Domestic USA Free Shipping on Retail Orders over $120

Dec 7, 2022

Part 3: The Harvest: Planning, Preparation, and Methods

Before diving into the actual harvest, it is essential to ensure that all the necessary preparations for post-harvest are in place. While these suggestions may seem obvious, the hustle and bustle of harvest season can cause important steps to be overlooked. Let’s explore some crucial considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Preparing for Fresh Frozen:
    If you plan to freeze flowers for fresh frozen extraction, start by plugging in and testing your freezer to ensure it is in working order. Equally important is testing your backup generator, ensuring it fires up smoothly with an adequate supply of gas. Confirm that you can easily transfer from the electrical grid to the generator if needed. Taking these steps in advance will save you from potential last-minute complications.
  2. Setting Up for Traditional Drying:
    For those opting for a traditional drying method, it is vital to set up your drying space efficiently. Turn on and test all the necessary equipment to ensure it functions as intended. Neglecting this step can lead to unexpected challenges and late-night scrambling to set up spaces and run tests while the rooms are already being filled with racks of flowers. Planning and preparation are key to a smoother and more successful harvest experience.

Determining Harvest Methods

Once the planning and preparation are complete, it’s time to consider the actual harvest process. The method you choose should primarily be determined by the market for your crop, as different products may require different approaches. Here are a few considerations:

  1. Market-driven Harvest:
    Tailor your cannabis harvesting method to align with the market demand for your specific crop. Understanding the end product and its requirements (such as whole flowers, trimmed flowers, or extraction-oriented biomass) will guide your decision-making process.
  2. Efficiency and Quality:
    Balance efficiency and quality when deciding how to remove the flowers from the plants. Consider factors such as labor requirements, equipment availability, and the end goal of maximizing product value. Evaluate different options, including hand-trimming, machine-trimming, or a hybrid approach that combines both methods.

By carefully considering market demands and striking the right balance between efficiency and quality, you can optimize your harvest process and achieve the desired outcomes with fewer challenges.

Planning and preparation are paramount in ensuring a smooth cannabis harvest. Take the time to set up and test your post-harvest equipment, from freezers to generators, to avoid last-minute complications. Determine the most suitable harvest method based on market demands and optimize it for efficiency and quality. By following these steps, you can enhance your harvest experience and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Maximizing Efficiency: Harvesting Cannabis for Extraction and Mechanical Harvest

Harvesting cannabis is a critical step in the cultivation process, and for crops destined for extraction, prioritizing efficiency is key. In this blog post, we will explore the various methods and techniques used in the mechanical harvest of cannabis for extraction purposes. By minimizing labor-intensive tasks and embracing innovative technologies, growers can streamline their process and increase productivity. Let’s dive into the world of mechanical cannabis harvesting!

Mechanical Harvesting Approaches

When the purpose of the cannabis harvest is solely for extraction, the physical appearance and structure of the flower become less important. Labor optimization becomes the primary focus, and mechanization offers an efficient solution. Here are three viable approaches currently used:

  1. Modified Stripper Header:
    One promising method involves utilizing a modified stripper header, originally designed for grain crops, as an attachment to a combine. This equipment is capable of stripping the flowers off the stalks while the plants remain rooted in the ground. By mechanizing this process, farmers can significantly reduce the need for manual labor, allowing for faster and more efficient harvests.
  2. Wood Chipper and Sorter:
    Another innovative approach involves passing the plants through a wood chipper, followed by drying the crop. Afterward, a sorter is used to separate the stems and leaves from the crumbled flowers. Different densities and weights of the plant components enable the sorter to effectively separate them. This method can be highly effective in large-scale operations, optimizing both time and labor resources.
  3. Cutting, Field Drying, and Threshing:
    In this method, whole plants are cut and left to field dry by arranging them in rows on a tarp or directly on the ground. Once dry, the plants are fed by hand into a thresher, which mechanically separates the flowers from the rest of the plant material. This approach allows for a more hands-on approach while still reducing labor costs compared to traditional hand-harvesting methods.

The Future of Mechanical Harvesting

As the cannabis industry continues to experience rapid growth, we can expect to witness further innovation in harvest techniques. Harvesting constitutes a significant portion of the labor budget and overall crop production costs. With continued advancements, we can anticipate the emergence of new and more efficient methods, improving yields and product quality.

Harvesting cannabis for extraction requires a shift in focus from flower appearance to labor optimization. Mechanized harvest techniques offer growers the opportunity to streamline their operations, reduce labor costs, and increase overall productivity. Whether using modified stripper headers, wood chippers and sorters, or a cutting and threshing approach, each method presents its own advantages. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing new technologies and methods is key to staying competitive in this ever-growing market. By prioritizing efficiency in the harvest process, cannabis cultivators can maximize their throughput and enhance the profitability of their extraction operations.

Fresh Frozen: A Unique Approach to High-Quality Extracts

In the world of cannabis extraction, the fresh frozen method has gained significant recognition for producing high-quality extracts like live rosin and “diamonds.” This specialized technique involves the immediate freezing of harvested flowers. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of fresh frozen, its benefits, and the best practices involved in the harvest process. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of fresh frozen cannabis extracts!

What is Fresh Frozen?

Fresh frozen refers to the process of harvesting and wet-bucking cannabis flowers, which are then quickly placed into bags and frozen. This approach preserves the flowers in their prime state, retaining their natural attributes and minimizing desiccation. The frozen flowers serve as the primary ingredient for creating exceptional extracts known for their distinct aroma, flavor, and potency.

Harvesting for Fresh Frozen

When it comes to harvesting cannabis flowers for fresh frozen, attention to detail is crucial, as buyers are discerning about the specific harvest process. Here are some best practices to follow:

  1. Timing is Everything:
    To maintain the utmost quality, it is essential to get the harvested flowers into the freezer as quickly as possible, ideally within an hour of harvest. This ensures the flowers remain turgid and experience minimal desiccation before freezing.
  2. Proper Packaging:
    Harvested and wet-bucked flowers are typically placed in bags of varying sizes, ranging from one pound to twenty-five pounds. To minimize condensation, it is crucial to remove as much air from the bag as possible while simultaneously avoiding excessive compression that may damage the flowers.
  3. Leaf Removal:
    Before freezing the flowers, it is highly recommended to remove as many leaves as possible. Leaves can alter the color, aroma, and potency of the extracted product, so taking the time to separate them ensures a purer and more refined end result.

Benefits of Fresh Frozen

Fresh frozen extracts have created a unique niche in the cannabis market. Here are some of the notable benefits of this extraction method:

  1. Enhanced Terpene Profile:
    Fresh frozen flowers retain a higher concentration of delicate terpenes, resulting in extracts with superior aroma and flavor profiles. This translates to a more enjoyable and satisfying experience for consumers.
  2. Potency Preservation:
    By preserving the cannabis flowers at their optimal state, fresh frozen extracts can maintain a higher level of potency compared to extracts made from dried flowers. This makes them highly desirable among cannabis connoisseurs.
  3. Market Opportunities:
    Due to the specialized nature of fresh frozen extraction and the capital-intensive requirement of large freezers, many producers choose to cultivate fresh frozen flowers under contract. This presents unique market opportunities for growers and extractors alike.

Fresh frozen extraction offers a captivating approach to producing top-tier cannabis extracts. By immediately freezing harvested flowers using meticulous techniques, growers can preserve terpene profiles, maintain potency, and tap into a specialized market. Implementing best practices such as swift freezing, proper packaging, and leaf removal ensures the highest quality extracts. Embrace the world of fresh frozen and discover a whole new dimension of cannabis extraction possibilities.

Mastering Smokeable Flower Harvesting Techniques

Harvesting smokeable flowers is a critical stage in the cannabis cultivation process, especially when presentation and structure are of utmost importance. In this blog post, we will explore various methods of smokeable flower harvesting, highlighting their benefits, labor requirements, and space efficiency. Whether you’re a seasoned grower or an aspiring cultivator, understanding these techniques will help you optimize your harvest and achieve the desired quality in your smokeable flowers.

Method 1: Whole Plant Harvesting

If you have ample dry space and time flexibility, harvesting cannabis in whole or half plants is a popular method. Using scissors or clippers, carefully cut the plants at the trunk of the main stem. In instances where large plants are unruly, additional cuts can facilitate transportation into the cannabis drying space. This method saves time during harvest but involves breaking down the plants and bucking them post-drying.

Method 2: Stems with Hook

Ideal for vertical trellis systems, this method involves cutting branches with a hook at the nodes. Stem sections with a length of 12-24″ are easy to hang and unhang. However, if the plant morphology doesn’t allow for hooking, you may need to hang the plant from a flower site, which is less desirable due to the risk of stems breaking. This method requires careful handling and is more time-consuming, with bucking still required post-harvest.

Method 3: Partial Buck

In the partial bucking approach, the plant is broken down into smaller sections that can be horizontally racked or hung, but the flowers remain attached to sections of stem. This method optimizes space efficiency, allowing the flowers to be packed tightly, either in crates or vertical hanging. However, it involves more handling as there are more individual pieces to manage. When using this technique, racking becomes more efficient than hanging, especially during the post-drying stage.

Method 4: Wet Buck

Wet bucking involves removing cannabis flowers from stems at the time of harvest. This method requires cutting branches in the field, bringing them into the shade, and then removing the larger leaves and bucking them onto drying racks. Wet bucking streamlines the process by front-loading the labor input requirements and significantly improving dry space efficiency. While wet bucking saves time in the long run, it does necessitate removing excess stem and leaves at a later stage.

The choice of smokeable flower harvesting method depends on the available resources, desired outcomes, and labor requirements. Hand harvesting remains ideal for packages where flower structure and presentation matter. Whether you opt for whole plant harvesting, stems with a hook, partial bucking, or wet bucking, it’s crucial to carefully consider the space efficiency, labor hours required, and the impact on the final product. By mastering these smokeable flower harvesting techniques, you can ensure the highest quality flowers for a truly exceptional cannabis experience.

Streamlining the Completion of Harvest: Processes and Labor Considerations

Completing the harvest of a cannabis crop efficiently and effectively is crucial for maximizing yield and maintaining product quality. In this blog post, we will delve into the various steps involved in completing the harvest process, explore different handling techniques, and consider labor estimates for different methods. By understanding these elements, cultivators can streamline their cannabis harvest operations and make informed decisions to optimize productivity.

Step 1: Field Harvesting and Tote Management

When field harvesting cannabis, each employee is assigned their own harvest tote, typically stackable 27-gallon plastic totes. When a tote is full, it is brought to the edge of the field and stacked in a shaded box truck. In some cases, a tractor or truck is driven into the field to minimize the manual handling of totes. To maintain product integrity, it is important to choose harvest totes that are easily handled by workers and prevent compression of material at the bottom.

Step 2: Transportation and Short-Term Storage

Depending on the field layout and logistics, farmers may use a refrigerated box truck for short-term storage (2-12 hours) before transferring the harvest to the designated cannabis drying space. This temporary storage helps preserve the freshness of the flowers while ensuring a smooth workflow during the harvest process.

Step 3: Labor Estimates and Considerations

Estimating the labor hours required for hand harvesting can be challenging due to various factors. The variables include canopy occupancy, dry space setup, the intention to wet buck (removing cannabis flowers from stems during harvest), and the size of the pieces being cut. Here are some approximate labor hour estimates:

  • Whole or Half Plant Harvest: 100-300 labor hours per acre
  • Breaking Plants into Hangable Pieces (10″-24″ sections): 400-600 labor hours per acre
  • Wet Bucking or Breaking Plants into Smaller Pieces (4″-10″): 800-1500 labor hours per acre

It’s important to note that hand harvesting is both time and capital-intensive, and the timing of the harvest is critical. Delaying the harvest by even a few days can result in significant yield and quality decreases. As a result, larger acreages, particularly those grown for extraction purposes, are likely to shift towards mechanized harvest methods in the future.

Completing the harvest process efficiently requires careful planning, coordination, and labor allocation. From tote management and transportation to estimating labor hours, each step plays a crucial role in optimizing productivity and maintaining the quality of the harvested cannabis flowers. As the industry continues to evolve, exploring mechanized harvest methods may offer potential benefits for large-scale operations. By implementing smart harvest practices, cultivators can enhance their harvest workflow and achieve their desired outcomes with confidence.

The Importance of Timing in Cannabis Harvest: The Case for Nighttime Harvesting

Timing the harvest of cannabis plants plays a significant role in preserving the quality and potency of the final product. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of nighttime or off-hours harvesting, drawing parallels with the wine grape industry’s practices. While not yet standard practice in the cannabis industry, we anticipate that as the industry evolves and research progresses, more growers aiming to meet the demands of terpene-focused market segments will consider shifting towards nocturnal harvests.

Preserving Terpene Quality

One of the key reasons for nighttime or off-hours harvesting is to preserve the terpene profile of the cannabis plants. Cannabis derived terpenes are the aromatic compounds responsible for the distinctive flavors and aromas found in different cannabis strains. These volatile compounds can degrade when exposed to heat, sunlight, and prolonged handling, leading to a loss of flavor and potency. Harvesting during cooler, darker hours, such as at night or before sunrise, helps limit terpene degradation, ensuring a more robust and flavorful end product.

Drawing Inspiration from Wine Grape Industry

The concept of preserving quality through nighttime harvesting is not unique to the cannabis industry. In the wine grape industry, night harvesting has been a common practice for years. By harvesting grapes during the cooler nighttime temperatures, winemakers can retain the grapes’ natural acidity, flavors, and aromas. Similarly, cannabis growers can adopt this strategy to enhance the preservation of terpenes in their harvested flowers.

Industry Evolution and Research

A common question that is asked is “when to harvest cannabis?”. While nighttime harvests are not yet the norm in the cannabis industry, we believe that as the industry matures and more research is conducted, there will be a growing recognition of the value of preserving terpene quality through optimal harvest timing. As consumer preferences continue to evolve, particularly among those who prioritize terpene-rich products, growers may need to adapt their practices accordingly to meet market demands.

Feasibility Considerations

Implementing nighttime or off-hours harvests may require adjustments to workflow, labor allocation, and logistical considerations. Growers need to assess the feasibility within their specific cultivation setup and operational constraints. However, the potential benefits of enhanced terpene preservation make it a practice worth considering, especially for growers aiming to cater to discerning customers seeking premium terpene profiles.

Timing the harvest of cannabis plants, particularly in relation to preserving terpene quality, is a crucial consideration for growers. The concept of nighttime or off-hours cannabis harvesting, inspired by the wine grape industry, presents an intriguing opportunity to optimize the preservation of terpene profiles. While not yet widespread, we anticipate that as the cannabis industry advances and consumer preferences continue to evolve, more growers will adopt nocturnal harvests to meet the demands of terpene-focused market segments. By embracing optimal timing practices, cultivators can elevate the quality and desirability of their cannabis products in an increasingly competitive marketplace


Sign up for all of the latest news and product announcements from Atlas Seed!
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop