WHAT IS TOPPING CANNABIS?

Topping is the process of pruning the growing tip of the main stem of a cannabis plant. This is perhaps the most common HST or high stress training technique applied by both indoor and outdoor growers. Marijuana growing naturally will typically take on a Christmas tree structure; One dominant, main central cola and multiple sets of side branches. All plant parts receiving a share of sunlight at some stage during the day as the sun traverses the sky.

In contrast, indoor cannabis plants receive illumination from a stationary grow lamp positioned above. This makes naturally-shaped cannabis plants inefficient to crop indoors, unless you cultivate in large numbers using the SOG or Sea of Green method. Topping is the method of choice for pro growers to increase yields. It is also favoured by home growers that want to fill out their grow space with a handful of plants, rather than pack in as many as possible.

Removing the terminal bud will encourage the development of two new main colas and promote growth of the lower, secondary branches. The aim is to invert the Christmas tree shape to allow more light penetration. Growth hormone is diffused to all of the shoots once the apical bud’s dominance is removed. Branchy, low-profile plants are more desirable to every grower. Indoors, vertical space is often at a premium and outdoors, bushes are stealthier than tall trees. Topping is a great technique to take control of the cannabis canopy.

Topping cannabis plant HS technique increase yields

HOW TO TOP CANNABIS

Topping is best applied with a single, clean cut to the tip of the main stem with sterile scissors. Remove 100% of the tip from the main stem and one cola will become two. Best of all, the process can be repeated again and again to double-down on the number of top colas.

All seasoned cannabis growers will agree that topping is a technique for the vegetative growth phase. Exactly the right moment is a matter of debate. Most growers these days will top early, typically when the plant has just 3-5 nodes. On the other hand, old-school growers are usually a little more patient, waiting about 30 days or until plants are at least 30cm in height before topping.

As topping is a HST method, plants will need some time to recover. Allow 1-2 weeks before applying further pruning and training techniques.

Cannabis Fimming Plant Example

WHAT IS FIMMING CANNABIS?

Fimming is another HST technique used to increase yield that is similar to topping, but not quite the same. The objective is still to increase the number of main colas. But instead of doubling down, fimming can give rise to 4+ new top colas. This technique is highly recommended for micro-growers with perhaps just 1-2 plants.

Secondary shoots are juiced with the growth hormone that previously would have been used to develop the main stem. However, most growers report that fimming is slightly less effective at reducing stretching than topping. A fimmed cannabis plant can still grow rather tall, albeit with far more top colas.

HOW TO FIM MARIJUANA

Just like with topping, the FIM technique is best applied during the vegetative growth stage. But unlike topping, this method favours a less precise approach. FIM does stand for “Fuck I Missed” after all. Pinching off 75% of the tip from the main stem between fingers is preferred to a neat scissor-cut to the whole tip.

It ain’t pretty, but it works. At least 4 new shoots will emerge in a week or two. Sometimes as many as 8. Moreover, secondary shoots will catch up growing in the meantime. Apart from a few disfigured fan leaves, the FIM method is not all that different from topping. 1-2 weeks recovery time post-FIM is standard.

Fimming Topping differences

PRUNING AND TRAINING FOR MAXIMUM YIELD

Do you want the heaviest harvest possible? If you do, then you must be prepared to blend a few techniques. Topping or fimming cannabis plants alone is not really going far enough. Go the extra mile for those extra grams. By adding the following two methods to the mix, you might hit upon the recipe for a scale-tipping harvest.

LOLLIPOPPING

In brief, lollipopping is the removal of fluffy, lower bud sites from cannabis plants. The idea is to focus plant energy on developing big, fat nugs, rather than popcorn buds. Most growers like to strip away lower growth during week 3 of flowering. Pinching off is generally preferred to clipping away with a scissors. ScrOG growers will usually remove all of the lower growth beneath the screen to improve airflow and drive all plant energy to the tops.

SCROGGING

All of the above high-yield cannabis cultivation techniques can be further enhanced with a ScrOG or Screen of Green. A ScrOG is the pinnacle of high-performance marijuana growing. By deploying a mesh screen across the grow space, the whole grow-op is tuned for maximum production. Essentially, the grower must bend and fold shoots to fill out as many of the grid squares as possible. This begins in the vegetative stage and continues on until early bloom.

potential new colas cannabis fimming and topping

LIMITATIONS OF TOPPING AND FIMMING

Topping and fimming will prolong the amount of time cannabis plants will need to spend in the 18/6 vegetative growth stage. Expect a 4-6 week vegetative growth phase if you plan on applying these techniques.

Another oft-overlooked and obvious problem with encouraging the formation of multiple fat colas is that marijuana plants tend to become really top heavy. In the absence of a ScrOG, plants may require staking with bamboo for support.

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