The most exciting phase of cannabis cultivation is probably the final stage of flowering.
Once a cannabis plant has reached its maturity, it will be harvested, dried, and packaged before it is sent to the dispensary, where it can be purchased by patients with approved conditions for medical marijuana in Louisiana.
The final stage of a cannabis plant’s life cycle is also probably the toughest one to nail, and cultivators have developed impressive technology to address the many issues that can happen at this stage.
In the final installment of our How Cannabis is Grown series, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cannabis in its flowering stage and what happens when it’s harvested!
Cannabis in the Flowering Stage
Cannabis Plants Start to Show Buds in the Flowering Stage
This is where it all comes together.
Once a plant reaches its flowering stage, it will begin producing its buds, or colas. These buds will contain the resinous glands called trichomes, where you’ll find all of the concentrations of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, as well as its terpenes.
The flowering stage typically lasts around 8-9 weeks and is triggered by reducing lighting from 16 hours a day to 12 hours a day for indoor grows, or by the natural reduction of sunlight in the end of summer and beginning of fall for outdoor grows.
3 Phases of the Flowering Stage of Cannabis Plants
The flowering stage of a cannabis plant’s life cycle usually has three phases: start of flowering, mid-flowering, and late flowering.
Start of Flowering Phase: This phase is week 1-3, where the plant will start to grow its buds, pistils, and hairs. Humidity and temperature remain the same as the vegetative stage, and the plant grows considerably. Additional nutrients or natural grow enhancers are often introduced at this stage and flushed in the mid or late flowering phase.
Mid-Flowering Phase: This phase is week 4-5, where the plant’s buds or colas will become quite dense and heavy, and often trellises are installed at this point to help support the weight of the heavy flowers on the stems. The cannabis plants are typically flushed at this point to remove the nutrients and supplements that were added, preventing them from remaining in the flowers.
Late Flowering Phase: This phase is week 6+ and starts when the plants stop growing and the buds begin to fatten. The buds can often change colors throughout the flushing process, and the trichomes can become very sticky and identifiable. The pistils will begin to change color and darken, and once around 80% of the pistils turn a dark color, it is ready to begin harvesting.
Harvesting Cannabis – Trim, Cure, Dry, & Smoke
Dry Trimming vs. Wet Trimming
Once the trichomes have turned a nice amber color, the cannabis plant is ready to be harvested.
Properly harvesting cannabis is a science by itself, and when done correctly makes a cannabis strain that is impressive and enjoyable, while improper harvesting can leave you with foul-tasting ugly flower.
Harvesting begins with trimming, where the cannabis plants will be cut from their pots and either trimmed to remove all leaves and stems and then dried in one sitting called “wet trimming”.
Alternatively, plants can be cut to hang and dry first, and then later trimmed down in a process called “dry trimming”.
Different cultivators use different methods, and they both swear by their own methods, but it’s really up to the cultivator as to what trimming method will be used, though dry trimming is far more common.
Drying & Curing Cannabis Plants
Whether a cultivator dries the plants before or after they’re trimmed, they get dried.
The drying process typically takes around 2 - 7 days and involves keeping the cannabis buds in a dark environment with around 55 – 65% humidity and around 60 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A dehumidifier and well-ventilated area are used to keep the moisture low.
After the cannabis plants have sufficiently dried (buds have little to no moisture or sponginess left), and are trimmed to leave only the cannabis flower, it’s time to cure the buds.
Curing is critical for good tasting cannabis, and if buds are not properly cured, they can lose significant taste, aroma, and they can even lose potential effects due to terpenes getting destroyed.
While often the most overlooked part of cannabis cultivation, curing is very simple.
Curing takes place for around 2 weeks to 1 month, where the dried and trimmed cannabis is placed in air-tight containers with around 55-65% humidity to preserve flavors and stop the loss of moisture.
Harvesting Cannabis – The Final Step
Final Stage of Curing Cannabis
The curing process is a short and easy way to ensure buds have the best potential for both taste and smell, as well as optimizing the medical benefits from cannabis flower.
During the curing process, containers can be opened if the buds are receiving too much moisture, or alternatively, if they are lacking moisture, products like moisture packs can reintroduce moisture.
And after a few weeks to a month, when the buds look and smell fantastic, they’re ready to be stored, packaged, and sent to dispensaries and enjoyed by medical marijuana patients.
Buds can be cured for long amounts of time, and they can be stored for even longer. Properly stored and packaged cannabis buds can last for up to a year if properly maintained, and if cured properly, they will retain their flavor, aroma, and potency.
Get Your Louisiana Medical Marijuana Certification
Starting in 2022, Louisiana will have cannabis flower available for purchase at pharmacies by certified medical marijuana patients.
Beat the lines and get your medical marijuana certification in Louisiana today, and you can even get certified for medical marijuana online for ease of use and convenience.
For questions about Louisiana’s medical marijuana program, or how to become a medical marijuana patient in Louisiana, consult with one of our trusted doctors and book an online medical marijuana appointment today!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Louisiana Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (833) 253-2943, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!