Many new growers and those interested to grow autoflowering cannabis ask the same question: “Can you top autoflowering marijuana plants?” And the answer is a resounding “yes.” Despite the worry that topping can cause stress to autos, this can be done to a plant that is growing healthy and fast. If a plant has grown at least 4 to 5 nodes by the time week 2 ends then you can start topping it.
What is Topping?
Topping is a method of increasing yield by chopping off the top or main cola while the plant is still young to force it to produce two colas. Topping is removing the entire bud which some growers claim can cause a lot of stress to the plant and may not be compatible to autos at all. However there are growers who top their plants without any kind of problem at all.
Autoflowering cannabis plants are actually designed to grow in just 3 weeks and then harvest in just 8 weeks. And since autos are in a tight schedule, any stress to the plant could lead to detrimental effects to your yield. It is impossible to change an auto’s time schedule and therefore auto seeds can still make the deadline but with diminished yield.
Autoflowering plants are topped when it is still young and this shocks plants for two weeks which means that it will just leave your plans to grow for only 4 weeks. Topping will indeed double your colas but it will result in a smaller plant and most likely, a smaller plant will only yield a few grams of cannabis. Place a 4-week plant to a 6-week cannabis plant side by side and you will see a significant difference in size. There is also a factor that considers the inexperience of a first time grower who wants to top his plant. Therefore aside from the actual topping of an autoflowering plant, there are many other factors that can stress the plant and affect its growth and yield.
When to top
- Top when the plant is green and healthy – your plant should already have developed strong braches and lovely green leaves. Check leaves for curling, bending, withering or discoloration because these are not great indicators that you cannot top your plant.
- Top when your plant is growing quickly – you must monitor your plants as they start to grow; your plants should see at least new leaves growing every day.
- Top when the plant has grown at least 4 to 5 nodes – take a look at your plant from the top; you must be able to find at least 4 to 5 nodes or pairs of “real” leaves by the time the second week has ended. Having 4 to 5 nodes is a sign that your plant is growing well and it can handle the stress of being topped. It is also a guarantee that it will not stunt its growth at all.
When not to top
- Do not top if this plant is your first grow – if this is your first grow then you must leave this plant alone. Why is this so? This plant would be an example of your regular autoflowering plant. And since this is your first time to top, you might make an error which could be detrimental to your yield.
- Do not top if the plant looks sick – there is no reason to top your plant if you see that it is diseased or sick. The plant has to be healthy and green to be able to cope with the stress of topping.
- Do not top if you see drooping – this is a sign that the plant is deficient in nutrients, water or light or it may be diseased. Dropping can also be due to dehydration and nonetheless your plant is in deep stress and therefore this is not a good time to top your plant.
- Do not top if you notice that the plant is growing slowly – slow growth is a sign that your plant could also be deficient of nutrients or is too stressed. Auto plants will grow despite any circumstance however it may grow slowly and could have very small yield.
- Do not top if the plant is more than 3 to 4 weeks old or it has just started flowering – a plant that is more than 4 weeks old may already be focused on preparing for flowering and therefore topping just before its 4th week will make your plant want to concentrate on recuperating rather than flowering. This will again significantly affect its yield.
- Do not top if the plant has not grown 4 nodes by the time it’s the end of the second week – if your plan has just reached the end of the second week and it still has not grown four nodes then it may already be stressed as well and stressing it more with topping will only make matters worse.
How to top autoflowering plants
Topping autoflowering plants takes only a few minutes but you must do it quick and in the most efficient manner. First, select the plant that you want to top. Again, make sure that this plant is healthy and has at least 4 nodes. So locate the space between the main cola and the second level leaves. This is the space where you will top. Grab the top part of the plant and with a sharp scissors you just make a quick cut. Gently hold the newly cut part and separate the two newly formed colas. You have just topped your autoflowering plant. Over the next few days, gently bend the two colas until you have created a flattened branch.
The two colas can be bent and kept apart with the use of string or wire. Keep this plant in a quiet part of your crop area and just let it get much light, water and nutrients as it can from plant food to completely recuperate from topping.