TO TOP OR NOT TO TOP AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS PLANTS

Autoflowering cannabis plants are not reliant on photoperiod and have a finite vegetation phase before automatically going into flower. Usually around three weeks after the seeds have sprouted. After a few more weeks there is no new branch or leaf development and serious flower maturity begins.

Those first three weeks provide a small window of opportunity to prepare the infrastructure of your plants for maximum yield come harvest time.

Tipping or topping autoflowering marijuana strains is always a contentious issue.

The yea-sayers say, "Increased yields with more colas."

The nay-sayers say, "With such a short grow schedule the recovery time means smaller plants and less yield."

YES AND NO

There is no black and white answer. Information will help you navigate the grey area of autoflowering cannabis topping and make informed decisions as you develop skills as a cannabis grower.

There are enough growth variables across so many commercially available species of cannabis that there is room for both sides of the argument to be correct. Like some quantum cannabis equation.

Common sense and experience prevails in the end and yields that make the most hardened autoflowering cynic smile are achievable using both methods.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

A super stretchy indica-dominant plant like a Kush, for example, might only have eight or ten internodes at best when flowering begins. Side branching is kept to a minimum. Generally these strains of weed really enjoy making those big fat single pineapple colas. They should probably be left alone.

Indicas can tend to crowd themselves with large buds around topping sites. This increases the chance of bud rot or accidentally snapping a chunky bud cluster clean off, trying to give it some shoulder room.

An autoflowering Amnesia Haze, on the other hand may be over 1.5 metres when finished if left alone. Many sativas will take a topping or two during the vigorous early vegetation phase. Colas are increased in number and a level playing field of light on the top of the plant is achievable.

topping screen of green low stress training cannabis techniqueMORE THINGS TO CONSIDER

Before making topping or training decisions, the general health, vigour and turgor of your plants needs to be considered. They should be growing fast and are lush green and healthy.

The first topping needs to be done at the fourth or fifth node within the first two weeks of vegetation.

It is wise to not top slow growing or accidentally damaged, but recovered plants. Plants having early difficulty transpiring may not handle the stress and become stunted, recuperating rather than vegetating.

Healthy plants recover reasonably quickly after being expertly and gently topped. Preferably pinched out with a thumbnail. This heals quicker than scissors and with clean hands is less prone to infection.

Unless you are wrestling the tip out with a pair of pliers and doing the plant damage, expect to see compensatory growth in all the side branching within four days.

Plants don't actually "recover from damage" after being topped. They only need some time to readjust the apical dominance hormones that dictate what bud will be the main cola.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Growing cannabis is endlessly interesting and the results are so pleasant you want to repeat them again and again.

If this is your first time growing or trying topping, practice on one plant in the crop only. Yield weights and maintenance comparisons can be made directly with regard to the particular species that you are growing.

This way you have a realtime comparison on which to make your top or no top decisions for the future. Another notch in your master growers belt.

Have fun and happy growing!

 

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