Cannabis cultivation is a multifaceted process, each stage contributing to the plant’s overall growth, vigor, and, most importantly, the production of cannabinoids. Among these stages, the flowering phase is particularly intriguing, heralding the formation of the highly sought-after buds loaded with THC, CBD, and other beneficial compounds. The transition from the vegetative to the flowering stage is a critical period, governed by various environmental cues and plant responses. However, recognizing the onset of the flowering stage can be a nuanced process, especially for novice growers.
The Pre-Flowering Stage Week-by-Week
The pre-flowering stage of cannabis production is of utmost importance, as it sets the tone for how the flowering period will proceed and ultimately how well your plants will yield. During this crucial week-by-week period, your cannabis strains will morph from the vegetative stage to flowering.
For most strains and cultivars, this transition begins when the plant receives 12 hours of light each day (known as a 12/12 light cycle). It’s important to note that this requirement isn’t necessary for autoflowering strains.
Autoflowers don’t rely on a light cycle change to trigger their flowering phase—instead, they are time-sensitive plants that flower automatically at a certain size or age. This choice makes things much easier for those who are just beginning their respective growth operations!
During these weeks leading up to the major flowering phase, it’s important to monitor your plants closely, since any issues you notice prior can get worse with time if not fixed.
Typical concerns during this period involve sickly-looking leaves, slow growth spurts, and/or discoloration due to nutrient deficiencies depending on how you were feeding them beforehand.
The Pre-flowering Stage: Week 1
The pre-flowering stage is an important and necessary part of cannabis growth, taking up to 3 weeks in some cases. This timeframe can be affected by the genetics of the particular strain, as well as the environmental growing conditions.
Autoflower cannabis typically requires only about a week for this stage to pass, while photoperiodic genetics may require two weeks or more. Sativa dominant strains tend to linger longer in the pre-flowering stage than Indica strains do, which enter the flower almost overnight when grown with proper light cycle manipulation.
The Pre-flowering Stage: Week 2
The pre-flowering stage during week two is an exciting time for cannabis growers. After one to two weeks, their plants have transitioned from the vegetative stage into flowering. Growers will begin to see their plants absorb slightly less nitrogen and instead seek out higher concentrations of phosphorus and potassium. This can be supplied through regular nutrient intake but may require an added boost in order to ensure proper growth.
Along with small changes in nutritional requirements, growers may also observe their plants exhibiting large increases in maximum height, known as the “flowering stretch”. This phenomenon occurs in order for the plant to create enough energy and resources necessary before attempting to produce its reproductive parts – namely buds and flowers.
The extent of this stretch is determined by the genetics of each strain; some show extreme growth while others only reach a negligible size increase. Regardless of variant, pre-flowering during week two marks the beginning of something beautiful on a grower’s cannabis journey!
What About Autoflowers?
Autoflowers are a convenient solution for growers of all levels. Not requiring a transition in light cycles to induce flowering, like photoperiodic plants, autoflowers take an average of eight to ten weeks from seed to harvest. Autoflowers usually begin the pre-flowering process after about one week and can be harvested within three months of germination in some cases.
Unlike photoperiodic, autoflowering strains don’t require any environmental manipulation or need complex light cycle tracking to bring them into flower as they flower based on time rather than day length.
As they reach the end of their life span, they start producing visible pre-flowers, small white growths at the nodes where new leaves emerge from the stem which indicate that the plant is getting ready to produce buds and commence flowering.
In addition, these buds should start producing that unmistakable smell after a few weeks if all has gone well over the vegetative growth.
The Flowering Stage
The flowering stage is the final and arguably most important phase in cannabis cultivation. During this phase, your plant will start to grow buds and generate a high amount of trichome production and scent.
While the exact length varies based on the genetics and could range anywhere from 5-10 weeks, it’s important to remember that this phase can become quite pungent, so you may want to invest in an air filter or other masking methods to avoid any problems.
Once your plant enters the marijuana flowering stage, things start moving quickly. During this time you’ll begin seeing buds swell up as well as lots of trichome production along with that potent smell we all know and love!
In addition to masking odor, it’s also important to pay attention to nutrient levels during this period as too much nitrogen can negatively affect the production of terpenes which can also have a strong impact on smell.
To ensure great bud growth and fantastic aroma, give your female cannabis plants some extra care during vegetation and transition stages while still maintaining optimal environmental conditions through the flowering times!
The Flowering Stage: Week 1
When your cannabis plant officially enters the cannabis flowering stage, you will start to see a change in its growth patterns and bud production. The buds will start to form, becoming more prominent as the trichome production increases.
This can lead to a strong aroma coming from your grow tent, especially if it wasn’t already present before. As the buds continue to develop, you should also adjust your feeding schedule accordingly by adding more nutrients at this time.
Keep in mind that while your plants do require a full dose of nutrients at this stage, it is important not to overfeed them or else it could lead the plants going into shock and potentially kill them.
You should be able to recognize buds even before they mature completely, by now you’ll see elongated hairs coating their surface and increasing in size without yet forming their distinctive shape that we all know so well.
The Flowering Stage: Week 2
The second week of the flowering stage for cannabis plants is when things really start to kick off. During this time, the white hairs that were starting to appear during the first week enter a period of rapid growth – they will spread out in all directions, quickly hugging each and every bud site of your plant.
As those hairs proliferate, you may also start to notice some cloudy wisps forming across your foliage – these are trichomes, and they are starting to trickle out a sticky resin which will further increase in quantity as the next few weeks progress.
This is your plant’s way of protecting itself from environmental elements such as dryness or pests, so it is an important sign that you’re on track with growth development.
The Flowering Stage: Week 3
During the flowering stage of cannabis growth, week 3 marks a significant change as plants transition from their budding period and into full bloom. In this timeframe, the buds on your plant will produce dense amounts of growth and begin to show a dramatic increase in trichome production.
As trichomes are responsible for producing THC and other cannabinoids, this increased production of these plant compounds lead to a richer and more potent flower. Within the course of a week from bloom emergence, it’s easy to see that the buds become larger and covered with more frosty-looking trichomes – signifying that your marijuana buds are maturing nicely.
At this particular point in flowering, you may also notice an interesting smell coming from the large resin glands of your plants which can be best described as “dank” and sweet. This aroma indicates that your weed is producing more terpenes like myrcene and limonene – giving the buds an even stronger musty odor, perfect for those who enjoy smoking or vaporizing strong flowers. With such great developments happening in just 7 days, you can see why it’s important to pay close attention to all stages of cannabis cultivation!
The Flowering Stage: Week 4
By week 4 of flowering your hard work has finally paid off and hopefully, you’ll be seeing buds beginning to swell with the potential for a great end yield. The environment should be regularly monitored and it’s important to ensure that everything stays free of pests and diseases. Your plants will smell great at this stage, helping you to get excited about the bounty that lies ahead of you.
It can be tempting to harvest straight away in anticipation of the results, but it is important to hold out until they are truly ready. Possessing an abundance of fragrant terpenes, these buds will look like they can’t get any closer to harvest time, yet cannabinoids remain in their development phase during this period so optimal potency isn’t achieved until fully mature.
A good rule of thumb is to wait around seven days after the pistil hairs have stopped turning amber for the flowers; this ensures all those trichomes reach their full potential before snipping them from the plant.
The Flowering Stage: Week 5
The fifth week of flowering marks the end of the flowering stage for most cannabis strains. It is important to remember that this is not always the case for all varieties, as some take longer to mature. In these instances, it may be helpful to look at pictures from each individual week of flowering so growers can judge when their strain has reached its full potential.
During the last days of flowering, not much activity is required from the grower aside from flushing the plant if necessary. Flushing helps remove any excess minerals and nutrients that have been used up during the growing process, allowing a tastier flower with an improved aroma and flavor.
What You Need To Do After Harvest
After harvesting your cannabis plants, there are still a few steps to take before you can enjoy your plant’s product. Post-harvesting includes drying, trimming and curing processes that play an important role in maximizing the quality of the final product.
Wet Trimming vs Dry trimming
Wet trimming marijuana buds typically involves cutting the fan and sugar leaves to be able to shape the flower in a more aesthetically pleasing way. This activity is mostly done immediately after harvest when the plant’s trichomes are still glistening with resin and its overall aroma has not gone bad yet.
Doing this while they are wet can preserve their shape and introduce them to shorter drying periods, ultimately providing them with a faster rise in potency.
On the other hand, this process makes it difficult to properly remove any remaining stems or undesirable leaf material, as some of its particles may end up stuck between these delicate flowers due to their moist environment.
Dry trimming is most suitable for a more compacted marijuana bud coverage, focusing on giving consumers higher quality-looking strains as opposed to ones that emit stronger odors upon opening their package.
To make sure their shape stays intact throughout their drying period, preserving all those terpenes in the finished product, growers tend to wait until their crops have completed said stage before going ahead with this technique.
Drying Cannabis Plants
The drying process of cannabis plants is an important step in ensuring the quality of your crop. A well-dried plant will produce buds that have a range of flavors and aromas while eliminating the unpleasant grassy taste of chlorophyll. Properly drying your buds can also help preserve potency and shelf life.
To get started, hang the plants upside down in a room with temperatures between 20 – 22 °C and a relative humidity of 60%. This process takes around 7 to 15 days depending on how you’ve trimmed your plants.
During the course of this time, you should monitor your harvests for any signs of mold or mildew. When it seems dried enough, move on to curing your buds by storing them in airtight glass jars away from direct light and temperature fluctuations.
After this is done, they are ready to be enjoyed! Following these simple steps can give you a consistent product with improved quality yields each harvest season.
Curing Cannabis Buds
Curing cannabis bud is an essential step in the cultivation process. It is part of what helps the buds reach their maximum potency and preserves much of the terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids that are responsible for the smell, taste, and effects of your weed.
Properly curing your buds helps them to last longer by preventing moisture loss through air-tight storage containers like jars or bags. Ideal relative humidity levels should be between 55% and 65%, which can be maintained using a hygrometer or plug-in device you place outside your container.