When to Top Autoflower
Topping your weed plants can help to maximize yields, but can you top an autoflower cannabis plant?
It’s one of the most common questions that our autoflower growers ask. If you are new to growing weed then you may not have even heard of topping or even tried training marijuana plants. Well keep reading, we have a brief introduction to what topping means and how to do it.
What is meant by topping weed plants?
Throughout history, mankind has come up with innovative ways to improve upon final yields. Cannabis is in a category all by itself when it comes to plant training techniques to get higher yields. They range from low-stress methods such as bending stems right up to breaking stems and even splitting stems. These training methods evolved through decades of crossbreeding to create new strains to take advantage of these training techniques.
Marijuana, especially autoflower plants, tend to concentrate most of their growing energy into the central main cola. The central cola sometimes overpowers the rest of the plant leaving you with popcorn size buds on side branches. Since the main cola will receive the most energy, it will naturally starve the other flowering sites. By topping cannabis you are effectively creating two or several main colas. It would most certainly give you better final yields, correct?
Topping involves cutting off the tip of the main stem to force it to split the energy. The energy is then split to the top two branches below the main cola you just cut. Once the plant grows a few more sets of branches below the main cola it is ready to be topped. Topping can be done in conjunction with LST. Or it can be altered slightly by employing FIMming, but the yield can be enhanced even if you just top it and leave it alone.
When you “Top” the central cola, the dominance of that stem diminishes. The new colas are already growing beneath the main cola. They begin to thrive once they are receiving more light energy. As your weed plant grows and creates many more colas they can be topped as well to repeat the cycle. This technique should only be done in the vegetative stage of your cannabis plant.
Now that we have you all excited about topping to increase your yields, you are still wondering if this will work on autoflowers as well? The answer is in what happens to the plant when you chop the main stem. It can shock the growing cannabis plant slightly, and it needs some time to self-repair.
With photoperiod plants or regular plants as some refer to them, you have as much time as you need. It won’t matter if it takes a few days to recover since you have all the time in the world. With auto-flowering strains, however, it’s a bit more complex. Since their life cycle can be as short as 9 – 10 weeks. If the plant gets shocked in the flowering cycle too much it can become stunted with almost no yield at the end.
Is it worth it to top autoflower plants?
Short answer — Probably not, it depends on the strain and the grower.
Full answer — Well, keep reading.
As you already know when you top any plant it stresses the plant slightly. And since autoflowers finish their life cycle very fast every day of stress-free growing matters. The final decision should come down to the grower as an experiment with their personal collection of seeds.
Topping is done in photoperiod or auto strains when the plant is in the vegetative stage because most plants don’t respond well to topping in the flowering phase.
Autoflowering cannabis plants begin their flowering stage automatically at around 3–4 weeks after germination is completed. So the topping technique is hard to employ with some auto strains.
The worst drawback of topping an autoflower plant is if something goes wrong, they won’t have time to recover. If your plant has to use up a week or two of its flowering stage to recover from the stress it won’t deliver a good final yield.
Autoflowers will actually impress you without the need to top them. Autoflowers will naturally deliver a more even canopy due to their ruderalis genetics. You may hear different from some growers who have experience with only selected strains but in the end, it’s up to you.
Topping Indica vs Sativa
As Indica plants (and this includes the autoflowers) have tight spacing between each set of leaves, it’s definitely not a good idea to top them. Indica autoflowers are genetically destined to be short and bushy.
However, Sativa autoflower plants respond much better than Indica strains to topping in most cases. Basically, it boils down to how tall it grows in the first two weeks. Some Indica plants will develop several nodes in that time so they can be topped as well. Rule of thumb if the strain naturally grows short and wide skip the topping. If it grows fast in the first two weeks and has developed several nodes then you can try topping.
Now after saying the above I should also mention some professional growers who have proven that you can get massive yields in topping autoflowers. How do they do that is your next question? Well, it’s because they have had tons of practice and in some cases have bred strain to be responsive to extra topping. Don’t be fooled, they weren’t born with the ability and you will have to practice this yield-increasing procedure to reap the rewards.
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