The different colors of cannabis trichomes give an indication of when the plants have the highest THC and should therefore be harvested. Usually, it takes about two weeks for trichomes to turn completely amber from being milky white. Indica strains may take a shorter time than sativa strains to turn amber. While sativas should be harvested when most of the trichomes are still cloudy (70%), indicas should be harvested when most have turned amber (70%).
There are four different kinds of amber that you should know about:
- Yellow amber
- Red amber
- Brown amber
- Black amber
Trichomes turn amber due to a process of oxidation. At this point, the cells that produce THC and other cannabinoids will start to die. While milky white trichomes are associated with a clear-headed high, amber trichomes give a heady buzz with potent body effects.
Here is a little more information on the stages of trichome development.
Stages of Trichome Development
This is the first stage of trichome development and it features tiny trichomes that are translucent in color. The resin glands are still developing and hence the potency is low. It is not advisable to harvest at this point.
When trichomes turn cloudy, it means that resin glands are fully developed and THC production is at the highest level. At this point, the trichomes produce an energizing heady effect and it’s okay to harvest sativas when most of the trichomes have this color. At this stage the THC amounts are likely to be high while the CBD is likely to be minimal.
Cloudy trichomes will turn amber due to a process of oxidation. Amber trichomes produce a strong body effect known as the couch-lock. Amber trichomes are likely to have low THC and high CBD.
These trichomes have a mix of both cloudy and amber colors. Hybrid strains should be harvested when the trichomes are mixed. For sativa-dominant strains, aim for a time when at least 70% of the trichomes are still cloudy. For indica dominant strains, wait until 70% have turned amber. For a balanced hybrid, harvest when half of the trichomes have turned amber and the other half are still white.
When to Harvest Cannabis
- Cannabis should not be harvested when the trichomes are clear
- Sativa strains should be harvested when at least 70% of the trichomes are still cloudy
- Indica strains should be harvested when most of the trichomes have turned amber
- Balanced hybrids should be harvested when half of the trichomes are cloudy and the other half have turned amber
How long does it take for trichomes to change color?
This will vary depending on the strain of cannabis in question. Generally, indica strains tend to mature faster than sativas. Consequently, indica strains will have their trichomes turn color sooner than sativa strains. Once the plants have reached the flowering stage it will take 5 days to two weeks for the clear trichomes to become milky white. Once they are milky, trichomes will remain with this color for about two weeks after which they will start turning amber. It is important to keep track of your trichomes every day.
What should my trichomes look like when I flush?
You should flush your plants when the trichomes are clear and a few have started to become milky white. It is advisable to monitor trichomes closely so that you can know when the plants are ready for harvest. When the trichomes start to turn from translucent to a milky color, this is an indication that the resin glands are fully developed and THC production is at its highest.
What happens if you wait too long to harvest?
Timing is very important when it comes to harvesting cannabis. If you wait too long before you harvest you are going to miss out on maximizing potency. Once the trichomes start to turn from milky white to amber the levels of THC begin to decline.
Understanding the different stages through which trichomes develop will help you time your harvest so as to maximize THC production. That said, other factors such as genetics and environmental conditions influence the potency and effects that are produced by a cannabis strain.