Grab your scissors and a beer, because it's cutting time!
I'll show you a way of cutting down that will maximize your yield. This method involves taking larger colas while leaving smaller bud sites to fill in for another week or two.
Some tips to keep in mind before we dive in. Have your dry room ready, fans ready to blow, and fresh scissors. (Always use new scissors.)
Locating your tops should be relatively easy; they're the largest single colas at the tops (or ends) of your main branches.
Here are some tips on checking that your plant is ready for cutting:
-Check by feeling the tightness of the bud (or cola). If the nug feels full and tight with minimal 'squish' or give, that's a great sign that you're ready.
-Check the hairs on your nugs. You want all your larger white hairs to be gone and only red or darker hairs present. This shows the maturity of the nug and is a signal that the bud is getting all of its potency and is ready to be cut.
A nice sharp cut to free the big boys from your plants is all you need. Feel down the cola until it starts to separate and break off to the secondary branches. Locate the branches that will remain and cut the large nug from them and the rest of the plant. The smaller nugs (buds or colas) will remain on the plant for another week (possibly two) in order to receive the complete focus of nutrition from the plant. With the larger bud sites gone, the plant can now provide these secondary locations with primary attention.
Above is an example of a cut main branch with secondary branch and buds remaining.
After just one week from the first cut, the buds have almost doubled in size and are nearly as big as the nugs from the first pull!
A week ago these buds were nothing to write home about—fluffy light buds that were not yet mature. Now they are tightening up and really becoming sticky and firm.
Here’s an example of secondary branches filling out with primary attention from the plant. Also continue to clear the plant of dead or yellowing leaves with crisp tips. These leaves are of no use to your plant and can be removed for added focus to your nug growth. This plant here could use two minutes of TLC to get it looking perfect.
Now, to the dry room! You hang marijuana upside down so the plant dries out more evenly and you can get the last bit of nutrients out of your plant to your buds. Gravity pulls the last bit of moisture in the plant down to your nugs, allowing them one last sip and a nice, even dry-out period. Drying your product too fast can dry it out too much, where as taking a long time to dry out can run the risk of mold.
Airflow is key in the drying process. You want to eliminate all moisture from the room, so if you're on a budget, a few fans and a small space heater should do the trick. You will need to check them every day throughout the drying process. One day you may just need to run the fans, while other days you may need the heater as well. Check the buds to see how they feel—you want your ideal dryness to have a dry, snap-able steam with a slight amount of squish still on the bud. If your nug crumbles, you're slightly too dry. Typically the drying process can go from five to ten days, depending on climate and setup.
Nothing is uniform—some buds may be dried and ready before others. Don't be afraid to grab, check, feel, and trim your product at your discretion here. It may not all be ready on the same day, so be vigilant. And don't forget to have fun!