In order to make sure you get the most out of your Marijuana plants and be satisfied with your harvest, there are a few things you’ll need to learn to do during your plant’s growth. Those include pruning, topping, defoliation, low stress training, and more. While some of these techniques are fairly simple, some come with a few risks. However if you learn how to execute them properly, you’ll be able to optimize your yield and be able to get awesome results that you can be proud of.
Let’s have a look at those techniques as well as the proper way of doing them.
If you want to make sure you don’t grow small flowers, and get the most that you can out of your plants, you’ll need to prune or trim them properly so that they can use the water, nutrients and light you provide them appropriately.
If you take a look at your plants while they’re in their vegetative state, you’ll probably notice many tiny branches that are either going nowhere, growing into the middle of the plant (which is an area you want to open up), or are too tiny to get any light to grow. All these branches are going to do is basically eat up the nutrients, water and energy that could otherwise go up to those big, bud-producing branches at the top.
These tiny branches are a waste of energy and should be cut down in order to increase the productivity of the top of the plant and optimize your yield.
The way to properly prune your plants is to do it during their vegetative stage as they start getting a bushy shape, and at least 15 days before you switch them to the flowering stage.
When pruning, you’ll want to remove branches that:
- Are in the lower sides of the plant and do not receive enough sunlight
- Have leaves that are drying off because they receive too little sunlight, as well as bud sites that are hanging very low.
The idea behind topping a plant is to break its natural christmas tree shape, where it focuses on growing tall and concentrates its energy into a top-most growth. Topping is achieved by breaking the main growth point of the plant and encouraging it to put more energy into side branching.
If you repeat the process more times, it will encourage the plant to create additional bud sites and ultimately improve your yield.
If you want to do it correctly, you should wait until the plant has 5 nodes or 5 sets of multi-point leaves. Once its time, cut or pinch the growth tip and wait to see how the main stem thickens and strengthens.
You can repeat this process with side branches to produce more forks, which will result in more bud sites forming.
Remember to only top during the vegetative stage, and not while the plant is flowering.
There are also benefits to pruning leaves, also known as defoliating, early in the flowering stage and if executed correctly, this process can help increase your yields and lead to a very successful harvest.
The way this process works is by pruning fan leaves that are not directly connected to a bud, and are covering other leaves, limiting their exposure to light by standing in the way of their light source. The way to do this correctly is to go in and locate those leaves and use clean scissors to cut them off, leaving just a little bit of stem at the base where the leaf used to be, so that if any infection gets on the stem, it won’t go down to the leaf.
Be careful not to over-defoliate which can often do more harm than good. Only remove leaves which can impede bud growth. Do not remove sugar leaves, which are the ones that are directly connected to a bud, and focus on removing fan leaves only.
If you’re an inexperienced grower, it’s always best to start off slow and then gently learn from your experience as you become better at the whole process. That’s because the point of defoliation is not to unnecessary stress the plant, but to trick it into feeling like it needs to expand.
Low Stress Training
Low stress training is a popular way of training your Marijuana plants, especially if you’re a new, inexperienced grower.
Low stress training is based on taking minimal risks, exposing the plant to minimal stress and reducing the possible unwanted side effects or negative results. LST is used to give your plant more light exposure and stimulate its side branches to expand.
LST exposes a lot more of the leaves and buds to light. The way this is done is by bending and tying benches to the side so that you can optimize light penetration and increase the surface area of the plant that is exposed to light.
LST is a delicate technique that should be done with respect to the plant’s natural tolerance. The difference between bending it and breaking it can be very tiny so you should always be careful not to overdo it, especially in the case of strains with a crispier, stiffer structure.
Timing Your Harvest
Another important factor in optimizing your marijuana yield is timing your harvest right.
As your plants enter their flowering stage and their aroma gets more pungent you’ll be more and more tempted to start harvesting soon. If you’re not patient enough and you harvest your buds early, you’ll get smaller buds, but if you can resist the temptation and wait at least a week or two after your 2-3 week harvesting window, you can increase the size of your flowers by 20-25% and maximize your yield.