How to find Cannabis is ready for harvest based on Trichome ripeness?


Many of us focus so much on the cannabis flowers and all their magical properties! Now, let’s give some attention to the right time to harvest your marijuana!

Trichome ripeness is a good measurement that provides the best moment to harvest your marijuana plant, so we need to first understand what happens to the Trichomes during the last stage of flowering. At this moment, Capitate-stalked Trichomes start to ripe and change their colour.

These Amber Trichomes contain the largest amount of cannabinoids and other compounds. It does not mean that you should harvest all the buds which have turned gold. With the help of a magnifying glass or microscope you can examine the features of trichomes. Let’s dive deep into the colour of trichomes and decide accordingly.

Three types of Trichomes

When you grow marijuana plants indoors, there are several things to consider, including the seeds you plant. The majority of strains yield more when grown outdoors, except those indoor weed seeds specifically bred for indoor cultivation.

There are mainly three (possibly more) types for trichomes according to their colour on cannabis buds, secreting many different cannabinoids (CBD) and other substances. It does not necessarily mean that more trichomes would produce a greater amount of THC. Each strain and each bud would produce its own unique mixture of CBDs and THCs, all of which interact with each other and your body to create many different ‘high’ experiences.

Translucent/Transparent Trichomes

When a fully developed trichome bulbous head looks clear and transparent, it means the trichome has entered its early stage of ripening. Usually it occurs after 56 days of flowering. Consumption at this stage will give you citrus taste and a “high” which is much stimulating or paranoia and less sedative or calm. This happens because less terpene and cannabinoids are produced by the trichome gland at this stage. The pellucid nature of the bulbous head represents the less amount of psycho-activity hence such cannabis is not ready to harvest.

Milky/Cloudy Trichome

Trichome heads slowly become white or cloudy, probably the best moment to harvest most available hybrids. The milky colour represents that cells inside the trichome have partly turned into cannabinoids, terpene, flavonoides and other useful compounds. Because of the presence of several cannabinoid molecules the colour of the bulbous head might look slightly yellow. If you harvest at this stage when most of the trichomes are still milky, the effect will be pronounced cerebral and psychotropic, however the THC level would still not be at its peak.

Amber/Golden Trichome

At this stage, you can observe completely mature trichomes with fully developed bulbous. Most of the ripe trichomes turn completely yellow while some of them could still be milky with a slight golden hue. You need to wait until 70% of trichomes have turned amber to get higher concentration of CBD and THC. This is the moment when most of the growers harvest their plant. If the trichome ripeness level reaches more than 80% of the bud, the quality and concentration of CBDs and THCs would start decreasing gradually. At a later stage the bulbous head would start to shrink and burst. During this time some of the larger and lower fan leaves may begin to yellow and wilt.

However the changes in trichome color can provide a decent guide to the relative levels of CBDs and THCs in each bud. THC develops at an early stage of flowering while CBD molecules develop at a later stage. Milky stages of trichomes usually have peak amounts of THC and flavour imparting molecules called terpenes. When these terpenes turn red or amber in color, CBD production reaches its peak. At this point much of THC content already degraded to CBN adding more sedative effect to CBD. If you observe trichomes carefully you can choose the perfect moment to harvest to meet your own particular preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions on Trichome Ripeness

1. What weed has the most trichomes?
This solely depends on the genetics of the strain, some are genetically bred to produce large amounts of trichomes for more potent and flavorful results. If you are looking for fully powdered strains, you might want to check out White Widow, famous for her frosty, trichome covered look, or OG Kush with its extra-thick trichome structure.

2. Do male weed plants have trichomes?
Male weed plants produce trichomes for various purposes, including a defense mechanism or to facilitate pollination. However male trichomes tend to have less amount of THC and other compounds.

3. How can I get more trichomes on buds?
There are several ways to ensure larger amount of trichomes on the buds:

  • Make sure you give the plant enough light throughout the growing season, as UV light is crucial for trichome production. It is crucial to check your light source in case you are growing it in an indoor grow facility.
  • Use cannabis genetics known for its increased trichome production, like those from the ‘Green rush’ in North America.
  • During the last 2-3 weeks before harvest, you need to drop the humidity to 30% while keeping the temperature under 260C – this is the only proven stress method for boosting trichome growth.

4. Does rain wash away trichomes?
Yes, heavy rains and other human interference can cause damage to trichomes. If the trichomes are fully developed and ripen, such interference could cause more loss of trichomes on the bud.

5. How can I see trichomes without a magnifying glass?
The easiest method you can use to observe the trichomes without a magnifying glass is by using your phone’s camera. Make sure there’s enough light in the room, point the camera at the bud, zoom in until you see the trichomes.

6. How fast do trichomes change color?
This variable largely depends on the strain. Some transitions occur within 5 days of flowering, while others take up to 2 weeks. Make sure to check your trichomes every day.

7. Why does my weed have no trichomes?
Some strains take longer time to produce trichomes while some take less time and effort. There could be problems with trichome production if your seed is of poor quality or genetics. That is why you need to buy seeds from trusted vendors. If that doesn’t help try the tips mentioned above (3).

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  1. Until 60 to 70 % are amber your weed is not ready to harvest. if you don’t wait your weed will not have the maximum of THC And will not reach its full potential.

  2. Richard, that’s old info. Most growers i know who sell to clubs tend to harvest as soon as they see even 1% of amber trichomes.

    The consensus is cloudy is most THC while if you let too much amber like 70%, u start to actually lose smells and flavors from a dank plant as that amber starts losing thc content and if you wait to long, it’ll degrade taking much of the smell and flavour with it.
    (You’d have to really wait almost unbearably long to get to the point where the trichs start actually bursting and falling off.)

    This is only opinion from my own tests as I have tried all 3. Transparent was way too premature, nearly impossible to get the chlorophyll taste out even with a long cure. BE PATIENT HERE AND AT MINIMUM WAIT TILL ALL ARE CLOUDY. THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE AND AT HEIGHT OF TERPS AND THC)

    Still though, it’s all preference if u want all cloudy or 60% or 70% amber. Truly both have benefits as long as you do not cut premature translucent trich bulbs/heads…

    • Hey Ashman, Thanks for your insights on trichomes. But are you growing them in floodlit indoor grow facility? if yes, are the costs workings out for you?

  3. My trichomes are still clear, but have about 25% amber heads. I don’t see them as cloudy. They have been flowering since July 9th. Bubba Kush. What do you think? Are they ready? Or just fooling me?

    • Mine too. Bubble Gum. I believe camera pics look cloudy which is a false image of the pic. 60x loupe showed most all as clear. Give it some more time. Its better than too soon.

  4. I have a godfather OG that I have been growing since Jan and you would think that the trichomes would have changed but they really haven’t. Should I cut it down bf it molds


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