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Amber Alert..A cannaseurs guide to harvesting


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#1 subcool

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Posted May 02 2008 - 10:39 AM

‘Amber Alert’

by Subcool

So you have worked hard for 8 weeks! You have invested money into equipment and possibly genetics; you have invested time and dedication to get to this point. How can you tell when it’s time to harvest your gooey girls? Well ‘fire one up’ and let’s take a look at the best way to be sure you’re harvesting at peak potency, or at least you will better understand what happens in the final weeks, so you can harvest for the specific type of high you prefer.

The harvest window is one aspect of the craft which unfortunately, gets over looked or the grower simply doesn’t have the patience to wait-out the last few days, to insure max THC content. Some strains are better harvested before their peak THC production and some are better harvested after their peak THC production. This is what Robert Clark wrote in his book “Marijuana Botany” about trichomes and what they tell us; “The elevated resin heads appear clear, since fresh resin is still being secreted, often being produced in the cellular head of the trichome. At this time THC acid production is at a peak and CBD acid levels remain stable as the molecules are rapidly converted to THC acids, THC acid synthesis has not been active long enough for a high level of CBN acid to build up from the degradation of THC acid by light and heat. Terpene production is also nearing a peak and the floral clusters are beautifully aromatic. Many cultivators prefer to pick some of their strains during this stage in order to produce marijuana with a clear, cerebral, psychoactive effect It is believed that, in peak floral clusters, the low levels of CBD and CBN allow the high level of THC to act without their sedative effects.”

What the hell does this mean?

When growing Indica hybrids, unless you want to end up on the couch, it’s best to harvest when the trichome heads are fully formed but before they start to cloud over and turn amber. According to the maturation time of the specific strain this could take as little as five days or as long as two weeks. If you allow an Indica to go too long you can dramatically affect the taste and high. Fortunately going too long is not a real problem for most people. I like to study close-up photos taken with a high resolution digital camera; however an inexpensive hand-held microscope works wonders. It almost looks like you are in an alien world when looking at resinated buds using fifty-times-power.

With the Sativa dominant hybrids you want to make sure that all the trichome heads are fully formed and also about thirty percent amber. Letting a plant mature beyond this will risk flavor as well as, the finished smoke may be harsh with very little “high”. There are exceptions as I mentioned; Haze has three different harvest windows all being very late into flower. It is every grower’s job to learn what he or his patients prefer in the terms of “High”.

We have not yet addressed yields because if you are at the third stage of floral maturity with fully form trichomes, then we will have to assume most strains have packed on all their final weight. Even then, there are variables but we can use the guide-lines spelled out below to help gauge the best harvest window for your plants based on the trichomes.



1.[font="] [/font]Fully formed but still clear will provide a cleaner ‘up’ high with less sedative effect; this is the best window for heavy Indicas.

2.[font="] [/font]Fully formed and turning slightly cloudy or milky; this is probably the best time to pick most hybrids available today.

3.[font="] [/font]Fully formed completely cloudy or milky with at least thirty percent of the heads turning amber; this is usually best window for the late maturing Sativa’s such as Haze. This is also a good window when using the plant primarily for Hash production.

#2 subcool

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Posted May 02 2008 - 10:44 AM

Take for instance the Jacks Cleaner harvested at fifty-six days; all trichomes are still visibly clear with very few turning cloudy. At this point it has a very ‘up’ high and an ‘in-the-head’ buzz. I get some good visuals and the lemon flavor is sour and a tad tart. The same plant, left just one more week at sixty-three days flower; the trichomes have turned milky white and a good portion, about thirty to fifty percent, are deep amber almost the color of cola. Taken at this time the smoke is heavy and thick, the lemon zing has been replaced with a musty sweet lemon smell that reminds me of ‘Lemon Heads’ candy. The high is now all body high and very much a sedative. We would smoke this only as our night time medication. It is almost an example of a plant taken too late, however we do this because of the medicinal properties she takes-on at this late stage.

Another example is Killer Queen. At forty-nine days flower, she has a candy-like smell and taste with that same ‘up’ high. If you were to harvest her at sixty days flower, she becomes ‘Super’ Killer Queen, with a more skunk-like smell and a thicker trance-like high.

The mistake to try and avoid is harvesting before the trichomes are fully formed, so as mentioned in the guideline; most growers whom use this method, harvest at the point in which the majority of the heads are cloudy. Harvesting before this window will produce bud that is less potent, containing less essential oils and trepans, causing your finished stash to take on a grassy or green taste, even if it is dried and cured correctly.

Another good method would be harvesting some of the more mature buds, usually being the upper or main colas. This will allow more light to shine down on the lower portion of the plant, not only will the buds mature further but they will also pack on some extra size.

If you have a nice digital camera with a macro feature, try taking some close-up photos and use a photo editing program such as Adobe. This will allow you to zoom in close so you can see what the necked eye cannot see. If this is not an option, Radio Shack sells battery-powered hand-held microscopes for about fifteen dollars.

Take advantage of this information, it will help maximize the results of your favorite strain, or help you determine the harvest window of something new.

#3 BudBill

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Posted May 07 2008 - 05:37 AM

Thanks for the tip on using a digital camera :) Can you suggest some specs on a decent camera that will do the job? Ironically, I just happen to be getting ready to pick one up.

How much validity is there to the claim that, prior to harvest, a period of 24 - 48 hours of complete darkness should be given for increased trichome production?

For harvesting: A rule of thumb was always "at the moment the lights go on" - I always believed this was done to prevent additional water uptake. Is there any additional benefit to this practice?

Thanks my man!
Bill

#4 subcool

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Posted May 07 2008 - 06:57 AM

Near the end of the plants life you can force the plant to produce every last bit of resin possible by tricking the plant by extending the dark cycles, in effect you are giving the plant 3 nights worth of dark in 1 blast which allows the hormone to build up to maximum levels, pushing the plant to finish quicker and produce as much thc as possible.. and ripen thc it has already produced...

Are you looking and a Digi cam or an slr?


Sub

#5 BudBill

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Posted May 07 2008 - 07:51 AM

Near the end of the plants life you can force the plant to produce every last bit of resin possible by tricking the plant by extending the dark cycles, in effect you are giving the plant 3 nights worth of dark in 1 blast which allows the hormone to build up to maximum levels, pushing the plant to finish quicker and produce as much thc as possible.. and ripen thc it has already produced...

Are you looking and a Digi cam or an slr?


Sub


Thanks for the answer :)

For the camera it will be a digital one.

#6 orison319

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Posted May 07 2008 - 08:06 AM

Near the end of the plants life you can force the plant to produce every last bit of resin possible by tricking the plant by extending the dark cycles, in effect you are giving the plant 3 nights worth of dark in 1 blast which allows the hormone to build up to maximum levels, pushing the plant to finish quicker and produce as much thc as possible.. and ripen thc it has already produced.
Sub

yes Ive done this and it was really amazing how it turned out, the plant I believe assumes its dying thus producing more sticky stuff, yippi.. sorry for such simple terms but Ive seen the extreem night cycle to work rather well for a ripening.. Ive never ever mentioned it cause I was thinking someone would call me a fool.. Thats To Cool now Subcool... Thanks.

#7 BudBill

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Posted May 07 2008 - 08:19 AM

yes Ive done this and it was really amazing how it turned out, the plant I believe assumes its dying thus producing more sticky stuff, yippi.. sorry for such simple terms but Ive seen the extreem night cycle to work rather well for a ripening.. Ive never ever mentioned it cause I was thinking someone would call me a fool.. Thats To Cool now Subcool... Thanks.


You are no fool my man. I know that some seed packs have the same recommendation on the back of the packaging. A bud tried a few controlled tests and it was inconclusive. It is always good to hear from "the man" (meaning those who have done it - yourself included) rather than the ole "I heard blah blah" :D Might be time for a revisit.

#8 BudBill

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Posted May 07 2008 - 08:21 AM

Hee hee (been saving these questions) :)

I read/saw (could have been a Cannabis Culture video) in which a reptile light was being used to prompt the plant to increase resin production. The basis was that the resin is being used to protect itself from the UV rays. It was claimed that there was a noticable increase when compared to a non-uv enhanced plant.

My opinion was that the control and confirmation were flawed but the theory was plausible. Its tough to judge similar potency to me at least. Its usually good and good for decent strains of like pheno.

Have you ran into any discussion about "reptile lights" or application of increased UV levels?

Again thanks!!!
Bill

#9 M4N14C42O

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Posted May 07 2008 - 02:12 PM

^I too am also curious about this using of UV lights to increase resin production. I too can't recall where I heard about this but im thinking it was in a International Cannagraphic article......don't quote me on it tho. I've read a few threads where people were discussing/trying them. But really there was no conclusion......so i've always been abit curious about this.

And I can vouch for the 48hrs+ of darkness. I give em' 2 days (48hrs) of darkness. Sure seems to increase the resin a noticeable amount.

#10 subcool

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Posted May 07 2008 - 04:17 PM

We did some testing with UVB and UVa lamps and the results were very inconclusive and UVA can actually make you sick.
What I can tell you is the benifits seemed to only show up in sibling generations when UV lighting was used in spurts during breeding.
To us it wasnt worth the hassle based on the results achieved.

Sub

#11 skullkidnate

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Posted May 07 2008 - 05:12 PM

^I too am also curious about this using of UV lights to increase resin production. I too can't recall where I heard about this but im thinking it was in a International Cannagraphic article......don't quote me on it tho. I've read a few threads where people were discussing/trying them. But really there was no conclusion......so i've always been abit curious about this.

And I can vouch for the 48hrs+ of darkness. I give em' 2 days (48hrs) of darkness. Sure seems to increase the resin a noticeable amount.

I saw a thread or two on IC with people using UV lights and the results were astonishing.

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#12 Freedom_Man

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Posted June 05 2008 - 04:51 AM

so, even if im growing an indica, which has a higher cbd to thc ratio, which is supposed to give off a body stone, if i harvest it with the trichomes looking a certain way, i can get the heady psychedelic high i want?