A homegrown cannabis plant from a Stok’d family member
If you’re a great fan of cannabis like we are then you want to support people growing their own weed! Even though we benefit when you buy your gear from us, we support and encourage you to grow and harvest your own cannabis if you’re able to. As Canadians, we are among the very privileged few where growing and smoking ganja is permitted by law. Apart from Quebec and Manitoba who prohibit home grows (wtf you guys?) Canadians are allowed to grow up to 4 cannabis plants at home.
-> To learn more about the history of cannabis in Canada, check out Cannabis In Canada 101
Given that it’s Croptober, many of you will be harvesting, drying, trimming, curing and storing (not always in this order) your home grows and we want to help. We’ve assembled this When To Harvest Weed Guide to support the beginner growers getting the most out of your harvest. And don’t take our word for it: We’ve included expert advice from seasoned growers in the legacy and legal industry. We’ve tried to cover everything from harvest to storage and if you think we missed something important, please comment or email us <Link to IamStoked@stokd.ca >.
We’ve broken down the guide into 4 main sections:
Since most of prohibition excluded even talking about cannabis, we all could use some basic cannabis education. We decided to create a list of key terms that you’ll need to know and understand. Of course if you’re a seasoned growing you may want to skip this section. However, if you’re an old pot head, do hang around and check us for accuracy. If you’re new (or renew) to cannabis here are some terms that you might come across in your education of when to harvest weed:
These minuscule, mushroom-like structures on your cannabis buds will shift in their appearance. A magnifying tool can be a grower’s best friend. When you notice most trichomes turning a milky white, you know your plant is primed for harvesting.
The hair-like structures on the cannabis buds undergo changes too. Once about 60-70% of them have darkened and curled, your cannabis is beckoning to be harvested.
These are aromatic compounds found in many plants, including cannabis plants. They contribute to the scent, flavour, and even potential [redacted 😉] benefits of different cannabis strains. In the context of when and how to harvest weed you’ll want to do everything you can to maintain them. There will be lots of talk about how to preserve terpenes in the guide.
Depending on your chosen method, you might trim your cannabis before or after drying. Be gentle — those trichomes are precious.
This is an important part of harvesting. Once you’ve decided it’s “chop day”, you’ll want to dry your cannabis. You can do this either before or after your trim, see dry trim vs wet trim for more information.
Like cheese, wine or whisky the potency, flavour and terpene profile is enhanced during the curing process. Our professional growers have some great tips lined up below.
You’ll need to have a cool, dark place where you can control moisture levels (ish) to store your harvest. Mason jars are still en vogue for storage vessels.
Always have sharp and clean scissors and pruners. Everyone has their favourite trimming scissors so you might need to try a few different models before you find the ones that work best for you. Trust us, there’s a reason it’s called “Trim Jail” because it takes a long time to do. Having sharp and sterile scissors will help you get out early for good behaviour.
After harvest, your cannabis needs to be stored in containers that will maintain its freshness and prevent mould growth. Common materials include glass jars, which are air-tight and non-reactive, ensuring the cannabis inside remains potent and flavorful. You may have also seen Boveda moisture, aka humidity packs. Growers use these to maintain ideal moisture levels and there’s some debate whether they reduce terpene levels.
A favourite for many in Southwestern Ontario, mason jars maintain the perfect environment for curing. Just remember to keep them in a cool, dark place, much like you would with your homemade preserves.
These humidity packs can help maintain the perfect environment for your cannabis, ensuring it remains fresh and potent. Pick some up at any Stok’d location.
Considering our region’s humidity variations, you’ll soon find whether wet trimming (right after harvesting) or dry trimming (after drying) suits you best. If you don’t know, our resident grower will share their thoughts below.
As with all farming, cannabis cultivation can have environmental repercussions. From water usage to pesticide runoff, it’s crucial for growers, especially in ecologically sensitive areas of Southwestern Ontario, to be mindful of our environmental footprint. If you do purchase weed as well as grow it, you can always drop off your legal cannabis packaging for recycling at Stok’d (we’re saving up for a Muskoka Chair).
This refers to the measures taken to ensure the safe handling and processing of cannabis during and after the harvest. Given the resinous nature of the cannabis plant, it’s essential to wear gloves and use sanitized tools, ensuring there’s no contamination. This reduces the risk of mould, the enemy of many cannabis grows!
This pertains to the amount of cannabis one can consume without adverse effects. As different strains have varying THC and CBD levels, understanding our tolerance and the correct dosage is vital for a safe and enjoyable experience. When you’re growing a few plants at home you might not be sending test flower to the lab but you should still “start low and go slow”, no matter how you’re consuming your harvest.
To find out how to get the most out of harvesting cannabis, check out <Trim 2 Gold LINK>
Growing cannabis, especially for beginners, can come with its set of challenges. Overwatering, harvesting too early or too late, and not monitoring pH levels are some typical errors growers might encounter. But fair not, brave gardeners we brought in the pros to share their expert knowledge!
This involves evaluating the expenses related to growing cannabis versus the potential yield and quality. By optimizing processes and using resources wisely, growers can be more cost-effective when harvesting cannabis. Again if you really want to stretch out your harvest, hold on to that trim and use it for edibles, topicals and concentrates <Link Trim 2 Gold>.
There are some small risks to harvesting cannabis. You may experience strong aromas that can lead to fussy neighbours complaining. You’re not likely getting your products lab certified so there’s a small risk involved. However, the benefits of growing your own weed extend beyond saving money on weed. There’s also the growth or insights you might experience caring for a plant from seed-to-smoke. Overall we feel if you’re able and willing, it’s worth trying at least once.
Home-grown cannabis might differ in quality, potency, and flavour compared to what’s available commercially. Factors like growth mediums, care, and strain selection can play significant roles in these differences. Bottom line, we see homegrown and what you buy from Stok’d to be complementary in nature. There are those that want to grow every bud of weed they consume and we’re here for that! At the same time not everyone can or wants to grow all their weed. Depending on the time of year and your consumption habits your homegrow can last all year or can be done by Christmas. So we feel there’s always a need for both!
It’s imperative for growers in Southwestern Ontario to be aware of the legal framework surrounding cannabis cultivation, including the 4-plant limit as well as local by-laws, condo regulations or home owner association rules. Unfortunately the stigma is still alive in Canada, even if cannabis is legal.
An integral aspect of cultivation is protecting your precious cannabis plants from pests and diseases. This might involve organic methods, like introducing beneficial insects, or using specific products designed for cannabis care.
Just as with any other plant, cannabis has specific nutrient needs to thrive. Understanding and providing the right mix of nutrients can significantly influence the yield and quality of the harvest.
Once you’re done with the job of harvesting cannabis, it can be consumed in various ways: including smoking, vaping, edibles, tinctures, and topicals. Each method offers a distinct experience and might have different effects on the user. Something to consider if you’re trying out new and innovative ways to get high from your homegrown weed!
Cannabis strains vary in flavour, growth characteristics, and effects. Selecting the right strain based on one’s preferences and the specific growing environment can make a big difference in the harvesting outcome. Of course, if you’re only now reading this it might too late to consider but there’s always next year 😅.
Cannabis plants need ample light to thrive, especially during their flowering stage. Whether grown outdoors in the Southwestern Ontario sun or indoors under LED lights, understanding your lighting needs is paramount. We’ll be sure to talk more about this as we get closer to next year’s planting season.
Providing the right amount of water and maintaining the correct pH levels in the growth medium ensures that cannabis plants can absorb nutrients efficiently and grow robustly. This is getting to the science part of growing, something we hope you’ll ease your way into if you’re into it. That said, there’s definitely a place for those intuitive green thumbs who work better by gut instinct.
Of all the questions and wisdom related to drying, curing and storing your homegrown cannabis, when you choose to begin harvesting cannabis can have a huge impact on your crop, both quality and quantity. The timing of your harvest can significantly influence the potency, flavour, and overall quality of your yield.
Understanding the life cycle of your specific cannabis plants plays a role in the question of when to chop. “chill strains” aka indicas, for instance, usually flower for 8-10 weeks, while “thrill strains” aka sativas might take 10-12 weeks or more. Autoflowers have their own unique timeline, often ready in as little as 8 weeks from seed.
One of the primary indicators that your cannabis plants are ready to harvest is the appearance of its trichomes. These tiny, crystal-like structures on the cannabis buds and leaves start as clear and become milky white or amber as the plant matures. When a majority of these trichomes have turned a cloudy white with some amber, it’s typically a good sign that your cannabis is at its peak potency and ready to be harvested.
Additionally, observing the pistils, or the small hair-like structures on the buds, can provide further insight. Initially, these pistils appear white and straight, but as the plant matures, they curl and darken to an amber or reddish-brown hue. When about 60-70% of these pistils have darkened, it might be an opportune moment to begin the harvest. However, it’s crucial to remember that these are general guidelines and the optimal harvest time can vary based on the strain and specific growth conditions.
For the green-thumbed growers of Southwestern Ontario, knowing when it’s time to harvest weed is just as crucial as anticipating the first snowfall in our region. But how do you pinpoint that perfect moment? We asked two grower friends, Handsplants and Niagara Ganja Farmer to share their extensive experience:
“How and when to harvest is different for a lot of people. Over the years a lot of people I know think that because the pistils on the plant have turned brown or orange their plant is now ready to harvest. While this can be a good indicator that your plants are almost down flowering, it is not the method that should be your deciding factor on whether you are going to chop it or not. I’ve seen many times the plant will start to spit out more white hairs and start to go for its “final push” and pack on a little more weight.
The best way to tell when it’s time to harvest would be to use a jeweller’s loupe or a 10x to 50x magnifying glass – one you can see real close with to check the trichomes through the plant. I like to take a sample from the top, middle and bottom and check each one to see the milkyness of the trichomes. Clear trichomes are an indication that you need more time. All milky trichomes would be your best time to harvest as that’s when THC production is at its peak. Amber trichomes means the THC is starting to degrade a bit but also helps to facilitate that couch lock type high. Milky is what you should aim for though.” – Niagara Ganja Farmer
“A loupe or a magnifying glass is key to a good harvest, as trichome colouring will tell you when your plant is ready. When trichomes turn from cloudy to amber, pistils have darkened, buds are swollen, and it has a nice dank, she’s ready to come down. harvest is usually done after 8-10 weeks of flowering. The darker the trichomes, the more indica the plant can lean.” – Handsplants
Once you’ve decided it’s chop day and are ready to harvest, the next step is drying your weed. After the thrill of the harvest season, growers large and small are met with the equally essential task of drying their yield. Proper drying not only preserves the unique flavours and aromas of your cannabis plants but also ensures its longevity and optimal effects. The drying process is an art, a delicate balance of time and patience.
To begin, it’s crucial to remove the large fan leaves from your freshly harvested cannabis plants. These leaves, while essential during the plant’s growth, contain minimal trichomes and can lead to a less smooth smoke when dried. Of course you shouldn’t throw out the leaves as they can be used for a variety of homemade remedies and juices <Link to Trim 2 Gold>
Once the larger leaves are removed, hang your cannabis plants, ideally, in a dark, cool room with a temperature between 15°C to 21°C. The lack of light preserves the rich colours of your buds and ensures THC isn’t degraded. Southwestern Ontario’s weather is a blessing and a curse. While living next to 3 Great Lakes and the resulting humidity can assist in a slow drying process, too much humidity can lead to mould. Thus, maintaining a relative humidity of about 50-60% in the drying space is paramount. This can be achieved using a dehumidifier if necessary.
Your next priority is to ensure that there’s adequate space between each piece to facilitate proper air circulation. Gentle oscillating fans can be used to maintain consistent airflow but direct them away from the cannabis plants to prevent over-drying. Over the course of 7-14 days, you’ll notice the cannabis buds become firm to the touch, and stems will snap rather than bend, signalling that the drying process is nearing its end.
The drying stage, much like the entire cultivation journey, is a dance between nature and nurture. By offering our cannabis the right environment and ample time can ensure their handcrafted buds are preserved at their peak potency, ready for curing, and eventually, a delightful joint, bong hit or vape.
TLDR; Don’t sleep on the drying process, it can make or break your harvest
“Once you’ve determined it’s harvest time, if it’s been kind of wet outside and your plants haven’t really had a chance to get dry you will want to remove the big fan leaves as they can create spots for moisture. If not moisture can get trapped, creating the conditions for mould or bud rot to happen.
The optimal environment for drying would be a dark room with a temperature and humidity of 60-65 degrees and 60% humidity. Now not everyone can achieve this type of environment so try your best to give them a similar environment. A dark room with a fan on the floor–not directly pointing at the cannabis plants–works well. A little trick to bump up humidity in your dry room would be to hang a wet towel. Now let those plants hang for 7 to 10 days roughly OR until your branches are about ready to snap from dryness. I have found this is the optimal time to start trimming.” – Niagara Ganja Farmer
“I prefer to harvest my cannabis plant by the stock/stem, and hang the whole plant upside down to dry, while others prefer taking the plant apart by each stem, and hanging them individually. Either method works, I prefer the first because I believe it leads to a slower drying of the plant, and an overall better smoke.” – Handsplants
Depending on who you talk to, trimming is either a meditative ritual that transforms the raw beauty of the plant into a polished, ready-to-use form, much like sculpting a piece of art. Or, is mind-numbing boredom akin to a prison sentence. We’ll let you decide because either way, proper trimming is essential for both “bag appeal” and a better smoking experience.
Firstly, there’s the age-old debate: wet trimming versus dry trimming. Wet trimming is performed right after the harvest, while the plant is still moist. This method is sometimes favoured in the humid conditions of our region, as it can speed up the drying process and reduce the risk of mould. On the other hand, dry trimming, which is done after the drying process, is said to be gentler on the buds, preserving more trichomes and potentially enhancing the flavour and aroma.
Regardless of the method you choose, arm yourself with a pair of sharp, clean trimming scissors. In the backdrop of a Southwestern Ontario sunset, sit comfortably, perhaps on your sun porch at the cottage or your kitchen table at home.
Start on the sugar leaves, those tiny leaves that peek out of the buds. These are covered in trichomes and are often saved for making edibles or extracts <Trim 2 Gold LINK>. Trim them closely to the buds, shaping them as you go along. Rotate the bud as you trim, ensuring an even and rounded shape.
It’s essential to clean your scissors frequently, as they’ll get sticky from the resin. Some growers swear by having multiple pairs of scissors on hand, switching them out as needed and soaking the used ones in alcohol. Eventually you’ll get through your trim and once you do you’ll be ready for the curing stage.
In conclusion, trimming is not just a post-harvest necessity but an art form, a meditation, and a tribute to the plant you’ve lovingly cultivated. As the scents of freshly trimmed cannabis waft through the air, it serves as a reminder of nature’s gift…ah you get it! We may have gotten a little carried away, it’s possible we might have “tested” some homegrown cannabis before writing this article
“Trimming your plants wet releases chlorophyll from the leaves and affects the taste of the plant. We just spent so much time growing and caring for these plants. Let’s do the harvest right.” – Niagara Ganja Farmer
Southwestern Ontario’s varying humidity and temperature require special considerations when storing your freshly harvested cannabis. After the pivotal stages of growing and drying your cannabis, comes the all-important phase of curing. This age-old ritual, though often overlooked by novices, is what transforms your hard-earned buds into a masterpiece of dank. Proper curing is, in many ways, the defining difference between good and great cannabis.
Upon successfully drying your cannabis, the buds should feel slightly crispy on the outside but remain soft inside. This is when the art of curing begins. For this, you’ll need airtight glass jars; the mason jars commonly found in our region are perfect. Fill each jar about three-quarters full, ensuring the buds aren’t overly compressed. Place them in a cool, dark place, ideally where temperatures linger between 15°C and 21°C. If you have moisture packs and you want to include them now’s the time to do so.
For the first week, open each jar daily for approximately 15 minutes. This process, often termed ‘burping’, allows moisture to escape and fresh air to replace it, ensuring an even cure and preventing mould growth. As days progress, the need to burp the jars will decrease. After the first week, reduce the frequency to every few days. You’ll notice a shift in aroma during this time; an initial grassy smell will evolve into the distinct aromatic profile of the strain you’ve nurtured.
The minimum curing period is two weeks, but for a true connoisseur experience, aim for four to eight weeks. Some dedicated growers in Southwestern Ontario even cure their buds for several months. The result? A smoother smoke, intensified aromas, and a more pronounced flavour profile. It’s worth noting that while drying locks in the cannabinoid profile, curing can enhance the overall experience.
Curing, much like the finest wine or cheese ageing traditions, is a testament to patience and craftsmanship. It’s a final, loving touch that homegrowers bestow upon their cherished cannabis, ensuring every puff is a perfect blend of art, science, and nature’s bounty.
“Once your plants are trimmed up it’s time to start breaking down the plant into manageable sized portions and placing them in a container of your choice. This will continue the curing and drying process by properly pulling moisture from inside the stocks and flowers where it is trapped and redistributing in their entirety. I personally do this and then remove the buds after a day or two to let them dry out a little more after the moisture has been redistributed to my desired dryness. Once I have achieved the dryness I like my cannabis at, it’s time to start the cure.
I always do a smoke test at this point. Sometimes the weed is already good at this point so the cure time can vary for each plant. As for jars, there are the classic mason jars which almost everyone uses and have worked well for many years. We also have the option of Miron jars which are UV protected which will help preserve your cannabinoids better than a mason jar as it won’t let light in.
Now let those buds cure! First you’ll want to find a cool, dark place. If you chose the old mason jar method or just a bucket with a lid that’s fine make sure to burp your jars [open lid to let air escape] or buckets and try to air fluff the buds every so often. If you chose the grove bags just let them do its thing until your bud is ready to smoke! May your fruits be sweet or gassy (because we love gas) and harvests bountiful!” – Niagara Ganja Farmer
We hope you enjoyed our guide to When To Harvest Weed. The main thing we wanted to convey is that a) We love and encourage everyone who can, to grow their own weed at least once and b) That with a little help from growers, the internet and the cannabis community, everyone who chooses to can utilize cannabis they grew and harvested.
Of course if you want to get fully stocked up on the best legal weed in Southwestern Ontario, add to your harvest with a trip to one of our 4 locations!