Zootly | Timing Is Everything When Harvesting Your Cannabis In South Africa


Words By: Andrew Macfarlane, writer, amateur horticulturist, and budding urban landscaper.

It’s time to think about harvesting in South Africa. Yes, you and your plant made it, maybe with some growing tips from us? If not, maybe next time around.

Now, we know you’re jumping up in the morning, chomping at the bit to harvest your plant, but timing is important. Too soon, and you won’t hit those massive yields your plant wants to give, too late, and you’ll be trying to cure what is basically sleep medication.

Before you say that the seed provider promised it would be ready within a certain timeframe, your plant had been through a lot of different conditions, which has affected its growing speed.

The solution? Time to learn the signs, use your powers of observation, and find a magnifying tool (we recommend a jeweller’s loupe, and yes, we Googled it for you).

There are two methods of determining when to harvest: the pistil (or the hairs on the bud) method, and the trichome (the sticky compound on the flower) method. The latter will require a more powerful magnifying device.

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Let’s firstly go through the Pistil Method.

Pistil Method
Unlike human hair, white pistils are the early stages of the plant’s flowering life. They mean you’ve got a few more weeks to wait. When these hairs start to darken, you’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Darkening pistils mean that the plant is starting to produce more THC.

This isn’t an exact science, so you’re going to have to guess what percentage of the flower has darkened. When 60%-70% of the pistils have darkened on the bud, you can harvest for a higher THC crop. However, if you wait till the later stages, when 70%-90% of the pistils have darkened, this means the plant is digesting the THC and turning it into a more cannabinoid bud – which is more relaxing.

This method isn’t foolproof as some strains don’t turn a different colour. We’d recommend talking to the supplier of the seeds to ask when they recommend harvesting. Our favourite seed banks growing medium supplier and grower is President Seeds, Zootly and The Haze Club guys.

Now if you want to be more precise,  grab your magnifying device and get ready to inspect the trichomes.

Trichome Method
It should go without saying that if you’re using a magnifying glass this is the more precise method. A Trichome, when viewed with a device, is actually a glandular stalk that looks more like a mushroom… mushrooms… I like mushrooms.

Ok, I’m not distracted, I’m focused on writing this blog.

What you’re looking for is the glob, or dewdrop, at the top of the Trichome. If you see some without a head, don’t panic, it’s totally natural. With your jeweller’s loupe in hand, you’re going to investigate the dewdrop on the Trichome.

These droplets are what contribute the highest levels of THC to the bud. When these globules are clear they are in their early stages. The pistils will also be mostly straight and white. When the Trichome starts to become cloudy, they are ready, as they’ve stopped producing more THC.

Also, remember buds age differently, so make sure to keep a loupe on them as well. As a rule of thumb, harvest the top buds and wait a bit longer for the lower flowers to reach maturity (normally the lower ones get less sunlight). Now, there are two different types of trimming – wet and dry.

Wet trimming is done when the bud has been cut off without leaves attached. You are leaving the leaves ‘wet”. It allows for easier harvesting as the leaves are sturdier.

Dry trimming is when you harvest and cure the entire bud with leaves.

We’ll go into details about curing your bud in another blog. No, don’t smoke your crop yet!

Zootly Says: Trichomes do age at different times so it’s up to you to decide when your tipping point is.


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Rumoured to have the blue-prints for Krang's TechnoDrome, stolen straight from Dimension X, he’s the type of guy who exudes so much coolness that he adds whole countries on Facebook at one time instead of just people. Always up for a party and a Tequila shot or two this is the guy who we always call first, both before and after a night out…
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