You are hereWhen do I harvest my marijuana?

When do I harvest my marijuana?

by Nebula Haze

When to harvest your marijuana buds is the eternal question...

The answer is, not soon enough!

So first of all, you can identify the old-fashioned way, by looking at the plants.

These marijuana harvest pictures will guide you, so you know when to harvest your marijuana buds:


Not Ready for Harvest 
Most "hairs" are still white and sticking out straight
(click each picture for closeup and explanation)

These marijuana buds are not ready harvestNot Ready to Harvest - Purple Marijuana Buds


Still Not Quite Ready for Harvest 
Still waiting for at least 40% of the white hairs to darken and curl in
(click each picture for closeup and explanation)

White Rhino buds - still not quite ready for harvest


Beginning of Harvest Window
Harvest after at least 40% of the white hairs have darkened and curled in
(click each picture for closeup and explanation)

Purple marijuana bud displaying the growth of new "foxtails"Marijuana - not quite ready for harvestA few weeks left... these buds are not quite ready to harvest

Ready for Harvest 
Harvest when 50-70% of hairs have darkened for highest levels of THC
Harvest when 70-90% of hairs have darkened for a more calming,
anti-anxiety effect as some THC turns to CBN
(click each picture for closeup and explanation)

Ready to Harvest Cannabis budsReady To Harvest Marijuana plant
Purple buds ready for harvestLED Buds - Ready for Harvest

With some strains, it is much harder to tell when the time is right. Different strains can look different ways at harvest.

It's always great to talk to someone who has grown your strain before, such as the breeder. Growers who've grown your strain before can often provide extra insight into what to look for at harvest. Yet a lot of the time that's just not possible.

So here is a SECOND way to identify whether your plants are ready for harvest...

2nd Method to Identify Harvest Time

Close-up of marijuana trichomesThis method tends to be more precise than looking at the plant.

With this method, you look at the glandular stalked trichomes on the buds under a magnifying glass.

In some places these trichomes are called resin glands. These trichromes are the 'crystals' you see accumulating on your bud/leaves.

A bit of random trivia for you: For some reason some cats love the taste of trichomes! They may lick or chew your plants around the leaves or the buds, at the absolute worst time during the flowering marijuana stage. Once they get a taste, you'll have a monster on your hands. So if you have cats, make sure you keep them far away from your marijuana, especially during flowering!

The trichomes look like little mushrooms under a 30x-60x power, illuminated microscope ($10 from You'll also see tiny, clear hair-like trichomes without the mushroom head, these aren't important to potency so just ignore these ones.


A view of marijuana trichomes through a jewler's loupeYou'll need a jewler's loupe or other magnifier to
use the method below....

These are relatively cheap to buy online, or at a
hardware or jewelry store.

Click the picture to the left for a close-up.

Get this exact Jeweler's Loupe on



A digital microscope that takes video works even better than a jeweler's loupe since you get a much clearer pic of the trichomes. These buds are ready to harvest.

We took these videos using the Carson zOrb hooked up to a laptop. So far this seems to be the most accurate way to look at trichomes (and you can make the picture big so you're not squinting through a tiny jeweler's loupe)

A Carson zOrb is a great way to get a video closeup of your trichomes


Here's a guide breaking down 
when to harvest marijuana buds based on color of trichomes.

(some strains trichomes turn purple or pink instead of amber/gold/yellow)
Click me to see weed harvest pics up close and personal, learn how to tell if your marijuana is ready to harvest by looking at trichomes
Click to open picture of "When to Harvest Your Marijuana" guide

Note: Guide is based on color of resin glands/ trichomes (you will need a magnifier)

Many of the cannabinoids we enjoy most are produced within these glandular stalked trichomes.

Learn everything you could possibly want to know about cannabinoid levels in your marijuana, and what you need to do as a grower to control the potency of the buds you grow.

Here are some general rules about harvesting marijuana based on trichomes and the color of the hairs / pistils.

  1. If white "hairs" are almost all sticking straight out and trichomes are all still translucent (clear) then your plant is too young and not ready for harvest. Harvesting now will result in low yield and non-potent harvests.

  2. The beginning of the harvest window opens when your plant has stopped growing new white "hairs" or pistils and at least 40% of the white hairs have darkened and curled in. 

  3. Highest level of THC is when many/most of the trichomes have turned milky white / cloudy (when viewed under a magnifier). Trichomes that are milky have the highest levels of THC and contribute to a more euphoric 'head high.'

  4. The end of the harvest window is when the trichomes have become a darker color (usually amber/gold). The amber/yellow trichomes contribute to a 'body high' because some of the THC has converted into less psychoactive CBN, which has calming and anti-anxiety effects. With some strains the trichomes will even turn red or purple!

  5. When trichomes start looking grey or withered, the harvest window has passed.

Want more of a 'head high'? Harvest your buds earlier, when only 40% of hairs have darkened and curled in and trichomes are part clear/ part milky or mostly cloudy/milky.

For the "strongest" marijuana buds with the most psychoactive effects, harvest when almost all trichomes are cloudy/milky.

For more relaxing, anti-anxiety buds, wait until at least some of the milky / cloudy trichomes have darkened to amber. More amber = more relaxing, though the effects may be somewhat less psychoactive. Remember, curing your buds properly for at least 2 weeks to a month will give them more of an anti-anxiety effect.

When growing your own marijuana plants, you should try to sample buds off your plant at different stages to get an idea for what your preferences are. It's okay to cut off pieces at a time!

These marijuana plants have been trained with ScrOG and Defoliation to produce a sea of marijuana budsThe hardest part of growing for many new growers is waiting for the right time to harvest.

There is a strong tendency for new growers to harvest the plant early due to excitement.

Unfortunately, this often results in low yields and lower-potency buds.

If you are feeling excited about harvesting your marijuana plant, take branches off the lower part of the plant that look the most done and dry them and check the potency for yourself.

Harvesting the buds in stages (starting off slowly with small batches) can really help abate the excitement.

When in doubt, listen to your gut. You have these different methods, yet these are only general guidelines. I encourage you to experiment to find the absolute perfect harvest time for you.

Happy growing!




Learn how to cure buds without guesswork!

Learn how to dry and cure your buds perfectly every time