When Is The Best Time To Harvest Outdoor Marijuana Plants?


Finally, after months of preparation, work, and careful maintenance, the time to harvest your marijuana will arrive. Harvesting is not as easy a task as just cutting down your marijuana plants, waiting a week or so for them to dry, and then getting as high as a kite. There are still signs to watch for and critical mistakes to avoid, or you risk nullifying all of your hard work over the preceding months.


The most important of these is getting the timing right. Watching the weather and paying close attention to your marijuana plants will let you know when they are ready for harvest. After a certain point, the potency of marijuana plants will begin to degrade from its peak point. But harvesting too soon can be worse in terms of reducing the potential potency/yield of your plants. Balancing this means understanding the rhythm of the blooming period that your marijuana plants will undergo. If in doubt, it is best to err on the side of patience. Download my free marijuana grow bible for more tips about growing marijuana.

Throughout the flowering period, the end stage of your cannabis crop’s development, the sun’s strength in conjunction with the changing seasons should be your guide. The plant, through its changing appearance, will also send signals that clearly identify when the right time has arrived. Keep an eye on the weather since the conditions on the day you actually cut the plants is very important.

Also make sure there is a plan to cut and move your plants. Do you want to take the whole plant or is it safe to cut them on site? Use seal bags for transportation to avoid strong marijuana odor in your car and make sure the route you take is safe. Let a friend drive in front of you or check the route first. Your drying room should be prepared and ready to use. You’re almost there…

If you want to start growing, download my free grow guide and order some marijuana seeds. All top quality marijuana seeds are available in my marijuana seed shop. We ship seeds to the US, CA and many other countries. For any growing related question please visit the marijuana support page.

Source: ILoveGrowingMarijuana.Com



About Author

Robert Bergman is a master marijuana grower. Robert Bergman is the author of 'Marijuana Plant Care' and 'The Marijuana Grow Bible'.

  • Brion Eduardo

    Here’s the important thing, and I’m EXTREMELY surprised that the author skipped over it: Outdoor plants should be harvested at dawn (or right before dawn) after as many dry, sunny days as possible (two minimum, unless your in the wet, wet PNW).

    • HeyJah


      • bushman

        because your plants THC production is at its higest at night and just before the sun rises. your plants production of THC and related chems are a roller coaster. higher at night due to not being degraded by light. also let your plants go a couple of days plus without water before harvesting to promote maximum resin production. when depribed of water, your plants will produce more THC and resin in a defensive response….nuff said!

        • Brion Eduardo

          Thanks for explaining what this slowpoke was too tardy to explain, lol.

        • HeyJah

          Thanks for the input Bushman – I’ll be investigating this!

        • Andrew

          while everything bushman says is correct s/he forgot to mention that it is best to chop em before they see the morning light because during the night the plant stores their nutrients in the roots. if they are growing outdoors they’re on their own schedule – influenced by the moon and other unseen forces. i would pick an hour before the sun comes up. when the plant senses morning the xylem starts pumping up from the roots into the plant matter, infusing it with water which could lead to mold while drying, or at the very least slower dry times. the phloem takes the nutrients to the buds and leaves which will burn harsh and leave black ash. also make sure you do a two week flush when you notice your trichomes first turn amber if you are using non-organic fertiliser. you can use epsom salt and molasses pretty much until a few days before harvest, but let the soil dry out like bushman says. happy growing!!

        • Rick

          Hey bushman, I somewhat disagree with harvesting at dawn, because throughout the night due has settled causing the plants to be wet, and are more likely to mold as result of the moisture. When a plant produces THC the potency doesn’t go away in daylight. It’s better to harvest midday after the sun drys the due then you’re good-to-go.

    • HeyJah

      I’m genuinely curious about the logic behind this harvest technique – what makes the dawn/pre-dawn harvest time so ideal?

      • Brion Eduardo

        Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back. “Bushman” has a great answer below.

  • Tyler

    How long does budding take because I have an out door plant &the season is changeling and I DT wanna kill the plant

    • HeyJah

      Typically a plant takes 8 – 10 weeks to finish up. Most official strains will provide this info. As the season changes it will get colder, and possibly wetter. Your garden may suddenly fall into shade – and you may have to judge when your plant just is not gaining anymore – and harvest it before you start losing out to mold, bud rustlers, etc. Good luck!

  • Juan Canales

    I got 3 plant growing, there r 1 foot high how long should i keep them in the pot before i take them out

    • da guru

      don’t take them out shock will kill them

  • ragsy

    My plant has been budding for 6 weeks now top looks ready bottom still has white pistols how do you know????

    • Gmoney

      Wait 8 weeks + white hairs turn darker depending on strain as they mature. Get a 60x scope and check for cloudy-Amber trichs. Observe the clear trichs over time to see the progress which helps in getting the timing right.

      • Casey Friloux

        Would this 1 be about ready

    • da guru

      it’s ready fool its full of seeds dum ass

      • jman

        I think ur reaply was for kaz, he the dumb shit with the plant full of seeds

  • kaz

    Hi ive got a plant growin its outdoors ive didnt nothing at all with it just planted seed in pot an left outdoors this is it in pic wat do I do with it now

    • Amirmohammad

      Its male!
      you should try the female one to use!

    • Smoker

      Would this 1 be ready?

    • NorCal Cookie Fam

      males are actually good if you plan on continuing your growing career. Make sure that he’s isolated away from any females and cut him down. Also be careful with the pollen sacks of the seeds and make sure it doesnt start to come out and blow (powdery) in the wind, it will infect your other females in your garden. But cut it down, put it in a freezer bag ( better to vacuum seal then put it in freezer) and freeze it. Now you have the genetics stored away in case you ever want to experiment and cross another plant with those genetics or for seeds even. I have several Top shelf strains stored away and have had some for the past 16 years, some original shit that no one can get their hands on. But I’ve done this over the years and have started my own genetic library. good-luck…..


  • john

    We just had a bad hail storm here in Colo. Is there any way to save the buds that had to be cut off or broke off the plants?? Thanks for any help.

  • jman

    I am gettin mold on one of my outdoorplants, iv cut away the iinfected area but im startin to notice more lil bits showing up I mean very small, im not into smoking moldy shit but iI also dont want to throw away all my bud, if there is tiny bits of mold on the bud when I dry it will it spread or do I need to cut it all off before I dry it, id like to dry it and then try to cut the lil moldy bits off if possible, also cus I dont wna spread more mold spors messin with it

  • 80sBaby

    I have a plant going out side I think someone has a male around somewhere because I have things that look like seeds but are opening up to hairs and budding together looks wierd can anyone tell me if this is a bad thing I was told it could be a hormaphadike

  • mark

    I have a couple outdoor plants that are flowering and some of the water leaves are turning upside down! Any thoughts?

  • Mis

    After pulling ur marijuana from ground how much are u allowed to hang & dry ?

  • Casey Friloux

    Would this 1 B ready to harvest?

  • Angelo Calip

    Can i get help first time grower , outdoor gsc , can I harvest ??

  • david

    How much longer till buds start showing? This is the 3rd month still none and I’ve been growing indoors any answers??

  • recbob

    I was just going to answer, right before the DEA show up

  • Helmi Hepi Noer

    I plant it in 4 month. How long I can harvest it ?
    Sorry for the background. In my country. I must carefully to plant it !
    Can I drop Fertilizer ?

  • Helmi Hepi Noer

    I had plant it in 4 month
    How long I can harvest it ?
    oya.. can I gave them fertilizer ?
    SORRY for the background…
    we must carefully to plant it in my country… :'(

  • Misty Michelle Tiller

    I am a first time grower….. I need advice on how to do everything… You can email me@ mistytiller64@gmail.com….. Please help ASAP

  • casper

    I am building a planter box 4′ x 4′ and 3′ deep. I am filling it with Sunshine #4. I am putting 1 clone in it. Any recommendations???

  • SA.Transkei

    Hi there guys, I am a first time grower, and actually didn’t intend on growing really, I found a wild plant in my garden ( moved it to a pot when it was still small) and as I Live in South Africa I am hoping that it’s a good transkei gold or swazi gold strain. But i have had this plant for about 4-5 months now and it’s starting to get pistils. so i would like to know from you guys If you maybe think that it will start getting bigger buds and maybe the estimated time that you believe it might have left until harvest. ? And just basic tips from experienced growers, it would be great to get some good comments please guys, see below for pictures. Thanks

    • patrickswazi


      Also from Saffa (CT). This lady is the early in the flowering cycle. The buds should become significantly bigger. Feed with something like Organiksol (not Nitrosol, too late in the cycle for that) and a little bonemeal in the pot, and it should bud like it’s being paid to. That looks like swazi. Should produce a good yield. Because the plant wasnt topped or FIM’ed it may need some support when the cola grows. Well-fed swazi colas become HUGE. Hit me up if you need some more local help.

    • patrickswazi

      look here to see what some local swazi looks like in full bloom.


    • patrickswazi

      The powers that be on this site won’t let me post a link here, but look on grasscity forums and search for swazi to see what some really nice local swazi buds looks like in full bloom.

      • SA.Transkei

        Hey Patrick, thanks man got the link though.
        Thanks for the info man appreciate it and Yeah will def hit You up if i need more help the buds have grown ALOT in the last 2 weeks. Think it’s gonna be a good Yield.

  • jack

    my plant is 2 weeks away from picking but seeds are starting to form do I pull it straight away

  • Jared

    I’m doing a research project on the growing industry, do you know which months are considered “Peak Growing Season” for outdoor cannabis? Also, is this pretty standard across all states / the west coast region or does it change by location?

  • Jake F

    I started to grow my plant in May it is now the end of August when should the harvest begin?

    • J C Uncapher

      the budding process usually takes 60 to 90 days depending on the strain,,, that’s from the time you first start to see buds beginning to form on the plant

      • smokinjo29

        I hate to say this, but there is only 4 types. Indica, Sativa, Ruderalis and Hemp. If you want to get technical, Hops is the 5th. But there is no THC in Hops to my knowledge. Indica is a short plant that has the highest THC in all plants. Sativa runs up second and Ruderalis wonders as it is also known as auto bloom. Its hard to find what one is what, but when I started from seed, I noticed a difference in the seeds as some were spotted and some had long wavy lines. In my history, the ones with long dark lines could be Indica and the spotted ones could be Sativa. Im not sure. If we can talk to the growers in certain areas, there are experts better than Americans, in different countries. They have out door growing done without question. Maybe we can get some of those professionals information. Or maybe they can make a book and profit from sales. Grow well and wise.

        • J C Uncapher

          just exactly what does your answer have to do with the question that was asked above by Jake F, or the answer that I gave him???

          absolutely nothing from what I can see… try to stick to the conversation at hand!!!

  • Jake F

    I started growing in may it is now the end of August when will I start seeing the buds? Pls respond i’m very concerned that it’s not going to harvest

    • J C Uncapher

      you should already see buds on the plant/plants, they should have started budding with the shortening of days at the end of June or the beginning of August… if they were to start budding now they wouldn’t finish until November and depending on where you actually live (what state) they could be seriously affected by cold weather

      you can force it to start budding by using a process called light depravation, only allow it to get 12 hours of light and make sure it gets 12 hours of dark by covering it if it is planted in the ground outside… if its in a planter/pot move it to a completely dark area for 12 hours at night then back out into the light during the daytime for 12 hours…continue this process until it shows signs of budding, which usually takes about a week or two

  • smokinjo29

    My buddy started his in April and here we are at September. One plant is huge and started budding in July, but seems he is waiting till the stems start to go purble. He says that is when the oils are heavy to protect the plant till it freezes. However, the sun leaves are starting to yellow and fall off. He still says to wait. I say pull it while the leaves are falling since its fall or should he wait till the first frost? He waited till the first frost last year and there was some bud rot in the middle …… was it to late for the peak of its THC content?

  • Allie

    I’m in week 5 of flowering. Outdoor grow. I have no idea if I should harvest or not. I’m still in 80 degree temps, lots of sun…i have huge stems of flowers…advice?!?

  • Teddy Hav

    My plants are getting close to harvest, we have been picking the fan leaves before they turn yellow & drying them. Is there any reason to keep them? & if so what do we use them for? Also does the curing process work on the sugar leaves or just buds?

    • Jan

      Soke them In 91pure alcohol like everclear use a coffe filter to drain out the dabre let the alcohol evaporate and you have some low grade hash wax.

  • Rachel

    My plants have just started budding!!! My question and worry is ….that my plants are to close together and they are in a pot. Should I pull out or put them in a larger pot?

    • A-Trizzle

      I would just leave them and let continue to give them nutrients and lots of light. Next time you grow make sure you don’t put multiple plants in one pot. The plants fight for food and water and kill each other off basically. If growing from seed use little pots then transfer to big ones. Remember: Herb growing isn’t a sprint, its a marathon…Peace.

    • ar.dude

      How big is the pot most people use 5 gallons buckects outside . you probably be OK with 2plants per pot.

      • Christopher Melot

        No five gallons are way to small i would go fifteen or twenty gallons per one plant

        • Kade Buller

          yeah i got a couple 5 gal fabric pots and 3 of my 4 plants were rootbound…..with roots attaching to the walls.

    • Christopher Melot

      If they just started to bud i would put them in double the size you have for nice big buds. As long as the plants not block each other’s light you should be ok just watch out for mold or bugs where they meet

    • Tango57

      Carefully put them in a 5 gallon pot without disturbing the roots. Use coat hanger wire to gently pull your plants away from each other by hooking the plant about 5 inches up from the to the edge of the pot. Allow about 5 days for the plant to straighten itself then shorten the wire if necessary to pull them apart a bit more. Trim up the inside areas between the plants to allow the sun to penetrate. Don’t forget to clean up the useless bud sites towards the inside of the stalk, you want your plants energy going to the end buds.

      Good Luck!

  • ar.dude

    Just because it’s really sticky does that mean that is is ready has plenty of crystals allover it ate do I wait?

    • ar.dude

      So how much longer do you think I have look at the crystal s and they show to be milky half way dark

    • Kade Buller

      Just because it has a lot of buds, sticky, and a lot of trichomes does not necessarily mean its ready for harvest. youll want to get a magnifying glass and see if the trichomes are cloudy. If they are mostly cloudy that means the THC is fully realized and at peak potency. If you see amber colored trichomes i would harvest immediately.

      • Ar-dude

        The tryclones are Amber during the day but what about all the white big ones that are turning red. Should they all turn red are should some stay white

  • Wayne Stevens

    I have a plant that is 5′ tall full of bud, it is a supper sunk, when should I pick it.???

    • Tango57

      Carefully clip a suger leaf from the cola and examine the mushroom shaped trichomes under a microscope with a minimum of 30X. When tricomes are clear it’s to early, when you see them turn cloudy they are at peak potency. Prepare the plant for harvest by removing the water leaves, one to two days in advance. Because photosynthesis happens by day, cut your plant at the end of the dark cycle, because the starches from the photosythesis are still in the roots not in your bud, these starches give your smoke a harsh taste and will take extra time to get rid of during the curing phase.

      If this is your first grow, there are plenty of You Tube vidios to help you you with trimming techniques, tips on drying, and a myriad of opinions on curing.

      Good Luck!

  • nikki

    last week I took a piece off of my 4 week flowering femaie, to do what I seen in a video called super cropping. Baby she is outside now getting about 12-13 hrs of sunshine. Im worried that she wont actually going into veggie state growing outside , this is only my 2nd crop so any advice on my next step would be awesome. I’m even considering getting some inside equipment to make it work.

    • alvaro

      Só much humidity use a desumidificator to get less humidity

    • First timer

      The outdoors can never hurt things. Nature will work wanders. But you posted 5 days ago. 9/16/15 you don’t have much good weather left. Hopefully in your case we have a long summer right into fall.

  • Matty

    Your ladies haven’t started to bud yet? Mine have been budding since 8/17, but I had pre-flowers before that. Yesterday, on one of them, the leaves curled upwards, started getting some brown spots, brownish-gray up the sides of some leaves, yellowing leaves. I have no idea WTF is going on?? No clue!! Can’t pin point what it is!! Help!

    • Tango57

      It sounds like overfertilization. If your plant is in say a 5 gallon pot, flush your soil with fresh water, 3 gallons of water per 1 gallon of soil for a total of 15 gallons over the regular course of your watering routine, not all at once. Remember that the nutritional needs of your ladies will change once they starts to flower. There are many nutrition tables online to give you some guidance.

      Good Luck!

      • Matty

        Hey thanks for hitting me back. I appreciate it. Yeah that one, got worse and just died. I’ve never seen anything like it, within 2 days the plant went from green with yellow leaves, to what I described in my other post, and now, but sites have turned almost brown. It’s done I know that, shit is basically dead. I lost it. My other one seems to be doing much better. I tried to flush it, but it didn’t work. Yesterday when I woke up, the curled up leaves seemed to be uncurled, but once I watered it was over. the leaves then curled up again and the plant looked horrible. It happened so quick. But thanks again. This wasn’t my 1st grow either. Last year was my 1st, and it worked ok, only had one. This year was great until this… We’ll be good!!

        • Jencat

          The thing that killed your plant was probably botrytis. Happens that fast. The infection is there weeks before you see it symptoms.

    • Bob

      Bud rot.

      • Matty

        It happened in like a day though! So quickly… One day it was fine, the next day bad, then the next worse then the previous day!! Thanks though.

        • Gunter

          Check the buds that appear damaged buy spreading them and looking for critters. I found little green catapillars that resemblem tomato worms only just 1/4 inch long. Pulled thm off and squished them. Problem stopped. The leaf yellowing is possibly normal as the plant matures. Or you are watering too much. Pinch the yellow leaves off at the point that the leaf stem contacts the branch (they are dying anyway).

      • zimbozo

        caterpillars no doubt

  • First timer

    I have four outdoor virgin’s ranging between 7-9 feet tall. Huge clusters of buds. But the pistols are starting to curl inward but not turning Amber to Brown like I heard they should. I’ve tested the quality. It’s pretty good. But I do not know weather they should go further. Heard some where some species pistols remain white. Need help!!!!

  • Zack Reeson

    Can anyone tell me if these ladies are harvest ready? First successful grow and the Internet has very conflicting statements. Thanks

    • Jacob Michael Welch

      Your leaves are looking a little droopy, could be a sign of (over-watering) but it looks good.. I’d say harvest ready & let cure for a week. Watch it progress as the days go by, then trim when you think its ready.(5-7 days after harvest) that’s my 2 cents.

    • davkings1 .

      It all depends on the strain.I would Wait another week..looks like girl scout cookies..if it iz then its turning purple.

  • Rashawn Hamlin Jr.

    Does this look ready to pull?

  • Jessica Fairlamb

    Hello I have some that are out door. I live in Michigan I was wondering can I let them go with temps reaching 48 at night.

    • eastside_lo

      I threw mines down in April may now my pistals are about 20%red hairs. And I’m in Detroit michigan. Can’t wait to pull soon!

    • davkings1 .

      Yes. but dont be surprised if the whole plant starts turning purple from the cold chill.

  • Sam Jenkins

    Hi y’all..
    Do these look about ready to pull? Need to get them down soon as weathers on the down turn. Lat 52.5

    • davkings1 .

      I think they can go for another 2 weeks.in that time buds will get fatter and the whole plant will turn purple..be patient..make sure they get alot of sun..

      • Sam Jenkins

        Thanks ??

    • davkings1 .

      If it rains cover it.at this time in floweriiing the water will only wash away thc..

      • Sam Jenkins

        Really? I doubt that

        • Tyler Dunbar

          That has awhile to go.. and rain will wash Trichomes away and cause mold..

          • BoBoBolinski

            Rain does definitely not wash trichomes away, but will cause mould, you need to check daily for mould if the weather is wet and the plants are near to harvest, cut out any mouldy buds.

        • zimbozo

          very true . we call it near pot.

  • Lando

    Hello. This is my first time reaching the end of a flowering cycle and I’m not sure when I should pull the plant. I live in the pacific northwest and the strain is Citrus Kush. I planted the seedling late. (About mid June) Please look at the attached picture below.

  • jeremy

    Is this ready to be pulled?

    • Hella


      • jeremy

        I had to pull it today anyway. That picture was almost three weeks old when i posted. Got a good amount of it.

    • Dagimp

      Not yet it looks good look for 3/4 of the hairs to turn orange.

      • jeremy

        When i cut it like 90-95% of the hairs were orange. Its been hanging for two days. So badly wanna try it, but haven’t.

    • jim

      I’m extremely. Envious. Of. What. You’ve. Grown. I’m. Trying. Hard.

      • jim

        Great. Job

  • eazymoney

    Hey question is this plant ready to be harvest

  • Cee

    I’m wondering how much longer I need to give these plants until Harvest. This probably isn’t the best photo but I have the same fear as Jessica. I also live in michigan and the temperatures are dropping pretty low at night (low 40s). Is she fully mature? Sorry for the lighting, it’s starting to get dark. Also, at what point do I stop watering them?

    • Bootsz

      Get a cheap microscope, look at the trichomes to see when optimum harvest is. The heads should be a milky color, after they yurn amber the THC content degrades and produces a more stony body high. I’ve just been learning this myself this year.

    • DaGimp

      They say once 70% of the hairs turn orange it’s done from the pics looks like it might be another week or two. Good luck.

  • Derrick Cordova

    Any professional growers willing to me out and tell me if these plants add d

  • Derrick Cordova

    I’ll upload pics now

  • Aaron

    I have been told many conflicting tips to growing. This is my first time growing. I have a few outdoor plants. Its fun thats for sure.
    One person tells me that rain will wash away crystal and another tells me that it wont. There is no way that a major outdoor field is covered to protect from rain. Not saying that it doesnt affect the potency. I dont now since i dont smoke it lol.just growing for fun and to make medicine for my mother.
    Also i have been told to pick off the big leaves at this time because they are using food that could be used by the flowering portion. I understand this theory but i also would think that these big leaves would be necessary for gathering sunlight.
    Any help would be great thx.

    • Sabrina Hutchens

      Aaron, u seem to have the same questions as i do! First time also!

  • Sabrina Hutchens

    Question, I live in the Pacific Northwest n we just got a pretty violent storm,winds n lots of rain. Is it possible to wash away the potince?? My poor plants some were blown over,most mostly just got drenched.It hasn’t been too cold yet,but do I need to bring inside n let dry ,before more rain!! Thanks. First time grower!!

    • BoBoBolinski

      Rain has no effect on potency.

  • Baybilly

    Watch the trichromes for a heady high pull when milky I need a more body high for chronic pain so I wait to pull until they start to turn Amber watch the rain cause bud rot comes quickly I’m pulling half today and the rest next Wednesday big rain storm coming

  • jahfonk

    Greetings I Dropped Some Seeds In April..I’m In The South. Couplet Of Plants Didn’t Make It Tho Two Has. As Of Right Now It’s Topping Off With A lot Of Krystals And It Smells Really Danky. Is It Time To Harvest Before November When It Gets Below 32° Some Nights ?? GIVETHANKS

  • kris21

    This is one of four conas grown outdoors this is a medical grow in California grown out in the desert it is thick as big as a baseball bat. This stain I got lucky with I went to a dispensary and found two huge seeds in a strain called gangster cookie I am now flushing it. It smells so dank and now that it’s getting colder out it started turn purple the trichomes are milky and starting to get about 30% amber.

  • Derrick

    Is this ready or no

  • Blaine Fowler

    Is she ready ?

  • Blaine Fowler

    Are they ready?

  • Anonymous

    Wish I would have read this sooner Maddie I had the same problem use nitrogen via Bloom Terra problem solved.hope there is still time

  • Robert Maldonado

    Fish emulsion works for dying yellow plants! Picks them up from the dead.