Topping is a training techniques that involves cutting off the top of your plant's main stem in Early Vegetation (3-4 weeks). It's designed to spread your plant's canopy out to have more growth horizontally. As, after a plant has been topped, the main stem will split off in two or more directions, creating a V-shape at the top of your plant. The end result after Flower is two or more top colas developing instead of one, allowing for a greater yield.
How do I top my plant?
1. To begin, wait until your plant has a minimum of five nodes developed (click HERE to learn what a node is). If the plant has less than five nodes, you may stunt its growth by topping so soon. Once your plant has five nodes, grab a pair of shears (such as the ones HERE) and identify the top-most growth (Figure 1).
Fig 1. Here is the top of a plant after the fifth node has developed. You can see that more growth is sprouting here.
2. Sanitize the shears with rubbing alcohol to prevent the spread of infection between plants.
3. Take the shears and put them to the base of the top-most growth (Figure 2).
Fig 2. The shears in this figure are positioned at the base of the top-most growth.
4. Snip the top-most growth off, leaving the stem freshly cut (Figure 3). Don't cut anything else off, as you don't want to overstress the plant.
Fig 3. Here is a freshly topped plant.
5. Your plant's growth will slow for a few days after this technique is done, as she's recovering from the stress of pruning. Do not prune it for at least one week, and then she'll resume growing to now branch out more horizontally than before.
Extend your stage by another week if its growth is still slow after this resting period. That action will give it time to catch up before she proceeds into Late Vegetation. Click HERE to learn how to shift your schedule so a specific stage is extended.
Important Information about Topping
Keep in mind that the rate of success when topping to increase yield is strain-dependent. A strain can have a threshold of bud production that cannot be improved because it's been predetermined by their genetics. On the other hand, some plants, when fully grown without topping, do not reach their threshold. The strain Blueberry is a good example of this.
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