There is very little we growers won't do to ensure that we get the best yields when harvesting our crops. Although pruning sounds like something that happens to our fingers when we stay in the water for too long, it is in fact a very good way to boost up your yields. Pruning basically means manipulating your marijuana plant by cutting, bending, or tieing, it to grow a specific way that will give you more and better buds. In this post I'll explain two pruning methods.
Indoors pruning should take place between 10 and 15 days before you force flowering. If you are growing outdoors, then you should start pruning a few weeks before you expect your plant to start flowering.
Tall plants can waste a lot of nutrients and energy supplying water throughout a long stem. Instead of your plant wasting so much energy growing such a long flimsy stalk, it could have put more energy into growing you a big fat bud.
Don't start just whacking off leaves and branches! These kinds of things need to be carefully planned out. You're going to want to prune to stimulate branching since the ends of the branches is where the largest buds grow. Prune to avoid having tall and lanky cannabis plants using the topping method. Not only does it increase yields but it decreases your plant's height to make for a stronger and sturdier stem.
The topping method is cutting off the top shoot. Let your plant grow to at least 5 nodes and cut the stem just above the second true node. The node where the cotyledons (the first two babyleaves aaaah so cute) attach does not count as a true node. Don't rush to prune your plant with this method as the longer you wait the more quickly your plant will be able to recover due to its larger photosynthesis area. I know it seems counter effective to cut the top off of your plant that you are eager to grow, but it will divide its energy to create multiple colas for you.
As new shoots form after the main stem has been topped, you can repeatedly top new shoots as they form. This will turn two new tops into four, and then you can turn four into eight tops. Make sure to allow at least one internode to form with a set of leaves and cut just above that each time.
Once the main stem has been topped it is possible to repeatedly top new shoots as they form.
Once the lateral branches are established it is also possible to top these, encouraging an overall bushy structure. Since the branching takes place near the top of the plant the new emerging tops will get all the wonderful light and grow many medium buds.
It is a bad idea to top your plants during the flowering phase. During the flowering phase a plant completely changes the way it grows and its nutrient requirements are also different than before flowering. Topping your plant as its flowering will cause it to stress and it will give you smaller yields. It will force it to put its energy into repair instead of growing great big beautiful buds.
Another pruning technique to increase your yields is called super cropping. Unlike topping, it does not actually include cutting anything off of your plant. It consists of putting your plant through some stress to increase the number of tops. It will push the lower growth higher and wider so that it will flower. Not only can this method be done on almost all plants but it can be done several times during the vegetative process. The nutrients will work twice as hard to produce higher yields in areas that would otherwise not be productive.
Some extra Stress
The process is really simple without any tools needed. You can start super cropping when your plant is in its third week of its vegetation phase. Choose a point on your plant close to the first and third node sets. Take your thumb and forefinger and squeeze the stem causing it to create a 90 degree angle. The tips should end up folded over. Make sure you don't actually break the stem off, just create a kink and let it flop over. Soon enough the "kinked" stem will start to heal, and luckily this process doesn't dramatically slow down the growth of your plant . Breaking the tissue down will cause it to grow back stronger and ultimately end up giving you bigger and more potent yields.
Prune responsibly. Don't get overzealous and prune too much too fast. Keep in mind that you are putting your plant under some extra stress when you do it and it must spend extra energy to heal itself. It also could make it more susceptible to insects and fungi. So before you start pruning, make sure your plant is in tip-top shape and that it is not already battling pests.
Now go and enjoy watching a forest emerge with your new pruning skills!