Harvesting, Drying, and Curing Marijuana


The Green Harvest

So now that you’ve made it through weeks of vegetative and flowering, babysitting your plants and making sure they have everything they need, it’s time to reap the rewards.

I think harvest time is the most exciting part of the grow because it’s almost like a cannabis Christmas. Cleaning and trimming up all the branches to see what sort of gifts you’re getting this season.

To make sure you get the fullest potency and ability to store the weed though, you are going to have to make sure you dry and cure your marijuana after you chop them down. This process takes a few weeks, but it is really easy and only takes a few minutes a day to ensure top quality dankness!

Trichomes Identificantion

Let Her Tell You When She’s Ready

Trichomes are teardrop-shaped appendages that hold a majority of the active cannabinoids in your buds and give your marijuana its characteristic frosty look. As the hairs of your plant start to turn red, you will want to begin examining your trichomes with a magnifying glass (with at least 30x magnification) to determine if the plant’s ready to be cut down.

To determine if your lady is ready, remove a small bud from your marijuana plant and put it on a bright piece of paper. Use your magnification device to examine the trichomes color closely as this will be your determining factor.

  • Clear – Not ready to be harvested. Minimal THC development
  • Opaque/Cloudy – Produces a “mental” high, more focused on brain activity than body
  • Amber – Produces a heavy, couch-lock type high

The most ideal times to harvest your marijuana will depend on the type you are growing. If you have a sativa strain, then it is best to harvest when the trichomes are clouded. If it is an indica strain, then harvest when they are predominantly amber. If you want a little bit of both worlds, there is nothing wrong with harvesting when half are cloudy and half are amber. Experiment with your strain and find the harvest time you prefer best.

Pile of Weed

Cutting & Trimming Your Plant

If the trichomes have told you it’s time to harvest, the first thing you’ll need to do is start cutting off the branches and trimming them down. I like to cut all the branches off first, throw them in a huge pile (like the picture above), then go through and trim each branch down individually.

Once I have all the branches cut off, I have made it a habit to immediately clean up the hydroponics system and all other devices. This makes sure that no rot or mildew develops in my system or on my devices and also encourages me to start my next grow as soon as possible.

You will want to trim off the large fan leaves that have no buds at all and clean up around the buds as much as possible. The more leaves you have, the more moisture that will be in your system which can slow drying and be a haven for mold. However, you obviously can’t trim too much either, or you’ll be trimming off good THC. Use other weed you’ve used as a reference for your trimming and do the best you can; it doesn’t have to be perfect here.

Drying Your Weed

How to Dry Your Buds

Drying pulls as much moisture out of your buds as possible in an efficient way without ruining the quality. Again, the problem with moisture in the buds is that it becomes a breeding ground for mold which can ruin your end product completely and make it smell like absolute shit.

Immediately after you trim your branches, you will want to hang them up in a well ventilated room. A simple oscillating fan is sufficient circulation. Just hang a string up and tie your branches on to let them hang on.

Examine the branches regularly and to detect the growth of any molds. If you find any, it is best to get rid of those buds so the mold cannot spread to the others and fix any problems that may have caused the mold in the first place.

You want the humidity to be low so moisture can readily evaporate from the buds and to keep the risk of mold down. You also do not want any fans blowing directly on the branches. This will cause your buds to dry too quickly and can turn your marijuana into something more resembling hay than weed.

You will want to dry your plants anywhere from 3-10 days depending on environmental conditions. In areas with less humidity, drying will take less time, and higher humidity means longer dry times. You will know the drying process is completed when the branches are breakable. If the branches will only bend, there is still too much moisture, and you need to dry longer.

Drying Your Weed

Curing for the Winter

The process of curing is a lot like the drying process in that one of its primary functions is to remove moisture. However, this process is where flavors and potency can really be enhanced when done correctly.

After you have determined that the buds are dry enough to begin the curing stage, all you have to do is put them in an air tight jar and keep them in a dark, cool place like a cupboard, closet, or even a refrigerator.

When you begin curing, you’ll need to make sure you get rid of excess moisture every day. Do this by pulling the buds out, laying them flat on a paper towel or paper bag, and drying the inside of the jar. After you’re done wiping the moisture away, just put the buds back in the jar and back into storage. After you have aired them out a few times, you shouldn’t need to pull them out for drying any more than once a week or every other week.

You should cure for at least 1-2 weeks, but as long as you’re storing the bud in dark places, they will continue curing and developing that characteristic fresh bud smell. If stored correctly, weed can maintain its potency for at least a year or more.

Enjoy Your Weed

Enjoy Your Buds and Plan the Next Grow

Once you’ve cured your finished product for a little bit, it’s fully ready to serve it’s intended purpose, getting you high. Whether you are a smoker, vaper, or green chef, you’re going to have a swelling level of pride when you finally get that first bit of homegrown THC in your system.

When you’re ready to start growing again, start thinking about all the changes or variations you can make to your grow to improve your next venture. Maybe use a different strain? Try to improve overall yield by getting a better light or custom building your own system? The options are limitless.

I try my best to improve my yields each time or make my job a lot easier by getting new devices to help automate the process. You can find a lot of ideas for grow improvement from Growing Elite Marijuana. I’ve been using it to revise my growing setup each and every time and my yields are over 3x what I was originally starting with.

I hope my guide was helpful to you and if you use it to grow yourself, then I hope you’ll tell me all about it. Not only so I can improve upon the guide and find out what’s working for people but because I love meeting other growers and seeing what kinds of things they’re trying. Until that time though, happy growing and may the pantheon of marijuana deities bless you with a rich bounty of beautiful buds.

  15 Responses to “Harvesting, Drying, and Curing Marijuana”

  1. THe person on this site giving information is misinformed and I would not listen to this person. The ones with higher amber are more potent. and also cloudy sucks. clears ok. but you want all amber. THIS SITE IS A JOKE. ALSO DEPENDS ON YOUR STRAN AND BREED.

    • Clear means almost no trichome development, cloudy is early development, amber is late development. I’m not sure how you could justify saying clear is OK and cloudy isn’t, that alone pretty much discredits your opinion I’d say.

      That being said, cloudy versus amber lead to different highs, so it’s like saying pepperoni pizza sucks just because you like hawaiian pizza. Everyone has their own preference and just because it isn’t in line with yours doesn’t mean it’s incorrect.

      If you think my facts are wrong, you should at least provide evidence that I’m misinformed to give your statement a little credibility rather than just your own personal anecdote.

  2. We are having an Indian summer here in Missouri,mid September with highs in the mid 80s and lows in the upper 60s at nite and I was wondering how long my plants will continue to build bud mass before they need to be harvested. Id like to let them grow as long as possible because they are doing so well and look so pretty and I want to give my girls the chance to fully mature before I have to take them. What is your opinion?

    • You should be looking at the trichomes to determine harvest time. The color of the trichomes will determine what kind of high you get from your plant and will also tell you when your plant is getting close to death. If your trichomes are amber for a long time, plant health will start to deteriorate.

      • so it doesn’t matter how warm it stays… when the trichs start turning determines the time to pick… okay then .. Thanks and heres to you! ““““““““`

      • Your asking questions that don’t have a straight answer. First the clear trichromes will be very psychoactive almost like speed. It can cause hallucinations, this is why you don’t want to harvest too soon. The second stage of development is the cloudy, this is ok to stop here if you are looking for the higher thc. The third stage with the amber helps to develop more of the cannibinoids & make them stronger, the more amber the stronger the cannibinoids, which make it as a whole better. If you wait too long to harvest it starts to degrade the potency, which means you have lower potent flowers then if you harvest them when they are ready.

        Second question… Temperature during growing is VERY VERY important, as well as humidity, ph, ect. So with temps in the mid 80’s are you growing indoors or outdoors. If indoors with temps above 80, you need to add CO2 to help keep your plants healthy or they wont produce much. If outside, then there is not much you can do, but co2 is in the air, so it should be fine, as the plants come from hot humid regions of our country.

        So if you are growing outside, the best way to tell if your plant is ready is to test it. Either the old fashioned way, take a bud or 2 off your plant, decarb it & smoke it, if it gives you the effect you want, then you are ready for harvest, if not try again tomorrow & keep trying daily until it is ready. ( should only be a few days from when you see about 30% red colors on most of your flowers. I think at about 50% red it has gone too far & starts to degrade, but if you are looking for other cannanabinoids, then the more red the better. When you harvest matters, how you dry matters ( always slowly), how long you cure for matters, how often you burp the jars matter. But its medicine & if you are growing for you, make it work best for you & find what you like, you will find information out there that will tell you anything you want to hear & you have no clue which to trust. So instead trust what works best of you.

        • Dont forget to flush a few days ( depends on how you grow your plant) before you harvest. A good PPM meter is essential to knowing your flush is going to work. You cant miss when a plant has not been flushed properly. ( ie you get alot of coughing to go with your medicine). The closest you can get to 0 ppm the smoother the medicine will be for you & the smaller amount of impurities you will get in with your flower, as they can have residuals from fertilizers lingering if not flushed. If you cant afford a PPM meter ( costs about $30 from any hydro store). Then flush until you cant see color in the water & then flush 2-3 more times just to be sure. Then let the plant dry out COMPLETLY and start dropping BEFORE you harvest, this will increase the crystals as well by doing this & make it taste better.

  3. A friend of mine told me that when you harvest you should hang the whole plant upside down so that the thc in the stems and stalks will go into the buds. Is he right or just have his information wrong? Its getting really close to harvest here and I want my girls to be all they can be so all the help would be appreciated.

    • I couldn’t say for sure, but THC is held predominantly within the trichomes and those don’t move whether it’s right side up or upside down, so I sa it has no effect.

      That being said, I think it’s easier to hang plants upside down than any other way.

      • hanging them upside down from the stems, remove the large leaves with no trichromes, trim off the parts of the leaves that have no trichromes (throw those into your compost pile they are useless unless they have crystals on them). This is the best way to dry your plants. Keep them in a dark room with only green light bulb if you need to go into the room for anything during drying to keep from degrading your flowers potency with light leaks. You want to slow dry, fast drying will cause coughing fits when taking your medicine ( due to impurities remaining if fast dried). To slow dry ( depending on your weather). Keep in room that does not go below 60F or above 80F ( may need A/c or a dehumidifier to achieve this). Keep the humidity between 40-55% (need a humidity reader to check on this). Drying time takes at least 3 days but best if you can keep it closer to 5-7 days to slow dry. You know you are done drying when you take a stem & can snap it. If the stem only bends a little it is not ready. Also note that the smell does temporarily go away during drying, but will come back when you start to cure. Once you have your plants dry, then you trim it to suit your needs. Personally i keep as much leaf on the flower as has crystals to make it worth something. Which may be different from what you see at dispensaries, but you have to understand that the sugar leaves have just as much value as the flowers do. Most tinctures, oils, edibles, ect use the trimmed sugar leaves to make the majority of their substance, so dispensaries trim this off to make more products ( ie more money). But trimming it tight is good as well, especially if you also make oils or tinctures to help your condition when vaporizing cant be done ( i like vaporizing instead of smoking, as you get the best from the plant & dont have the fumes from your lighter & cant take advantage of all the cannanibinoids instead of just the THC & trace amounts of the other cannanibinoids that you get from smoking.

        So you have trimmed your flowers how you want them. Next get mason jars ( glass only NO PLASTIC). The seal should not have metal in contact with your flower. Place your trimmed flowers in the mason jar & date it with when it started curing. Place in a dark cupboard. Burp 2-3 times per day until your humidity meter ( that you used in the drying room & needs to fit in your mason jars) shows 62% humidity. Once it stops fluctuating your plants are cured & ready to use. Keep them in the mason jars unless being used & burp the jars every couple of days to keep mold from growing in your jar. I recommend getting 62% humidity packs & placing them in the jars once they are fully cured ( do not use during cure unless you know what you are doing). If your trimmed flowers dont pop back up, then get a cabbage leaf, put a paper towel over the top of your flowers in the jar & then place the cabbage leaf on top of the paper towel & let it sit for about an hour maybe 2, depending. Once humidity is back at or above 62% take the cabbage leaf & paper towel out, curing process may continue, but sometimes it doesnt.

  4. hello sir, can you please reply to me on any answers?
    so my plants were changed at week two from soil to hydro. the plants grew leafs a day! however the color of the plant is extremely lighter. like a yellow green kind of color. do you believe there is deficiency of any of the nutrients? or do you believe it went to shock? any info would be great thanks

    • Lighter color usually indicates nitrogen deficiency, but it’s hard to say without seeing pictures of the leaves.

      If you want some in-depth help, you can get my guide and coaching here

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