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The Cannabis Flowering Stage

Know Your Buds: Understanding the Flower Stage of the Cannabis Lifecycle

  • An analysis of the budding stage and tips on when to harvest your cannabis plants.

There’s a time in everyone’s life when they start to grow up. The chemicals in their bodies rapidly change, and they start seeing growth, changes, and perhaps some things they can’t really explain. While cannabis plants don’t suffer through puberty, they do experience a time in their lives that is somewhat analogous to the drastic alterations that occur during our adolescent and teenage years.

When cannabis plants start to flower, they undergo massive chemical and physical changes. At first, flowers grow quickly while cannabinoid production slows. Then, flowers slow their growth while cannabinoid production intensifies. Stems may elongate and plants may start to reduce their leaf production in an effort to focus on flowering.

So, when does the flowering stage officially begin?

When Does The Flower Stage Begin in Cannabis?

When cannabis grows outside, the flowering stage beings in the fall after the long days of summer wane. The lengthening dark exposure encourages cannabis plants to reduce their green chlorophyll production and increase their calcium, potassium, and phosphorus uptake to encourage florogenesis.

To be more specific about how light impacts the flowering stage of cannabis, researchers examined the architecture of Cannabis sativa in 2019. The researchers noted that “the effect of short photoperiod on cannabis florogenesis is not flower induction, but rather a dramatic change in shoot apex architecture to form a compound racemose inflorescence structure.”

In simpler terms: when light exposure decreases, cannabis responds by altering the shape of its apex to produce flowers.

At that point, when the apex is a compound racemose inflorescence structure, the flowering stage has officially begun.

But when does it end?

When Should I Harvest My Cannabis?

Before you start chopping down your plants, you’ll need to leach your soil and then dry it.

To leach your plants of fertilizers, start to use clean tap water 5-6 days before harvest. Then, stop watering your plants 1-2 days before your harvest to let the soil dry without wilting.

You know your plants are ready to harvest when their growth has dramatically slowed. However, you can also look to see if:

  • The topmost bracts on the buds have begun to swell.

  • The stigmas have started to turn brown and begun to wither.

  • The resin glands are standing tall and have developed spherical heads.

If those three things have happened, the flowers are at their peak harvest time.

After you’ve harvested your plants, there are still some risks posed to the buds. For example, flower can host powdery mildew, dust, and frass (insect poop). A cleaning solution of H2O2 will remove unwanted entities and disinfect the plant material without harming the final product.

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