How do I maximize yield in my garden? A question that has been in the cannabis community for years, it can be very simple yet so complex at the same time. Let me ease the confusion and break this down. Grab your readers and a snack because today I’m going to be putting this question to rest.
Understand the equipment! It seems nonsensical but it’s truly a huge mistake new indoor growers make. You are going to want to use them to the best of your ability. Especially your light! The taller and more uneven the top of your plant gets, the more likely you aren’t getting everything out of it. Training your plant will ensure that your canopy stays even and you maximize light penetration.
Now before you do anything that might harm your plant, let’s dive a little bit deeper. The cannabis plant has a natural Christmas tree-like figure to it. This is a problem if you want to maintain an even canopy. To combat this you want to remove apical dominance by removing the apical meristem. There are two ways of doing this, Topping the plant and FIMing. Despite contrary belief, there is a difference and it breaks down into preference. When you top the plant you cut in between the top two nodes. This will split the one main cola into two bushy, evenly spaced colas. The only difference between that and FIMing is when you FIM you cut the newest growth above the node, this will result in three or four main colas, however, they will be uneven and less bushy. For the best results, these techniques should only be used in the vegetative state, if later during bloom you will be risking production.
When to Start Training
Depending on the genetics and phenotype, your plant will be an inch to an inch and a half to get the 4th leaf set or node from the bottom. At this point, manipulation should be safe. If you do either before the plant has time to develop a strong set of roots you will send the plant into shock. If you are growing an autoflower the consequences will be much higher because of their shorter flower time. To achieve maximum yield you will want to keep the plant healthy for as much of the growth as possible, this goes for both autos and feminized. That being said the longer your plant is in the vegetative state, the longer time it has to develop the canopy alongside more bud sites. When growing an autoflower I would recommend FIMing the plant, this is not only less traumatic it does create more colas if done correctly. When you are nurturing a feminized or photoperiod plant, I’d recommend topping the plant. Pinching off the top piece of growth at the node and not above it.
Expanding the Canopy
Another technique of training will come into play now – LST, also known as low-stress training, lots of indoor growers use this technique hand and hand with topping, using any kind of training wire to tie down the main stalk to the side so it appears to be growing sideways, as more main branches grow because of the topping performed you will want to keep tying them down as even as possible to the first branch. The idea is to expand the canopy as much as possible to maximize production. However every time you top the plant you double the colas. This will cause the buds to form smaller. This will also allow your light to stay the proper distance away and avoid light bleaching, common when you’re growing one main cola without topping.
Trellis Net / ScrOG
If you want to maximize your yield then you’re not done there! You can’t forget to stay on top of low-stress training and prepare for your trellis net, ScrOG or also known as Screen of Green is the late game of maximizing yield. However, some people don’t use this method as it is very similar to low-stress training. If you think you are comfortable enough with it and want to continue that just remember the branches will begin to become stiffer and are more prone to snapping. You want to begin by putting in your net, remember you want this as tight as possible and be sure not to damage your canopy. Once you lower the net so the tops are 4-5 inches above the net, you want to start tucking the tops to the outermost squares that aren’t filled. Expanding your canopy the last and final time. Give some time for your plant to recover from the stress, Transplant if needed, and prepare to go into flower.
This last one is controversial for growers even today but can be very beneficial if done correctly. Lollipopping is removing a portion of the undergrowth so the nutrients and energy can be spent on bud development. When you are doing this you want to remember the lollipopping zone, 30% is considered to be a good number by most growers. This means you want to trim the bottom 30% of the plant off. A good time to start performing this technique is around week 3 of flower, you could do it at the same time as you adjust your netting. They are two techniques that work very well with each other.
Now that you know these techniques, you must remember all grows are different. These techniques strive in indoor, organic grows. However, some principles should be taken for all grows. If you want to maximize the yield you will want to perform low-stress training and expand the canopy and much as possible, this will allow for more colas. Another thing to always keep into account, auto-flowering plants have a shorter lifespan. This results in less room for error and less time for the plant to recover from various techniques.