A small home-grower that grows for its own consumption would like to harvest sufficient weed from its own harvest for its personal marijuana use. In this article you will read tips and tricks to improve the quality and weight of your marijuana harvest.
How do I improve my marijuana harvest?
The base for a good harvest does not only lie in good care. What you get out also has to be there genetically. Therefore, first start with quality seeds of marijuana strains with good genetics that comply with your preferences. Classic strains known to bring big yields are for example Big Bud, Amnesia Haze, Super Silver Haze, Power Plant and Money Maker.
Water and nutrition - Better too little than too much
The most frequent error in the cultivation of a marijuana plant is: giving too much water. An important rule of thumb in cultivating is: too much is worse than too little. This is valid for both watering and nutrition. Small seedlings do not need a lot of moisture. Humid soil doesn't stimulate the development of roots of the seedlings, they simply don't have to look for water. Also for bigger plants too much water is bad. Roots need oxygen and in wet soil there is shortage of this. Want to learn more? Read our blog about Plagron nutrients.
Consequence of too much water
The wrong bacteria will start rotting processes by which the plant roots are seriously affected. The need for water differs per strain or plant. The temperature and the growth or blooming phase play an important role here. Flowering plants and outdoor plants that grow in the full sun need more water. Make it a habit to lift the pot of the marijuana plant every day. By the weight of the pot during the cultivation you will learn whether it needs water or not.
Look at your marijuana plant
As mentioned earlier: also nutrition is frequently provided too early and too much. All well-intended, yet it disrupts the medium in which the plant grows and blooms. The roots can burn from too much nutrition. What you have given once, you cannot take out anymore. Be moderate with nutrition and halve the dose that is indicated on the bottle. Only start with nutrition when the nutrition from the soil is finished. A marijuana plant will show its need for nutrition, so pay attention to how they look.
Color of the marijuana plant says everything about nutrition
The color of a marijuana plant tells you everything about the plant. Light-green means hunger and you can provide (more) nutrition. Dark-green means satisfied, stop for a while and give a bit less next time. A sufficiently nourished marijuana plant is nicely, uniformly green in color. A marijuana plant that received too much nutrition has burnt end of leafs and a deep dull green, almost blueish color. Only provide nutrition when the plant produces buds everywhere, not at the first indications of flowering. A marijuana plant that starts to flower first needs a growing spurt for at least 2 weeks and needs nutrition for growth.
Whether or not to adjust the pH value
The nutrition that you give also needs to be taken up by the plant to obtain a good harvest. Consider to buy a pH meter when you use mineral nutrition such as Plagron Terra. This way you can ensure that the irrigation water and nutrition water always have a pH value in between 5.8 and 6.3. For organic cultivation adjusting the pH value of nutrition or water is less necessary. These nutrients are mostly taken up indirectly without the intervention of beneficial bacterias from the soil. Because the uptake of nutrition is direct, you do need to taken this into account with organic cultivation. Providing nutrition too frequent will then still result in an overdose.
What you put in, you will also take out
Use a bud booster such as Green Sensation from Plagron in the second part of the flowering period. This way, you improve your harvest directly and you prevent a shortage of Potassium or Phosphor. Sugar Royal, also from Plagin, is a growth and bloom stimulator. Because it stimulates the production of leaves, the plant is ready to produce a large harvest. Give Sugar Royal from the 3rd week of the growing period till a week before the end of the blooming phase. Both products work in a different way and you can use it in combination. Green Sensation gives a higher EC value, reduce the bloom fertilizer when you give Green Sensation.
Light is weight
The term 'light is weight' already indicates that apart from nutrition, sufficient light is very important for a good harvest. It's difficult to provide too much light, a marijuana plant can receive a maximum of 100.000 lux per square meter. Because of photosynthesis the marijuana plant transforms light into energy to grow and bloom. Light is weight is a well-known saying of growers, and it's true.
Without enough good light a marijuana plant will stretch by which a lot of energy is lost. Furthermore, the buds on the branches of an outstretched, long plant are not so well illuminated. Try to cultivate plants that have the same height and put the lamps as close as possible to the buds.
Temperature constant “big harvest in the hand”
A relatively constant temperature is important for a big harvest. But keep an eye that the temperature between the peaks will not become too high! Fluffy buds that are not compact is often the result of too high temperatures. Try to keep the temperatures below 27 degrees.
Also when the lamp turns off, try to prevent that the temperature difference between day and night will not be bigger than 10 degrees. A cold night or too much difference between day and night will cost the plant a lot of recuperation time to the detriment of the harvest. Good ventilation in the cultivation room is important for the supply of fresh air with oxygen and CO2. It is ideal when the used warm air is filtered and is transported outdoors without any smell.
Many Indica strains grow in the well-known Christmas tree model. Sativa strains can grow very tall with long branches that need support to help support the buds. There are different cultivation techniques that are focused to light the buds as good as possible.
For a ScrOG, for example, the plant will first be topped in the growth phase and the branches are guided along horizontally stretched net. The net will grow full of buds, all located directly under the lamp.
Another manipulation technique to improve your harvest is snipping off the heads of the plant. By snipping off the top head or the upper end of a branch, a plant will make several buds. You apply snipping off heads and other manipulation techniques to a young plant that is still growing. You don't do this to a flowering marijuana plant.
Often the lower small branches of a young marijuana plant are also removed, this is called trimming. The idea behind this is that lower branches will produce smaller, not fully developed buds, as they are located at the biggest distance from the light source. The plant will put all its energy into other buds that are being lit well.
Washing and stressing increase the THC content
At the end of the blooming phase a marijuana plant is washed. About two weeks before the expected harvest date, you will only give (acidified) water. This will clean all nutrients from the medium and plant. Do not confuse washing with an overdose of water, too much water is always wrong! By washing out the nutrients the marijuana will become softer in taste. Unwashed marijuana is sharp in taste and coughs annoyingly.
In the last week of washing there are a couple of stress techniques that are meant to increase the production of resins with THC by the plant.
A well-known method is cleavage of a plant. The stem is split at the bottom by making a slit in the middle with a sharp knife. By opening the split with the knife a pencil or branch can be pushed through. The sap flow is know halved but not completely interrupted. To protect its buds the plant will produce extra terpenes and THC.
Another well-known method is to give the plant ice-cold water in the last week or put it in complete darkness during the last 2 days. Apply stress techniques only in the last week of the blooming phase = washing phase. Stressed female marijuana plants can develop masculine properties to pollinate themselves. Because they always need about twee weeks time for this, you won't risk fertilization, which results in more seeds than buds.
Patience will be rewarded
The last but not the least important tip to improve your harvest is your patience. A marijuana plant in the blooming phase is working on thickening and hardening its buds. Most marijuana plants have a period of 2-3 weeks in which you can harvest them. If you harvest too early, you will have a smaller yield and less potent marijuana. Let the buds ripe well before you start harvesting and obtain the best taste, potency and yield out of your harvest.
With a microscope or magnifier you can observe the trichomes of the marijuana plant to determine the right moment of harvest. Harvest when the trichomes are mostly milky, then the marijuana will have a more ‘high’ effect. To more amber-colored the trichomes, the more stoned the effect of the weed.
Patience is a virtue, but do not wait untill all trichomes are amber-colored. When the marijuana becomes too ripe, the THC is degraded and transformed into CBN, which doesn't have any psychoactive effect.