6 Steps to Harvesting Cannabis (& What You’ll Need)

Jamie Jacobs
Jamie Jacobs joined APX Construction Group in June of 2020 specializing in interior design, marketing, event planning, and business development.
  • Alright, cannabis dispensary owners, it’s time to talk about the nitty-gritty of harvesting your precious buds. Whether you’re a seasoned grower or a newbie to the game, harvesting cannabis is a crucial step in the journey from seed to sale. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the six essential steps to harvesting cannabis and highlight the tools and equipment you’ll need along the way. So, grab your trimmers and let’s get started!

    Inside this blog:

    • 6 key steps to harvesting cannabis the right way
    • Details + tips under each step

    Keep reading to learn how you can harvest your cannabis effectively so you can maximize your operations.

    Step 1: Timing Is Everything

    Before you dive into harvesting your cannabis plants, it’s essential to know when the timing is just right. Harvesting too early or too late can impact the potency, flavor, and overall quality of your buds. Here’s how to tell when it’s time to harvest:

    • Trichome Color: Monitor the color of the trichomes (tiny resin glands) on your buds using a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe. When the trichomes transition from clear to cloudy or amber, it’s a sign that the buds are ready for harvest.
    • Pistil Color: Pay attention to the color of the pistils (hairs) on every marijuana plant. As the buds mature, the pistils will change from white to orange or brown. When the majority of pistils have changed color, it’s time to harvest marijuana plants.
    • Flowering Time: Refer to the flowering time specified for your cannabis strain. Most strains have a recommended flowering period, typically ranging from 6 to 12 weeks.

    Step 2: Gather Your Tools and Equipment

    Before you start harvesting, make sure you have all the necessary tools and equipment on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

    Sharp Pruning Shears


    Quality pruning shears are essential for cleanly cutting through the stems and branches of your cannabis plants. Dull or rusty shears can damage the buds and increase the risk of contamination.

    Trimming Scissors

    Trimming scissors are used to remove excess leaves and trim the buds after harvest. Look for scissors with sharp, precise blades and ergonomic handles for comfortable trimming sessions.


    Wearing gloves during harvest and trimming helps prevent the transfer of oils, dirt, and contaminants to your cannabis buds. Choose nitrile or latex gloves that fit snugly but allow for dexterity.

    Drying Rack

    After harvest, you’ll need a drying rack or screen to hang your cannabis buds. A drying rack allows for proper air circulation and helps prevent mold and mildew during the drying process.

    Step 3: Harvest With Care

    Now that you’re equipped with the right tools, it’s time to start harvesting your cannabis plants. Here’s how to do it:

    • Cutting the Stems: Using sharp pruning shears, carefully cut the main stems of each cannabis plant near the base. Be gentle to avoid damaging the buds, and work slowly to ensure clean cuts. Trim away any excess foliage and side branches as you go.
    • Hang to Dry: Once you’ve harvested your cannabis plants, hang them upside down from a drying rack or line. Make sure there’s enough space between each plant to allow for airflow.
    • Monitor Humidity Levels: Keep an eye on the humidity levels in your drying area using a hygrometer. Ideally, humidity should be around 45-55% to prevent mold and mildew growth.

    Step 4: Trim and Cure Your Buds

    Once your cannabis plants are dry, it’s time to trim and cure your buds to enhance their flavor, potency, and overall quality. Here’s how to do it:


    Using trimming scissors, carefully remove the large fan leaves and any excess foliage from your dried cannabis buds. Trim away any remaining stems or leaves to create a clean, manicured appearance. Take your time and pay attention to detail for the best results.


    After trimming, place your buds in airtight containers such as glass jars. Store the jars in a cool, dark place and burp them daily to release excess moisture and prevent mold. Curing allows the flavors and aromas of your cannabis buds to develop fully, resulting in a smoother smoke and more enjoyable experience.

    Step 5: Test and Quality Control

    Before you sell your freshly harvested cannabis buds in your dispensary, it’s essential to test and quality control your product. Here’s what to do:


    Send samples of your cannabis buds to a reputable testing lab for analysis. Testing allows you to verify potency, cannabinoid profiles, and terpene levels, ensuring that your product meets regulatory requirements and customer expectations.

    Quality Control

    Inspect your cannabis buds for any signs of mold, pests, or contamination. Check for proper curing and trimming, and ensure that your buds are free from any visible defects. Quality control is essential for maintaining the integrity of your product and building trust with your customers.

    Step 6: Packaging and Display


    Once your cannabis buds have passed testing and quality control, it’s time to package and display them in your dispensary. Here’s how to do it:

    • Packaging: Choose high-quality packaging materials that are airtight, moisture-resistant, and child-resistant. Label your packages with important information such as strain name, potency, and weight.
    • Display: Arrange your packaged cannabis buds attractively in display cases or shelves. Use proper lighting and signage to highlight different strains and products. Creating an inviting and informative display enhances the shopping experience for your customers and encourages sales.

    🧤 Harvest Cannabis Like a Pro

    Harvesting cannabis may seem daunting at first, but with the right knowledge and tools, it can be a rewarding and satisfying process. By following these six essential steps and equipping yourself with the necessary tools and equipment, you can ensure a successful harvest and deliver high-quality cannabis products to your dispensary customers. So, roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and enjoy the fruits of your labor! 

    Contact our expert contractors at APX Construction Group today and we’ll make sure your next project goes off without a hitch. We can’t wait to hear your questions and ideas help bring your construction vision to life! Fill out our quick and easy online contact form to get the ball rolling on your project.

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