When to harvest weed in South Africa | Signs your dagga plant is ready

Weed in South Africa is now legal for personal and private cultivation and consumption, which means more and more enthusiasts are growing their own dagga at home.

If you’re new to the growing process, you’re in the right place. This article will cover everything you need to know about the best timing for harvesting weed in South Africa.

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When to harvest cannabis in South Africa

The best season during which to harvest weed is autumn. In South Africa, this means you’ll want to start harvesting in mid-March or April. You need to consider germination around springtime the previous year so that your plant can reach flowering by the summer.

Luckily, growing weed in South Africa is ideal because of the warm climate. Here is a breakdown of the ideal flowering process for your cannabis:

  • Germination: July – September
  • Planting: October – November
  • Pruning: December – January
  • Flowering: February – March
  • Harvesting: March – June

Planting in spring will put you in good stead for a successful, bountiful yield. You don’t want to plant from the first day of spring, though, hence the suggestion to do so in October. Mid-spring planting ensures that you’ll see the biggest plant possible and the best yield from your buds.

How to grow dagga

If you’re a total beginner to growing your own dagga, here are some basic steps you need to be familiar with. These are very basic instructions and by no means comprehensive. So, make sure you read the detailed instructions on how to grow dagga.

1. Germinating your seeds

Place your seeds on the centre of some moist tissue paper. Then, fold the tissue paper over the seeds. Enclose the paper between two small plates and leave this to germinate in a fairly warm, dark area – like soil.

Check your seeds every 2 or 3 days. Once the taproot reaches about 2cm in length, you are ready for the next step. You can choose from a host of different seeds with will produce different strains.

2. Transplanting your seeds

Poke a hole in the ground where you will be planting your seed. Then, place the seeds in the hole and cover it with some soil, patting the soil down gently.

3. Feeding your plant

You will see sprouts emerge over the next week or so, and this is when nutrients are required for your dagga plant. You want to use a mixture of a teaspoon of molasses, a tablespoon of ground coffee, about a handful of manure in a bucket filled with four litres of water.

4. Trimming

Trimming involves cutting away the weak dagga leaves with trimming scissors. You should also be removing leaves that are infested with insects. You’ll also want to bend any offshoots and tie them down.

5. Sexing

Identify the male plants and simply break them off and throw them away.

6. Harvesting

Harvesting weed simply means curing and storing your bud.

Signs your dagga plant is ready to harvest

In order to get the highest possible potency and the biggest yield out of your marijuana, you need to harvest it at the right time. This means you’ll need to be able to identify different stages of flowering and how far along your plant is.

Things to look for

There are three things you need to investigate when deciding whether it’s time to harvest – trichomes, pistils and buds.

1. Trichomes

Trichomes, which are only visible under a magnifying glass, are the tiny growths that will spurt out from your bud. These look like miniature mushrooms or stalks and will change in colour over time.


2. Pistils

Pistils are the fine hairs growing around your bud which change in colour as the flowering process begins. In the image below, the fine brown hairs are what we refer to as pistils.

3. Buds

The buds on the marijuana plant are the actual flowers, their THC content is what gets you high.

Now that you know the difference between trichomes, pistils and buds, we can get into identifying when to harvest marijuana.

If your trichomes are glassy and transparent, it’s too early to harvest. Once they turn white and are no longer glassy, this means your bud is at its highest potency and level of THC. You can harvest your weed at this point.

The timing of your harvest is also determined by the kind of high you want from your yield. If you wait a week after trichomes have turned white, you will notice that the trichomes turn a golden-brown colour. At this stage, the bud you yield will not be as potent, and the high you get from it will not be as strong.

Your pistils must have turned brown before you harvest your bud. If they are still white in colour and protruding out straight, it’s too early. Once the pistils start curling inwards and look brown in colour, then you can consider harvesting.

Remember to always consider the type of high you want from your yield. If you’re looking for an active high (maybe you want to design your own flipbook with a joint in hand) then you want your trichomes to be at peak whiteness.

For a more relaxed high (vegging in front of the TV), you’ll want to wait until the trichomes are golden-brown and the pistils are turning inwards before you harvest.

When it comes to the buds, you want them to look solid and well-formed, like the weed you see in bankies. If most of your marijuana plant looks like pistils, it’s far too early to harvest.

When to harvest weed: Final thoughts

Getting the timing right for harvest requires planning way back in the germination phase. You want to get an idea of the timeline of how your plant grows so that it flowers at the right time. This is simply a matter of calculating how far away the autumn is and working backwards from there. Good luck!

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