Not to worry, this isn’t a post about Beat Poets, as catchy as the title of this post may sound. Instead we will be looking at a few of the ways that plants can be manipulated or trained in order to adjust to small grow spaces and increase yields, though such techniques can work wonders for outdoor plants as well.
There are two categories of training techniques that are most commonly used by growers these days: low-stress training (LST) and high-stress training (HST). Low-stress training is a very easy technique to grasp as it merely involves bending branches and tying them down to reduce plant height and expose more bud sights to light. If the top cola of the plant is bent, the plant’s growth hormone, auxin, is moved from the top and gets distributed more evenly throughout the lower branches. The idea is to have a level canopy and an increased number of colas as opposed to one main cola and several smaller branches. A similar technique, SCROG (screen of green) is also very popular as it produces bigger yields and keeps the canopy low. The main difference between traditional bending or tying down is that a SCROG uses a net or wiring that is suspended above the canopy. Branches are affixed to the screen, exposing more bud sites and keeping canopy height low.
The other category, HST, involves doing a little bit of damage to the plant, with more or less the same aim: to reduce height and achieve bigger yields. Here we have a few more techniques to choose from.
1. Topping – One of the easiest methods of HST as no tools are really necessary. A thumb and finger are all you need. The idea is to pinch the very top of the plant and remove it. This results in two new branches that will turn into colas as opposed to just one. This can be repeated several times to the point where you have a monstrous bush, though this is better suited for the outdoors as a small indoor grow space can be filled very quickly. When topping, lower branches also receive signals to promote growth and fill out the plant.
2. FIM (floribunding) – This technique, which stands for ‘fuck I missed’ is very similar to topping but with one minor difference. Instead of cleanly removing the top, the idea is to take off about 75% of it, leaving a tiny little growth above the main stem. This technique, if done correctly, will give growers four new branches as opposed to two. Fimmed plants may take a little longer to recover and they run the risk of infection as you are leaving a part of the stalk exposed, but the rewards are worth it.
3. Lollipopping – This is a pruning technique where the lower branches of the plant are removed entirely, leaving everything bare towards the bottom of the plant, resulting in a lollipop-like shape.. The plant then directs all of its energy toward bud production, thereby increasing yields. An unlollipopped plant will produce small “popcorn buds” which aren’t very appealing compared to massive colas. Lollipopping is similar to defoliation, which just means removing lower leaves that receive less light. In an indoor setting, this can greatly benefit yields as plants will focus their energy on bud production without having to worry about things like fighting pests and diseases.
4. Supercropping – This technique involves mutating branches to achieve the desired height while also increasing yields significantly. In this method, branches are pinched or snapped at a desired height but not broken entirely, though this can be relatively easily repaired with some duct tape. They are then trained to grow horizontally, exposing more bud sites to light, resulting in larger-than-normal buds.
Some growers even decide to combine some of these various techniques, such as
topping/floribunding and the SCROG method/bending. This can increase yields even further than using one technique alone, though a bit of experience is required. With a bit of practice and patience however, the growing experience will be very rewarding and you will be one step closer to becoming a master plant whisperer.
Hydra Kush, Dragonaut Cookies, or Komodo Glue are a few of the Dragon Seeds varieties that are well-suited for HST/LST techniques.