Harvest cannabis buds at the right time for the highest potency, yields, and best effects!
by Nebula Haze
Cannabis buds can come in all shapes and sizes! Although variety is the spice of life, it can make it a little confusing to know when to harvest your buds based on how your plants look. But if you harvest when buds are ready, you’ll get the best yields and potency, so it’s a good idea to try to harvest at the right time if you can!
We have a full harvest tutorial, but this article is mostly just a picture gallery 🙂
When buds first appear on your plant, they look like little round puffs of hair. Each bud is made up of many white hairs (“pistils”) that stick straight out.
Baby buds (budlets) look like a ball of white hairs. These buds have many weeks to go!
Still Not Ready
As the marijuana plant buds get closer to harvest, they thicken, and those white pistils start to darken and curl up. You’ll notice your buds are slowly getting thicker and denser. However, if you still have a lot of straight white pistils, like this bud, you know you still have a few weeks to go.
Ready to Harvest!
You’re in the weed harvest window when most of the pistils have darkened and curled in. However, sometimes it’s a little challenging to identify when buds are ready since each plant is different, and buds can look very different at harvest time. So today, I want to share lots and lots of pictures of many different cannabis buds that are ready to harvest so you can see the full gamut of variation!
A bud is ready to harvest when most of the hairs darken and curl in
Continue to the picture gallery below, or read the full tutorial on when to harvest your cannabis 🙂
These Cannabis Plants Are Ready to Harvest!
Without further ado, here’s the gallery of “ready for harvest” cannabis buds!
Some buds kind of look almost white at harvest due to either lots of trichomes or the buds themselves may be pale. This type of coloring is how strains like “White Widow” got their name 🙂 If you look closely, the actual pistils/hairs have all darkened and curled in, so this bud is ready to harvest!
A few more examples of pale buds that are ready to harvest
This cannabis bud keeps putting out new white pistils right when it looks like it’s about ready to be harvested! Some plants keep doing this over and over during the flowering stage, and you may eventually have to decide to make the chop. This picture is right before the grower decided to harvest this plant. Learn more about what to do if your plant keeps making new pistils.
Here’s that plant from a little further away for context
This strain grows in a similar way, and this bud is also ready to harvest even though there are lots of new white pistils
This bud has many tiny new sugar leaves and new pistils on top. It also has a top-heavy “fist” shape. These are common symptoms of heat or light damage, especially if they only appear on the parts of the plant close to the light. If this is happening, look at the older parts of the buds to decide when to harvest. Even though there’s a bunch of new white pistils on top, this bud is ready right now because the rest of the bud looks ready!
Since the non-damaged parts of the plant are ready to harvest, this plant is ready to harvest now. All the new pistils are from heat or light damage, and should be ignored! Learn more about why this happens!
These outdoor buds are ready to harvest! Sometimes outdoor buds look a little different than indoor. For instance, they’re often leafier (though not always!)
What About When Pistils Are Pink or Purple?
Sometimes it’s harder to know when to harvest with certain strains because the pistils might be purple or pink from the beginning instead of being white at first. For example, the pistils on this plant came in pink, and as they got closer to harvest, they curled in, and they darkened slightly to an orange hue.
You need to do your best to try to harvest when most of the pistils have darkened and curled in as best you can tell 🙂
Ready to Harvest Auto-Flowering Buds
Auto-flowering strains of cannabis are a special strain variety. Autoflowering plants start flowering (making buds) after about 3-4 weeks, and are usually ready to harvest 2-3 months from germination. This is different from standard photoperiod strains, which need to receive 12-hour dark periods every day to start flowering and develop buds properly. Learn more about why growers put plants on a 12/12 light schedule.
For the most part, autoflowering buds are the same as photoperiod buds. Some of the newer autoflowering strains have buds that are indistinguishable from their photoperiod counterparts. But some autoflowering buds tend to be a bit leafy looking. Here are some examples of different autoflowering buds that are ready to harvest.
Auto Lemon OG Haze plant that’s ready to harvest
Cinderella Jack Auto by Dutch Passion (one of the most potent auto-flowering strains I’ve grown so far)
Black Cream Auto plants just before harvest
What If Buds Appear “Burned”?
This bud was too close to LED lights and got burnt, and is ready to harvest. Anytime you see a completely “burned” looking bud without any green leaves left, it’s time to harvest before the quality of the bud starts degrading further.
This plant also got burned from a too-close LED light. When a marijuana plant is damaged this extensively, harvest immediately to prevent further yellowing from spreading to the buds!
Nothing terrible happened to this plant, the grower just wanted to let it go a little longer. However, a plant is usually ready to harvest by the time the sugar leaves are turning yellow.
What About Trichomes?
Looking at the buds themselves is very important, but if you want to ensure the best potency, you also want to look at the glittery trichomes on your buds under a magnifier. By combining looking at the buds with looking at the trichomes, you can pinpoint the perfect time to harvest with any strain!
Read Full Marijuana Harvest Tutorial – with more information and additional tools to help you check if buds are ready
How to Dry and Cure Buds – this process is necessary to ensure a good taste/smell, to prevent headaches, and to increase potency compared to fresh buds