The title of this article may attract some people who are looking for very different content. So I will state from the beginning in this case “topping” refers to a specific type of plant training. To everyone who is here to learn about getting the most out of their cannabis plants, hello! We are going to have an in-depth look at one of the most popular plant training methods. The idea behind this method is the strategically trim your plants to increase your yield. It sounds simple enough, but I’m afraid there are a few things we need to brush up on before we start snipping. We need to make sure we are doing it in the right place and at the right time so that we don’t just damage our plants. Here is a basic guide to topping, get ready for a massive yield increase in your crop.
What Is Topping?
For those of you that are completely new to growing, or at least to training plants, let’s have a basic look at what topping actually is. Right at the tip of your plant is your main stalk, and if it is cut correctly it can turn into two stalks. We are just trimming the top of the plant to increase the number of leaves and thus increase the amount of light, energy and branches on the plant. This in turn will increase the bud sights. This also encourages lateral growth, basically growing sideways instead of up. The higher the plants go the more light is taken in by high leaves and not the low leaves. Trickle-down photosynthesis isn’t the best way to create a happy plant. If we stop the plant from growing too high vertically we give the lower leaves a chance, improving the energy intake of the plant overall.
Do I Have to Top My Plants?
I mean, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Many people do grow without topping and their plants are perfectly fine. However, if you do leave the plant to do whatever it wants it will focus on the main section of the plant, or the primary cola. This is fine, there is nothing wrong with it, other than the general lack of lateral bud sites. If we are just relying on the main cola we simply won’t produce as large a yield. If we redirect some of that upward momentum to go sideways in two directions we are going to produce a far better yield. So you don’t have to, but you maybe should.
How Does Topping Produce More Bud Sites?
This is essentially just to do with light distribution in the plant. If there are lots of leaves up top the low down boys will be in darkness. No light no energy, no energy no buds. If we top the plant we get a far more equal light distribution allowing the plant to take in way more energy than before. Remember little buds are still growing at the bottom, you don’t want to take away their source of food.
When Should I Top?
So the vegetation stage is the best time to start topping. At this point, your plant is still growing and will heal/split easily. This is also when the stems are just starting to develop bud sites and so when they grow into two new stalks they will continue to grow the nodes. These nodes also produce new branches and leaves. It is a good idea to wait until your plant has at least 4 branch sites before you start topping. If you go too early you could upset the plant. Make sure you don’t cut any lower than this 4th node, but also don’t go higher than the 6th. This means the plants won’t get too tall and start producing side branches high up towards the grow light.
What Tools Do I Need?
It is best to use something extremely sharp to trim your plant so that the trauma to the stem is kept to a minimum. Propper gardening scissors, a sharp knife or a razor is ideal for keeping stress low. Just like cutting skin, you should make sure that your tool is properly disinfected before you use it. That sounded creepy, I just mean that plants can be infected by an unclean surface just like a person can.
How Do I Cut?
The 4 – 6 node cutting depends on the height of the plant, shorter for 4 and taller for 6. When you decide which node to cut at you should travel a further two inches up the stem to make your cut. Like a hydra when one is cut off two will grow back in its place. They will also start to grow laterally instead of vertically, which helps with the light distribution we discussed earlier. Honestly, the actual cutting aspect is just that simple. Make sure it is a clean, quick snip and your plant should happily grow back two stems instead of one.
Like anything that’s had a little bit of physical trauma the plants will need to heal and recover. It is vital that we take great care of the crop once we have topped it. Make sure the plants have plenty of nitrogen, excellent dry air circulation, and bundles of nutrient-rich soil. The plants will use the nutrients to heal and develop their new lateral branches and then their bud sites. This will also help them to grow vigorously from a tiny baby to a massive, high yielding, bushy plant.
As long as you follow these steps and make sure not to skip the small but very important aspects of topping you should end up with a big bushy plant with lots and lots of buds. Topping is just that simple, which is why it is one of the most popular training methods amongst cannabis growers. Maybe try with one plant to start with to see the results before you go chopping up your entire crop.