Knowing When to Harvest

October 18, 2019

Every year, the autumn equinox marks the end of the summer growing season and the beginning of fall and harvest. Depending on your climate and regional location, you may be at a different stage in the harvest process. A number of factors can impact when you harvest, such as insects, impending storms, humidity, elevation, latitude, as well as your crop’s sunlight exposure. No matter your situation, properly identifying your crops’ growth phase is key for producing a high quality product.

Pistil Coloration

According to Meagan Coneybeer-Roberts, Graduate Research Assistant with NC State University’s Alternative Crops and Organics Program, when the pistils on a single cola reach a 60% coloration, the trichome glands transition from a milky tone to amber, and the colas become swollen, the flowers are ready to be cut for drying. When farmers grow for smokable flower, they are primarily harvesting cola-by-cola, selectively harvesting each cola as the plant develops.

Cannabinoid & Terpene Profile

Harvesting too early can be an issue as farmers may recognize that their crop’s flowers look like the centerfold, cannabis flower and believe they are ready for harvest. However, the plants’ pistil and trichome coloration must be an amber tone before their CBD and terpene profiles are fully developed. Since growers harvest for hemp’s cannabinoid and terpene content, it is essential to recognize that this will fluctuate throughout the crop’s growth cycle. So, your harvest time will impact the crop’s cannabinoid and terpene profile and overall crop yield. Therefore, it is essential for growers to test each plant’s cannabinoid content along the way in order to comply with hemp regulations regarding legal THC limits. State regulators collect samples of farmers’ hemp plants to ensure the THC concentration is no more than 0.3% and does not run “hot”. Although early test results may indicate spikes in THC levels, this will stabilize overtime. In conclusion, the most effective method to ensure your crop does not run “hot” is to test early and test often.

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