Grow Journal – A Harvesting Update
A snapshot of my outdoor growing journal shows the wide variety of growing states for my cannabis cultivars.
Each colour signifies either flowering, or the first sighting of cloudy trichomes, or amber trichomes, and finally the “harvest window” as predicted by the seed producer.
Determining the harvest window is a challenge for me. There are many factors to consider:
Weather conditions are now cool, wet, and unpredictable. There are temperature swings from a high of 32°C (+ humidex!) three days ago, down to a frost warning last night – making the harvest window difficult to foresee accurately.
Hail and high winds of October bent and lashed at those poor branches. No apparent damage, but scary to watch!
None of the current autumn weather conditions are optimal for flowering.
Autumn weather also promotes bud rot, which can kill a branch or entire plant in a matter of days, or infect the rest of your crop. Daily close-up inspection of flowers keeps me ahead of major crop losses.
Powdery Mildew thrives at the middle-end of the season. It starts on fan leaves and can spread overnight, even to nearby plants or by transfer from your hands, trimming shears or clothes.
If any disease becomes unmanageable, take down the entire plant and cut your losses.
Another challenge is anticipating the optimum “ripeness” window while allowing for the required 7-10 day flush before harvest.
Some cultivars are destined for harvesting when all the trichomes are cloudy, and others for when 50% of the trichomes are amber – all this is determined by their intended medical use.
Keep track of all the various trichome states with a grow journal, not your memory.
Pistils and Fan Leaves
Pistils should be more dry and coloured than plump and pale.
It can be deceptive because new flowers often continue to appear as the plant is ripening. It is too tempting to wait for these new young pistils to grow and fill out the buds into beautiful thick colas, rather than take all harvest indicators into consideration.
Fan leaves should be starting to turn colour as nutrients are being directed to flower growth. This is a good indicator that harvest is approaching. I trim the largest leaves off as they yellow or become damaged. This opens up air flow and also makes trimming easier.
Apex pistils alone are not good predictors of harvest time.
Once the harvest begins, the labour-intensive trimming begins.
If the whole plant is ready, that will take 6-8 hours to trim, wash and hang for drying. I’m sure others do it faster, but I also check for debris and disease with a jeweller’s loop. It is harder to do this as they dry, and too late to do it when they cure in sealed jars.
If the plant is in different stages from the apex colas down to the “popcorn” flowers, I need 3-5 consecutive days for trimming branches in stages.
If all my plants are ready at once, I am in BIG trouble.
I hear from all experienced outdoor growers that they fear theft this time of year. I read reports of theft in the news and online, even leading to violence.
As a medical (not recreational) grower, this is even more frightening. I want to increase my dose to my prescribed level, but it is cost-prohibitive to do so using purchased flower and oil through licensed producers
At the average $/gram price, theft can be financially devastating.**
There are two of each cultivar in my outdoor grow. Originally I rated them for quality (A or B) in their seedling days just prior to transplanting in the ground, as I wondered if that would carry through their entire life cycle.
The answer is NO!
Early health is not a consistent predictor of harvest health.
Thanks for reading through this long post.
** Keep up with current pricing and ratings for cannabis at pancakenap. Arguably one of the best websites for cannabis reviews, infographics and for his exquisite descriptions and interactive charts.