SOG & ScrOG - Cannabis Training Techniques For Heavier Yields

PLANT HEALTH COMES FIRST

Any training technique combined with any growing method or substrate in the first place requires happy and thriving plants. Incorporating best practice plant care means vigorous and healthy plants at each stage of growth. There are a number of growing techniques that can be used to maximise space efficiency during growth and to increase harvests. However, no technique will help if plants aren’t vibrantly full of life to begin with.

Maintaining healthy plants means the grow environment must be ideal for cannabis growth. This includes grow medium and pot size, light type and strength, water pH, nutrients and feeding schedules, temperature and humidity. Once each of these factors is dialled in, healthy plants are yours to do with as you please. And then there are a number of low-stress training (LST) techniques used to increase yields.

PLANT HEALTH COMES FIRST

LST is particularly advantageous when growing indoors domestically, where there is often not a lot of space. Artificial light has poor penetration and the strength of light reduces with the inverse square of the distance from the canopy. LST methods maximise yield per square metre by making efficient use of the lighting.

Two popular methods of low-stress training that increase yield are sea of green (SOG) and screen of green (ScrOG). Each technique is used very successfully to maximise yield per square metre. Autocorrect might hate them, but cannabis plants love SOG and ScrOG.

SOG

Sea of green is a cannabis manipulation technique that utilises many small plants in small pots for every square metre of space. The advantage of growing with this method is plants spend less time in vegetation, while still producing as many bud sites per volume of space. With SOG grows, buds are ready sooner, which can result in an extra crop per year. 

SCROG

Screen of green is a plant training method with the same goals as SOG—to increase the yield per square metre at harvest time as much as possible. Larger pots are used to accommodate larger root zones for larger plants. Many flower sights are encouraged by bending and holding new growth horizontally. Even light distribution over a literal screen of green fills an entire grow room with fewer plants that have an abundance of homogeneously sized flowers.

SOG SCROG

SCROG OR SOG?

SOG: Plants with few lateral branches are encouraged to grow a single predominant cola. Plants don’t require training and require little attention besides regular plant upkeep. Less time is spent per week training—as you would with larger plants—for similar end results.

ScrOG: This entails a mesh screen with large enough apertures through which to feed cannabis leaves and branches. This can be made from commercial fencing wire or a plastic trellis, or made from wire or string and fixed to a frame. The purpose of the screen is to continually tuck under new growth into a flat sheet. What would have been undeveloped lateral branches with barely developed buds become healthy, stout branches with plenty of light exposure and their own dense flowers.

EFFICIENT USE OF SPACE

SOG and ScrOG are ideal for growers with space restrictions, as minimal height is required and every square centimetre of floor area gets used efficiently. There is no need for as much grow space volume as there would be for an untrained plant to get just as heavy a yield. SOG produces large individual buds with no popcorn or poorly formed flowers due to lack of light.

Typically, the SOG technique encourages apical dominance to strengthen and enlarge the main flower cluster. The ScrOG method, however, discourages apical dominance to promote many similarly sized flower clusters.

EFFICIENT USE OF SPACE

STRAIN SELECTION

Strain selection plays its part for efficient use of space.

SOG: Cultivars that tend to naturally produce a dominant central cola with minimal lateral branching are often used. Indicas and indica-dominant hybrids have this feature as part of their morphology. Once plants are of a certain height, usually 20–30cm tall, the 12-12 flip to the bloom cycle is made. Plants develop almost entirely as a single cola with lateral branches being reduced to single buds. Some individuals will initiate the entire grow starting from 12-12 so that only small plants develop.

ScrOG: Cultivars that naturally produce lots of bud sites take well to this technique. Sativas or sativa-dominant strains that have a lot of nodes have this feature as part of their morphology. These normally tall and branchy strains, whose lower buds may not develop fully if left to grow untrained, get light exposure to all the bud sites, which encourages larger bud growth. It isn’t absolutely necessary to grow sativas this way, as indicas respond just as well.

CONSIDER THE POT

SOG: Consider that plant density is 9–12 plants/m²—and remember that pots need to provide enough root room for health and stability to prevent toppling over. This distribution allows for pot sizes between 20 and 30cm in diameter. There is certainly enough room for slightly larger pots, but there needs to be a bit of finger room for access and plant maintenance.

ScrOG: Pot size is determined by how many plants are going to be grown in a certain time frame. A single plant in a 20l pot can be used to fill an entire square metre. Similarly, 4 plants in 10l pots can be made to fill the same space in a shorter time, while perhaps allowing for 4 strains per grow. There is no firm rule when it comes to plants/m² with ScrOG—it really depends on your goals and patience.

CONSIDER THE POT

TOPPING & TRIMMING

SOG: More vigorous varieties or branchy cultivars like sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids, whose lateral branching may crowd the space too much, have their lower branches removed to encourage a thicker, more developed main bud and to increase light penetration into the whole grow. This also promotes healthy air circulation around the complete plant and the top of the growing medium.

ScrOG: Plants are topped early to promote branch growth, ready for training in several directions to fill the whole screen. Growth is encouraged above the screen only, and any vegetation below the screen is trimmed away as it will receive minimal light. This way, a plenum is developed below the screen to ensure air circulation encompasses the whole plant and the grow medium surface.

In both instances, transpiration from leaf surfaces and evaporation from the medium will always play their important roles in plant health.

IN THE END, IT'S ALL GOOD

Both of these low-stress training techniques have proven to be very successful for the domestic and commercial cannabis grower. They each have their advantages and make the most of the grow space on offer. Experimenting with both of these techniques will let you decide which one best suits your style.

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