The flowering and budding stage of growth on a cannabis plant is a beautiful thing. The heavy scent of a budding plant is unique to cannabis. When you’ve past the foliage growth period and are getting flowers, a few things are changing in your plant. It will stop growing upwards and will instead concentrate on growing the big nugs we all know and love.
There are a few things you need to do once the flowers have turned into buds. The first thing is to change the lighting cycle from 18 hours on, 6 hours off to 12 hours on, 12 hours off. This signals the plant that the days are getting shorter, which mimics the autumn sun in the wild. The plants know from this change that the budding stage has started and will grow as such.
Once your plants have begun budding it is recommended that you feed them twice daily if you can swing it. If you own a PPM (parts per million) meter you’ll see that your plants have doubled their nutritional needs and as such have to be fed twice a day or harmful salts will build up quickly in your nutrient solution. It is also recommended that you feed your plants pH balanced neutral water once a week. This gently leaches the salts out of the root ball. No hit in growth is taken by feeding with only water once a week.
Those of you that keep a high pressure sodium (HPS) lamp for the budding stage are ahead of the game. HPS lamps have a very orange color to their spectrum. This mimics the waning sun of autumn, just like changing the light cycle. If you have the means, do use an HPS lamp for the budding stage. You’ll notice accelerated growth on a daily basis. HPS lamps also emit slightly more light than the metal halide lamp you used for foliage growth. Your plants will love it.
When you approach harvest time, it takes a patient grower to not harvest prematurely. Keep an eye on your buds. An easy way to ascertain when to harvest is to pinch your buds. If the bud springs back it isn’t ready to harvest. Rather, when you pinch a bud and it stays pinched, start feeding with only pH balanced neutral water for a few days. After a couple of days you’ll notice that pinching a bud doesn’t pop back into shape and shows an oily finger print. It is now time to harvest.
The jury is out when it comes to how to treat a newly harvested plant. Some pull the plant by the roots and hang them upside down to dry. It is when they’re hanging that I strip the leaves off and make oil from them. Some people like to keep their plants in the growing area until they’ve become dehydrated and the leaves are starting to wilt, the idea being to shock the plant into not drying out, which means more THC-bearing oils for the taking.