There are so many ways to increase the size of your harvest, but beyond basic nutrition there is little that a grower can do that will impact yield more than proper training. Today we’re going to discuss the many techniques used to train your cannabis plant to grow wider (not taller), increase canopy width and undoubtedly increase yield. When growing indoors, it’s important to remember that your lights only produce appropriate growing light a certain distance from the bulb. This varies from light to light, but is usually no more than 4 feet from the light. With the heat the lights produce, you can’t get your plants too close or they’ll burn. This leaves a thin canopy depth that the light will penetrate through, so growing your plant wider is the only solution to increasing quality bud production.
- Topping – the most basic technique, and one of the easiest to perform, is topping your plant while in the vegetative stage. This means taking the very top leaf growth of any branch and cutting it down to the stem, removing the very top leaves. This forces the energy that was being used to grow the plant tall, down into the 2 nodes immediately below your cut, creating 2 “tops” from that one cut. You can do this as many times as you’d like while in the vegetative stage, just know that it does create a thicker stem that is undesirable to some growers, so it is usually only done a few times during a grow.
- FIM’ing – like topping, this is a cut to the very top growth, but instead of snipping all the leaves off down to the stem, FIM’ing cuts just a part of the top growth off, forcing all the energy throughout the entire plant (not just the 2 nodes) making it create new growth all over. Very beneficial with just a few weeks left in the vegetative stage.
- Low Stress Training (LST) – LST is the act of bending a stem or branch to force it to go in a different direction than it would normally grow, usually parallel to the ground. Used in conjunction with topping, it’s one of the most beneficial ways to widen your canopy without any contraptions to assist you. However, you must be careful to not break the branch all the way off, or you essentially lose a branch and “top” the plant at the break. I suggest squeezing the stem until you feel the cell walls break under your fingers. Then slowly bend the branch, while still squeezing a bit, until the branch bends and creates a crease. The plant will then force energy into the rest of the plant, and create a knuckle at the break over time. Above the bend should still continue to grow, and most times be better off after. This is usually done during the vegetative stage, but some growers perform this on a limited basis in flower.
- Lollipop – This is a term used to refer to cutting all of the lower growth from the plant, either before switching to flowering stage, or no more than 3 weeks into flower. This is done to eliminate the plant growth that will not get any good light to grow from. Remember, you are only gonna get good light a few feet from your bulb with most lights (new technology is changing this a bit) and as your plants grow thicker and your buds start to get bigger, even less light will reach the undergrowth of your plant. If you eliminate this growth, your plant will be able to focus all it’s energy into the leaves and buds that are getting good light, increasing bud production and size.
- Main Lining – Main lining is a technique that is getting more attention lately, but I have yet to try. It uses topping, a bit of LST’ing, and some tie downs to create two main stems, with several colas off of that, with the goal being a symmetrical plant from the main stem up into an even number of colas on either side of the plant. This concept is supposed to eliminate unnecessary energy use by the plant, creating bigger buds.
These are your main techniques that do not require much more than a pair of scissors. All of these techniques should be used in conjunction with regular plant maintenance of snipping undergrowth that doesn’t get enough light and any yellowing or browning leaves as your plant grows bigger. This is natural and perfectly normal to eliminate these leaves and small branches to help maintain a healthy plant. Since you will be enacting some great training techniques, we’ll go over all the things to use in your garden to help support your bigger buds and ensure a great yield – NEXT TIME!