How To Get To Harvest Faster
“I need to harvest as soon as possible. What’s the fastest growth method? What can I do to speed up the time to harvest?”
How to Speed Up Harvest Time
Many of our readers write in to ask about speeding up the time to harvest.
So, how long does it actually take to grow marijuana?
Short Answer: From Day 1 of your marijuana plant’s life to a smokable harvest, you are looking at a window ranging between 3 and 7+ months!
Many factors will affect the total time, but the average grow takes 3-4 months. Learn more about the marijuana growth timeline.
Long Answer: These factors have the greatest impact on total time to harvest:
Plant strain – strain has the largest impact on growing time.
Desired yields – do you want to grow a few grams, a few ounces, or a few pounds?
Growing method – differing grow methods/setups can add or subtract a few weeks or even months!
7 Tactics To Get To Harvest As Quickly As Possible
Faster is not always better, but there are ways that you can speed up the time from seedling to harvest without sacrificing quality, potency or yields.
So today I’d like to share a short guide on how you can reduce the time to harvest, and how you can reduce the amount of time you actually spend tending your plants, and still get outstanding results.
If you’re serious about getting yields as quickly as possible, then these tactics will get you there the right way! Let’s get to it!
1.) Fewer Hours of Light Each Day in Flowering Stage
With photoperiod (regular) strains, you can manipulate the light schedule in the flowering stage to get buds to mature faster. Although most plants will start flowering when they get less than 13 or 14 hours of light a day (that’s when plants usually start flowering outdoors), it can take them a long time to “finish” and be ready to harvest with days that long.
Because of that, it’s recommended to give plants 12 hours of light each day, and 12 hours of dark to get the plant to start flowering, because plants usually finish maturing in about 8-12 weeks after the switch to 12/12.
However, some Sativa and Haze strains are from the equator, and they may not flower properly under a 12/12 light schedule. In that case, a grower can give a plant 10 or 11 hours instead of 12 hours of light a day, like a 11/13 or 10/14 schedule. This will cause the plant to finish flowering faster. In fact, this can be done to any strain to get it to finish flowering faster.
Give plants only 10 or 11 hours of light a day to get buds to mature faster
The one downside is that a shorter flowering stage with less hours of light each day mean that buds get less time to fatten and you will end up with smaller yields. Therefore it’s not recommended to try to get a plant to finish flowering in less than 8 weeks, as you’ll end up with very small yields. This technique is best used if you have a plant that’s been flowering for 2-3 months and doesn’t look like it plans on stopping any time soon.
How can this technique reduce yields? The less light you give your plant overall during its life, and especially in the flowering stage, the less your yields will be in general. A strain that takes longer to finish flowering usually produces bigger yields than a short-flowering strain because it gets so many extra light-hours where it’s making energy and fattening buds.
On a similar note, an auto-flowering plant gets pretty great yields considering it goes from seed to harvest in just 3 months. A big part of that is because they get 18 hours/light a day during their entire flowering period (compared to only 12 a day for regular plants)/ This gives the plant more light each day to produce buds, resulting in bigger yields.
2.) Choose A Quick-Finishing Strain of Marijuana
As you probably know, the life cycle for all marijuana plants is separated into two parts: the vegetative stage and the flowering stage.
The vegetative stage can be shortened by getting the plant to grow faster when she’s young. Yet the length of the flowering stage (the time between when flowers first start forming and when the plant is ready to harvest) is pretty much strain-specific.
That means that once you’ve started flowering a specific strain, there isn’t a whole lot good options to speed things up during the flowering stage.
Note: There are special light schedules, that involve lowering the amount of light each day in the flowering stage, which can sometimes get harvest to come a little quicker. For example a 10-14 schedule (10 hours light, 14 hours dark each day) during the flowering stage may get plants ready to harvest a week or two sooner for some strains, but lowering the amount of light each day combined with harvesting sooner really hurts your yields.
Many Indica hybrids (such as AK-48 and Northern Lights) naturally have very short flowering periods of only 7-9 weeks, which is a shorter flowering time than most other strains.
Hazes and Sativas often take much longer. For example a haze strain (like Haze 1 from Nirvana) can take 3-4 months in the flowering stage before being ready to harvest.
Every different strain has pros and cons, but if time is a factor for you, pay close attention to the length of the flowering stage when deciding which strain to grow. The majority of seed banks list the length of the flowering period as part of their stats for each strain.
Some strains are ‘auto-flowering’ and go through their whole life cycle regardless of light cycle or anything you can control. These strains tend to be ready to harvest in only 2-3 months from seed (though you should definitely expect smaller plants with relatively small yields when choosing an auto-flowering strain).
Auto-flowering strains of marijuana contain higher levels of CBD, a cannabinoid which has been associated with many medical benefits. So they may be the perfect choice for a medical marijuana user who needs to harvest quickly.
Also, check out my recent autoflower grow if you want to see autos in action…
In this auto-flowering grow, I harvested more than 6 ounces in less than 3 months!
3.) Give Plants 24 Hours of Light per Day During the Vegetative Stage
As long as you give your plants more than 14 hours of light a day, they will stay in the vegetative stage. But if you give the plant more light than that, they have more time in the day to grow!
Some growers believe it’s better to give marijuana plants 18 hours of light a day max, with a 6 hour dark period during the vegetative stage.
This is because plants grown under 18/6 tend to be more resilient to problems. If you have a sick plant, just reducing the light period and/or light intensity a little bit can help it recover faster.
Regardless of which is best for plant health, it’s a proven fact that marijuana plants given a full 24 hours of light a day will grow at least a little faster during the vegetative stage (however, you may consider back down to 18/6 if your plant is sick to help it recover from problems faster).
Therefore, if a short time to harvest is of the utmost importantance to you, you may want to consider going with the 24 hour light period during the vegetative stage for fastest growth. Again, this won’t make the plant’s flowering stage go any faster, but it enables you to start the flowering stage a little bit sooner. Speaking of which…
4.) Initiate The Flowering Stage Sooner
You may not realize that regular (non auto-flowering) marijuana plants can be flowered directly from seed.
When I say “flowered,” what I mean is that you can change the light schedule so that it forces your young seedlings to start making buds right away.
You can get a marijuana plant to start flowering by ensuring that it gets 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night, often referred to as the 12-12 light schedule.
This makes the plant “think” winter is coming, and it’ll start making buds as soon as it’s able. This means that your “flowering stage countdown” begins within about a month from the seed being planted.
So for example, Northern Lights has a flowering stage length of about 8 weeks. If you flowered a Northern Lights strain plant from seed, your buds would be ready to harvest in about 11-12 weeks.
Some growers will also flower marijuana clones as soon as they have formed roots, for basically the same effect, though clones tend to start flowering a little faster than a plant put on 12-12 directly from seed.
That being said, flowering from seed is a very inefficient manner of growing. Plants flowered from seed don’t get enough time to grow stems where buds form.
If you want to initiate flowering early, it’s better to do so after after waiting just a bit, so you grow plants that are relatively small but can produce more than a couple of grams worth of bud. This is known as the “Sea of Green” (SoG) technique. A bunch of smaller plants is easy for new growers to manage, plus it gives you the option of trying different strains instead of getting of lot of one strain.
5.) Grow Indoors
Growing outdoors can be more convenient and vastly cheaper for those who happen to live in a place with great growing conditions since the sun and nature are doing a lot of work for you. But outdoor growing isn’t the fastest way to grow and harvest your crop. Though there is an exception….
Outdoors, you must plant in the spring, and wait until late fall to harvest. That means that oudoor grows can take 6+ months. Given the right conditions (high-yielding strain, direct sunlight all day, good soil, avoid pests, etc) you can grow huge plants in that time, that produce pounds of buds.
Yet growing indoors gives you the ultimate control over how big your plants get, how long to keep them in the vegetative stage, and exactly when they start flowering amongst other things. You also have a lot more control over how much bud you’ll end up yielding.
With a well-chosen strain and a good setup, one can harvest several ounces of buds in less than 4 months indoors, which is nearly impossible to do outdoors in the same timeframe.
On a similar note, you might want to consider hydroponics over soil.
You can get faster vegetative growth with almost all hydroponic methods compared to what can be achieved with soil. That means that you could speed up time til harvest by using Deep Water Culture (DWC), Coco coir/perlite, or pretty much any non-soil growing medium. During the flowering stage, this isn’t as important, but this can shave weeks off your vegetative stage time (get straight to growing buds sooner!)
In my experience, top-fed Deep Water Culture hydroponics (also called ‘bubbleponics’) has given me the quickest growth of any hydroponics system I’ve tried.
6.) Pay Attention To Your Plants and Quickly React to Problems
I know this sounds like it doesn’t need to be listed, but it’s a more important job than people think. Every time your plants get sick, it slows down their growth while they try to recover. Every problem your plant runs into can add days or even weeks on to your total grow time.
Simply put: fixing a problem quickly equates to shorter time to harvest.
Plus, by reacting quickly to problems, you will save yourself the stress of trying to deal with a huge problem that’s gotten out of control since you’ve been watching out and adjusting along the way. We all know that problems tend to get much worse when left unchecked!
The more you tend to and baby your plants, the better they will grow, and the faster you will be able to harvest.
For example, the following plant problems will add time onto your grow
- nutrient problems or a pest infestation can dramatically slow down growth, especially for young plants
- heat stress or light burn can not only slow down growth in the vegetative stage, they can prevent buds from maturing properly in the flowering stage
- accidentally re-vegging your budding plants will stop buds from maturing
7.) Make Sure You’re Feeding Plants The Right Type of Nutrients During Each Stage of Growth.
In the vegetative stage, it is important that you give your plants the right nutrients needed to get optimal growth.
Now if you’re starting with a good soil (Fox Farms Ocean Forest soil is a proven choice), you may not need to supplement any nutrients for the first 3-4 weeks, as the nutrients you need are already in the soil.
If you’re growing hydroponically (directly in water, or in a soil-less medium like coco coir), it is essential that you provide all the nutrients your plant needs right from the beginning.
You’ve probably seen ‘N-P-K’ numbers on the bottles of pretty much every nutrient line there is. These number are important to know since cannabis plants use more N (nitrogen) in the vegetative phase, and relatively more P & K (phosphorus & potassium) in the flowering phase. Conversely, giving your plant too much N in the flowering phase will actually slow down bud production. This means that you will harvest smaller yields of less-dense buds in addition to waiting longer for said buds!
This is why you need to either mix your nutrients by hand, or choose a nutrient system that is specifically formulated for the flowering stage of a plant like marijuana. By providing the right nutrients at the right time, you’ll reduce your overall time to harvest.
How Much Time Per Week Does It Take To Grow Cannabis?
Now that you’re equipped with the information to get you to harvest as soon as possible, let’s quickly address another common question we receive about time.
Growers often write in to ask us how much time it will take per week to grow a marijuana plant. We understand that many of you have busy schedules, and want to know if growing your own weed is a realistic goal for you.
The amount of time spent growing varies greatly depending on the method you use to grow, the size you let your plants get and the skill of the grower. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a growing method that’s conducive to spending less time plant-tending.
The truth is, you can grow weed in only 20-30 minutes a week when you use the right techniques and get used to the process of growing. The following article reveals the best way we know to grow lots of potent bud while using a minimum amount of time to do so. We make this happen using a hydroponic style of growing known as Top-fed DWC (aka “bubbleponics”).
Keep in mind that this is a fairly advanced technique, and should only be attempted by intermediate-advanced growers or particularly brave newcomers.
About Nebula Haze:
Medical m arijuana has had a huge impact on my life, and I’m dedicated to showing you how easy it can be to grow your own medical-grade buds.
I have made it my mission in life to make growing information available to anyone, both new and advanced growers, while also working to get marijuana legalized for all adults.
Learn 7 tactics to harvest your weed as quickly as possible…
The 7 Key Stages Of The Marijuana Plant Life Cycle
Are you curious about the natural life cycle of the cannabis plant? Do you want to try your hand at producing your own marijuana harvest, but are unsure about how, exactly, to go about it?
Well, have we got a treat for you!
In this article, the experts at Honest Marijuana will examine the seven key stages of the marijuana plant life cycle.
Along the way, we’ll discuss:
- The importance of labeling the sex of your seeds
- How to encourage germination
- How to recognize embryonic leaves on a marijuana plant seedling
- The importance of light during the vegetative stage
- The difference between the male and female plants
- Why you need to isolate the female plants if you want to produce the most bud
- The best ways to harvest and preserve your marijuana plant
- Planning for the next growing season
After that, we’ll guide you through the entire growth process of the marijuana plant—from germination to seedling; through vegetation, pre-flowering, and flowering; to harvesting and the next seed life-cycle stages of your pot plant.
The History Of The Marijuana Plant
The marijuana plant — like corn and wheat — has been around for a LONG time. “How long?” you ask. Try 12,000 years.
Trace records at Neolithic archaeological sites hint that the Chinese culture at least knew about the marijuana plant between 10,000 and 4,000 years ago.
Somewhere in that time period (probably around 5,000 years ago), legend has it that a Chinese emperor — Shennong by name — “discovered” and put to use the textile, psychoactive, and health benefits of the marijuana plant.
In fact, the legend holds that Shennong first used the marijuana plant to make a tea. He later recommended this tea as a treatment for more than 100 afflictions, including gout, rheumatism, malaria, and absentmindedness.
Fast forward and we find record that the Egyptians of 1500 BCE (some 3,500 years ago) knew about and used the marijuana plant to treat various maladies, including glaucoma and hemorrhoids.
Further down the timeline, Indians (from India) living around 1000 BCE began using the marijuana plant in a special drink called Bhang to provide relief from anxiety, fever, dysentery, sunstroke, phlegm, digestion problems, and decreased appetite.
From there, the marijuana plant made its way into the bowels of Africa, across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, and, more recently, to North and South America.
Believe it or not, though, those original plants from China, India, and Egypt were wildly different than the strains we’re used to today. Those ancient marijuana plants are called landrace strains.
Over the past century, ganja growers recombined the genetics of the marijuana plant to produce certain desirable traits (e.g., flavor, aroma, THC content, and CBD content).
Thing is, no one really wrote anything down about exactly where their plants came from. This lack of record-keeping extends even further back to potheads living thousands of years ago: they really didn’t keep track of which plant came from where. They were just glad to be growing their own crop.
With the advancement of genetic analysis and manipulation in the latter half of the 20th century, biologists no longer have to rely on written records or word-of-mouth to figure out where a plant strain came from.
They can dive right into the plant’s genetic makeup and dissect things from there.
The technical definition of a landrace strain is:
A variety of the marijuana plant that contains less diluted DNA than other strains of cannabis.
What that means for Joe and Jane Average User is that landrace strains contain DNA that is much closer to what it was originally when Shennong first brewed his ganja tea all those many thousands of years ago.
To help you understand landrace strains, let’s track their development through to our modern varieties.
Going back to the Chinese during the Neolithic period, they likely stumbled on a wild species of the marijuana plant. Seeing the plant’s value, they took seeds and planted them in order to grow their own stash.
They may have planted them in China. They may have planted them in India.
The plants that grew in those new locations were directly descended from the original species and are known as landrace strains.
From there, growers continued to breed the marijuana plant to achieve specific results (shorter growing season, bug resistance, cold resistance, etc.). During the course of those 100-200 years, the original landrace strains developed into what we now call our modern hybrid strains.
Are Landrace Strains Better?
Not necessarily. Landrace strains aren’t stronger, more potent, or better in some way. They’re just less diluted genetically than other strains.
This question is like asking if a Ford Model A (built from 1927-1931) is better than a 2019 Ferrari.
Even if you like old cars better, you’ll probably enjoy the ride in a Ferrari more than you would the Model A — the Ferrari is easier to start, is more comfortable, has a smoother ride, and handles better.
It’s similar with the landrace strains. If you have the opportunity to consume a landrace strain, you’ll be experiencing what the plant originally did back when it was closer to being a wild species.
Compared to modern hybrid strains, it might barely get you high or barely relieve your pain.
It would be an interesting experiment, for sure. But if you’re looking for specific results — like a reality-bending high, a reduction in your nausea, or relief from seizures — you’ll definitely be better off with a more recent high-THC or high-CBD strain.
By the way, if you’re looking for the absolute best marijuana you can get, you can’t go wrong with saving your pennies for some organic, pesticide-free cannabis.
So now that you know where your marijuana plant came from, strap yourself in for a wild ride through the basic biology of your favorite weed. It’s sure to be an enjoyable trip.
We’ll start our journey where all good journeys begin: at the origin, the source, the seed.
The Key Stages Of The Marijuana Plant
Stage #1: The Marijuana Plant Seed
Pick up any seed and examine it closely. Turn it over and around. Feel the weight. Notice the shape and the color.
Now tell me if that seed is going to produce a male marijuana plant or a female marijuana plant. Can’t do it, can you? Don’t feel bad. No one can.
But that introduces a major problem into the world of do-it-yourself ganja growing: how can you be sure the seeds you plant will produce the marijuana you want?
This is an important question because only the female plant produces the trichome-rich cola buds that you can harvest to smoke, vape, dab and ingest.
The male plant produces none of that. In fact, the male marijuana plant can actually be a detriment to your cannabis harvest if grown together with female plants.
This is because the male plant’s sole purpose is to pollinate the female plants. And while that doesn’t sound like a bad thing, it actually is.
When female marijuana plants are pollinated, they start using their energy to produce seeds and stop using their energy to feed the buds that we all know and love.
Allowing a male plant to grow alongside a female plant is a recipe for reduced bud harvest and can ruin the euphoric properties of the female cannabis plant’s high-inducing “fruit.” Be sure you separate all male and female plants right away.
So as you can see, it’s good to know if your ganja seeds will produce female plants or male plants before you begin growing them.
But that brings us back to the earlier question: how can you be sure the seeds you plant will produce the marijuana you want?
Many marijuana seeds can look alike so, really, the only way to know for sure if the seed you’re holding is male or female is to label it immediately after removing it from the plant.
Now, obviously, you can’t label the seed itself, but you can put the seeds in a container with other seeds of the same sex.
In the example photo below, you can see the tiny seed in what looks to be a shot glass or small candleholder. The paper label on the front shows the strain (Skunk Special) and the sex (F for female) of this particular seed.
And just to be clear for those of you who are already high as a kite, you don’t need to store each individual seed in its own container. You can fill the container with seeds as long as they are all the same strain and all the same sex.
Just thought we should state that outright before you blow all your hard-earned funds on a gazillion small containers.
For those of you on a budget, the simplest container is a paper bag or envelope, but other types will work as well.
Just make sure that you don’t store your seeds in a plastic bag or some other airtight container. The moisture that gets trapped inside will cause the seed to mold and become useless.
Whatever container you choose, be sure to mark it with the strain name and the sex of the plant so you can keep your strains separated.
When you’re finished sorting your seeds, it’s time to move on to the next stage in the marijuana plant life cycle.
Stage #2: Germination
Germination is the development of a plant from a seed or spore after a period of dormancy. Once you remove the seed from the marijuana plant, it will go dormant until it’s exposed to moisture.
That means that if you keep the seeds dry, you can store them for up to a year without affecting viability.
But should you germinate both the male and female seeds in order to produce quality buds for recreational or medicinal use? We’ll answer that question in the next two sections.
Separate The Males
At this point, you should have a pile of male seeds on your left and a pile of female seeds on your right. The side each sex is on doesn’t really matter as long as they’re separated.
If you want male seeds on the right and female seeds on the left, more power to ya.
Now gather up the male seeds and store them in a dark, dry closet or cupboard. In fact, take a moment and put them in an entirely different room just to be safe.
You’re not going to need them, and you don’t want to take any chance that they’ll somehow affect your female plants.
Gotcha! There really is no risk of cross-contamination unless you plant the male seeds and allow them to grow and mature.
We were just waxing hyperbolic in the previous paragraph to underscore just how unimportant the male seeds are.
Germinate The Females
Now take the female seeds and soak them in a cup of water or fold them up in a damp paper towel.
Chances are, you’ve either done the damp paper towel experiment in science class or you know someone who did. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that you can start the growing process with nothing more than a bit of moisture.
If you choose the cup of water option, you may notice that some seeds will float at first. Don’t worry. They will eventually sink to the bottom as they absorb water, become saturated, and sprout.
Keep in mind that a single marijuana plant can grow to five feet tall with a wingspan (distance left to right) of two to three feet. That can fill up a room rather quickly.
The key point when planning your grow is to give each plant plenty of space. Don’t germinate 20 seeds unless you’ve got the square footage to accommodate that much biological matter.
Leave the wet seed covered in a warm dark place for 24 hours until the seed sprouts its taproot. When the taproot emerges, remove the seed from the cup of water or the damp paper towel and plant it in some good, healthy dirt.
The taproot will then attach itself to the soil and start soaking up the nutrients it needs to continue in the growth cycle. Eventually, the seed will push a new stem up past the surface of the soil.
Thus begins the seedling stage of the marijuana plant life cycle.
Stage #3: Seedling
During the seedling stage, two embryonic leaves will open outward from the stem to receive the sunlight that the baby plant needs to break out of its underground seed casing.
The embryonic leaves will look nothing like the marijuana leaves that you’re used to.
The next pair of leaves to grow from the baby plant will be the first to have the classic rounded points that make the marijuana leaf stand out from all the rest.
The marijuana leaf is so recognizable that many people in the cannabis community use it as a symbol to represent their lifestyle. The image below shows the contrast between the two sets of leaves.
The pair at the top and bottom of the image (top left and bottom right to be more specific) are the embryonic leaves. See how they’re smooth and fairly indistinct?
The pair at the left and right of the image are the marijuana leaves that you’ve come to know so well and love so much. See the serrations along the edges? These are a classic feature of the marijuana leaf.
All in all, the seedling will grow between four and eight leaves during this stage of its development. The seedling phase can last anywhere from one to three weeks depending on:
- Soil type
- Strain of marijuana grown
- Amount of water the seed receives
- Duration of light
- Quality of light
If this is your first or second grow (or even your third, fourth, or fiftieth), you should focus on growing a healthy plant rather than the exact amount of time it takes to get through each stage.
We just supply these general numbers to give you an idea of what to watch for as your plant grows.
So don’t freak out if the seedling phase is a day or two shy of a week or stretches slightly more than three weeks. It’s just a plant, man.
Yes, the end result is your very own homegrown ganja, but it’s not worth getting worked up about. You can always go buy a baggie of your favorite strain from your local dispensary.
That brings us to the next step in the life of the marijuana plant: the vegetative (or vegetation) phase.
Stage #4: Vegetative
During the vegetation phase, the stem will grow thicker and taller and will begin to develop new nodes. These nodes will produce yet more leaves and even new branches.
Because it’s growing and producing leaves and branches, your plant will need plenty of fresh warm water along with:
- Flowing, dry air
- Lots of nitrogen-rich organic nutrients (e.g., liquid fish or seaweed)
- As much soil space as possible
All of this together allows your marijuana plant to grow from an eight-inch baby plant into a two- to three-foot tall tree within the span of three to six weeks.
The plant’s growth largely depends on the rate at which its leaves can gather sunlight and transform it into chemical energy (photosynthesis).
This fact explains why the vegetative plant will need long hours of summer sunlight (12 to 15 or more in the wild) or 18 hours of fluorescent light per day.
The THC tree will halt its upward growth once it starts receiving less natural outdoor daylight or when the indoor grower reduces the plant from 18 to 12 hours of fluorescent light per day.
It’s at this point that the plant enters the pre-flowering phase.
Stage #5: Pre-Flowering
It can take anywhere from one to five months for the growing marijuana plant to enter the pre-flowering stage. When it finally does, you’ll be able to verify that you did indeed plant all females.
If the plant is a male, you’ll see little green banana-like sack structures on the node regions of the plant where the leaves meet the main stem. These sack structures hold pollen and will only appear on male plants.
You can see the difference between the male and the female plant in the picture above.
Male plants must be separated from female plants before the little green sacs burst open and release their pollen.
If you don’t find the male plants in time, and the sacs do burst, the pollen can fertilize the cola of the nearby female plants. This pollination ruins the psychoactive potential of the trichomes the female plant may grow.
When you keep your female marijuana plant from being pollinated by a male plant, you produce what is called a sinsemilla. Sinsemilla (Spanish for ‘without seed’) refers to a female marijuana plant that does not have any seeds because it has not been fertilized by pollen.
Sinsemilla plants produce large amounts of resin as well as fake seedpods, both of which contain high percentages of THC. And really, that’s the goal of every grower, isn’t it?
You can identify sinsemilla plants by the white hairs that emerge from the pear-shaped bracts at their plant nodes.
Keep in mind that sometimes, a plant can be hermaphroditic. This means that it has both sets of reproductive organs (glands and leaves).
Hermaphroditic cannabis plants can actually pollinate themselves and ruin your THC or CBD harvest.
For this reason, it’s important to remain vigilant and to separate and destroy any hermaphroditic plants with female glands and male leaves that carry the potential to pollinate and ruin your psychoactive sinsemilla.
Once the light duration begins to decrease (whether naturally or artificially), the cannabis plant moves into the flowering stage. That’s where we’ll go next.
Stage #6: Flowering
Your plant will continue to grow into sticks and leaves without producing any of the flower’s medicinal qualities unless its light exposure is gradually reduced.
This may mean less time spent in the daylight or by artificially decreasing indoor fluorescent light time from 18 to 12 hours.
During the flowering stage, your pot plant will also require potassium and phosphorus-based nutrients, such as bat guano, in order to set flowers properly.
When it does, though, you’ll begin to see and smell dank trichome-saturated cola buds growing from your plant.
These buds will also produce long, thin, milky-white hairs, or pistils, that will begin to emerge over the next eight to 10 weeks. All of this flowering activity is triggered by a simple reduction in light. Amazing!
After the flowering phase comes the best phase of all: Harvesting! You’re getting close to the end, boys and girls, so hang in there.
Stage #7: Harvesting
You’ll know your cannabis plant is ripe for harvest when the hues of the pistils on the cola buds transform from milky white to reddish orange.
You’ll also want to use a microscope to check the color of the heads of the trichomes oozing out from the ripe cola buds.
You’ll know that your buds are ready for harvest when the trichome heads turn from clear to milky and opaque to amber.
The presence of more amber trichome heads will likely indicate a higher CBD to THC cannabinoid profile ratio in its trichome resin.
If you want to harvest your marijuana plant for its full THC or CBD effects, you DON’T want the trichomes to fall off. If that happens, that means that you let the plant grow too long.
The majority of the cannabinoids are now gone, you won’t enjoy the psychoactive or medicinal effects, and you’ll have to start growing a new batch of marijuana.
Instead, many growers suggest harvesting the crop when half the trichomes on the plant are opaque. In theory, this produces the highest level of THC with the lowest level of CBD (which counteracts the euphoric effects of the former).
The little hairs that grow from inside the calyxes or the pistils are another clue that helps you determine when to harvest your cannabis for the specific kind of chemical properties you want it to contain.
The color of the pistils changes from bright white to rusty orange or brown at the end of the plant’s flowering phase.
On one end of the spectrum, if you notice a higher ratio of white to red pistols, that means your pot will produce more of a euphoric THC high.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you notice a higher ratio of red to white pistols, that means your pot will produce more of a sober, calm CBD stoned feeling.
Squarely in between those two extremes, cannabis crops harvested in the middle of the flowering cycle, when roughly half the trichome heads are opaque and the pistils aren’t yet brown, should produce a more balanced THC-to-CBD blend of cannabinoids.
When you’ve determined that it is indeed time to harvest your bud, you’ll need a good pair of scissors or a sharp pruning tool to cut the trunk from the roots so it can be dried.
Make the cut as close to the base of the plant as possible. Then proceed to cut the tree into smaller branches. Doing so will make it easier to dry the plant.
Once you’ve cut your plant into small sections, string up the pieces and hang them upside down from lines of twine in a dark, cool room with a humidity level of 40 to 50 percent.
The plant matter should remain hanging in this way and in these conditions for four to six days.
While you’re cutting your pot plant into sections for drying, trim the leaves and stems and set them aside.
This material can be trimmed away, saved, and eventually processed to make cannabutter and cannabis concentrate after your buds have dried.
Once your buds are done drying, place them in a wide-mouthed glass mason jar with a screw-top lid. Fill the jars to just below the top but don’t pack the buds in.
Doing so will decrease airflow and cause problems later on.
Store the mason jars in a closet or cabinet where the temperature stays between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Your jars should remain here for one to three weeks in order to cure the buds and finish the harvesting process.
That said, once a day you need to crack open the jars. This allows fresh air to get in and any gases produced by the curing process to get out.
Breeding And Cloning To Continue The Cannabis Life-Cycle
As we touched on above, new, viable pot seeds (able to be planted and produce a new plant) will grow in the colas of the female plants in the two to 16 weeks after they have been pollinated by a nearby male plant.
The pistils on the seedpods may change colors before the pods burst and the new seeds are scattered to the soil below. But this isn’t the only way to get ahold of pot seeds in order to continue the strain.
You can avoid having to germinate new unidentified male seeds and continue the cannabis life cycle of your most successful plants through a process known as sensimilla cloning.
You can grow new, genetically identical versions of your favorite strains year after year by cutting a branch of four or more inches from your best plant and planting it in rooting solution.
This process will stimulate the cut branch into growing a new root that you can then replant. If you do this after every growing season, you will always have new material with which to start your next year’s harvest.
Summing Up The Lifecycle Of The Cannabis Plant
Soak your pot seeds in water or a paper towel to sprout the taproot that will fasten into your soil and germinate into seedlings.
Keep checking the plant’s nodes during the vegetative phase to ensure that you don’t have any unwanted male plants among your crop.
If you do find male plants, be sure to separate them from the female plants. The cannabis plant will continue to vegetate until it begins to receive less light from natural or artificial sources. This will trigger its flowering phase.
Pay attention to the colors of the thin hairs or pistols and the color of the heads of the trichomes in order to determine the right moment to cut and harvest your plant.
Hang the wet weed buds up in a cool, dark, dry space with low humidity for approximately a week.
Before you can enjoy your glorious new buds, you’ll need to cure them in glass mason jars for 1 to 3 weeks while ensuring to open them once per day.
If you’re interested in growing a future set of buds, you can continue the marijuana growth cycle by allowing a male plant to pollinate a female into growing seeds with which you can experiment with, or you can cut a branch from your favorite plant and place it in rooting solution to clone it season after season!
That’s Biology. What About Technology?
In this article, we’ve focused on the biology of the growing marijuana plant from seed to harvest.
But there’s more involved in producing your own cannabis crop than just knowing how to identify the various stages of plant growth.
A successful grow also requires a bit of technology…even if you’re growing your weed outside. To get the inside scoop on that side of the undertaking, check out How To Grow Weed: The Organic Way. Then get started growing!
Curious about the life cycle of the marijuana plant? The experts at Honest Marijuana tell you everything you need to know to grow your very own ganja.