Growing Cannabis: Trimming and Topping Techniques for Beginners

This is the start of a 2 part series on Trimming and Topping Methods in Cannabis Growing for Beginners

This article was created by request from our readers, but I’ve decided not to write an essay on how to grow one giant bud since this is very simple, and beginners don’t usually require advice since they follow the instructions that come with their growth kits. However, I will be writing a top-to-bottom flowering guide very soon.

This article aims to give you an insight into why training and topping work and how they can help you grow more buds by controlling your plant’s height. I’m not going to cover HST since this is a technique perfected by advanced growers who’ve been at it for several years, and I’ll leave them to continue teaching newbies the ropes.

HST – Topping and FIMing techniques:

Topping: Cutting off the crown of your plant just above an internode, usually the third or fourth node. This is where your cola will form once your plant starts flowering.

– FIMing: A technique that is similar to topping but performed at the second node (the place where leaves attach to the stem). FIM stands for “Fu** I Missed” since you remove an extra node when performing this technique. Removing nodes during vegetative growth speeds up the plant’s maturity; since it isn’t allowed to grow as much, you will chop two weeks or more off your plant’s life.

– Both techniques can be used at each internode along your main stem to create a very bushy plant with several colas instead of just one bud at the top of your plant.

– Since topping your plant creates two main colas, you can pick which ones look healthiest to leave growing and prune the weaker ones away. Keep in mind that if you have topped your plants several times already, there is a higher chance that the two new tops will be male. This means less bud. Still, it’s not exactly a disaster since you’ve allowed your plant to become much bushy and productive than it was before you started topping or FIMing.

– You can also take a third cutting if your plant is still growing fast during the early stages of flowering. Usually, by week 3, when plants start budding, you should be able to take another top without slowing down growth too much.

– If you stick with the two main colas that have developed, wait until they are around 40cm/1ft tall before taking a top or FIM. This will allow them to get more substantial and more extensive but still be manageable. Often new growers take their first top when plants are just 20cm/8″ tall, which is too early since plants can be easily bent or damaged while being this height.

This is it, Part 1. What could we have done better? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below. Growing Cannabis: Trimming and Topping Techniques for Beginners (Part 2) is below

After taking a top, the two new main colas will start growing taller and more vertical than your other buds, which you will want to contain between 45cm/18″ and 60cm/2ft tall depending on how much space you have; very bushy Indica strains will be much shorter while Sativa dominant strains have the potential to grow taller.

Fu** I Missed Plants.

If you take a top or FIM when plants are around 30cm/1ft tall, then your two main colas will only be around 15cm/6″ tall and a good five weeks younger than other buds, meaning they will remain at this height until week nine instead of week 6.

There is a chance you can end up with four tops if your plant has already been topped several times and it’s still overgrowing, take the top that looks the healthiest, and even if it’s male, there will be no difference in bud formation.

You don’t need FIM plants if you don’t want to, but it’s a helpful technique for maximizing productivity and maintaining a healthy plant.

Removing nodes during veg will slow the plant’s growth, which means less time in veg before your first chop. However, these techniques also allow growers to flower larger plants without needing much more space than they already use since the plants become very bushy and wide.

If you want to, you can take a top every week during the vegetative stage, gradually forcing your plant to become broader and bushier. Just be sure that there is enough light for each cola as they form since if one gets starved of light, it may produce hermies.

Be sure you are happy to take a top or FIM every week during your plant’s vegetative growth since it will slow the plant’s development down. Growers best utilize this technique with enough space for each plant because too many tops can create a messy-looking growth pattern where multiple main colas compete.

Regardless of your technology choices or how you space out your plants, all plants will respond the same way when allowed to become extraordinarily bushy and produce large amounts of bud by flowering early.

One last thing about topping…

I highly recommend using a 2ltr plastic bottle with a hole cut into one side near the top. Insert one of these upsides over your plant once it’s around 30/35cm tall and seal the gap with tape or cling film. This creates a little greenhouse which helps to maintain high humidity levels (essential for new growths) while also creating extra space for bud sites to form on all colas; this technique does wonders for your plant’s development and can often be the difference between getting one large bud or several evenly sized ones.

2.) Training Techniques

LST (low-stress training) is an effective technique that involves bending young plants gently at a 90-degree angle. This can quickly be done by pushing a branch over until it touches the ground, then placing a weight over the top, such as a small rock or stone.

This technique can help to stop plants from growing into one big bud and encourage extra colas that will evenly spread the weight of your plant’s bud among them; this is key for making sure you do not end up with a tree that collapses under its weight.

Here’s a quick tutorial for LST:

If you do not want to bend your plants, use this technique instead, which involves using some twine or thin rope and tying it to the base of each stem so that you can pull them down gently.

This technique brings the top bud closer to eye level for an improved/easier harvest, which is why this technique can be helpful for growers who are short on space.

Here’s a quick tutorial for tying plants down:

3.) How To Control Height & Create A Huger Harvest

There are several methods available to reduce your plant’s height between harvesting. They include SOG/SCROG, Super cropping, and Low-Stress Training.

  • SOG is a method that involves growing plants in a grid-like structure with several plants in a square/area instead of a single plant in a room or from seed; this allows growers to manage their plant’s height by leaving the bottommost shoots alone while harvesting the top cola’s that are desired to be kept.

SOG does demand a more prominent use of space than the other methods; however, you can get away with it if your grow room is minor or even growing in pots. Remember that you must keep topping/FIM’ing to keep the light spread even.

  • SCROG (Screen Of Green) is a technique of training plants to grow through/into a net so that you can get between the bud sites. This results in an even canopy full of large buds.

This technique requires some additional hardware to work effectively, so I would recommend buying one of these if you plan on using it.

4.) How To Increase Cannabis Yields

Pruning

  • Pruning is a technique that can help you to increase your yields. It does this by allowing more light penetration, increasing the bud sites for flowering.
  • I recommend using some form of string/twine and tying small branches horizontally across your plant to create extra branch space; this will cause your plant to bulk up more and produce different flower sites.
  • Once the plant has become bushy, you should start topping all the new shoots growing to maintain a nice even canopy with several branches on every stem.

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5.) FIM’ing & Topping

Topping is done by cutting off the tip of your plant to stop it from growing upwards, leaving a flat surface on the top of your plant.

  • Although this will stop your plant from being bushy, you should also aim to top any other shoots which have grown taller than the others around them so that they have enough space to grow evenly with their neighbors.
  • FIM’ing is not quite the same as a topping, but it does the same by reducing the height of your plant. FIM’ing involves cutting off/damaging the newest growth while topping cuts off the tip of your plant.

6.) How To Control Height & Create A Huger Harvest

As above, there are several methods available to reduce your plant’s height between harvesting. They include SOG/SCROG, Super cropping, and Low-Stress Training.

– SOG/SCROG stands for Sea Of Green and Screen Of Green, respectively; both of these techniques involve mass producing your plants in a small area to create a significant yield per plant, which is ideal if you want to have the most amount of bud possible in the shortest space of time.

That’s the end of this short series, and we hope you enjoyed it! Let us know your thoughts, Questions, and concerns in the comments below. Growing Cannabis: Trimming and Topping Techniques for Beginners (Part 1), Growing Cannabis: Trimming and Topping Techniques for Beginners (Part 2)

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