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cannabis harvesting


Harvesting cannabis is a process that requires careful attention to timing and technique. It involves collecting the mature buds and leaves after the plant has completed its flowering stage, which generally lasts eight to twelve weeks, depending on the strain.

Proper harvesting, drying and curing are essential to producing high-quality cannabis with optimal potency, flavour and overall effects.

As the plant matures, it reaches peak potency. This is marked by the transformation of its trichomes—tiny resin glands covering the plant’s surface—from milky white to amber. Similarly, when the pistils (hair-like structures on the buds) change colour from white to orange or brown and darken and curl inward, it indicates that the plant is ready for harvest.

These crucial colour shifts signal the plant’s readiness for harvesting and ensure maximum potency and quality.

Let’s delve into the meticulous harvesting process and the steps involved, where every cut and trim plays a vital role in shaping the final product!


Once deemed ripe for harvest, the delicate cutting and trimming process begins. With surgical precision, the plants are gently severed at their base to begin the trimming phase. Here, the large fan leaves are meticulously removed, setting the stage for the plant’s transformation into a refined product.

Whether opting for wet trimming (trimming the leaves while the plant is still fresh) or dry trimming (trimming after the buds have dried), each method is executed with finesse to preserve the integrity of the buds.


The drying method reflects the grower’s expertise, resources and desired outcome. Whether hanging, racking, boxing, bagging, freezing or employing modern technology, one thing remains clear: proper drying is the outcome cornerstone and a testament to the artistry of harvesting.

cannabis harvesting

Below, we’ll explore the various drying methods in more detail:

Hanging Method: taking place in a room filled with trimmed cannabis plants suspended upside down like a forest of green, the cool, dark air requires the right balance of humidity and temperature, where the buds undergo a transformative journey lasting seven to fourteen days. This drying method ensures that the delicate cannabinoid and terpene profile of the plant remains intact.

Rack Drying: this technique allows for faster drying and uses rows of mesh racks, where each row holds the buds, which are laid out flat. This technique requires a gentle touch to prevent damage to the precious trichomes despite the additional handling.

Box Drying: here, the buds find sanctuary within boxes lined with drying screens, where airflow is the key to success. In this enclosed space, there is a hidden danger—the risk of mould if the airflow is not properly maintained at optimal levels.

Paper Bag Method: a quaint yet effective solution for smaller harvests. Buds nestled within paper bags allow the gentle airflow to work its magic. However, there is a high risk of uneven drying and mould developing, requiring careful monitoring.

Freeze Drying: the realm of cutting-edge technology, where freezing meets vacuum to create a fast-paced drying process. While this method preserves cannabinoids and terpenes with unparalleled precision, it comes at a cost—both in terms of equipment and setup.

Dehumidifiers and Fans: working in harmony, dehumidifiers and fans maintain humidity levels and ensure optimal airflow, accelerating the drying process without compromising quality. Yet, as with any drying method, there exists a delicate balance—over-drying must be avoided at all costs to preserve the integrity of the final product.


Once the drying stage is complete, the cannabis is encased in airtight containers and stored in a cool, dark environment to begin the curing process. During curing, the buds undergo a periodic procedure known as “burping.” This involves regularly opening the airtight containers to release built-up gases and allow fresh air to circulate. Burping can span weeks to months, ultimately enhancing the final flavour, potency and overall quality.

cannabis harvesting


Following curing and before packaging, cannabis plants may undergo irradiation to reduce the presence of harmful microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. While some cannabis products undergo this process, others remain non-irradiated, provided they adhere to acceptable levels of microbes and contaminants as outlined by the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Before irradiation, the batch undergoes cannabinoid and terpene profile testing alongside contaminants. If irradiation is necessary, the cannabis is placed in specialised containers suitable for the process and exposed to ionising radiation. Various methods such as gamma rays, electron beams, or X-rays are employed, each with unique penetration capabilities.

Irradiation is particularly crucial for consumers with compromised immune systems and once this process is complete, the batch may undergo a resting period to ensure microbial levels remain within defined parameters and quality is maintained.


The buds receive a final trim to remove any remaining small leaves and stems. Trimmed buds are then weighed, packaged and stored appropriately to preserve freshness and potency. Properly cured and stored cannabis can retain its potency and flavour for a year or more.


Adhering to Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) throughout the cultivation and initial processing stages will ensure quality standards. This transitions to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for extraction, formulation and packaging, guaranteeing products meet rigorous quality and safety standards suitable for medicinal use.

Compliance with these standards distinguishes medical from street cannabis.

Certificates of Analysis (COA) issued by accredited laboratories detail the chemical composition and safety of cannabis products. The COA includes information such as batch number, testing date, THC and CBD content and levels of other cannabinoids.

Contaminants are also tested to ensure they remain within acceptable limits. Equally, moisture content, affecting shelf life and stability, is rigorously assessed. As such, the COA is a crucial document to ensure quality assurance, regulatory compliance, transparency and consistency throughout production and distribution.

As we have learned, the harvesting processes can vary depending on the methods employed and the desired product specifications. However, the choices made by manufacturers and growing facilities will ultimately determine the quality and specifications of the final product, which is reflected in its price.


Dedicated to providing comprehensive resources and expert insights, our goal is to empower patients with valuable knowledge and support. Here to guide you every step of the way, you can trust Newgrove Pharmacy for reliable information, quality products and compassionate care.

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