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"Several varieties of opium yielding poppies exist - Persian White has the largest bulb and subsequently highest yield.

Another more common variety has purple petals with a white centre-don't know the variety name - its much easier variety to find than the white, but with smaller pods and a lower opium yield.
Most people mistakenly assume that harvesting the opium is a difficult and painstaking job.

This however, is not necessarily the case. It is in fact, a very simple process which can be done with very few utensils -- both easily, and in relatively little time.

Some prefer to make their own utensils to perform the job.
But in the end, a simple razor blade is really all one needs to reap their rewards from the "Plant of Joy".

It's All About Timing:
The key to success is knowing when to harvest --
"too soon, and you will not get the quality product that you want.

"Too late, and you risk having the alkaloids diluted with the water that the plant takes in from the soil.

The perfect time for harvest is when the crown of the poppy turns straight up,
which under normal circumstances should occur about two weeks after the petals have fallen off the pod.

Preparation For Harvest:

Before you start slicing away like Freddy Krueger reborn, there are certain steps that should be taken to ensure maximum potency.

In order to ensure that the opium will not become diluted with too much absorbed water from the soil,
once the petals fall off of the pod it is "important that you do not water them until you are ready to make the incisions for harvest.

If you water at this point, the alkaloids will not be as concentrated as they could be, and you can end up with a very weak product.

"You need to allow the plant some time without water, to ensure maximum latex gathers in the pod.

For those in very warm climates (i.e. Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, or in climates such as these)
it is generally ok to mist your plants with a spray bottle to keep the soil from becoming hard and dry.

Thirsty is good, starved to death is bad.
It is a fine line to walk --allowing the soil to become hard will end up doing more damage to your plants than the water will to the opium.

So don't wait too long after you have stopped watering to make your incisions for harvest.
If you do, you risk having your plants die from lack of water.

Keep in mind, the plants do need some moisture to produce all of that wonderful latex.

The Incision Decision:

This is by far the easiest part of the whole operation.
There are two main ways to make the incisions -- the first method is to make horizontal cuts covering the whole circumference of the plant.

Some prefer this method, but I find it less complicated to make vertical incisions.

Using the vertical method allows you to harvest the opium by scraping in an upward motion using your thumb and index finger.

It is all about trial and error -- so you'll have to try it for yourself and see what works best for you.
When making the cuts, you want to make sure that you go no deeper than about a millimeter or two.

Keep in mind that the appropriate depth is directly related to the size of the pod.
A Persian White may require one depth, while a Giganthemum may require another.
Again, this is where some experimentation comes into play.
You cut too deep, and the latex will run into the seeds; you cut too shallow and you don't achieve maximum yield.

Once you have determined what method you will use, you will want to make two or three shallow cuts from top to bottom, or left to right.

Not long after these incisions are made, raw opium will start to seep through the skin of the pod.

At first glance, this sap looks much like Elmer’s glue -- sometimes it can have a colored tinge to it.
Some people prefer to lick the raw opium directly off the pod at this point.
However this is not the most efficient way to make use of the opium, IMNSHO.
Instead, keep your pants on and let the goop dry -- once the sap makes contact with the air it will start to both harden and turn dark brown or black.

Be patient, as this process may take up to 12 hours. During this process you will want to leave the opium on the pod until it is thoroughly dry.

This makes it much easier to harvest, as it turns into a very thick tar-like substance. Collecting The Opium: Once the sap has dried to a light to dark brown color it is ready to be removed from the pod.

Again, some people prefer to make their own tools to perform this task, but this too can be done with your simple razor blade.
Alternately, one of the easiest harvesting tools to make is made from a simple table spoon.

Just file one side of the spoon into a moon shaped oval that can be used to slide along the pod and scrape up the resin.
If you have the tools to make one of these, I would definitely recommend doing so.

It can make things much less messy. It easily catches the opium, preventing accidents (nobody wants to lose their O on the ground when scraping), and cuts down on the time factor too.

After collecting the opium on the utensil of your choice, all you need to do is place the raw opium in a small jar or container until ready to use.
If properly sealed, opium has a fairly long shelf life. "
O" Boy!:
There are many ways to ingest opium. It can be smoked, made into a tea (although you can just make tea from the whole pods too), eaten raw, or even used as a suppository.
Each person has his or her own favorite way to make use of this wonderful product -- the choice, as they say, is yours.

Some methods are more efficient than others, and each has its own advantages. Smoking opium, once properly prepared, provides the user with a more intense and instantaneous rush.
Other methods such as the preparation of tea, are less involved and produce a more mellow and longer lasting feeling of euphoria.
It is very important however to keep in mind that opium is a very addictive substance.
What may seem at first to be a gift from God, can soon turn into a taste of hell.

As with all things of this nature, moderation and responsibility can make the difference between the two.

3 Harvest Time

"After the petals drop from the flowers, pods will remain on the stalks.

"These capsules will grow in size for the next few days.
"In five to ten days after the petals fall, the plant is ready for harvest.

"The opium is concentrated in the skins of the unripe pods.

The most common method of extraction is to make shallow incisions around the center of the pod.

The time of harvest is critical.
If the capsule is slit too soon, the opium will be too watery to collect, and if too late, the alkaloid level will drop.
Test incisions can be made at 24 hour intervals. When the latex (or juice) becomes thick enough that it does not run down the pod, the time is right.

Another clue to the correct time for harvest is that the leaves will turn slightly yellow.
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