In this episode, we’ll show you how to maximize yields by manipulating your plants using a collection of techniques known assuper cropping. Some of these techniques are trickier to master than others, so you’ll need to have some patience.
The four main techniques are topping and training, branching and node pruning, snapping and twisting, and selective leaf pruning.
1. Selective leaf pruning.
This involves removing larger shade leaves that cover nodes or budding sites, denying them access to the light. Below the first layer of leaves, all interior leaves or leaves that are pointing at the interior of the canopy can be removed. You don’t necessarily need scissors. Simply pinch the leaf and stem using your index finger and thumb, and, with a firm upwards motion, pluck it off.
Don’t start this type of pruning until your plant is growing vigorously. Once you see the leaves crowding each other, shading the lower nodes, you’ll know it’s time to start selective leaf pruning.
2. Branch and node pruning.
This is a great way to improve the yield of your plants by eliminating less useful bud sites and delivering energy exactly where it’s needed. Now, as your plant grows, it produces what we call sucker branches. We call them sucker branches because they suck energy from the plant, but won’t produce anything worthwhile due to a lack of intense, direct light. Removing some of the lower, weaker branches diverts energy to what is left, the budding and branching sites higher up, which do get direct light.
The same principle applies to nodes. A node starts in the crevice where a leaf stem meets the main stem and then eventually becomes another branch. Now, imagine you have a branch with six nodes, all with the potential of becoming branches. That’s going to drain a lot of energy, so what you do is remove all but the top three nodes.
For an even more extreme example, imagine you have 15 branches with 15 nodes, that’s 225 nodes. Now, if you remove all but the top three, that’s 180 nodes removed, which is 80% of the overall nodes on the plant. What remains can grow nearly 80% faster with fewer sites drawing energy from your plant. Thinning out plants like this is vital before flipping into flowering. You don’t want nodes and branches crowding each other.
3. Topping and training.
This is a method that increases the number of top colas. Marijuana tends to grow like a Christmas tree with a very tall, central apex. Topping gets rid of this apex and allows lower satellite branches to get equal light and become main colas as well. Plants send all their growth hormones to the highest tip to outgrow everything around them, to get full sun.
Once topped, instead of one central branch getting all the good light, your satellite branches will be receiving much more energy. Your apex tip will grow back as two tops. While it regrows, the secondary branches will catch up, giving you a nice, even canopy.
Some, in fact most, do this only once, but you can do it multiple times, increasing the number of branch tips each time. Keep the number of tops relative to the overall size of the plant. If you find one branch sticking above the rest, you can lower your lights, so the entire canopy will receive even light levels.
This is another good way to even out the canopy. You’ve done your topping, and all looks good except for a few satellite branches that have gone crazy and are sitting several inches higher than the rest. Bend them down, then tie them up, so they stay down. Tie them to a bucket, use a stake, or weave them into a Scrog.
ScrOG (Sea of green) isn’t just about putting up some trellis and letting your plants grow through it. To maximize yields, take those eager branches (they can be six inches, a foot, or longer), and carefully, by slowly twisting and massaging as you bend them, weave the branch through the trellis. Once secure, all the little nodes on these branches will stand up. They’ll all become tops and grow roughly the same height. That’s the advantage of scrogging. It maximizes your space, allowing you to take all different height branches and turn them into a super-efficient, level canopy.
4. Snapping and twisting.
Also known as bending and breaking, this is at the core of the super cropping techniques. It is a difficult skill to master but has the most profound effect on the plant. Your cannabis stock is made up of several layers:
- The skin you can see when you peel off the outer hurd.
- A bunch of fibrous material known as the hurd.
- The hollow center.
Using both hands, firmly yet delicately grasp a branch and twist in opposite directions until you feel and hear a snap, breaking the inner hurd while leaving the outer layer intact.
Over the next 24 hours, the plant repairs itself, and over the next several days, you’ll see a knuckle appear where you wounded her. Just like when you break a bone, the repair is tougher. You’ll never break the same bone in the same place again. That’s why this method is often called Kushman chiropractics. Like calcifying a bone, we create a super-strong series of knuckles that increase the strength of the plan.
Plants take up and pass water and nutrients cell to cell. What that knuckle does is widen the cell to cell highway. The wider highway allows faster and broader nutrient uptake. Do this on every stem from the bottom to the top. Then, wait a week and do it again, but never in the same place twice. What you end up with is a much stronger plant with a superhighway of cells.
You can start when the plant is a foot tall and keep going until flowering. If you’re falling behind, you may super crop into the first week or two of flowering. No matter how big your buds are, your plant will be three to five times stronger than normal and may not require additional support. Your yields will increase as the cell to cell highway broadens, improving the plants’ ability to uptake water and nutrients. The wider the highway, the more traffic it will take. It’s a tricky skill, but it’s worth it.
Next week, we’ll take a look at flipping your plants into flower. See you soon!