Professional growers and home growers alike both top their cannabis plants. Topping cannabis plants will train them to grow more horizontally by cutting the top of the plant. When your plant grows how you want it to, you can maintain it easier and produce better bud.
Topping cannabis plants makes the plant bushier and causes them to grow horizontally as opposed to growing taller and skinnier, which can hinder how much light the plant absorbs. Bushier plants mean more buds and a more desired potential outcome. Topping is easy, and knowing when to top your cannabis plants is important for the best results.
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Topping Cannabis Plants – When is the Best Time?
The best time to top a cannabis plant is typically in the vegetative stage before flowering begins. This is because topping is a stress-inducing technique that can reduce the overall yield if done during flowering. Topping in the vegetative stage allows the plant enough time to recover. Additionally, allowing it to redirect energy toward the growth of new branches before flowering begins.</p.
It’s important to wait until the plant has reached the desired height and has at least 2-3 nodes (sets of leaves) before topping. This will ensure that the plant has enough energy reserves to support new growth and minimize stress.
Why Is Topping Cannabis Plants Important
Topping cannabis plants is important because it increases bud production by encouraging the plant to produce multiple colas (bud sites). This leads to the plant distributing nutrients more efficiently and producing better buds. The plant will also have better light distribution, growing into a more bushy shape with multiple colas, allowing for more light to reach the buds to promote more even growth.
The quality of the bud will improve as the grower will have more control over the shape and size of the plant to improve ventilation and airflow between the plants. Your plant’s overall health will be greatly improved by reducing stress on the lower branches. Allowing for more light and air to reach the lower parts of the plant.
What Happens To A Cannabis Plant That Never Gets Topped?
If a plant is not topped, it will grow into a tall, single-columned plant with one main cola (bud site). The plant will receive an uneven light distribution, resulting in lower bud production compared to plants that are topped and allowed to grow multiple colas. If the plant is not trained to grow horizontally, the upper buds can receive less light and be less developed than those at the bottom of the plant.
Less sunlight distribution results in only a few buds growing at the top of the plant. Because of the vertical growth, the bottom of the plant will get less sunlight.
When To Top A Cannabis Plant – Indoor Vs. Outdoor Cannabis Growing
It would be best if you topped indoor and outdoor cannabis plants for a higher yield. Some indoor growers will start topping early in the seedling stage.
Outdoor cannabis growers usually wait until after the 5th node has grown to start topping. Waiting for at least 4 to 6 nodes will ensure the plant has enough strength to endure the topping.
Should All Types Of Cannabis Plants Be Topped?
In general, topping is a useful technique for many strains. The specific approach will depend on the strain and the goals of the grower. It’s important to research the specific strain and understand its growth characteristics before deciding whether or not to top.
Indica strains tend to be bushier and more compact, making them well-suited for topping. Sativa strains are naturally taller and can benefit from topping, especially if grown in a sea of green (SOG) setup.
Cannabis plants tend to need lots of caution when topping. Especially autoflowers. If you plan to use it on an autoflowering strain, you should do so early and only if your plant is in great shape. Generally, though, we recommend avoiding topping when growing autoflowering plants.
When To Top Your Cannabis Plants – Best Practices
There are a few methods of cutting the plants to get higher yields. Topping is cutting the main stem to produce 2 stems outward. Lollipopping cuts the bottom stems so the plant will focus its energy upward on the main stem.
Lollipopping and topping go hand in hand to produce more buds. Fimming is similar to topping, but instead of cutting at the stem, it requires cutting the plant at the first internode. Like topping, fimming will produce more outer stems, but it may require more attention to ensure the stems grow horizontally.
Cannabis Topping Growth Tips
A top growth tip is to be mindful of when to top a cannabis plant is one of the most important steps. You will want to top your plant around 4 to 6 nodes of growth with at least four nodes. Most growers will cut the top around the 5th node to ensure the plant has enough strength for the stress of the cut.
Cutting around the second or third node is not a good idea because the plant needs more time to grow and build strength for topping. Once the cut has been made, you will notice the base of the stem colas below the cut will get thicker. The plant will then focus its nutrients on the main cola, growing thicker and producing more buds.
Lollipopping should begin before the flowering phase. Cutting off the lower branches towards the bottom will help the plant put more energy into flowering and produce more buds. Lollipopping is great when topping to ensure the nutrients are focused on the main stems that produce the flower and not the lower branches.
Top In Veg State and Not In Flowering Stage
It is very important to top your plants in the vegetative stage. Topping cannabis plants in the flowering stage will hinder the plant growth of the buds and could put too much stress on the plant while producing buds.
How Much Of The Plant Should You Take Off The Top?
When you top a cannabis plant, you will cut off the entire top of the plant right above the node which you are cutting from. The top part of the plant, which is cut, can be used to clone, so it does not have to go to waste.
Where Do You Make The Cut When Topping Cannabis?
When topping cannabis, the cut is made at the top of the main stem, just above a set of leaves with a node. Topping encourages the plant to grow multiple branches, leading to a bushier and potentially higher-producing plant. It’s important to make the cut cleanly and at the right time, typically early in the vegetative growth stage, to promote healthy new growth.
When you top a cannabis plant, make a clean cut with a sharp blade or shears disinfected with rubbing alcohol. The cut should be made not on the node but directly above the node, leaving just a small part of the stem. Usually, you will want to leave about 1/4″ of the stem from the node when topping.
How Many Times Should Cannabis Plants Be Topped?
A cannabis plant can be topped multiple times, cutting the new stems that have grown outward to produce more bud sites. However, it is important not to cut them too much. The stress involved could permanently damage the plant if not done correctly. Always give the plant enough time to recover from the last topping and ensure it is healthy enough to endure another topping before you make another cut. Giving the plant 1-2 weeks before topping again is ideal.
What Can Happen if Cannabis Plants Are Topped Too Much, Too Many Times, Or Too Often?
If a cannabis plant is topped too much and too often:<?p>
- The plant will not have time to recover from the topping from before, which can permanently damage the plant.
- Topping too much could take the energy and nutrients from the bigger, main stems that produce the most flower.
- If the plant becomes too bushy, it may be harder for more light to reach the parts of the plant underneath the bushy stems.
Topping vs. Pruning: What is the difference?
Topping and pruning are both plant training techniques used in cannabis cultivation to control the shape, height, and growth of the plant. However, there are some key differences between the two.
Topping involves cutting off the main stem of the plant above a node (set of leaves). It will promote the growth of new branches. This technique is typically done in the vegetative stage of the plant’s life cycle. It is used to control the height of the plant and promote the growth of multiple colas (bud sites).
Pruning, on the other hand, involves removing individual branches, leaves, or stems to shape the plant and improve its overall health. This can include removing any dead or yellowing leaves, thinning out crowded areas, or cutting back overly long or unproductive branches. Pruning is usually done throughout the life cycle of the plant and can help improve light exposure, increase air flow, and promote a more even distribution of nutrients.
Topping is a more aggressive and stressful technique that is used to control the height and shape of the plant, while pruning is a more gentle technique used to improve overall plant health and yields.
Can you prune during flowering?
Yes, pruning during flowering is possible, but it should be done with caution. You will have a less fruitful harvest if you prune during flowering, so it should be limited to removing only yellowing leaves or diseased growth. Removing too many leaves and branches during flowering can stress the plant and divert energy away from the growth of buds, which will lower bud production.
Mainlining: Topping And Low-Stress Training Combined
Mainlining is a more advanced plant training technique that requires a good understanding of plant growth and anatomy, as well as patience and attention to detail. However, when done correctly, mainlining can result in increased bud production and improved plant health.
It involves selectively pruning and training the branches of the plant. This will form specific structures with a central trunk and several evenly spaced side branches, also known as a “manifold.” The idea behind mainlining, create a more efficient and uniform distribution of light, water, and nutrients throughout the plant. This can result in a more even growth pattern and increased bud production.
The mainlining process typically involves topping the plant several times to encourage the growth of multiple branches. Then selectively pruning and training these branches to form the desired manifold structure. This can involve tying down or bending branches to create more equal spacing. Removing any smaller or less productive branches will focus the plant’s energy on the main branches. If done correctly, mainlining can result in increased yields and improved plant health.
What Physically Happens When You Top a Cannabis Plant?
When a cannabis plant is topped, the main stem is cut above the highest node (set of leaves). This triggers a hormonal response in the plant. It causes it to produce new growth from the nodes closest to the cut. As the new growth begins to mature, it will develop into branches and eventually form new buds.
Topping physically changes the structure of the plant by promoting the growth of multiple colas (bud sites) instead of a single main cola. This results in a more even canopy and increased light exposure for all parts of the plant, which can lead to increased bud production and greater potency and quality.
Topping helps control the height of the plant and can make it easier to manage in smaller grow spaces. It’s important to remember topping is a stress-inducing technique. So allow the plant time to recover before continuing with further training or pruning.
Final Thoughts – When To Top Cannabis Plants
Overall, topping is a fairly straightforward process that beginners and more experienced growers alike can use. Almost all cultivars besides autoflowering can benefit from some level of topping, but be mindful not to over do it.
Different strains will grow differently. Some may be bushier than others, and some may be taller with fewer colas. With experience, you will know how to top your plants to produce more bud from any plant you are growing.
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