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Cannabis Plant Training: A Beginners Guide

how to top cannabis

In this guide we will be talking about various types of cannabis plant training, and how these techniques help you to maximize your yields.

Since cannabis comes in a wide variety of differing plants, we will also discuss what training techniques are better suited for various types of cannabis.

To start, let’s say a few words about the most important training methods.

Low stress training (usually abbreviated as L.S.T) implies gently lowering some segments of the canopy, so that the entire top part of the plant is about the same height. This allows all of the bud sites to receive the same amount of light, which is of course extremely beneficial for bud development. Low stress training is typically performed by using garden wires, twine or in the case of bigger plants even weights.

As for topping (sometimes called pinching), this method is all about removing the main tip of the plant (known as the crown tip), which transfers more energy to the axillary shoots, and generally results in two new main crown tips. In order to avoid infections or any other issue, it’s essential to cut the plant with either very clean scissors, or by using a sterile scalpel.

training (topping) cannabis plant with scissors

Fimming is another popular training method, where the grower deliberately removes a great part (about 80%) of the top growth of the plant. This allows the lower parts of the plant to receive more energy, since the top section is temporarily diminished.

Another commonly used technique is super cropping. It implies breaking the stem of the plant with your hands, which makes the stem much stronger once the plant recuperates, and allows it to hold more weight. Super cropping is viewed as an aggressive training approach, and can provide the plant with too much stress if not properly executed.

As for pruning, this method is all about removing certain parts of the foliage, mainly lower bud sites and middle parts of the canopy. Pruning is an excellent way to increase the airflow at the base of your plant, and it also forces the plant to focus its energy on the upper bud sites that are more exposed to the grow lights.

Finally, SCROG is another frequently used method, where a screen is placed in a grow room, which allows multiple plants to be trained at the same time by using the screen. SCROG is considered as an advanced training technique, and is rarely attempted by beginner growers.

The Ideal Types of Cannabis for Plant Training

Since cannabis plants come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, different strains and subspecies of cannabis are quite different in terms of training.

The general rule of thumb is that indica strains (as well as indica dominant or indica autoflowering strains) are not ideal for training, as their stocky and bushy appearance makes training somewhat difficult.

On the other hand, pure sativa (but also sativa dominant and sativa autoflowering strains) are considered much better for plant training, as their natural shape is much easier to manipulate.

Best Training Techniques for Indica Plants

Since indica plants naturally remain low, bushy and stout and have very small spaces between their nodes, they are quite difficult to train, as their shape doesn’t leave much room for the grower to reach and freely manipulate the plant.

Experts typically mention that pruning is one of the best methods for indicas, as removing the lower parts of the canopy really allows more light to reach the lower segment of the plant, which is also beneficial for air flow as well as pest control.

Another great method for these cannabis plants is topping, since it allows the grower to create several critical bud sites on top of the plant.

Finally, the Sea of Green technique is also commonly used for indicas, and this method implies that multiple indica plants are grown under the same grow light in small pots. Another important aspect of this method is that the plants are kept in the vegetative phase for a very brief period of time.

The Vegetative Stage and Cannabis Plant Training

Since photoperiod cannabis plants can be kept in the vegetative stage for as long as the grower desires to, therefore there are several differing vegetative techniques that are suited for specific types of plant training.

The first model we will be talking about is the 7-14 model, which is primarily used in commercial cannabis production. Since the point behind this method is to create numerous small flowering plants as quickly as possible, training such small plants isn’t really required.

As for the vegatative period that lasts between three and four weeks (21-28 days), this amount of time allows the grower to perform several training techniques, mainly pruning and super cropping.

As we already mentioned, sativas and hybrid types of cannabis are much easier to handle compared to bushy indicas, and if you plan to train your plants while in the vegetative stage, make sure you leave them with sufficient time to recuperate.

Finally, if a grower decides to keep their photoperiod plants in vegatative stage for a very long time (30-70 days), this allows such plants to be topped multiple times (usually between 3 and 6 toppings).

These long-vegetative plants can also make great use of fimming several times, and also low stress training is absolutely required.

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