Harvest time, besides being one of the most rewarding moments for any grower, is sometimes a cause of uncertainty for those people who have not long ago started growing marijuana.

After taking care of the plants during the whole process. Cutting the marijuana at the right time is essential if we want all the dedicated effort to get the reward we deserve.

When to cut marijuana?

when to cut marijuana

Harvest time

The result obtained if it is harvested at the right time is very different from what we will achieve if we go ahead or delay. Most of us will probably cut too early because it is normal to become impatient with harvest cravings.

But when to cut marijuana? It is a common doubt that does not have a mathematical answer but following some advice we can solve without becoming a headache for us.

1. Seed bank references:

All banks tell us how long each variety should be in bloom. Although we can take it as a first reference, it is important to bear in mind that these are indicative values that can serve as an approximate indication when we can cut, or we have to be attentive to the cut, but considering that the times vary according to many factors.

prune marijuana plant

When to cut marijuana

The first approach can be taken as a reference, but we should not think that these values are immovable.

2. Pistiles:

It is very common to have ever heard that plants are cut when “the hair is brown”. This statement is not entirely correct, and we must take account of certain nuances.

The browning of the pistils indicates the degree of oxidation and this can help us to have an approximation of the optimum harvest time. As soon as half of the pistils are brown we can start considering the time to cut the marijuana plant.

tricoma buds

tricoma buds

When they are not very oxidized, the effect of marijuana is more psychoactive. Conversely, when most pistils are brown the effect is narcotic. We may use this information to know when to cut the cannabis plant according to our preferences.

However, pistils can oxidize for reasons other than maturation, such as the lack of irrigation, among many others, is why orienting ourselves by the color of the pistils is not a very reliable method that will often mislead us, and we will not get the expected results.

3. Trichomes:

This is undoubtedly the most reliable and highly recommended method for determining the ideal time of harvest. Observing the trichomes is an infallible way of detecting the moment to cut the marijuana at the right time and enjoy the fruits of our harvest.

Trichomes are the glands where terpenes and cannabinoids are stored and where marijuana resin is secreted. They are stick-shaped with a small ball at the tip, commonly called a lollipop shape.

trichome marijuana

trichome marijuana

Trichomes change color.

Trichomes change color depending on ripening, we can use this information to cut at the right time and to accentuate the desired effects that, although they depend on the variety we are cultivating, we can highlight shortening or lengthening the cutting time.

  1. The transparent tricomas. when the trichomes are very light or transparent in colour are not ripe enough so it is still too early to cut.
  2. The whitish trichomes. when the trichomes acquire a milky white color means that the THC level is very high, and it is a good time to cut if we look for a very psychoactive effect.

Amber tricomas:

When trichomes acquire an amber color, it means that THC has begun to degrade to CBN.

We must be cautious with the maturation of the trichomes because if we go too far, they acquire a very dark tone and it means that we have lengthened the cutting moment too much. The ideal time to harvest is when the majority of trichomes are whitish in color but there are already about 10-15% amber trichomes, this will be the optimal point to cut the plant.

If we prefer the effect of marijuana to be more narcotic, we can wait a little while until the trichomes are more amber but be careful not to overlook it. On the other hand, if we prefer a more psychoactive marijuana we must cut when the trichomes are milky and have not yet passed to amber color.

cannabis pruning tricomas

cannabis pruning tricomas

To observe the trichomes we will need the help of a magnifying glass that allows us to see in detail the shape and color of these trichomes.

What can happen if you cut it out of time?

It is important to cut at the right time. The quantity and quality of our harvest depends directly on the time of cutting. To do it sooner or later is to throw away all the time and effort dedicated to our plants.

If we cut too soon we will not get the production, we could have achieved by cutting at the right time. The buds won’t be dense enough. The drying process will lose a lot of volume, they will be flabby and aerated. In addition, the trichomes will not have segregated so much resin and the flowers will be much less resinous, they will have less flavor and a totally different effect to the one they would have had if we had cut them when he played.

On the other hand, if the moment of the cut passes us, the trichomes will become dark. It will mean that THC has degraded in CBN so the effect is much less psychoactive and potent.

Cutting at the optimum moment.

Warning! Do not confuse CUT with PRUNE, because when we cut a plant is to harvest it, while we can prune a plant with different purposes such as sharing the production or prevent it from having a very large size.

Cutting at the optimum moment is essential to enjoy a quality harvest and get the maximum yield from our plants. To determine the right moment, the ideal thing is to guide ourselves with the advice we have given you before. The bench references and the pistils serve as an approximation, to make us realize that the time of harvest is approaching, and the trichomes indicate us at the right moment of cutting.

Like everything in this life, you learn by doing. Over time we will be able to determine the right time to harvest without having to keep track of trichomes and bank references. We will know that it is already ready simply with the behavior of the plant.

To date, taking these tips into account will be of great help to us. After harvesting, the time comes for drying and curing. Performing these processes in an appropriate way is essential to enjoy our flowers to the fullest. We must pay the same attention as we have given to the other phases of cultivation.


  1. Avatar for Mimi

    Do I cut the plants down in the morning or afternoon, it is gonna to be a hard freeze tomorrow and I forgot?

    • Avatar for Pat

      You can cut anytime of the day you should cut or cover if frost or freezing

      • Avatar for Welsh

        As long as you’re giving them a couple of days in the dark first it doesn’t matter.

  2. Avatar for Chip

    Thank you for explaining this process without going on long and unnecessary tangents that are common on other sites.

  3. Avatar for Boris Trumputin

    There are few things to have in mind, KNOW THE STRAIN, some strains will go reflowering forever and you are gonna see there fresh pistiles forever, you need to know how resistant is your strain to low temps, mold… specially if you are outdoors because this will rule about the harvest time, and because you need to know your strain or chances are you are not gonna make it till harvest. BE READY AND PATIENT, when you get around harvest time, have it all ready to go, then be patient, patient is the best tool growers have no matter what kind of things are you growing. TOUCH, SMELLS, TRY IT, EAT IT, if you can see trichs… wonderfull!! but if you keep growing long time, sooner than later you are gonna learn that thichs colours are just one factor in the list, they are as valious as aroma (potency and quality), resin coverage, weight, eat it or smeels it, etc, etc (lots of people eat it and thats all, they know that way all they need). CUT DOWN, when you know that your plant is drinking less for at least a week, pistils are brown and at least 10% like swallowed (it gonna be almost sure a couple weeks later than breeder advise), there is gonna be a morning or first hours of ligth time that she is gonna stink more than ussual, is a peak of resin (it not gonna last more than 2 days, there can be various smell peaks, specially those strains that like to reflower), cut her right there in that peak first hours in the morning and you are golden, this is why you need to have it all ready and then be patient, this is in a perfect scenario, there are zillions things ruining it all in real life, the good thing is that after first time all things go much more smooth specially if you take your notes (you should take notes unleast you know very well the strain), there is not a light turning green and you can harvest, is you knowing the strain and harvesting when you know that nothing better cant come out having all factors in mind, don’t overthink, the window time is fairly big, even faster autos have a decent week window time, there are not so much diference between clear/milk colour and 10% amber colour if we are talking about the sweet spot, dont get mad if there are 5% or 20% or 0% ambers, diference is gonna be minimal effects wise, but is nice to see trichs colours because they tell you how fast and nice they are maturing, and you can find out how your environment/setup/cares are affecting your flowers. Drying and curing are more delicate process than harvest time IMO

  4. Avatar for Leslie Kirylo

    Thanks for the information! I live in Massachusetts and I’m so scared to cut to early or to late. A friend gave me a plant he new I would be able to grow outside. The leaves are turning purple. It’s windy and cold. The buds on top look great but below they are very small. I don’t think he cut them right when he first started growing. It’s been years since I grew a plant. So the leaves are turning purple and no site of sun until the end of the week. Wish I could send a photo for advice. Should I cut it down?


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