Timing your cannabis harvest can be difficult for those who are new to growing or those who are working in a different environment. If you are too early to harvest, your buds won’t fully bloom, but if you wait too long, then you might get over ripe buds. In this article we will talk about the cannabis ripening process and what happens if you wait too long to harvest your marijuana.
The Ripening Process of Cannabis
Depending on what type of cannabis seeds you have planted, as well as the strain and the environment you live in, the harvesting timeline can vary. Marijuana plants typically take anywhere from six to over ten weeks to grow and ripen. The time period of the marijuana harvest process really depends on each individual plant, and it is crucial that you understand this if you want your cannabis buds to fully develop their THC content.
If a bud has been left too long on its branch or stem, then over ripe cannabis occurs. This happens when the trichomes (plant hairs) turn amber instead of clear or milky white like they should be during the harvesting phase. Over ripe weed isn’t as good for smoking because some of its lighter leaves fall off easily; these are what hold onto most of the chemical makeup in a cannabis strain so once those begin falling off they create a more brittle feel to the plant.
After your cannabis plant has matured over the course of six to nine weeks, it will start showing signs that are its flowering stage is coming to an end. At this time, you should move onto harvesting and processing your product.
Take note if any or all of these conditions arise:
- Your trichomes turn from clear to milky white in color
- The stem between nodes becomes dryer than before
- Buds tend appear more kushy with a darker green shade as opposed to lighter shades earlier on during vegetative growth stages
- If you find that about 70% or more of your trichomes have turned milky white in color then it’s likely over ripe buds at this point. The overall color will vary depending on the strain your are growing and the weather.
What Happens If You Wait Too Long To Harvest Cannabis?
There are many different outcomes that can happen if you continue to wait too long before harvesting. This could result in over ripe buds, or could even result in unusable cannabis if you wait too long.
Some of the most common consequences include:
You will notice a decrease in yield, potency and overall quality depending on how overripe your buds become. While it is true that cannabis continues to develop during flower formation, there comes a point where no amount of time will be able to salvage over mature buds which have lost valuable cannabinoids and terpenes along with THC levels. There may not seem like much change at first, but over mature buds tend to produce an unpleasant smoke as opposed to smooth or harsh hits depending on how cured they were previously stored. A good rule of thumb would be around two weeks before over ripe buds begin to show signs of change.
What Do Over Ripe Buds Look Like?
The list below is an example of what over mature or overripe buds will look like:
- Dried up and shriveled leaves, brown in color
- Buds that are dense with a harsh smoke when broken apart and burning
- A pungent skunk smell instead of the pleasant fruity/herbal fragrance you might be used too smelling from your plants during vegetative growth stages. If this happens, it’s best to throw them away so they do not cause any further problems such as mildew which can spread throughout your garden rather quickly if left unattended.
Can You Still Smoke Mature Cannabis Buds?
The over ripe buds might not be the best to smoke, but this depends on how mature they are.
If there are dried up leaves that have turned brown, they should be thrown away immediately because this means over fertilization which will cause nutrient burn and yellowing in your garden if it’s not caught soon enough. Throw these overripe buds out on the lawn where grass can easily take root or shred them into pieces before throwing them out with your normal trash so no one gets an ‘unwanted surprise’. You want to make sure all parts of the over mature bud is broken down so nothing remains behind for someone else to find.
The dense bud could produce a harsh smoke when broken apart and burned since over ripeness causes a decrease in THC levels and over time, this could mean you’ll have to smoke more of it just so your high is not over quickly.
Discoloration occurs when the buds become too ripe, turning from green into yellow or brown depending on how strong they’ve been over fertilized with nutrients. If you see these signs in your garden then harvest immediately because if left unchecked for even another day will be damaging to your plants which can result in them being burned by any light source that hits their leaves during flowering since over ripening also weakens plant defenses against sun burn. Once again, discard all over ripe parts as soon as possible just like before but shredding won’t work at this stage because bud stems will be too weak to support any weight.
Over ripe buds can also occur when the plant produces pollen which impacts your flower, giving it a harsh taste and making it lose potency over time. Climate conditions can also cause over ripening to happen faster than usual for example if you live in an area where there is less humidity then your plants won’t be able to breathe as well causing them to die off quickly instead of over over ripening gradually over weeks or months like other marijuana varieties would do under the same circumstances so pay attention especially during wintertime because high altitudes tend not receive enough heat or sunlight even though they are closer than ever before meaning that there’s no reason why bud should dry out this fast until early December but after that there’s only dryness.
Will Buds Growing In The Last 2 Weeks or Will They Become Over Ripe Buds?
The last two to three weeks of your grow can be a delicate balance between letting the last few buds swell up and your buds becoming over rip or too mature. If you harvest your buds too early then you are losing out on extra yield that you could harvest but if you harvest too late then you risk the chance of ruining the entire grow because the buds will be too mature to enjoy. During the last few weeks of your grow you should keep a close eye on the size of your buds as well as the overall color of the plant. The color will very depending on the strain you are growing but you should keep an eye out for the trichomes (hairs) going from white to brown as well as the leaves of the plant going from green to yellow.
Those two color transformations of your cannabis plant are a good sign that your plant is becoming over ripe and you need to harvest as soon as possible. If the leaves start turning brown and the leaves begin falling off of the plant then it may be a sign that you have waited too long. It is still possible to harvest them at this point and still enjoy your grow but if you wait too long then there could be issues with the quality of the grow. Your cannabis plant will continue to grow during the last 2 weeks but if you wait too long after that then there could be issues so make sure you time this correctly.