Cultivation Corner with Olivia Sobelman: Good stress in early stages
Increase Your Yield and Maximize Your Plant Count
There is so much information out there on growing techniques, so many products that can increase your yield, and so much debate on what is good and bad for your plants. There are products that help enormously, but this is more of a natural, non-additive way of boosting yield.
There are a few things that I recommend that will really make or break a successful grow, but the one topic that deserves a really comprehensive explanation is the art of high and low-stress training.
When a moth is attempting to break free from its cocoon it undergoes an enormous amount of stress. If I were to watch one in action I would be so tempted to help it, but I would ultimately be killing it before it has a chance to really flourish. The stress of having to break free is nature’s way of strengthening it and its wings to prepare it for flight.
It’s the same way with all of nature, the wind causes microfractures in a plant’s stem which cause it to strengthen like a muscle, a dry climate will force the roots to grow deeper and bigger in search of water, and breaking or bending a plant will only make it bigger by allowing the bottom branches to become exposed to light and become a new set of top branches.
This is the technique of pinching or breaking your stem to create a layer of scar tissue that ultimately becomes one of the strongest points on your plant.
You can do it by pinching or squeezing the branch until you feel it break or by breaking a branch sideways and letting it heal over.
In my personal experience, the branches under this method do not seem to go into and underneath a trellis net as well, but it is certainly working well for a lot of people and it’s always in everyone’s best interest to just experiment with anything that seems even remotely interesting in case its the WOW factor you’ve been searching for.
Topping a plant is an absolute sure-fire way of increasing your yield.
It can be done in different ways – but if it seems intimidating to cut off a section of your plant, know that you will not permanently damage your plant in any way and that you cannot take off too much or too little.
The less you take off, or the earlier you top, the less time you might have to spend letting it grow back up, but your time is really the only thing on the line.
It is important to only top your plants in the vegetative state so that your branches have the opportunity to grow out of it and become new top branches of their own. Eventually, the new growth develops into top bud sites which become the biggest and densest buds on the plant.
There is a method to the madness and best practice is to top your plant down until the cut lines up with some of the secondary branches. If you don’t line it up your cuts this way you may have a slightly less effective top because the lower branches can still be overshadowed by the main stem if it is still taller than the rest of the plant.
A safe and easy way to tell if you’re ready to top is to wait until your plant has at least four main node sites and strong secondary branching.
Your plant is capable of redirecting energy within itself to heal wounds, or focus bud growth on different areas. By topping, you will create a more bushy plant structure and turn one main bud site into many.
You can even top your plants more than once, creating more and more main sites.
If you are cloning or wanting to try your hand at it, the tops that you remove from your plant make incredibly robust and healthy clones.
If you top in the flowering stage you will stunt your plant and the stress can be damaging to your yield and quality.
There are so many ways to top and crop, you can get to a point where you’re comfortable enough to pinch off a tiny top of one branch on a plant to even it out with the rest of the foliage or to take a plant from being 3 ft tall down to 4 inches if you are unhappy with the growth and structure and predict what it will do and where it will end up.
You can turn a strain with stretched-out nodes and minimal bud sites into a viable candidate for heavy yields with the right technique.
As with anything else, just get to know your strain and try as many times as it takes to get yourself dialed in. If you’ve been on the fence about it, take the leap!
Pruning, Trellis, Defoliating, and Tricking your Plant into Heavy Trichomes coming in The Next Article : Good Flowering Stress
Olivia Sobelman has been a cannabis grower for 10 years and was part of a team that won the US Cannabis Cup Awards three times. Sobelman and her husband, Tyler, own and operate The Grow Depot Hydroponics Store in Mid-Missouri. Fast becoming “The Plant Doctors,” The Sobelmans’ mission to educate and destigmatize cannabis is at the root of their business. Grow depot offers access to free consultations for patients and growers, both in-person and by phone, to diagnose and mend many issues in the garden. Visit Grow Depot for grower tutorials, past articles, and to learn more about the services they offer and their contributions to the cannabis community.