How to maximize yields with the Screen of Green method


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This article started off titled as “Stop calling your trellis netting a SCROG!”

I see so many people using a trellis net above their plants, letting the plant grow straight up through it, and calling it a SCROGnet. SCROG is an acronym for Screen of Green, and has very specific implications, which we’ll get into later. As I started to type out this post, I realized that I couldn’t write this article without including one more method, the sea of green (SOG) and the differences between a SCROG and a SOG.

We’re all about getting bigger yields, and a screen of green is surely the best way to increase yields off a single plant, and all of us homegrowers are limited by the number of plants we can legally grow at home. With these arbitrary limitations being placed on our abilities to grow a plant at home varying from 2 flowering plants in Vermont (recreational) to Oregon where they can grow 12 per person. Hopefully, you aren’t stuck in a state with legal cannabis but without the ability to grow at home like the good ol’ state of New York was proposing, or Washington is currently dealing with.

We are huge proponents that growing a cannabis plant, or 100, at your house, for personal consumption or sharing, should be 1000% legal for everyone regardless of medical condition or ability to mitigate the smell or hide it from public view. Unfortunately, we aren’t quite there yet and until we all are, we all need to be concerned with the amount of yield we can harvest off of each of our limited cannabis plants. Unlike with most other plants, if you want to get 20% more tomatoes out of your garden next year, you cant simply plant 20% more plants in your garden and hope for the best. We must increase what each of those plants is able to give us, and plant training, screen of green, and trellising are 3 specific ways that can certainly help you achieve the biggest yields.

Even in a commercial setting, cannabis farmers are limited by the size of canopy they can grow in, but not typically by the number of plants they can grow. There are a few states that have limitations on plant counts, New Mexico has the most strict with a range of 200 to 450 flowering plants, and Colorado’s limits start at 7000. That’s why commercial grows are typically referred to as growing in the Sea of Green style, or SoG. They can grow lots of small plants, usually unlimited within a set square footage, and fill up the canopy with a Sea of Green (now you see where the name comes from). 

These little plants are usually grown in 1 to 3-gallon pots and are no bigger than 3 feet tall out of the plant pot and not an awful lot of attention is given to plant training and canopy management with each plant. Maybe each plant will be topped once, maybe twice, vegged for 2 weeks and then sent into flower. The advantage to this for commercial cultivators is limited veg time, and space, and the cost that is associated with vegging a plant for longer. While the “problem” of having tens of thousands of plants to care for may seem like a fun one to tackle, we, the homegrower, have to be more concerned with topping, low-stress training, and other methods in order to maximize the yield we can achieve off our limited plant counts!

Now that we’ve covered what a Sea of Green is let’s discuss the real purpose of this article, the difference between a Screen of Green or SCROG and using your trellis netting to support your plant as it flowers and grows up through. Many times I’m asked to look at plants, give advice on a grow, or just see plants on Instagram that have trellis netting over the plant and the plant is simply growing up through the netting, leaving a lot of empty space in the canopy and a lot of bud weight ungrown! One sure sign of not having a full canopy is if your grow medium is getting the light shine on it. We are growing cannabis buds NOT soil! There is absolutely no need to see light on your dirt! If you think you may be guilty of this, or simply want to check- get down on the ground with your head at plant pot height and look up through your canopy. If you can’t bear to look at the light, it’s time to invest some time into filling up your canopy space, and well help you with that right now.

 

How to properly SCROG with trellis netting?

When your plant is young, about 6 inches tall with 4 or more sets of nodes on it, you will want to top your plant and then again after those two tops have grown up a few more inches. Once you have topped your plant twice, and have 4 or more dominant, even shoots at the top of your plant, she’s ready for some heavy scrogging.

In order to get started, you will need to find a way to securely attach the trellis netting above your plant, parallel to the dirt (or horizontally) 3 to 4 inches below the very tops we were just talking about. You will want to ensure that the netting is taught in every direction, which is easiest to do if you are growing in a tent and you can attach the netting to the poles. Once you start, this will prevent you from being able to move your plants in and out of your tent which is something you should be ready and prepared for. If you’d like some tips to ensure you are best prepared for this, please reach out to me at rob@green-harvestsolutions.com.

If you’re not growing in a tent, it will be critical to ensure that the netting is drawn tight as it will also act as support after your plants start to heavy with flowers. This may prove to be difficult on an individual plant basis, so what a lot of growers have done is built a frame around the plant, or plants, and used that to attach the netting to outside of a tent. We suggest using PVC if you take this route as it’s easier to clean and won’t attract bugs and pathogens like a wooden frame will.

If you are looking to maintain the mobility of your plant while growing in a tent, or need a way to ensure that the netting is tight without building a large structure around the plant, we’ll cover shortly how Atlas Plant Trainer can be used in conjunction with a trellis net to achieve the SCROG effect and still provide you with the mobility that is sometimes needed throughout the growth cycle.

Now that your screen is in place, it’s time to fill it in with green. This is what differentiates between a SCROG and just a trellis netting. You will take any plant growth that is ABOVE the screen/net, and weave it under the net or use clips and ties to secure the plant to the net. Your goal should be to weave plant materiel across the entire net, filling up about 80% of the entire canopy space before changing the light schedule and flipping your plant into flower. As your plant stretches in the first few weeks of flower you can continue to weave and fill up 100% of the canopy space. Once this has been achieved, you can stop weaving as you have achieved your Screen of Green! Congratulations!! 

If you desire, now would be the time to add in another layer of trellis netting about 3 to 6 inches above your current screen. This net will act as the support for your heavy flowers, the ACTUAL purpose of trellis netting that we started this article in order to talk about.

Things besides trellis netting you can use to create a SCROG: chicken wire, metal fencing, bamboo stakes, soft wire tie, heavy string. I imagine that a strong “do it yourself” type person could come up with more suggestions here, but that’s not really my style. 

Trellis netting is a great tool for supporting your plants at any stage, and most people use at least 2 levels of trellis netting above their plants. The ideal placement of these, if you are letting your plant grow freely or with typical low-stress training techniques, is immediately above your plant during the first week of flower, and then about 8 inches above that. You may want to extend that height a little bit if you know your plant tends to stretch more than usual, but the 8 inches should supply you with plenty of space. You can always add a third layer too if your plant grows more than 4-6 inches above the top layer of trellis.

Your goal here is to ensure that you pull branches and shoots up through each hole in the trellis netting and to not allow too many shoots to be concentrated in one area. This will accomplish three things – proper support for each of your buds, proper airflow to prevent mold, and increase light penetration to the lower branches below the top of the canopy.

 

 

This is a great example of how trellis netting is used to support branches, and a poor example of a SCROG. I’m not sure what they were trying to show in this picture, but that’s what it is.

HOW APT CAN HELP:

Atlas Plant Trainer was designed to be a complete plant training and support solution. We wanted to give you the functionality to be able to do most anything with your plants, exactly how you wanted to do it. However, APT really wouldn’t be used in a commercial, Sea of Green set up as it’s designed to maximize the footprint of a single plant. You are also able to maintain the mobility of the plant around the room, or in and out of your tent because the stakes and the netting are based inside your plant pot, you will not need outside attachments to complete this process.

So, with that being said – how to create a SCROG with APT? First, we’re gonna start with the same tactics outlined above. Top your young plant twice so you have 4 even top shoots ready to roll. Then you would position vertical stakes underneath each one of those (you may need 2 to get to the proper height), use the plant clip to secure the plant to the stake, and then use the easy click button to get the horizontal angle of your choice. Closer to horizontal the better as we start off. At this point, your plant may be 10-14” off the soil, and that’s perfect! Spreading your plant out like this will allow the smaller shoots at the center of the plant to receive the same light as the tops shoots were, as you can now move your plant closer to the light.

After these shoots have grown a bit, you can either continue to grow the plant out horizontally or you can start growing them a bit more sideways if desired. Using the horizontal connectors in between the vertical stakes, you can use the plant clips to start to train the dominant branches in a circle pattern around your plant structure. This will allow all the side shoots from each main branch to grow inward across the soil, as well as outward, increasing your footprint. As these side shoots get bigger, you’ll want to use more horizontal connectors to continue to train them down and keep your plant canopy at a nice even height. 

As your plant continues to grow, make sure you continue to manipulate the growth so that you have shoots in every 3-5” square, and that light is unable to penetrate the canopy whatsoever. You can use horizontal connectors to go across the center of the structure as well, to provide more guidance and support for your plants. Don’t forget, these connectors separate so you can place a vertical stake or two in between the male and female end of the connectors to reach unlimited lengths with these pieces. Again, we wanted to provide you with complete functionality to train your plants in any way that you want!

Another thing we should cover is how Atlas Plant Trainer provides mobility if you were to use a trellis netting and didn’t want to attach outside of the structure. Simply use APT to train your plant as wide as you want to get it, at any height desired for your grow space. When you are ready for the netting, use our plant clips to attach the net to the vertical stakes directly above your plant canopy. You can do this by placing the net in between the clip and the stake, or simply opening the stake and placing the net inside of it. This is where you would start to ensure your net was taught enough to support your plants all the way through flower, but not the end of it.

When your net is in place, or at any time that you feel it’s not as taught as you’d like, just simply ratchet away the top of the vertical stake with the easy push-button, pulling the netting more in that direction. If you find you need a second or third layer, insert another round of vertical stakes into the existing ones and repeat the same process, without having to build anything extra. You can simply use the clips to get the netting at that perfect height, and the easy push button to make the net as taught as you’d like it to be.

 

CONCLUSION:

Screen of Green is truly the best way to increase yields off a single plant, but not enough people are properly utilizing the method or the term! It’s simply creating a full canopy with a screen as the means to spread the plant out. Use simple things around the house, or pick up a pack of cheap netting from your local hydro store, cut it to the perfect size for your space and start weaving! If you do follow these steps and have success, or just need a bit more guidance, we’d love to hear from you. Email info@green-harvestsolutions.com or hit up the chat window in the lower right-hand corner and we’ll help you out as soon as we can!

 

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