When growing Cannabis knowing all the tricks and techniques to help boost your yields, can really pay off in the long run. Below is better explained the different low and high stress techniques that can be applied and the benefits associated with each.
The Pruning Technique
Pruning Cannabis plants is one of the easiest and most effective ways to enhance yields. Basically removing growth at certain stages, will allow your plants to transform all their growth energy and produce only top heavy buds.
What Do I Need?
For this old school technique all you need is a pair of clean sterile scissors, or a sharp scalpel. Once you have either of these, all you need next is a Cannabis plant to work on. The art of pruning is the simple removal of foliage at designated points. The same techniques are applied to tomato plants also and are well practised worldwide.
Shifting Energy With Pruning
The best way to think about pruning is like a shift of energy. Image the plant in sections and how much energy each part is using up. Now think about how the other parts would look, if one area was removed and the remaining energy went elsewhere. The best time to perform this energy shift is between a growth transition, or prior to flowering. The reason is because during this point of switching from 18/6 to 12/12, the plant will go through a hormonal change, which causes the initial stretch and then forming flowering sites. The main benefit of pruning early on, is the prevention of smaller, popcorn sized buds that would only cause more time trimming. As the lowest parts of the plant will be stripped away, the foliage which may have been neglected of intense direct lighting will not exist. This assures only top heavy buds will form, and depending on which variety of Cannabis you are growing, can determine the overall canopy structure.
There are many benefits associated with pruning Cannabis plants, and one of them is taking clones during the pruning phase. Here you will be able to strip away many large sized shoots, that can rooted in a propagator or aeroponic cloner. If you do not need a large count of plants rooting, then you can just discard the stripped growth. Either way, this is the perfect stage to take great cuttings or even large sized lower branches per time.
The Low Stress Training Technique
Also referred to as L.S.T, the low stress technique as the name suggests involves training the plants without causing any trauma or stress. Techniques such as super cropping are classed as high stress techniques which involve breaking the branch. L.S.T can create a bushy, laterally dominant canopy and is also necessary for growing with a screen. The principal is to lower the crown shoot below the rest of the other shoots, in order to cause a fight over apical dominance amongst the other shoots. The result of this is a constant battle of which branch is the crown shoot, meaning the one cola profile is gone.
What Do I Need?
There are many ways to lower the top shoot and the most common is using string. Other growers can use metal wire to pin the branch down, and some can create weights with metal bolts and strategically placed in certain parts of each internode. All you really need is some thick twine that can be cut off in an emergency and to tie the twine to the pot itself.
Canopy Control With L.S.T
The great thing about L.S.T is that it can be performed from one time, throughout the entire stage of 18/6. The main advantage of using the low stress technique on Cannabis plants, is the ability to control the canopy height and depth. The more frequently a plant is tied down and left to grow back, the more flat and wide the top canopy will grow. As this happens, the need for the plant to grow one main cola with apical dominance is not required, meaning that to look at the Cannabis plant, it would be almost impossible to distinguish which of the multiple shoots was the original crown shoot.
In order to really maximise the yield of a single plant, a grower should work with a longer vegging period, to allow the plants to seriously establish themselves. The structure of a well trained plant using L.S.T will be thick, hard wood branches that have pudding sites all over. Incorporating a screen net into an L.S.T programme can really allow a grower to pinpoint a growing site for each branch. When performed correctly, Scrogging is the most accurate way to not only prune a plant beneath the screen, but also a way to grow a plant that has the potential to yield enormously.
Naturally, some cultivars are better suited for L.S.T than others, however using this technique on indica dominant plants can really help open up the inner parts, whilst hybrid or sativa dominant strains are more versatile. Often times when researching a variety of Cannabis, the breeder may state if the plant works well in a Sea of Green or Scrog. For the crown of a shoot to grow back it only takes a few days, yet it a collective effort that will cause the plants to really take shape over time. Some growers who work with shorter vegging time, will usually L.S.T the plants once, before pruning and flowering. Growing outdoors over an entire summer can allow for huge plants to grow using L.S.T, as well as reducing the final head height of the plants.
Using L.S.T and Pruning Together
When you successfully use these two techniques at the right times of the plant's life cycle, you will be able to grow with complete efficiency. If you are working with short vegging time of 2-3 weeks or long periods of 9-10 weeks, then applying both of these techniques together will increase yields and especially if you are working in a small grow space such as a cupboard or grow tent. Both of these techniques are inexpensive and can be performed by anybody with simplicity. It is always a good idea to know what type of final canopy structure you will go for, before applying techniques and if you are feeling confident enough to add a screen.
What Is a High Stress Technique?
If we are considering L.S.T and pruning as a form of low stress to Cannabis plants, then it is good to know what is a high stress technique. Also known as super cropping, the aim is to break part of a stem and to break the inner cell walls of the branch. Showing Cannabis plants plenty of love and care is usually our number one priority, however the benefits associated with super cropping are well worth it.
As the break repairs itself, a repair growth hormone is flushed through the plant in an effort to fix the snapped growth as soon as possible. Two things happen during this time which are both highly beneficial to the plant, and they are an increase in vigour, structure and vitality, and the other is a solid wooden knuckle support will have formed. This knuckle will allow the plant to handle more weight from top heavy buds, as well as in increase in yield. It is no wonder to see where they name super cropping came from, due to the benefits growers experience.
In nature, breaks and snaps are always imminent ranging from strong winds to a falling branch. Plants which take a beating early on, will always bounce back even stronger with an enhanced resistance and capability to harvest more.
The Final Conclusion
Deciding which of the three techniques presented above work best for you plant count, time frame, logistics and budget, is down to you personally. Spending an extra 4 week growing your plants under 18/6 and applying each technique at least once will ensure your plants will be the most abundant with foliage and flowering sites. Plant height will be reduced as well as having repair growth hormones flushed through out your plants. Try each of these techniques and use a screen to really get hands on in your garden and increase your experience also.