Harvest Marijuana
2 min

Cannabis Harvest: Manicuring And Drying

2 min
Growing Seedshop

Most seed banks provide pretty accurate flowering period data for every cannabis strain. Use this as a rough guide. Different phenotypes can deviate from descriptions. Regardless of whether you are cultivating indica, sativa, hybrid or autoflowering cannabis, make the call to harvest based on analysis of flowers.


Before you start chopping cannabis plants down, you must be certain it’s the right time to harvest. In order to make this crucial determination, you need to know what to look for. An eyeball inspection of marijuana flowers in late bloom, specifically the colour of pistils, is the simple method. Be on the lookout for pistils or “hairs” changing colour from white to orange/red. Ideally, 60%+ should have transitioned to an amber colour before buds are ripe for the picking.

Visual inspection of flowering cannabis is not limited to an eyeball inspection. For a more precise crop evaluation, you need to zoom-in on resin. Trichome examination using a pocket microscope with 50x-100x magnification will leave you in no doubt.

Pocket Microscope

A 50%+ majority of milky white heads and some amber trichome mushroom heads indicate peak potency. Some prefer an earlier harvest with a 50-50 mix of clear to chalk-coloured resin heads for a more uplifting high. While a late harvest of mostly amber trichs will deliver a heavier body effect.


  • Gloves - vinyl is preferred but latex works fine too.
  • Trimming scissors - whatever one is most comfortable to hold.
  • Brown paper bags - for smaller buds and leaves.
  • Drying rack - colas and larger buds (or use fishing line).
  • Drying area - tent/wardrobe/shoebox.
  • Roll of baking paper - buds are sticky; don’t make a mess, cover the table with a few sheets.
  • Music and plenty of spliffs, munchies and gourmet coffee - harvesting will take hours (based on 50g per hour) for the average home grower and potentially a period of days for larger crops.


Manicuring Cannabis

Harvesting branch by branch makes for tidier, more professional looking finished bud. Take time to trim as much leaf material from each bud as possible. Wear gloves and don’t handle the flowers. Hold by the stem and clip away leaves with comfortable, sharp trimming scissors. Also, try to avoid partially removing foliage as leaf stems have a tendency to rot inside of buds. Shaggy buds are for amateurs that don’t know any better. Aim to thoroughly manicure about 50g of bud per hour to top-shelf standard.


Drying Cannabis

A slow and steady approach is most effective for drying your precious marijuana harvest. Place popcorn buds in brown paper bags. Sample these in 5-7 days while you wait for the main course. Colas and larger nugs deserve a drying rack; build one or buy one, the choice is yours. Alternatively, use a shoe box with a few air holes. If you insist on leaving a little stem on flowers, hang ‘em up on some fishing line.

The drying environment should be room temp and no more than 50% RH. A drying tent with drying racks is preferred, although a wardrobe and line works fine too. Drying should take 10-14 days and make sure it’s pitch dark as sunlight will degrade the stash.

Make it this far and sure, you can blaze. But, we highly recommend you go the extra mile and cure your marijuana. Curing is the only way to unlock maximum aroma, flavour and potency. Fortunately, we’ve got a blog dedicated to curing to help you through the process.

Top-Shelf Grower

Written by: Top-Shelf Grower
Veteran cannabis cultivator originally from Dublin, Ireland and currently on the loose in southern Spain. 100% committed to Top-Shelf reporting until captured or killed.

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