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Bud Ripening – Understanding Over Ripe Buds and Under Ripe Buds

Avoid over ripe buds and under ripe buds

Over ripe buds are as much as a problem as under ripe buds so it’s important to determine correctly when your cannabis plants can be harvested by ripening buds to perfection.

Timing your cannabis harvest might be tricky for growers new to producing or working in a different setting. If you harvest too early, your cannabis buds will not completely blossom, but if you wait too long, you may get overripe buds. This article will cover what happens as cannabis grows and ripens and how to avoid overripe buds in your next grow.

An overview of the cannabis ripening process

The harvesting period might vary depending on the type of cannabis seeds you planted, as well as the strain and the environment you reside in. Cannabis plants often take six to more than ten weeks to develop and ripen. The cannabis harvesting process is very dependent on the particular plant, and it is critical that you understand this if you want your buds to grow properly. Over ripe cannabis develops when a bud is kept on a branch or stem for an extended period. During the harvesting process, the trichomes (plant hairs) become amber rather than clear or milky white. Over ripe buds aren’t as excellent for smoking since some of its lighter leaves break off easily; they are what keep onto the majority of the chemical makeup in a cannabis strain, so as they start coming off, the plant becomes more fragile.

After your cannabis plant has developed for six to nine weeks, it will begin to exhibit indicators that its blooming period is drawing to a close. At this point, you should start harvesting and processing your produce. Take notice if any or all of the following situations occur:

  1. Your trichomes change color from clear to milky white.
  2. The stem between nodes gets drier than previously.
  3. Buds seem more kushy with a deeper green tint as opposed to lighter colors earlier in the vegetative growth stages.
  4. If you see that 70% or more of your trichomes have gone milky white, you have overripe buds at this time. The overall hue will differ according to the strain and the weather.

The phases of ripening cannabis trichomes

Most professional growers have a magnifying glass or lens to inspect the trichome appearance around harvest. Because trichomes contain cannabinoids and Terpenes, they can tell you exactly how the cannabis ripening process is developing.

Immature trichomes

Immature trichomes are transparent and colorless. They occur in modest numbers early in development and rise in density or size as the bloom unfolds. The earliest signs of cloudiness or milkiness indicate that the plant is nearing harvest time. A small number of producers love picking their buds early. However, yields are likely to be lower than their peak, and cannabinoid or terpene production may not have peaked yet.

Mature trichomes

The grower generally looks for the trichome appearance to have altered from ‘mostly clear’ to ‘mostly cloudy’ as the cannabis plant approaches optimum maturity.

Pictures of perfectly ripe buds
Compare pictures of over ripe buds with the above photos of perfectly ripened buds and you will see a big difference in color and shades.

There may be a few amber trichomes and a few clear or colorless trichomes left. This is an excellent balance and an optimal level of ripeness for many people.

Overripe trichomes

Some gardeners like to wait until the look of the trichomes has changed from predominantly hazy to primarily amber. This gives the plant an extra week (or two) of bloom, which may result in a larger yield. If you don’t mind waiting some weeks longer for your harvest and like a heavier impact, a few ready over ripe trichomes on your buds may be something to consider. Also, most cannabis information has pictures of over ripe buds that will aid you in identifying them earlier.

How to correctly trim and harvest your ripe cannabis buds

Cannabis bud trimming is a despised but required phase in the growing process. Trimming your cannabis plants as they grow is a smart idea. It guarantees that you only harvest the healthiest plants with high quality. Removing dead leaves and plant components is critical to promote a robust and healthy plant. Trimming the buds of your cannabis plant may be done in various ways. Cannabis can be trimmed by hand or machine. Machine trimming results in a more visually attractive bud. However, machine trimming is not the ideal option for flavor or potency. Not to mention that it is expensive and wastes a lot of buds. To guarantee that cannabis is handled and processed appropriately, cutting buds by hand necessitates a degree of attention, training, and expertise. You must, for example, learn how to handle the bud so that it does not lose its form or shake off the crystalline resin.

Process of trimming ripe cannabis buds

Step 1: Trim your cannabis and cut the plant’s branches

Cut the branches with an excellent pair of scissors, separating the plant into smaller pieces until you reach the plant’s main stem. If you are dry trimming, you will now hang the plant, whole or in smaller branches, to dry. Three to seven days later, the dried plants will be ready for trimming.

Step 2: Remove the leaves and cut the buds off the branch

Fan leaves are recognizable cannabis leaves that have five or seven points. Get rid of them since they have few to no trichomes. After removing the fan leaves, clip the individual buds off the branches.

Step 3: Trim the buds off

Begin trimming the buds now that you have only the buds remaining. If the buds are too large, cut them into smaller pieces.

  • Trim your stem at the bottom of the cannabis bud as near to the bud as possible without breaking it.
  • Remove the leaves at the bottom that resemble the feet of little birds.
  • Remove any extra plant material and manicure the bud. Tilt the scissors and continue to move them.
  • Make a smooth surface around the buds. This involves cutting the crimson pistils all the way down to the leaves.
  • Place each completed bud in its basin or plate.

Difference between ripe and unripe cannabis buds

Most growers usually confuse ripe buds vs unripe buds. The ripening of cannabis buds takes some time after the plant has finished blooming. Flowering time for feminized seeds is typically 9-10 weeks from start to finish. However, certain quick Indica strains may be harvested in as little as 7-8 weeks of blooming. In comparison, certain long-flowering Sativa strains might take 13 weeks (or longer) to develop and get ready for harvest. As the plant begins to blossom, white hairs, known as pistils, will emerge from the plant’s little calyxes. As flowering cannabis stage progresses, the number of buds will increase. When the buds grow, the stigmas begin to become brown, and the trichomes become more visible; finally, the tips of these glands fill up. Also, after a week or two, most of the stigmas will have turned brown, and the trichomes will have become more visible.

Under ripe buds almost ready to harvest
Under ripe buds almost ready to harvest.

The smell intensifies, but the under ripe buds are not yet ready. Your bud is ready when the trichomes are completely upright, and the trichome caps are visible. They’re oozing with resin. The stigmas are brown. A closer examination of the bud exposes all of the mature blooms. The buds are swelling, and virtually all of the glands are clear, although a few are beginning to become amber or milky white. You should pick the plants at this time. This time typically lasts 72 hours, depending on the strain. They will be heavier if you leave the cannabis buds for a week or two past their ripening phase. However, there is a narrow line between ripe and over-ripe fruit. Also, over-ripe buds may have an overall look of over-ripeness. The trichomes may be amber, and the terpene profile may have gone through fermentation and be less attractive.

What occurs when you wait too long to harvest your cannabis?

If you wait too long before harvesting your buds, various problems may occur. The ultimate result would be early harvested overripe buds or even cannabis that is completely unusable and must be discarded. Furthermore, even if your buds are still usable, waiting too long might result in diminished yield sizes, decreased strength, and a loss in overall cannabis quality. However, there isn’t much you can do to turn back the clock and make your grow usable if you wait too long to harvest your cannabis. You can do nothing to restore your buds’ potency and quality after they have lost their effectiveness. You can only learn your lesson and identify the indicators of early harvested under ripe buds and overripe buds so that your future grows and you harvest on time. Also, you can understand how to ripen buds faster and shock plants before harvest for an adequate stash. Typically, shock ripening means leaving your cannabis plants in the dark for the last three days or so before harvest.

Can you smoke mature cannabis buds?

If you have harvested your cannabis plants a little late, you might wonder if you may still smoke your crop. Some pistils over ripe buds can still be smoked, while others should be discarded immediately. If you find that your leaves have become entirely brown, discard these buds and prune them from your garden. This is typically caused by late harvesting or cannabis deficiencies and nutrient burn, which can spread to other plants in your grow. If your overripe buds are not too far gone and are just discolored and have a diminished fragrance, you should be able to harvest and smoke them. You may have diminished effects because being overripe might lower quality and impair terpenes, but you should still be able to consume.

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Taylor Christianson

Taylor is an indoor expert. Through their writing, they offer a masterclass on growing cannabis indoors, maintaining a productive growing environment, and guiding growers through all the stages of growth both indoors and outdoors. Combining multiple fields of expertise allows for Taylor to give in-depth insights into overall cannabis growing. About this Author

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