The Cannabis Flowering Stage - A Week by Week breakdown

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Let's look at the flowering stage from the stretch to harvest

Hey there and welcome (back) to Free the Tree ! 🙂
We decided to breakdown our Flowering stage article in 2, the first that covers the nutrient needs and stages of development, and this one where we will look over the flowering stage of cannabis week by week.

Let’s get into it 🙂

Flowering Stage week by week - Table of content

We had to pick a strain to show you the week by week flowering of cannabis. The winner was our ‘autoflowering grow‘ ! That round we had grown acritical+ 2.0 autoflo and a fruit autoflowering strain, which was our first time playing with auto’s

They flowered to early so the buds didn’t get huge, that said it’s still fine in order to see the weekly development of cannabis’s flowering stage. Remember that the exact number of weeks of flowering really depend on the strain 😉 

Week 1 – The stretch, final growth and first pistils

As we mentioned in the intro, this was our first time testing out autoflowering seeds…
We found out the hard way, but autoflowering seeds start to flower once the tap root hits the bottom of the pot… so they flowered while they were still waaay too small.
Since this was our first time with an autoflowering strain we made a lot of mistake, thus learning a lot. We gathered a bunch of what we learned in this article of autoflowering strains, if you want to know more. 

As a little reminder, some strains grow A LOT during the stretch, from 50% to over 200%, so make sure you get the info in order to time your flowering right

Week 2 – End of the stretch

This will depend on the strains but generally the stretch is 2 weeks long. You can think of it like our teenage years, that’s when we grow a lot, have a bunch of hormones flowing and grow into our adult bodies.

We can see the stretch has ended here since the vegetative growth has stopped and the bud sites are well formed.

If these were male plants, we would have the same situation but instead of pistils we would see the pollen sacks, which look like little oval balls. 

Week 3 – Pistil growth and first trichomes

Now that your plant has finished her vegetative growth all the action is happening around the flowers, which for the moment are just a bunch of pistils popping out.

With time, these pistils will start forming nice bud sites, trichomes will start growing and she’s going to start producing cannabinoids and terpenes.

The upcoming weeks are really exciting, but be careful not to jump the gun and harvest too soon!

Be careful : If you just take pistils into consideration, you will most likely harvest way too early and lose out on a large amount of flowers, but getting a little ahead of myself.

Week 4 – Buds thickening

1 month into the flowering stage the plants are really starting to have some nice flowers and smell. As you can see we’re dealing with a strong Nitrogen deficiency on the 2 fruit autoflowering plants (left)..

This is really early on for this and can’t really fight it since cannabis strongly reduces her intake of nitrogen once the flowering period has started.. this sucks :/

Week 5 – Pistils ripening

As you can see in the middle picture, this weeks the pistils started drying out; You can see this with their color, the brown pistils are drying, whereas the white ones are still humid. 

You might think that this means it’s getting close to harvest time that would be way to hasty!

There can be 2 or 3 rounds of pistil ripening and regrowth, every time your buds get bigger. As we covered further up in the article, the indicator for harvest lies in the trichomes, not the pistils so be careful 😉

A little botany note : A dry pistil cannot be fertilized by pollen (pollination);
Meaning that once the pistil is dry, it’s “unusable” for reproduction. No reproduction means no seed, sending the message to the plant that it needs to grow more pistils.

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Week 6 – Flowers closing up

This week the pistils kept ripening and the flower calyx’s closed up. Checking the trichomes, they were still really clear, indicating that the cannabinoid (THC, CBD, etc) levels are still low and it’s not the moment to harvest. Unfortunaltely we don’t have any pictures of the trichomes at that moment..

As you can see during the week white pistils started growing back out, starting the second round of pistil growth!

Week 7 – Buds thickening & first harvest

Week 7 we saw the flower calyx’s start to re-open with some fresh pistil growth. 
We also harvested 2 critical+ plants…

With hindsight I really think we jumped the gun and harvested waayyyy too early. We probably lost at least a third of the yield, which is really a shame since it was a great tasting flower

Pictures of cannabis buds thickening

Harvesting the first buds

As we started saying I think we jumped the gun a bit on harvesting these, we could of probably waited a week of two, especially since we hadn’t really fully finished flushing them.. (edit : They were flushed enough not to have the flavor of Nitrogen when we smoked her).

The main issue with harvesting early is loss of yield, as we covered above, cannabis buds thicken through multiple rounds of pistils growing over each other; as there is more spots from where the pistils can grow, this process is exponential, you don’t want to miss out on that last round of growth.

Here’s a couple pics of this first harvested flower

We harvested the 4 other plants little by little 8 to 10 days later basing ourselves off the trichomes. We decided to time the harvest between when they were fully milky and golden.
Keeping in mind that milky trichomes represent peak THC level, and when they are golden shows reduced levels of THC but increasing levels of CBD, our timing how “a bit under max THC and within the CBD presence phase”


Crazy how, in a matter of weeks, they go from a couple pistils to a nice tasty bud isn’t it ? Nature is beautiful.

Alright folks, that’s it for this one! 
Hope you enjoyed it and you found the info you were looking for; On our end, these couple weeks of grow were really fun 🙂

Until next time,
Be safe and grow easy

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