and the flower is richest in beneficial compounds.
If you wait for the trichomes to turn amber, they will lose their THC and won’t result in a robust psychedelic buzz.
What Do Trichomes Look Like When Ready to Harvest?
You can best scrutinize the essential harvesting indicators using a magnifier, a microscope, or a jeweler’s loupe.
The trichome readiness for harvest is best resolved by looking at the capitate-stalked trichomes that occur like tiny mushrooms with heads.
When you check these trichomes with the instrument, you must look at them as a whole. What we mean by this is to specify the harvesting period according to the color of all trichomes on the flower.
Look at them closely and inspect the entire plant. Waiting a few days is adequate if you can still see translucent trichomes.
Nevertheless, some growers prefer to harvest when most trichomes are milky and only a few are translucent.
On the other hand, others believe that the perfect timing is when a few of the trichomes turn amber and the rest remain milky.
We believe that the appearance of mature trichomes during harvest is milky, with amber trichomes appearing here and there.
Methods of Harvesting
1. Machine vs. Hand Trimming
Farmers harvest cannabis using two methods: machine or hand trimming. Machine trimming is often flawless because today, there are machines that preserve cannabis trichomes.
Machine-trimmed buds look more prosperous and appealing, and machine-trimming is faster. Still, excellent machine trimmers can cost a fortune, and not everyone decides to invest in them.
Contrastingly, head trimming can be perfect if the trimmer properly saves valuable trichomes. The skill of a hand trimmer can be accomplished with some practice and patience.
Hand trimming is slower than machine trimming, but it’s far cheaper.
Yet, if you don’t know how to trim and are a newbie, we always recommend you hire a masterful trimmer and don’t risk destroying the trichomes.
2. Dry trimming vs. Wet Trimming
Besides machine and hand trimming, cannabis growers pick between dry or wet trimming.
This is also a big part of harvesting, and choosing a method long before trichome readiness for harvest is necessary.
Wet trimming is when the flowers are fresh and still wet, while dry trimming is when they are dried beforehand.
There isn’t the best method for saving most trichomes because every trimming experience is distinct.
Some farmers prefer wet trimming and are convinced they preserve most trichomes that way, while others believe in the opposite.
Additional Tips and Tricks for Harvesting Trichomes
Now that you have learned what trichomes look like when ready to harvest, pay attention to these harvesting tips.
Harvest in the morning
Harvesting in the morning is preferable because, during the nighttime, cannabis flowers produce the most resin.
If you harvest in the morning, the chances that you get a tasteful cannabis flower are greater.
Don’t harvest the whole plant in one take
This is always up to you, but one of the tricks that can give you the best trichome preservation is to harvest the plant in two takes.
To explain, if the top of the plant has the most ripeness of trichomes for harvest, collect them first.
Give the bottom trichomes more time to turn milky and amber, and finish the collecting when they appear robust enough.
Prepare for the harvest
You have to be prepared for the reaping long before you start examining the trichome readiness for harvest.
You must have a harvest plan and decide which method will suit you. Moreover, you need the right equipment and the appropriate labor force if a significant harvest is upcoming.
The harvest day must be perfect, and you can’t leave anything to chance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What do clear trichomes look like?
During the first flowering stage, trichomes are clear. They appear translucent and still aren’t filled with resin.
This period isn’t suitable for harvesting because the flower will be low-quality and less potent.
Q. Can I harvest when all trichomes are milky?
The short answer is yes.
Most hybrid growers harvest the hybrid cannabis plants when 100% of the trichomes are milky.
In contrast, the same doesn’t apply to sativa plants, often harvested when 70% of trichomes are milky and 30% are amber.
Q. What do fully mature trichomes look like?
Fully mature trichomes are amber-colored. Their head is wholly developed, and soon they will turn gold, then brown.
Q. Does grinding destroy trichomes?
The grinding of the flower can cause some trichomes to fall. Still, these trichomes are stored in the grinder’s chamber, and you can use them afterward.
The cannabis trichomes found in the grinder’s chamber are best known as kief, and there’s a unique method for smoking them.
We hope that you have learned much more about trichomes than previously expected. So, what do trichomes look like when ready to harvest?
Besides answering the question, we believe we have given you additional information about these tiny yet valuable cannabis crystals.
Now, full of knowledge, you can try your best to look closely at trichomes using the instrument of choice and determine when it’s the right time to start your cannabis harvest.
To conclude, there’s no better way to settle harvest timing than to look at trichomes. Only when the trichomes are filled with THC, your flower will result in a potent high. If you start too early, the buzz will be pretty mild, and if you wait too long, you will get only sleep and pain aid.
We wish you great luck with your harvest and are confident you will make the most of it!