The problem with growing cannabis is that these plants usually grow like a Christmas tree and take up a lot of space. Cannabis plants tend to grow with just one main bud which is a natural response of the plant to create the best bud for pollination. Too much room for just one main bud and imagine if you had only a dozen plants in your indoor grow area. By the time you harvest, you will have a dozen Christmas trees with very little yield. This is why most growers use special techniques to train cannabis plants to grow more than one main bud and two of the most popular techniques are topping and FIMing.
Topping and FIMing Explained
How topping is done
Topping is basically cutting the entire main bud of a young cannabis plant and then stressing the remaining part of the plant to create two main buds. Topping is done during the plant’s vegetative state when its branches are still soft to manipulate.
Topping is done when the plant is very young and only has 3 to 5 nodes or sets of leaves. The cut is made directly above the leaves of the second node removing the newest node completely. The plant will then transfer its energy to two new main buds. The two new buds or colas form a V and can be easily bent and opened wide. The plant will eventually try to compensate by growing two colas and then after a few weeks you can top it off again to create 4 total buds. Plants will grow bushier after topping and it will now spread its energy more evenly in the entire body of the plant, not just concentrate it in one bud.
How To Top Autoflowering Cannabis Plants
A lot of growers are against topping autos since this is serious stress to the plant that is designed to grow in just 3 weeks and ready for harvest in just 8 weeks. It just has no time to recuperate after a huge loss. But still some growers use topping to create more yields despite using an autoflowering plant. They say that the plant will continue to use all its energy to develop two main colas and it’s just missing a few days from harvest time. With more cola, it’s going to be double the yield by the time the plant is ready for harvest.
- Choose the best young plant to top. It has to be a plant that has only 3 to 5 nodes present in total.
- Locate the main cola and the leaves of the second node. You will be making a cut along the space in between the main cola and the second node or the second set of leaves from the top.
- Make the cut. Afterwards, allow the plant to recuperate for a while.
- Use strings to bend the two new colas; these have to spread wide.
- You can repeat this process about a few weeks later on the two new colas so that you can have 4 total new colas.
How FIMing is done
FIM is short for “F**k I Missed” which is cutting the new or main cola from the top of the bud creating a mowed top. It is a less stressful version of topping and may also be called pinching. FIMing will only pinch or remove a small part on the top of the plant and this will result in four new main nodes. Just like topping, FIMing will make plants grow bushier until the four new nodes will become stronger.
FIMing a plant is also a good way to allow the plant to spread and not stretch out and weaken its stems. After successfully FIMing a plant you can now lower your lights and let the crop get as much light as they need to proceed with their 8 week harvest deadline.
- Select the young plant that you will FIM. It has to be a plant that has three to five nodes in total.
- Locate the newest node which usually rests on the top most part of the plant.
- Cut the topmost part of the cola to create a mowed top look. The cut will just be enough to separate the cola into four different new nodes.
- Carefully hold the newly cut part and bend the new nodes. It may be too early to distinguish the four new colas so constantly monitor this plant and apply gentle pressure to distinguish the new nodes.
Pinch or cut in FIMing
So do you pinch the main cola or do you cut it? Pinching leaves damaged parts of the plant on the plant which can still be used by the plant until the harvesting stage. Cutting cuts clean so there are no parts left that can be utilized. FIM only a very small amount of the main cola; pinch the tips of the leaves that have not stretched out yet.
Once an initial FIM has already taken shape and the plant has completely recovered, you may decide to FIM again if you want to make your plants bushier and you want to establish a desired shape.
Topping vs FIMing
Almost all growers agree that FIMing puts less stress to a cannabis plant especially autoflowering plants. FIMing creates 4 nodes with less stress to plants while topping chops off the entire main cola to produce only two new colas. Definitely very stressful to a young plant. The only time topping should be used is to control overgrowth since it stops plant growth considerably in a short period of time.
Almost all marijuana plants respond well to FIMing but to make sure, do your research or contact other growers for updated information. In all cases, topping and FIMing should only be done by expert growers. There are many other techniques on how to improve yield; use passive stress techniques rather than high stress strategies to improve yield without sacrificing the well-being of your young plants.