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Is Pruning Autoflowers A Good Idea?

Beautiful autoflowering cannabis bud

Pruning photoperiod cannabis is an excellent technique to get more yields, but what about pruning autoflowers?

That’s a question many growers ask.

In general, for mid-experienced growers, pruning autoflowers can be a terrific way to boost the yields, but for others, especially new growers, it may not be the best choice. 

Is it right for you, and should you prune autoflowering cannabis plants? Read on to know all about pruning autoflowering cannabis.

What is Meant by Pruning Autoflowers?

A farmer carefully inspects his marijuana plants to prune them
A farmer carefully inspects his marijuana plants to prune them

Pruning is a popular training method many growers use to boost their plant’s yields. This method involves snipping off a few leaves or branches on the plant to improve light and air exposure and encourage the plant to thrive. 

Many growers prune only the dead or yellowing leaves since they restrict airflow and light, but others can also benefit from pruning healthy foliage — within limits and with extreme care. 

Advantages of Pruning Autoflowers

Man inspecting his plants before pruning them
Man inspecting his plants before pruning them

Pruning is a high-stress training method, which is often not suitable for autoflowering plants since they grow fast and don’t have the luxury of time to recover from the trauma. This is why you need to decide whether it is right for you or not for a few reasons, such as the following.

To Produce Potent Buds

One of the primary reasons why pruning may work for you is if you want to improve your plant’s bud production. When you prune your plant, it gets stressed and responds by thriving. 

The same theory applies to plants in the wild too. When animals chew off the plants, they grow quickly and become stronger. 

This subsequently leads the buds to produce more resin as a defense mechanism. And since the resin is rich in THC and CBD, the more, the better.

To Grow Bigger Flowers

For the same reason as mentioned in the previous point, pruning can also encourage your plant to grow bigger buds. 

An additional factor that leads to bigger flowers is more light exposure. Pruning removes any obstructive leaves or branches to improve light penetration within the canopy, thereby allowing the lower-tier flowers to grow bigger. 

To Improve Plant Growth

When you prune dead or unhealthy leaves, your plant no longer has to waste its energy on sustaining those leaves. Instead, it can divert its energy to other plant areas like healthy shoots and buds, leading to better growth.

This leads to the plant growing bigger with improved yield. 

To Avoid Mold

In humid regions, mold is a major reason that compromises yield year on year. Mold grows when there isn’t enough air circulation within the foliage.

Luckily, you can use pruning to prevent mold. With pruning, you can cut down any unnecessary parts of the plant to improve airflow within the foliage, reducing the chances of mold growing there.

To Slow Down a Particular Branch

Sometimes, the top shoot grows faster than others, leaving others behind. While this may make your plant look taller, it is not always best for your yield. Here, you can prune to top shoot and allow other branches to catch up to it, leading to a consistent yield of buds. 

To Shape Your Plant

If your plant is growing bigger than you expected or it is running out of space, you can use pruning to reshape it to fit its setting carefully. 

Disadvantages of Pruning Autoflowers

Autoflowering plant struggling after pruning
Autoflowering plant struggling after pruning

On the other hand, there are various instances where pruning autoflowering cannabis can be counterproductive and even damaging to your plant. Here are some of them.

Your Plant May Not Recover on Time

Autoflowering plants have a short growth cycle, so they don’t have much time to recover from the trauma induced by pruning. So, if your timing isn’t right, your plant may not recover well by the time it is mature.

This can also disrupt the plant’s self-regulation cycles for temperature and toxic substance expulsion, compromising the plant’s health and even killing it. 

Your plant can Turn Into a Hermie.

Hermaphroditism is a condition where the plant undergoes self-pollination, i.e., developing characteristics of both sexes, which can compromise your yields. And this condition usually occurs due to high-stress situations.

And since pruning is a high-stress situation, you don’t want to carry it out on your plant if it is already growing slowly or you are a total newbie. 

Pruning Autoflowers is Pointless if They are Growing Outdoors

On the other hand, if you are growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors, pruning can be pointless and even counterproductive. The plant gets enough light and air from many directions during the day without requiring specific training.

Additionally, outdoor plants store large quantities of nutrients in foliage to defend against harmful environmental factors. By pruning the leaves or shoots, you deplete the plant’s nutrient supplies, slowing down its growth.

How Do you Go about Pruning Autoflowers?

Clipping/ pruning marijuana leaves
Clipping/ pruning marijuana leaves

Pruning is very easy. First, remove all the dead leaves, but you can remove some healthy ones too. However, please don’t overdo it, as the plant may take longer to recover. Look for leaves or branches obstructing the light for other branches and pick them off.

In addition, try pruning autoflowers during the vegetative stage as they are very sensitive during the flowering phase.

Considering all the benefits and disadvantages listed above, if you want to prune your autoflowering cannabis still, you need to keep a few things in mind, such as the following.

Timing is Everything

Many growers choose not to prune their autoflowering plants, but if you decide to prune, you should know that timing is the key to successful pruning. 

Autoflowering plants grow fast, so you need to prune at the right time, so the plant has enough time to recover from the stress. And to do so, you need first to understand the plant properly.

Most autoflowering strains bloom sometime in the early fourth week. So, if your plant is in its third week with at least three internodes, you should prune it. 

However, if your plant is already in its flowering stage, it is too late to prune.

Know Your Plant’s Health

Next up, you should know your plant’s health. Pruning is only beneficial if your plant is healthy. On the other hand, if your plant has shortcomings, including slow growth, nutrient deficiencies, or pests, you should avoid pruning the plant. 

Follow the Right Steps

When pruning, choose non-productive shoots located at the lower part of the plant along with any yellowing or diseased leaves. You can also prune the top shoot if it’s growing much faster than others.

While pruning, always uses sharp scissors to minimize the damage and wear gloves to protect the plant’s delicate tissues. 

Is There an Alternative to Pruning Autoflowers?

Yes, there is an alternative to pruning that many growers use — leaf tucking. It may not be as effective as pruning, but it does the job for autoflowering plants. In leaf tucking, you need to tuck the larger fan leaves under the branch, which improves the aeration and light penetration within the foliage. 

Summary: Does Pruning Autoflowering Cannabis Plants Increase Yields?

If the conditions are right, you can prune an autoflowering plant. Just remember only to prune a few leaves with sharp scissors so you don’t stress out the plant too much. And if the plant is already flowering or unhealthy, avoid pruning — it will damage the plant.

You should also remember that pruning is not a magic trick — like many growers believe — it can help boost your plant’s growth but don’t expect yields like a photoperiod plant. Autoflowering plants grow small and yield relatively smaller, but pruning can only help you improve on that aspect. 

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