Doing everything that we can during the growth stage to produce the biggest yielding plants, should be at the top of every growers priority list. Incorporating certain techniques at specific times, can make a huge difference in the structure, canopy width, total height and yield capabilities. In this article BioTabs explains training methods; topping, tying down and super cropping. And how they are performed and the advantages and disadvantages associated with each.
Topping, Tying Down & Super Cropping Explained
Also referred to as pinching out, Topping is the word used to describe when the crown growth tip is removed. Once this happens the growth hormone Auxin, reduces and the Cannabis plants will focus on producing two symmetrically growing shoots instead of the original one. A very easy technique to perform, and one that is usually the start of an intense plant training period for many growers.
- A very simple technique that can be performed in seconds using a finger and thumb.
- The advantages of topping plants helps reduce plant height dramatically, allowing aggressively growing sativa hybrids to maintain an even canopy.
- There will be an increase in the number of tops the plant will produce over the growing phase of 18/6, allowing a grower to work with a screen and train their plants this way, or to add bamboo supports prior to flowering.
- It is possible to train one large plant and allow it to fill a grow space. You will need to spend time growing it out and allowing for recovery times.
- It is much easier to prune plants that have been pinched out, as each growth shoot is already focusing on producing a main top bud.
- Some strains do react better to topping than others, so make sure you do some research beforehand. Some indica dominant varieties of Cannabis can grow excessive foliage.
- If a grower does not prune their plants, then there may be a waste of lower buds that are taking away much needed growth energy from the top buds.
- There is a technique called “Fimming” which describes when the growth tip is not cleanly removed and a part is left behind. This is not the desired effect of topping and can happen quite easily.
- Excessive topping requires long vegging times, as well as recovery times. Deciding to grow two, four, eight or more crown tops will be dependant on how long you can spend under 18/6.
How It Is Done
The correct way to cleanly remove the crown shoot of a Cannabis plant, is to carefully expose the growth tip between the leaves. Once you are able to carefully isolate the top growth, you will want to place your finger and thumb over and pinch away. It is very important to achieve a clean cut. You can also use a pair of scissors but ensure they are clean and sterile before cutting.
Once the crown shoot has been removed, you will now wait for new growth tips to emerge. At first it will not be easy to spot with the untrained eye, however within a week, you will notice that there will be two new leaves growing, or the auxiliary shoots have become the new crown tips.
Low Stress Technique
Basically a method that involves tying the crown shoots of your Cannabis plants, to allow the other growth to catch up and take its place amongst the canopy. This can be done using string, metal wire and some people use weights, to bend the top downwards. After around 48-72 hours the bent down parts will grow back to normal, as before. The Low Stress Technique (L.S.T) as the name suggests, is very gentle in its application and causes the Cannabis plants no serious trauma.
- One of the main advantages of tying plants down, is the desire for the plant to want to grow one main central cola is non existent.
- Even if this technique is only performed once, the effect it can have on side branching and bud production can be huge.
- Another easy technique that is inexpensive and can be performed by anyone. Worst case scenario having to buy some string, metal wire or nuts and bolts is hardly breaking the bank.
- Cannabis plants that have been bent down will have an enhanced hardwood structure, allowing the plants to support more top weight when flowering begins.
- An excellent plant training technique to apply with super cropping. Tying down and snapping stems causes plants to fight back with a strong main stem.
- Breakages can occur which can ruin plans of training your plants, very quickly.
- Using string or thin wire can be a bad choice, causing some types to cut into the plant. Make sure, if tying down use twine that can be cut away in an emergency.
- Tying Cannabis plants down and allowing them to re-grow or through a screen can take some time and patience.
- Growers who work with short vegging times may only experience how effective L.S.T can be in a small time frame. To see the true potential a plant training, a time of 4-6 weeks is more fair.
How It Is Achieved
If L.S.T is to be applied to medium sized Cannabis plant with heavy side branching, typical of an Afghanistan variety, then a grower would need to use string, metal wire or nuts and bolts. The most important part is to tie the tops of the plants with a loop and to test the amount of leverage you have to work with. Creating a loop that can be gently tugged and tied to the pots.
Another old school way of performing this is to use small weights such as nuts and bolts. As the plant bends in the direction of the weight, not only with it grow back to be upfacing within a few days, the branch will be much stronger and thicker as a result. Tying down or weight training can be done until you feel the plants meet your desired characteristics in terms of canopy control.
Super Cropping Technique
A method that is classed as high stress training, as the grower is required to break and snap certain parts of the plants. This is all done methodically of course and with good intent. Once a Cannabis plant detects its inner walls have been crushed, it will send a growth repair hormone to repair the break. Between five to seven days later, a solid hardwood knuckle will have formed around the original weak point.
- Cannabis plants that have experienced a breaking of the stem, will take on a bushy, vigorous growth structure. The growth auxin seems to cause the plants to really push and improve resistance.
- Super cropping tall branches and setting them in place with L.S.T and a super crop, can instantly cut out unwanted vertical height. This is a technique performed by old school growers who were limited to vertical growing space.
- Broken and snapped stems happens naturally outdoors from falling branches, heavy winds, and maybe animals. A good break is only part of Mother Nature and is something plants can take.
- It is possible to snap multiple points on one mature Cannabis plant in one session. This is easy to do and take 30 seconds of time.
- If the technique is performed incorrectly, the damage can be irreparable in some cases. If the break is severe, the plant will grow back with a hole in the place where the break was made.
- Multiple super crops may seem excessive and if the plant does not have time to recover, then the amount of trauma and stress inflicted on the plant may be irreversible.
How To Do It
Super cropping should only be done on plants that are hard wood, or are mature enough to take a break. Performing this method on soft wood or young plants will not achieve the same effect. Using your finger and thumb, you will grasp the stem and begin to apply pressure and bend towards one side. You will know it has been successfully performed as you will feel the pressure within the stem, and also you will hear an audible popping noise. How often you snap the stem in this fashion can be down to the maturity and resilience of your plants, as well as the time frame you have allowed yourself for the vegging period. The plants will need at least a week recovery time and should not have any pressure added to the knuckle once it has grown strong.
Combining all three techniques will guarantee that your yields will be far greater. Additionally the plants will get much tougher, emphasising a bushy thick canopy that is ready to produce an abundance of flowers.
Super cropping can take some practice, however if you are able to apply these techniques within your 18/6 period, then you will never look back and allow a Cannabis plant to grow with apical dominance and produce one main bud, ever again.