Harvesting Basics


By Roach

The Good Earth Organics

Can you believe it’s harvest time already? Seems like we were just prepping our soil for transplant and now here we are getting ready to pull our ladies down. I genuinely hope everyone has had a great growing season and is prepared for a bountiful harvest! We’re almost ready for vacation and I expect to be seeing each of you at Mt.Bachelor this year for shots of Fireball and extra unsafe skiing but before that let the roach give you a few tips for harvest season that will ensure all your hard work wasn’t for nothing.

When we harvest, our trim technique, how we dry, and the manner in which we store our material plays a major roll in the quality and longevity of our Cannabis. You and your patients will be consuming this for the next year so lets be sure to treat it properly so we aren’t all smoking brown hay by next September.

A big mistake I see a lot of my customers make is not pulling at the right time. Most pull far too early rather than late although I do see a bit of late pulling too, waiting for some kind of weight to come that just isn’t going to happen. The first hint of danger comes when a customer has some kind of set finish time in their head about a strain they have. “I’m growing Willy’s Wonder and it’s done on September 25th every year.” Unless you have a an exact phenotype you’ve been growing for many seasons from clone off the same mother then you never really know if that Willy’s is the same as the Willy’s you read about on the internet or the Willy’s you grew 3 seasons ago or the Willy’s your bro grows over in Williams. Even if you do have the very same phenotype from a mother you’ve been keeping and growing season after season the weather can shorten or postpone your finish date, but if you’re an experienced enough grower to keep a mother for years and dial in a strain then you already know all this.

Planning a set pull date based on your strain regardless of weather or other conditions is shooting yourself in the foot. We’ll never be able to get out of reading the plant and pulling at the right time. So, when is the right time? Some pull based on the color of the hairs which can be deceptive. Different strains have different colored hairs, I don’t think we can pull based on how red or purple our hairs are. I try to pull based crystal appearance. The crystals of your Cannabis will go through 4 distinct phases. First they’ll look like gooey little spikes, then they grow a clear head like a little mushroom, the heads then fill and get milky opaque, and finally they start turning amber and dying. No matter how fat your buds are or what color the hairs are you have to start pulling your plant once too many of the amber crystals start dying off.

Your plant has maximum THC levels when the heads are full and milky, the only problem is they never get full and milky at the same time. Once crystals start turning amber your Cannabis begins to lose potency and conversely if crystals are clear then they haven’t yet grown to full potency. Generally speaking about 15%-20% amber crystals is when you will have the most milky crystals as well and your plant be at full potency before it starts to lose potency again. I pull in many phases, often referred to as grazing. You’ll find some buds show 15% amber before others and so I will pull the buds that are ready and leave the ones that aren’t. Sounds simple, right? It is. This also helps me manage my space through harvest which can be a huge issue for some growers. There can come a time late each season that I can’t seem to stay ahead of the mold in which case it’s better to pull than get nothing, but until that day comes I find myself watching the weather and grazing from late September often until the middle of November. Spraying Actinovate every couple of days through out harvest season will greatly decrease your chances of getting ravaged by Powdery Mildew or Botrytis, so don’t start slacking after your first graze.

Next comes trimming. Will you trim wet or dry?

Most commercial growers trim wet because they don’t have the space or time to wait for a dry trim. A large plant hanging or even bucked down to individual stems takes up far more space than trimmed buds on racks. Trimmed buds will also dry much faster. For some of you efficiency will override quality and so wet trimming with a machine will probably be the route for you.

Barrel trimmers such as the Twister and table trimmers such as the TrimPro provide the speedy trim you’re looking for but one unfortunate consequence of these machines is that the trim is considered to be almost completely unusable by processors. With the advance of the butane hash oil market, as well as other extracts, trim has become very valuable compared to years past where one could consider it trash.

Aside from getting many pounds of valuable trim; bud that slow dries with a lot of the sugar leaf on it cures better and usually has more oils, crystals and a more attractive odor than wet trimmed material that’s dried faster.

Whether trimming wet or dry, dry your material at 50%-60% humidity and around 50-60 degrees. Some light airflow by a couple circulating fans on low is advised. Once your Cannabis stems crack that’s generally the best time to start “burping” it. This is a lengthy and tedious process where you repeatedly seal then open a preferably air tight container in which your Cannabis is stored for possibly up to a month until you draw out all of the moisture and get your Cannabis ultimately to the moisture content in which it will be stored permanently. 62% humidity is the ideal moisture for finished Cannabis.

A product I’ve found that greatly reduces my time and effort in curing is called Boveda Humidipaks. Originally formulated for the boutique cigar market, this product is a 2-way humidity pack that can add or release moisture as needed and they make a 62% version just for Cannabis. I’ve found that I can completely eliminate the burping process by letting my Cannabis dry just a little more than I normally would if I was going to burp, then seal a pound in a turkey bag with a large Humidipak. The curing process will take much longer this way so it may not be a viable option for Cannabis that is to be immediately consumed. Early on there will be a fresh grassy odor from the Humidipak sealed material which is pretty unattractive but, like a fine wine, over time is when the Humidipak material shows its value.

Many months after being stored if left sealed in the proper conditions the Humidipak sealed Cannabis keeps its freshness far better than storing alone or with orange peels or tortilla shells or whatever else people use. I’m told over and over again how fresh my Cannabis seems like it was just taken down last week and we’re talking about stuff that’s getting cracked open in May! So for long term storage I definitely recommend these little gems.

The final and possibly most important step of taking care of a harvest is how we store our finished Cannabis. Humidity fluctuations, temperature, and light are a few factors that could completely ruin your material in the months following your harvest. If possible we want to try to keep a constant temperature. Under 80 degrees is advised so most of your homes in a closet should be fine as most of us keep our homes temperature in the low 70’s. Also try to keep your Cannabis out of the light as UV rays can break down crystals and change color.

Not letting your material get too dry then moist again is also very important. Try to get it at that 62% range then keep it there constantly if possible. Once again for the price of the Humidipaks at around $4.00 per large pack I think one can get a lot of value compared to the effort of monitoring your stored Cannabis continually.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next issue where we make use of the fact that we have cards all year round and not just in the Spring and Summer months. I’ll talk about a few nice enclosed hydroponic closet systems and self contained cabinet systems we can use to get some nice added value out of our cards and some premium material to boot.

Until then see you on the mountain and as always stay safe and happy growing!

OCC Staff

Oregon Cannabis Connections capable staff or contributors. Contributors names will be noted. OCCNewspaper.com, covering the Oregon Cannabis Community and beyond, since 2010!

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