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. Here are the 5 top techniques to train your cannabis plant to grow wider (not taller), increase canopy width, and undoubtedly increase yield. 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.
- Topping: The most basic technique, and one of the easiest to perform, is topping your plant while it is 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 two nodes immediately below your cut, creating two “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 each 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 the very top growth off, forcing all the energy throughout the entire top part of the plant (not just the two nodes) making it create new growth all over. This is very beneficial with just a few weeks left in the vegetative stage.
- Low Stress Training (LST): LST is the act of tying a stem or branch down so that it grows horizontally, instead of vertically. Used in conjunction with topping, it’s one of the most beneficial ways to widen your canopy with the least amount of stress to the plant. With the assistance of some soft wire tie (never string or anything else that can cut into the plant), simply tie down the main stem so that it is close to parallel to the ground as it can be. This will cause all the side branches to get more light and airflow, resulting in more tops. You then can repeat this process for the side branches as well, extending the plant canopy wider, helping to increase your yields. Can be done in vegetative and flowering stage.
- High Stress Training (HST): HST is advanced LST, by introducing stress to the plant by actually bending/breaking a stem or branch. 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 during 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 three 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 its energy into the leaves and buds that are getting good light, increasing bud production and size.