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when to top weed

Topping weed plants: a guide for beginners

Topping is a tried-and-tested growing technique to get more weed tops on one cannabis plant. Pruning back a branch or main trunk allows you to double the number of growing tops and the plant grows more in width than in height. The difficulty is knowing where and when to top a weed plant as these have major influences on the result.

Topping is believed to be thousands of years old and is used with all kinds of plants, such as a box – the tree that is commonly grown as nice thick hedges in gardens. To allow such a hedge to grow closer together, it is pruned once or twice a year. For every branch that is cut off, at least two new ones are substituted. The box becomes larger and denser and forms a dense hedge that you cannot see through.

Although topping weed plants has a completely different purpose, exactly the same thing happens. Every time you cut a branch or main stem, the side shoots underneath have the chance to take over. One branch turns into two branches and two branches similarly grow into two buds, doubling the potential harvest. Instead of all energy going to one branch or top, the juices and the vigour are distributed evenly over the side shoots. Your marijuana plant becomes wider instead of taller.

Why topping is an essential part of cannabis cultivation

The topping of a weed plant is ultimately done for two purposes. Firstly, two tops yield more harvest than one. Although the two new buds will be smaller than the original ones could have become, their total weight is higher. Topping gives the plant a better shape in terms of light distribution and higher harvest weight. Increasing yield is the main reason why growers top their weed plants.

Limiting height and more width development is the second important reason to top a weed plant. You can imagine that two branches will also grow less quickly than one. By topping a weed plant, the growth is spread over several tops. As a result, the weed plant develops more in width and less quickly in height. This is very useful when growing weed indoors, in a grow tent or cupboard with a limited height.

What are the best strains for topping?

Even though many strains allow topping, not all will. Let is therefore tell you with which types you can successfully apply the training method topping:

When should you start topping?

It’s not as simple as just taking a pair of secateurs to your plants, there must be enough side branches to form new buds. If you were to top a seedling before 3 to 4 sets of side shoots (nodes) grow well, you would do more harm than good. Young plants need too much recovery time, and that is not profitable.

Instead, you should wait at least until a weed plant is large and healthy enough and has a well-developed root system. Then the budding no longer has much influence on growth and it hardly needs any recovery time. There are roughly two ways to top, but remember that a weed plant must always have at least 3 nodes before you start.

What should you take away?

How much you remove at the top, or how far you prune back a weed plant, depends on the purpose of the topping. If the goal is simply to create two peaks where one first grew, then it is best to remove as little as possible from the top growing point. Wait until the plant has about four nodes, and carefully cut out only the top growing point. This results in a rapid recovery and doubles the number of growth points.

Many growers, however, prune their plants back a few nodes to create a firm basis for their plants and to prune the height considerably. That can make sense if, for example, you have little height in your grow room, but still want to have a large thick trunk and root system before you start flowering. Sometimes it is also applied to mainlining, a variation on scrogging.

However, when you do this, you must bear in mind that the more you remove, the greater the attack on your plant’s health and recovery time. If you want to use such a stressful procedure, your plants must be large enough for that. Wait until your plant has at least 6 nodes to ensure that the root system is well developed.

Auxins

The plant hormone auxin is responsible for vertical growth in plants. When a top is planted, the entire growing top (the “apical meristem”) is removed, which means that the plant temporarily ceases to produce auxin. The lack of auxin causes the plant to grow without direction, as a result of which plants often become a lot fuller and not much higher

When is the best time to top?

The best time to top or to bind/train your plants in radical ways is during the vegetative phase. The reason for this is that the plant has to recover from these processes: if too much stress is caused for a plant during flowering, it can be at the expense of the harvest and can even cause a plant to become hermaphrodite. The best time to top your plant and how often you want to do this depends on how large and how full you want your plants to be. If you assume that it will take 7-10 days for new shoots to start and grow, it is advisable to take approximately two weeks of recovery time for each time you top a plant. It is also very important to properly guide your plant during this process since the rest of the plant continues to grow and there is a lot of new growth in the areas where topping has taken place.

Double your weed buds

When growing weed, your success often depends on the number of buds you have, so the tops of your weed plant can have a huge effect on your culture. This not only increases the yield but also ensures that instead of one large central cola with many branches, different “head tops” without branches arise. Below is an example of how often you can top a plant to get a certain number of head tops in your plant. When following this guide, you must, of course, bear in mind that the plant needs time to recover and that it is important to steer the growth that does continue.

  1. The first topping of buds forms 2 new stems
  2. The second topping forms 4 new stems
  3. The third topping forms 8 new stems
  4. The fourth topping forms 16 new stems

Longer growth phase after buds

If you follow this guideline for tops of weed plants, a much longer growth phase must be taken into account. The best way to grow a grower depends on the growing space to ensure that the plant is distributed as well as possible over this space and therefore has an optimal yield. When growing a plant that has been topped several times, it is recommended to keep the plant in the growing phase for longer. The plant’s hormonal system is disrupted for a while every time you top, making it a good idea to have the plates repaired as much as possible before the flowering phase is started. Very large plants are often kept in the growing phase for up to 70 days before they switch to flowering, during this growing period many new stems are created that can be tied up.

The more of the plant you cut away, the longer it will need to recover. Certain chemicals can help the plant recover its strength faster and vastly reduce the chances of turning into a hermaphrodite plant. These can be purchased in your local garden centre or nursery.

Topping with a Scrog

Growing cannabis in a “screen of green” setup is an important reason for many growers to grow and can provide a huge yield of one plant. If a grower keeps topping over and over again, this may cause the number of leaves to be too heavy for the plant itself, which may make it necessary to support the plant. When using a screen or a net it is easy to tie all new stems with the same spaces between them. The use of scrog in combination with buds ensures that the lighting is used optimally and that you can get a huge yield from one plant.

Topping goes hand in hand with ScroG techniques. Having an understanding of both methods can therefore enormously improve your yields. Follow our advice and you can look forward to wide bushy plants with a fine crop.

Want to start topping weed plants to get bigger yields? Check this blog! We learn you when and how to top your weed plants in an easy way!

Marijuana Pruning: Topping Vs Fimming

Do you dream of long-running, resinous, chunky cannabis colas? Make it a reality in your marijuana garden with high-yield cultivation methods. Topping and Fimming are two proven techniques. Keep reading to find out which one is the best method for you.

  • 1. What is topping cannabis?
  • 1.a. When to top cannabis
  • 1.b. How to top cannabis
  • 1.c. Equipment for topping cannabis
  • 2. What is fimming cannabis?
  • 2.a. When to fim cannabis
  • 2.b How to fim marijuana
  • 3. Limitations of topping and fimming
  • 4. Pruning and training for maximum yield
  • 4.a. Lollipopping
  • 4.b. Scrogging
  • 1. What is topping cannabis?
  • 1.a. When to top cannabis
  • 1.b. How to top cannabis
  • 1.c. Equipment for topping cannabis
  • 2. What is fimming cannabis?
  • 2.a. When to fim cannabis
  • 2.b How to fim marijuana
  • 3. Limitations of topping and fimming
  • 4. Pruning and training for maximum yield
  • 4.a. Lollipopping
  • 4.b. Scrogging

WHAT IS TOPPING CANNABIS?

Topping is the process of pruning the growing tip of the main stem of a cannabis plant. This is perhaps the most common HST or high stress training technique applied by both indoor and outdoor growers. Marijuana growing naturally will typically take on a Christmas tree structure; One dominant, main central cola and multiple sets of side branches. All plant parts receiving a share of sunlight at some stage during the day as the sun traverses the sky.

In contrast, indoor cannabis plants receive illumination from a stationary grow lamp positioned above. This makes naturally-shaped cannabis plants inefficient to crop indoors, unless you cultivate in large numbers using the SOG or Sea of Green method. Topping is the method of choice for pro growers to increase yields. It is also favoured by home growers that want to fill out their grow space with a handful of plants, rather than pack in as many as possible.

Removing the terminal bud will encourage the development of two new main colas and promote growth of the lower, secondary branches. The aim is to invert the Christmas tree shape to allow more light penetration. Growth hormone is diffused to all of the shoots once the apical bud’s dominance is removed. Branchy, low-profile plants are more desirable to every grower. Indoors, vertical space is often at a premium and outdoors, bushes are stealthier than tall trees. Topping is a great technique to take control of the cannabis canopy.

WHEN TO TOP CANNABIS

Top your plants after they’ve developed between 3–5 nodes, as this is when their roots and stems are strong enough to recover from the stress of the process. Plants typically reach this size after around 30 days of vegetative phase. Be mindful that different varieties grow at different speeds.

Plants can’t handle topping during the seedling stage. If you try topping during this time, you risk killing or stunting your seedlings. Similarly, topping during the flowering phase is sure to cause damage to your precious plants.

Wait about 1–2 weeks before topping new growth. Your plants will require this time to recover from the stress and readjust to the new growth pattern.

HOW TO TOP CANNABIS

To top a plant, make a clean cut to the tip of the main stem using sterile scissors and fully remove the top growth. Be sure to leave about 5cm of space between where you cut and the lateral branches. This will give you slight room for error and help you avoid accidentally severing these important structures.

Instead of forming a solitary central cola, the plant will now grow two separate branches—the main cola will not continue to grow and the two side nodes will take over as colas.

You can repeat this process later on down the line. Eventually, the two branches you just created will be ready to top. This will further divide what was a single terminal flower into four distinct bud sites.

Continue the process until you’re satisfied with your plant’s canopy.

EQUIPMENT FOR TOPPING CANNABIS

Topping cannabis requires accuracy, precision, and cleanliness. Snipping your plant with a blunt tool can cause the stem to break and it can leave a much larger wound than intended.

Use the sharpest blades you can get your hands on. Office and kitchen scissors work, but they’re not as efficient as tools specifically designed for the job, so consider using pruning scissors. Razor blades are also a good option.

Try out these Curved Trimming Scissors made for taming and topping cannabis plants. The sharp blades and robust handle make them perfect for your needs. Their curved design makes them perfect for pruning deep within canopies and trimming off sugar leaves during harvest. You can also use this handy tool to obtain clean cuttings for cloning.

Top and FIM your plants with accuracy and ease using these Curved Trimming Scissors. The sharp blades slice through cannabis stems without leaving a mess behind—allowing plants to recover swiftly.

Top and FIM your plants with accuracy and ease using these Curved Trimming Scissors. The sharp blades slice through cannabis stems without leaving a mess behind—allowing plants to recover swiftly.

WHAT IS FIMMING CANNABIS?

Fimming is another HST technique used to increase yield that is similar to topping, but not quite the same. The objective is still to increase the number of main colas. But instead of doubling down, fimming can give rise to 4+ new top colas. This technique is highly recommended for micro-growers with perhaps just 1-2 plants.

Secondary shoots are juiced with the growth hormone that previously would have been used to develop the main stem. However, most growers report that fimming is slightly less effective at reducing stretching than topping. A fimmed cannabis plant can still grow rather tall, albeit with far more top colas.

WHEN TO FIM CANNABIS

Wait until your plant has developed 3–5 nodes before you FIM it. Like with topping, performing the procedure too early will shock the plant and slow down the growth of your seedling. You should only FIM plants during the vegetative phase to allow plants to focus all of their energy on bud production during the flowering stage. If you want to train your plant during this time, try gentle techniques such as low-stress training (LST).

HOW TO FIM MARIJUANA

Fimming involves pinching or cutting off around 75% of the tip of a plant. The very word FIM stands for “f*ck I missed”, and hints at how sloppy the technique appears. It looks as though the grower messed up their topping attempt! Looks aside, it’s an extremely simple and effective technique.

Grab the tip of your plant and gently elongate the growth with one hand. Use a pair of clean scissors to snip about 75% of the top. You’ll be left with a small turf of growth that will eventually give life to four colas.

LIMITATIONS OF TOPPING AND FIMMING

Topping and fimming will prolong the amount of time cannabis plants will need to spend in the 18/6 vegetative growth stage. Expect a 4-6 week vegetative growth phase if you plan on applying these techniques.

Another oft-overlooked and obvious problem with encouraging the formation of multiple fat colas is that marijuana plants tend to become really top heavy. In the absence of a ScrOG, plants may require staking with bamboo for support.

PRUNING AND TRAINING FOR MAXIMUM YIELD

Do you want the heaviest harvest possible? If you do, then you must be prepared to blend a few techniques. Topping or fimming cannabis plants alone is not really going far enough. Go the extra mile for those extra grams. By adding the following two methods to the mix, you might hit upon the recipe for a scale-tipping harvest.

LOLLIPOPPING

In brief, lollipopping is the removal of fluffy, lower bud sites from cannabis plants. The idea is to focus plant energy on developing big, fat nugs, rather than popcorn buds. Most growers like to strip away lower growth during week 3 of flowering. Pinching off is generally preferred to clipping away with a scissors. ScrOG growers will usually remove all of the lower growth beneath the screen to improve airflow and drive all plant energy to the tops.

SCROGGING

All of the above high-yield cannabis cultivation techniques can be further enhanced with a ScrOG or Screen of Green. A ScrOG is the pinnacle of high-performance marijuana growing. By deploying a mesh screen across the grow space, the whole grow-op is tuned for maximum production. Essentially, the grower must bend and fold shoots to fill out as many of the grid squares as possible. This begins in the vegetative stage and continues on until early bloom.

Push your marijuana into maximum overdrive with high yield pruning methods. This one is all about Topping and Fimming cannabis plants.