Along the journey of growing marijuana in your home, you will eventually begin to realize that there are many ways to increase how much yield you can actually get out of each plant. Just keeping your plants alive and allowing them to grow naturally will not give you the most you can get.
There are simple upgrades you can do to get more out of your plants, like a bigger light, switching to hydroponics, carbon dioxide, or others, but this article is going to focus on how you treat the plant, not the equipment you use.
You can do many things to train a marijuana plant to maximize your yield and most of them focus on getting your plant to grow more “tops”.
When it grows in nature, a cannabis plant will grow in the shape of an evergreen tree: thick stem, long branches at the bottom short branches at the top. Triangle-shaped.
The reason for this is that is can get the most amount of light from the sun moving all day when it grows in this shape.
When we grow inside, we must use the plants other natural tendencies to get the most amount of light to be used by the plant to grow buds.
To do this, we “train” the plant to grow in a different shape, much like a bonsai tree.
How to get More “Tops”
The reason we want more tops on a marijuana plant is that each top is going to grow what is known as a “cola”. A cola is one of the main buds of the cannabis plant and it is found at the very top of the main stem.
If we can get our plant to grow more than one top, it will grow more than one cola.
Each cola can weigh a considerable amount compared to the smaller secondary buds. I have personally had a cola that weighed 26.4 grams after being dried.
There are a few ways to get a plant to have more than one top. One is called low-stress training (read about it here), where you bend the entire plant down so that each side branch gets the same amount of light.
The real question we asked today is What is Topping Marijuana?
Damaging the Plant
Every organism on Earth is designed to survive.
If something starts to eat a cannabis plant, the THC content makes the animal feel like something is wrong and it stops. Then, the plant will force faster growth to other parts of the plant to ensure its survival.
We are going to create this situation in a controlled way.
You should already be cutting leaves off that block light from new growth. This pruning gives the new growth more light, but also a portion of the energy that was going to the large leaf you cut off. This makes your plant grow much more efficiently and get through the vegetative state as quickly as possible.
The new way we are going to damage the plant will cause some stress, but will ultimately create multiple tops with multiple colas, while forcing rapid growth at the same time.
Each new node on a marijuana plant has two large fan leaves. When you locate one of these nodes and follow the leaves back to the stem, you will notice tiny leaves poking out of the “v” where they meet.
Each one of these locations has the potential to be a new “top”. The main stem can be redirected to any of these growth tips if damage happens elsewhere on the plant or if they receive the most light.
This means that if you cut the main stem above two of these growth tips, they both become a top, because they are equal distance from your grow light.
Keep in mind that you do not want to top a plant until it has about six nodes grown and rapid vegetative growth has started. Doing so beforehand could severely slow down your growth or even stunt the plant permanently.
Topping The Plant
Now that you know why and where to do so, we can move on to topping your marijuana plant to increase your potential yield.
When doing this, you want to select a node that has fully developed fan leaves already and a section of stem above the growth tips to give enough room to do so and still leave a “nub”.
The reason you want to leave a bit of stem above the tips is that the two new tops may become very heavy when flowering and you do not want your main stem taking weight on both sides without a little extra support. It may split.
So, you want to cut the stem as far above the node you wish to keep as possible, while removing all nodes above it.
In the above picture, you would top the circled plant where the blue arrow is pointing, above a well-established node with some leftover stem past it. This will cause two tops to start growing just above the large fan leaves on the node we chose.
You now know how to top a marijuana plant properly and are on your way to huge yields. Don’t forget, you can top your topped plants to make 4, 8, or even 128 tops! However, you don’t want to do it within a few weeks of switching to flowering, or you won’t have enough time to make it worth it. The plant needs time to recover and time to grow after being topped.
Plan accordingly and you will dramatically increase your yield.