Training cannabis plants has become some sort of a norm for many growers out there. Despite it being intimidating or even risky, many beginners are starting to venture into training cannabis plants. Also, it won’t matter how large your gardens are or how many plants you decide to cultivate. Training cannabis plants is possible in any setup!
Just as there are different types of exercises for us humans, there are also different methods of training cannabis plants! Okay, that didn’t make much sense but you get the point! Most training techniques achieve a better overall growth of the whole cannabis garden. It also increases the yield that they are capable of producing. When all goes in place, training cannabis plants can bring a lot of satisfaction to your growing operations!
However, these training techniques will take some getting use to! When performing them, you are going to have to be accurate, precise, and sure of what you are doing. Here, we are going to be explaining the general idea of the different training techniques and how they could potentially affect the quality of your cannabis gardens!
What are Training Techniques?
Training cannabis plants, in its most basic sense, is simply the alteration and adjustment of a cannabis plant’s growth patterns to promote better quality plants and more yields during harvests. This is done through either two methods: We have the Low-Stress Training (LST) and High-Stress Training (HST). These two methods will generally rely on exposing your cannabis plants to certain degrees of controlled stress levels to achieve a certain response from the plants!
Low-stress Training (LST) will usually require growers to slightly bend and stretch the branches and colas of their cannabis plants to alter the way that it develops. Low-stress training focuses more on promoting the horizontal growth of the plants. It produces an even canopy of leaves atop the foliage. This, in turn, causes a much more equal distribution of lighting to the plants which causes the increased development of energy for bud growth.
High-Stress Training (HST), on the other hand, requires a much more straightforward and aggressive approach to inducing stress to your plants. It takes place by breaking and/or cutting off certain parts of the cannabis plant. But how exactly does this promote more yields? By applying pressure to the branches or cutting off colas, the cannabis plants’ healing properties send cells and microbes to the damaged parts. In addition, increasing the amount of energy and cell development in that area. If this is done in an area of the plant near the main cola (or cutting off the main cola, in some cases), the added boost of development causes the production of even more cannabis colas which are capable of sprouting more weed buds.
It is important to note that both Low-Stress Training and High-Stress Training techniques work hand in hand with one another! To successfully use the Screen of Green method, you will also have to top and prune your cannabis plants! As such, it is important to focus not only on one training technique but a combination of the ones that are convenient to you!
What is “Apical Dominance”?
To have a better understanding of how cannabis plants benefit from training techniques, we need to have a general idea of what the apical dominance of the cannabis plant is. If you have grown cannabis plants before, then you may have noticed that their natural structures are somewhat similar to that of a Christmas tree.
Cannabis plants will generally grow upwards rather than sideways like many other bushes and shrubs. This behavior is what we refer to as apical dominance. With one single main stem housing, the top cola and many other side branches growing from the base, the apical dominance of cannabis plants is something that isn’t exactly an attractive feature.
Despite it being the natural behavior of the plants, it significantly hinders the bottom part of the weed crop from absorbing the same amount of sunlight as the top cola does. This is why it is very common to find smaller buds at the base or on the inside of the cannabis foliage as compared to the thick and fat buds in the main cola.
How does this affect training cannabis plants?
A lot of training techniques look to break this apical dominance and promote more horizontal growth of the leaves and branches. This allows the bottom part of the plants to rise and create an even canopy of leaves. As a result, all parts of the plant will have an ample amount of light absorption.
Advantages of Training Cannabis Plants
Most growers perform training techniques on their cannabis plants mainly to promote the production of more cannabis buds. Because training cannabis plants are procedures that make use of controlled levels of stress, it also serves as a way of increasing the durability and strength of your crops. As they are more exposed to damages, their cell walls start shifting more attention to the strengthening of cannabis plants’ structures.
Training cannabis plants is also a great way of maximizing the growing area and lighting systems that you have in place for your gardens. For example, a grower who resorts to cultivating just 2 to 3 weed plants may not have an ample supply of weed. But with training techniques, growers can maximize the most amount of buds and expect a lot more productivity during harvests!
Also, commercial growers who have high demands in the market will benefit from more weed buds. To be honest, there probably isn’t a single grower on Earth who wouldn’t want more weed nugs!
Are there any drawbacks to training cannabis plants?
There are, of course, some things to consider before fully indulging in some training techniques. Remember, you are going to be damaging your cannabis plants. If they are done carelessly or without the right amount of knowledge, then you may very well be leading your plants to their death!
It is easy to cause more damage than you intend to your plants if you are not careful. Without the proper equipment, growers can easily bruise and break other parts of the plants. Preparing to train them will take time. In addition to this, it will also take a few tries for each method. And you will fully get the hang of it!
Different Methods of Training Cannabis Plants
Let’s take a look at some of the most common training techniques that growers will usually perform in their gardens. With a general idea on how to do these techniques, you may probably find yourself looking to increase your bud production as well!
Low-Stress Training (The Method)
While Low-Stress Training is a category of training cannabis plants, it is also a term used to refer to a specific type of training technique! This technique will require growers to tie down and secure the branches as they are bent to take a more horizontal shape. You can use some pretty standard materials to tie them down such as wires, twist ties, or even durable string.
Low-Stress Training has to happen during the seedling stage of a cannabis plant’s life. It is to allow the structural development to adjust itself. As the tallest stems and branches are tie-down, the eventual colas will start sprouting. It will sprout widely instead of vertically as a result of the even distribution of lighting.
The screen of Green (ScrOG)
The Screen of Green or ScrOG method, on the other hand, is another form of low-stress training that makes use of the same concept. But instead of tying down the stems and branches from underneath the plant, growers will make use of a screen suspended above the plants to act as a support system to tie them down to. This screen can either steel wires, string, or even nylon. Anything will do. As long as it can be used for tying and weave the stems and branches through the holes of the screen.
The concept remains the same: tie down and secure the stems during the seedling or vegetative stage to create an even canopy of leaves. As these leaves are open to the more constant flow of light spectrums, the colas will be able to develop and will increase in number. This will eventually lead to bigger yields during harvest!
The use of a ScrOG is often coupled with some topping of the top-most colas and pruning the bottom of the plant. This is to ensure that, when the weaves are bind, they all get an equal amount of light exposure.
Topping and Fimming
For high-stress training, we have topping and fimming cannabis plants. When the marijuana plants are at their seedling stage, the topping is performed by cutting off the topmost cola of the plant with the use of clippers of a razor. What this does is that it breaks the apical dominance of the marijuana plant and, instead of just one main cola, your plants will start producing two in its place!
What’s great about topping is that you can do it multiple times. As it increases the number of colas that your cannabis plants will have. Because there is no need to follow the apical dominance, the cannabis plants start growing wider as it rises instead of taller! Now they will be able to absorb more sunlight.
Fimming, on the other hand, works just the same except that instead of cutting off the whole top cola, you will take off just around three-fourths of the structure. Fimming is a term originating from an error made during topping. It stems from the phrase “F*ck, I missed”, referring to the mistake of cutting above the end of the main cola. It is still an effective training technique for increasing yields, but not as much as topping does. The upside to it is that it gives fewer stress levels to plants.
Defoliation is another training technique designed to give your marijuana buds a lot more light absorption and airflow. This is a process that involves cutting away any thick patches of fan leaves that may be disrupting and blocking the amount of light being absorbed by the bottom portion of your plants. Defoliating your cannabis plants during the last week of the vegging phase or the first weeks of flowering will ensure that enough light spectrums reach the base of your plant.
You see, lighting and airflow are crucial in the development of weed buds. The plants will now shift their focus into the production of flowers. Fan leaves will serve a lesser purpose for the structural integrity of the crops.
A lot of people dismiss the thought of defoliation because fan leaves are used to absorb light and CO2 amounts needed for photosynthesis. To avoid the risk of insufficient amounts of these, defoliation will need you to carefully plan and strategize which fan leaves to cut off or to keep.
Lastly, we have super cropping. This training technique is a more aggressive form of low-stress training. But, at the same time a high-stress training technique. It is due to the stretch structure that they will be in. Super Cropping involves taking a pretty matured plant and pressuring certain parts of its stems. Since this occurs during a later stage of their lives, the plants will display a much less flexible feel. It will require you to apply a significant amount of pressure to “soften” and bend it.
To perform super cropping, simply take your chosen branch and start squeezing and twisting it until it becomes soft and flexible. Once this happens, you can bend them over to a 90-degree angle and tie them down. Perform this in as many branches as you want to get even more buds and higher yields! Remember, this holds the risk of bruising and breaking your plants so be careful!
Training cannabis plants is a job that can pretty much give you more than you would ever ask for. Because of the significant difference that it makes, every grower resorts to applying some training technique to their gardens!
Go ahead and try them on your crops. Training cannabis plants will need a certain degree of practice. But once you get the gist of it, you will be sprouting high yields here and there! Good luck!