The importance of proper training techniques in cannabis cultivation cannot be overstated. These methods can increase yields and improve overall plant health.
Topping and pinching are two popular training techniques that require growers to manipulate the shape of a plant’s branches. They also can increase a plant’s resilience to environmental stressors.
Training techniques are a critical part of cannabis cultivation, as they allow growers to control the shape and pattern of their plants in order to maximize yields. They also ensure that the plant has a clear path to light so that photosynthesis can occur at its most efficient.
LST (low stress training) is a simple technique that allows growers to alter the growth of their cannabis plants without pursuing more drastic methods such as cutting, breaking, or bending their stems. This can result in greater cannabis plant yields and more uniform canopy development, especially when paired with other training techniques.
This technique is usually performed in the vegetative phase and involves bending the main stem of the plant to encourage lateral branching. This increases the amount of light that can reach lower branches, allowing them to grow strong and develop larger buds.
It is important to start LST before the plant becomes too tall or hard to bend, as this can be dangerous for growers. Make sure to tie down the main stem securely with a rubber coated garden wire or soft feel ‘garden cord’ that won’t cut into the plant when it attempts to force itself back into an upright structure.
Deleafing is another basic training method that can be done at varying stages of the vegetative and flowering phases. It involves removing the large fan leaves and small flowering sites from a cannabis plant in order to encourage more photosynthesis and bud formation.
The defoliation process is a crucial training step that can help cultivators maximise yields on a limited amount of space. It is also a good way to prevent infections or crises due to environmental stress exposure, although it should be carefully handled and only used on 100% healthy plants.
To defoliate, a cannabis grower must carefully remove the foliage that is near bud sites. This is typically done with scissors, but it can also be done with disinfecting alcohol to reduce the risk of infection.
Topping is another common training technique that can be used to improve a cannabis plant’s yield. It is important to make sure that the cannabis plant is topped correctly, as it can lead to an overly tall and unwieldy plant. It is also a good idea to top a plant in combination with other training techniques, such as LST or FIM. This will maximise the potential for more “main” stems to grow from the plant’s lower branches, resulting in bigger, stronger cannabis.
Light Stress Training (LST)
Proper training techniques are an essential part of cannabis cultivation, as they ensure the plant utilizes every available space and light, while maximizing yield. LST, as well as other methods like topping and ScrOG, are simple yet effective, and can help growers increase their yields by 10-25% or more.
The key to properly performing LST is timing, which is why it’s best to start as soon as the plant has established a good root system and 4-6 robust nodes. Waiting until later in the vegetative or flowering cycle can actually cause more problems, as stems and branches become too rigid to respond to training.
Some growers may choose to remove the top tier of leaves before starting LST, as this encourages the plant to begin branching out and provides a more even base for training. However, this isn’t strictly necessary.
Ideally, the main stalk should be trained to grow horizontally along with the lower branches as part of the process. This will break the apical dominance of the cannabis plant, allowing multiple viable colas to develop.
In addition, it’s important to bend the main stem down to a similar height as the rest of the canopy, so that all colas can grow at the same level. This will also allow the main cola to absorb more light than it would otherwise.
To achieve this, simply tie the main stem in place, using soft plant ties. The ties can be fashioned into simple hooks or tied to the lip of standard pots, or they can be staked directly into the soil.
Many growers prefer to use soft wire ties, twisty ties, or coated wire for this task, as they will not cut into the plant as it grows. But it is important to be careful not to tie the branches too tight as this can damage the buds.
While it is possible to perform LST on any strain or genetics, it’s most effective when done during the vegetative state. The branches and stems of a cannabis plant are most pliable in this stage, and the technique can be applied irrespective of the type of strain or genetics.
If your grow space doesn’t allow the plant to exceed a certain height, or if you want to maximize yields, it’s crucial to understand how cannabis plants are trained and what training techniques are best for different strains. Properly trained cannabis plants can help to produce higher yields, increase trichome production, and ensure that a plant is fully ripe for harvesting.
Aside from improving the health of a cannabis plant, proper training also promotes strong, resilient buds that will hold up to heavy flowering. For that reason, many growers prefer using hand-on training techniques such as topping and fimming to maximize their yields.
Topping is an important technique that encourages lateral branching and multiple cola formation, doubling the yield of a cannabis plant. This is achieved by clipping the growth tip of the main stem, which causes the plant to divide into two budding sites instead of one.
The top of the plant is cut at a 45-degree angle, allowing for lateral branches to form along the sides of the plant. These branches, which are often called colas, will then grow their own buds.
This technique is especially useful for SCROG and other indoor grows that allow minimal light exposure to the lower bud sites. The removal of these lateral branches forces the plant to focus on cola growth, increasing yields and making the bud sites more evenly spaced.
It’s important to note that this method should only be used once the plant has reached 5-6 nodes. Otherwise, it can cause the plant to shock and die from lack of development.
Super cropping is another technique that can be used to maximize yields from a marijuana plant. This method involves cutting away the low-growing tips and fan leaves from a plant, as well as any other less productive growth.
This technique is usually performed about 7 days before the plant goes into its final vegetative growth phase. However, it’s also a good idea to perform it again about 2 weeks into the flowering stage.
While it can be beneficial to use cannabis plant training to maximize your yields, it’s also important to remember that these methods should only be used on photoperiod strains. Autoflowering strains do not respond well to excessive pruning, so any interference with their natural growth pattern can negatively affect the final yield of your bud.
Screen of Green (ScrOG)
Screen of Green (ScrOG) is one of the most popular cannabis training techniques used by growers. It allows for the creation of an even and horizontal canopy that maximises light exposure to the various bud sites, increasing yields. It also reduces the risk of fungal pathogens and improves airflow and oxygenation, boosting the overall health of your crops.
To get started with the ScrOG technique, you’ll need a sturdy metal screen and some gardening ties or sting to gently but securely hold branches in place as they weave under and through it. Once you’ve created the screen, you can begin guiding your plants through it as they start to grow.
Once your plant reaches the end of its initial vertical growth phase, tuck each tip under the mesh and begin to direct it through a nearby hole. Continue tucking and weaving until your plant is fully grown, then move to the next square of the mesh.
You should be tucking branches under the screen as soon as they grow to around 5cm above it, and weaving them outwards from it as they reach new growth. You can also use clips to gently hold branches in place as they reach the edge of the mesh.
Some experienced scroggers prefer to position their screens closer to their containers, but this can cause a longer time to fill them since the plant branches will have to travel a greater distance. Other scroggers, however, place their screens further away from their containers to ensure that the plant can fill them more quickly.
Many scroggers prefer to choose sativa strains for the SCROG method, since they’re known for their ability to quickly fill screens. Indica dominant hybrids, on the other hand, can only increase in height by 50%-100% during bloom, meaning they may not fill a SCROG screen as fast as sativa strains. This is why scroggers may want to grow their indica dominant strains for a longer period of veg before blooming. This will allow the plants to fully fill their screens before flipping them to 12/12 bloom conditions.