8 Stages of Cannabis Cultivation: Harvest


Harvesting the cannabinoid rich flowers after 4 months of growth comes with great anticipation. On harvest day, the grow room is filled with dank buds as the plants are relocated from the flowering room to the trim room. We harvest every Monday at the end of 9 weeks in the flowering room when flowers are at peak performance. Grown in a 5-gallon pots, each plant has reached about 6 feet tall and will contain about 4 ounces each, varying by strain and environmental conditions. In a typical harvest batch at DANK, we bring down 54 plants, equating to 13 pounds per harvest. Compliant at every step, we denote the required information in METRC by recording the weight of flower, trim and waste. Compliance with state regulations at this stage is critical. DANK carries 4 licenses in Colorado, generically named: medical dispensary, medical cultivation, retail dispensary and retail cultivation. We’ve become skilled at surviving in the regulated system by developing industry leading SOPs for the 8 stages of cannabis cultivation. With 11 flowering batches of different ages, our perpetual harvest is a thing of beauty. In this, the 4th stage of cannabis cultivation: harvest, we find a plant  sticky with resin. Tricomes have changed from milkey white to amber. Hairs turn from white to reddish brown. She is heavy with moisture. For the last several weeks she has developed a unique molecular profile of cannabinoids and terpenes that make each harvest unique in as many locations as she is grown. Timing of the harvest is critical for locking in the desired profile, which is later solidified during the cure stage. Through industry experience, we know that harvesting early provides less THC and more relative CBD. For example, if you harvest at 7 weeks, you will have a different terp and cannabinoid profile than if you harvested at 10 weeks. This is why the industrial hemp industry often harvests early to ensure the Plant does not exceed the THC maximum.

Stoner trivia: To separate industrial hemp (CBD) flower from regulated cannabis flowers, national and state regulators have said that hemp flower must not exceed WHAT percentage of THC?

In the cannabis industry, we often seek maximum THC, the most popular cannabinoid. At DANK, we cultivate 40 strains. 6 of those strains have tested above 30% THC and seldom do we see a THC content less than 15%. The exception is Cannatonic, our smokable CBD flower that contains 3-6% THC and 8-15% CBD. Whether seeking THC or CBD, the Plant has amazing benefits that being documented around the globe.

Isn’t it interesting that we are discovering so many benefits for a Plant that was demonized as a threat to society? Although Henry Anslinger wrongfully condemned the Plant in his Reefer Madness campaign (1936), I don’t think he knew about the long list of benefits we are finding today. Sure, he was using the Plant for sinister purposes. But he never witnessed a grand mal seizure be stopped in under10 seconds. He didn’t know that the Plant kills cancer cells. He was unaware of the metaphysical attributes of cannabis. Neurologically, he knew nothing of the positive effects the Plant would one day proclaim.  The US Patent on cannabinoids was not filed by the US Government until 2003 with US Patent 6630507.

Fast forward to 1970. Evidence of the healing power of cannabis started appearing as President Nixon commissioned a report be done on cannabis to investigate the medical potential. They were asked: does the Plant have medical value? Is the use addictive? Does it cause reefer madness? There have been many unofficial studies, but few officially recognized. Because cannabis is listed on the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, researching the Plant has been difficult, as noted in Marijuana and Medicine of 1999. Unfortunately, Nixon ignored the results of the commission that stated there were in fact medical potential and that cannabis is non-addictive. Instead, Nixon placed “marijuana” on the controlled substance act to allow for incarceration of those people protesting the war, thus beginning the war on drugs.

Stoner Trivia (answer): Industrial Hemp is now being recognized as containing less than 0.3% THC, even though most hemp Plants want to naturally produce more and this is an arbitrary number set by regulators more concerned for control than cure.

As we relocate the Plant from the flowering batch to the harvest room, each one is identified in METRC Seed to Sale Software and recorded with the appropriate information. After measuring the weight of the entire plant, the Plant is divided into three categories and their weights denoted: waste, trim and flower. The trim crew, fast and efficient, remove the raw flower from the stems for trimming. The stems and pots are gathered for waste. Waste is closely regulated. Each gram must be ground and mixed, making it unrecognizable before leaving the property. The raw flower is trimmed, removing the sugar leaves in a EZ Trim Satellite Trimer. This baby hums and increased our production speed while maintaining top shelf quality our customers demand. The trim machine mechanically removes the leaves, some of which contain valuable trichomes which are captured for concentrate production in a bag under the trimmer. Separated by strain, the trim product is sent to an off-site processor for concentrate production. The result after mechanical trimming are flower buds without leaves. At DANK, the buds are spread thinly on a baking tray for drying and quality control. Each bud will shrink to a fraction of its original size, leaving a well preserved and dense bud at the end of the cure process. Check in next month for the summary.

That concludes the harvest stage of production. We learned how we relocate the ripe flower to the harvest room and separate the flower from the Plant. We see that each gram is accounted for, whether flower, trim or waste. Watch for the following blog post to learn how we cure our flower under a controlled environment to ensure quality and consistency.