When is an autoflower ready for harvest?
Autoflowering Cannabis plants have been perfected by breeders in the past few decades, and now the result is a thriving autoflowering marketplace. Knowing when is the right time to harvest your indoor or outdoor autoflowering plants will give you an advantage, when the harvest window comes around. In this article, we explain the lifecycle of an autoflowering Cannabis plant, what signs to look for, and what to consider when growing indoor or outdoor.
The life cycle of an autoflowering Cannabis plant
Unlike photoperiod plants that require a 12-hour darkness period before flowering, autoflowering seeds will produce a vegetative plant and then automatically flower after 4 weeks. They are not dependent on the change of a season or timer, meaning in a hot climate they can be easily grown all year long, resulting in perpetual harvests and return on investment from a commercial perspective.
Thanks to the diversity of autoflowering genetics, each auto will have different attributes such as different flowering times, structure, height, aroma, and potency. So, once you understand how autoflowering marijuana plants essentially work, knowing how to identify the harvest window will be much easier.
When should I harvest my autoflower?
If you are a beginner grower and are asking yourself…when is Cannabis ready to harvest? Then, before you get excited and decide to harvest your autoflowering plants indoors or outside, there are a few variables that should be considered.
Just because the seed pack states a date or number of days from seed to harvest, does not mean you should base everything on that golden number. Instead, you should consider the maturity of the plant and many other aspects, as covered below.
How to know when is the moment to harvest an autoflower Cannabis strain?
There are 5 ways that can help guide you to becoming a master of the harvest window, and chopping your plants at the perfect moment. When applying each of the 5 points below, you will be able to have a much better idea of when it is too early, too late or just right!
1. Inspect the trichomes
By using a microscope to inspect a mature bud, you will be able to see the trichomes up close. Within the trichome membrane will sit the essential oils that are responsible for the terpenes and effect.
Clear and translucent trichomes will indicate the plants can be left for longer, the more cloudy and silver means the plants are ready to harvest. Darker amber and red colored mean the plants are at their most mature and will have a more physical effect once smoked.
2. Bud density
How dense and thick your buds will be judged on appearance and a gentle squeeze. Once you are happy with the shape, calyx development and structure of your buds then you can harvest, but if they are underperforming maybe consider leaving for a week more before harvesting.
3. Aroma and terpenes
How aromatic your autoflowering plants become during their final few weeks, will also be an indicator how close you are to harvesting. A lack of aromas can be a sign that the trichomes are not quite yet fully developed.
4. Seed pack harvest date
The number of days stated by a breeder should only ever be used as a guide. Especially when growing with autos outdoors, there are many factors such as climate, the time of year, pot size and nutrients that will all have a heavy influence on when you should harvest.
5. The flush
The flushing period is also a great way to work out when the plants are ready to harvest. The reason being that as the plants are only fed plain water and no more nutrients, they will have a chance to use their final reserves. Flushing should last 10-14 days, and it is during the flush when the plants will truly reveal themselves with resin, aroma, and color.
When to harvest an autoflower that is growing indoors?
Autoflowers that have been grown indoors will produce the best results when grown using HID lighting, such as HPS or LED. It is best to keep the plants growing under either 12 or 18 hours of light. The same checks as above should be applied when growing autos indoors, as the number of days from seed until harvest may slightly differ.
When to harvest an autoflower growing outdoors?
For growers who are fortunate enough to experience a hot climate with long seasons, growing autos from February until November is easily achievable with great results all year long. Depending on the time of year, yields, and the harvest date may vary; however, it will generally be close to the breeder seed pack harvest date.
Every autoflowering plant is different and there are many factors that will influence the final harvest date. If you have done all the checks and are not happy, then be prepared to take the plants a little longer. It is the final weeks when everything comes together and all your hard work, and tender loving care will pay off. Don’t be impatient and always give extra time if you are not confident.