Reading Trichomes As Harvesting Guide
There has been some great research that accurately details the chemical transitions and characteristics during cannabinoid biosynthesis. The process from tranluscent to cloudy and cloudy to amber is not quite as "clear" as its typically thought. When the resin glands that develop on the flowers of cannabis are transluscent, this indicates active cannabinoid biosynthesis. When the color starts to shift and become opaque, cannabinoid synthesis is slowing.
When the color starts to shift amber, this indicates THC is degrading to CBN. But this is not a direct effect of this oxidative process. However glandular trichome research has shown that the timing of this shift, represents the degradation process and so is a accurate indirect marker of THC degradation to CBN. However what makes things much more complex in the interpretation of the resin glands, is that even when they start to turn amber, this does not mean that THC biosynthesis has slowed, and could mean that more time would allow further increases in cannabinoid levels. Even though THC is degrading to CBN. For example. Amber bulbs that are still transluscent and clear, can be still undergoing cannabinoid biosynthesis faster than THC is being degraded to CBN. However when resin glands start to become opaque, then they are likely degrading and would be wise to harvest at this point.
As far as CBD levels, this is determined mostly by genetics and is hardely influenced by much. However you can use the science of the cannabinoid pathway to determine how to obtain higher CBD levels. When trichomes start to turn opaque, THC synthesis decelerates and CBD is no longer actively being used. This means that CBD levels continue to rise while THC synthesis declines. This may be one of the reasons why different effects are noticed, depending on when the grower decides to harvest.
So to sum
- Transluscent trichomes means THC is actively synthesizing. CBD will be low as CBD molecules quickly become THC during peak biosynthesis. This provides the stimulating, clear, speedy high thats commonly associated with early harvest.
- Cloudy or opaque trichomes is when THC synthesis is slowing, but other cannibinoids are developing more. CBD levels may increase as they are no longer actively being used for THC production. This gives the more comfortable and balanced physcoactive properties, that is preferred by most.
- Translucent with amber are when THC are still at peak biosynthesis but are also degrading to CBN. Remember though, that this does not mean that THC is degrading faster than it is being synthesized. So it may be best to delay harvesting. So as to allow further development of THC until they start to turn opaque.
- Opaque amber trichomes are when THC biosynthesis is slowing and is also degrading to CBN. CBN is mildy physcoactive but is often reported as having negative properties to the euphoric response. Which is why it is often not recommended to let this process develop extensively and to harvest at early signs of amber transtion.
When considering when its best to harvest, you must also consider the genetics and how they will determine the ideal timing. With indica dominant it may be more ideal to harvest before any amber developes and trichomes are cloudy. With sativa dominant you may want to wait a little longer when amber does develop.
As always please comment your thoughts or any questions on the subject.
I wanted to ask- what's your thoughts on staged harvesting ? Meaning cutting the top buds that are more mature and allowing my lower growth to continue for a week or so???
I read about this practice but I'm not sold, the reason it piqued my interest is my autos (mostly all I grow) get very tall at 4-5 ft consistently. I been using the lower buds for oil but I am curious about your thoughts Dr photon. Thanks for reading.
Looking pretty clear. Cannabinoid synthesis starts to decline as it goes through senescence. So when you start seeing browning of the pistils, leaf yellowing and slowed flower growth. Then you know things are getting closer.
It looks like my flowers have a good amount of orange hairs or pistils. but I can clearly see mostly clear trichomes
This was taken 2-3 days ago and I’m on my final stage of late bloom nutes and soon switching to ripen
does that sound good based on pics
So you talked about the multiple harvests from the same grow and how it teaches bad practice. I 100%... if it’s needed (like mine is this grow due to lack of training) I have to ask... I’m flushing now and thinking of doing this. Will it cause plant more harm to flush chop half and then keep growing the rest out? Can I just harvest then re add nutes feed and go another 7-10days and see if anything ripens a little more? Thanks for all your help @drphoton
This confirm the fact that the ripening of the trichomes it's quite an unpredictable process. You can't really tell if it's gonna take 1 day or 3 to mature, then frequent checking is mandatory.
I usually start to check trichomes at the 7th week and I start flushing as soon as I start to see few amber trichomes. I don't mind hairs color, it's not a trustable way to get it right [some strains keeps their pistils almost white].
My opinion is to get most amber trichomes with indica and cloudy with sativas due to their effect.
Also suggest get the ability to view at higher magnification so you can tell what's going on.
If you have a smartphone get a Bluetooth microscope for about $50.
It has 50x to 1000x power, and the ability take pictures.(comes with stand to hold it)
This past harvest (outdoor grower) I took the main tops down and left the rest to develop. The plant was grown in the ground, not coco but trichs are trichs and the tops all showed 100% cloudy and some amber. After allowing another 3 weeks I harvested the rest and it was stronger than the earlier harvest.
With my current coco grow at 11 weeks in flower, outside in the cold, the trichs are all cloudy but flowers are taking their sweet time swelling so I'm leaving them, for now.
So while the science is pretty clear on when to harvest, this strain (Chemdawg x Brutus OG, sativa leaning) a longer flowering/maturing time gives me stronger medicine.