We want the widest variety of highs and tastes from our cannabis plants, and one way to get that is via incremental harvesting. This means you chop and sample buds from bloom phase plants at multiple times during bloom phase, rather than just at the end of bloom phase.
It used to be I only did this starting about two weeks before the anticipated harvest date. I’d cut a bud every few days from that date onward and keep track of how each sample affected me.
Sometimes I paired this with letting plants grow longer than ideal harvest date based on resin gland condition, so I could see how overripe buds affected me.
Incremental harvesting helps maintain canopy uniformity when you have branches or plants that are much taller than others in the same grow room.
It also helps you open up the canopy and manage super-long buds that are riper on top than on the bottom by cutting the top portion of the bud and leaving the rest to continue maturing.
The process is also helpful when you intend to rejuvenate your marijuana plants and when you’ve pollinated some branches, the seeds aren’t ready yet, but the other branches’ buds are ready for harvest.
Another time I use incremental harvesting is if buds have problems like gray mold, powdery mildew, or pests. I dissect the interior of the bud to see if the invader has totally taken over or if there are salvageable bud parts. If there are, I do an incremental harvest and leave as much of the bud growing as safely possible.
The main reason I do incremental harvesting is to see how psychoactive effects, scent and taste change during bloom phase so I pinpoint the ideal harvest date for that phenotype, but something strange and wonderful happened as I sampled buds from various harvest times.
I started taking freshly cut buds, placing one in the bowl of my Arizer V-Tower desktop vaporizer, setting the temperature to 500°F, waiting 30-45 minutes for the bud to dry, turning the vaporizer down to below combustion temperature (around 396°F), then inhaling the vapors.
The wonderful surprise was this produced much better highs and tastes than harvesting, drying and curing the same bud and vaporizing it.
It also considerably extended the vaping session. The same bud that would have given me about 20 pulls if it was dried and cured gave me 40-50 pulls when I was using a freshly-cut wet bud that I’d dehydrated in the vaporizer chamber.
I talked to cannabinoid/terpenoid scientists and other experts about this and got various explanations. The most prevalent analysis is that drying and curing creates a different set of chemical changes in cannabinoids and terpenoids compared to heating a wet bud in a vaporizer and inhaling the mist.
Some scientists speculate that partial decarboxylation, chlorophyll loss, and other changes that occur during drying and curing create a much different entourage of cannabinoid and terpenoid chemical structures compared to vaporizing a fresh bud.
The most important thing to know is the fresh bud vaporizer experience feels superior to the dried bud experience. The vapor is much tastier and smoother, probably because water vapor is a significant part of the mix.
The highs are cleaner, more interesting, more stimulating, longer-lasting, compared to vaporizing dried and cured buds, and certainly much more than combusting buds.
Even buds from traditionally sedative Kush and pure Indica strains generate lively highs using this method.
This process showed me just how much water is in a fresh bud. The Arizer V-Tower bowl is quite large, which I love. The big fresh bud that’s an inch long and weighs several grams when I cram it into the bowl loses about 70% of its size and weight during vaporization.
Some of you might be thinking about “live resin” as I talk about vaporizing live buds. Live resin is made by flash-freezing fresh, uncured, undried buds in subcritical temperatures around -20°F to -40°F, then doing C02 or other non-solvent extraction steps while buds are still frozen. The extraction process usually takes place within a week of harvest and freezing.
Live resin retains much more of its terpenoid entourage than other cannabis concentrates, and generally provides a richer taste and psychoactive experience compared to other types of cannabis concentrates.
But I don’t need live resin, rosin, or other cannabis concentrates made through complex chemical processes. I have plants in bloom phase every day of the year, and always at least one plant sufficiently mature for incremental harvesting so I can vaporize fresh buds.
Obviously, I still vaporize dried and cured buds, because I don’t always want to wait the 30-45 minutes for fresh buds to be sufficiently moisture-purged so I can start drawing vapor.
But the superior high and silky smooth vapor I get from vaporizing fresh buds has me using them more and more. Try this process, and see how it works for you!