Training cannabis plants is a great way to encourage bigger yields. Cannabis responds well to being trained. Indoors and outdoors, a number of training methods are proven to improve the overall performance of cannabis. In order to reap the most benefit from your garden, it is a good idea to take note of these common plant training mistakes and work to avoid them!
Not training plants at all is the first mistake most inexperienced growers make. Indoor grow spaces are most often limited, and not training means not optimising the production capabilities of any space. Even smaller autoflowering varieties respond well to even light distribution over a tied-down canopy.
ACCIDENTALLY BREAKING A MAIN STEM
One of the biggest “uh oh’s!” when it comes to plant training is accidentally breaking or cutting a main stem. More often than not, this occurs when the individual is bending the plant at the wrong part or when the stems have become older and more solid. Bending stems is ideally done while the plant is young or done only on new growth while the stems are more flexible, which will make the process much smoother.
In some cases, if you break a stem you can tape it up and the plant will heal in a couple of weeks but it is best to be very careful and ensure you are choosing flexible points before committing.
Defoliation is meant to open up the plant so more light can get in. This is accomplished by removing some of the fan leaves. Removing sugar leaves, or growth tips can mean less bud, lost bud and/or slower growth for that part of the plant. During vegetation, the increased light penetration into the understory of the plant increases overall growth. Then, in the early budding phase, removal of leaves stimulates growth in the flowering part of the plant.
Be sure to remove the right type of leaves when defoliating. Only remove fan leaves—not sugar leaves. Fan leaves are the large ones that form at a branch; sugar leaves, on the other hand, are part of the bud structure. Removing the wrong leaves is one step forward and two steps back.
Taking off too many leaves makes for a long recovery time. Beginners should start off gently, and then let experience make them more cavalier. If time was no problem, cannabis could recuperate from an utter stripping, and will even force new growth through bare trunks and branches. But it takes a long time, so don’t despair when things are overdone, just a bit of patience is required.
KEEPING PLANTS TOO SMALL
Another big mistake when it comes to plant training (and growing in general) is keeping your cannabis plants too small. A very small plant just can’t make as much bud as a bigger plant, so keeping plants smaller than needed can reduce your yields. You will get the best yields by growing your plants so that they fill up your grow space. Ideally, in order to grow your plant to fill the space, you will want to wait until the plant is 3 to 4 weeks old before initiating the flowering cycle – some growers will wait a little longer until 6 weeks. At this time, putting the plants on a 12/12 light schedule will be the most beneficial. Starting the light cycling prior to four weeks will most likely result in stunted growth.
GROWING PLANTS TOO BIG – Yes its possible!
On the other side of the coin, growing plants too big can also become an issue when your goal is yields. Plants that are allowed to grow out of control and get too large during vegetation will result in wasted resources and an overcrowded grow space. Overcrowding can lead to light burn, mildew, bud rot and other issues that can stunt bud development.
As plants are known to double in height during flowering, changing over to the 12/12 lighting cycle when the plants have reached half the desired height is a good guideline.
TOPPING TOO EARLY OR INCORRECTLY
The first rule of topping is that it is best to wait until the main stem has at least 3 or 4 nodes as topping the plant too early can slow or even stunt the growth of the plant. When the plant is topped at the right size, it often won’t slow down at all!
There are various ways to top a cannabis plant, depending on your experience and preferences. Cutting the tip off the top will result in very little chance of stunting, even with just 3 or 4 nodes. There is also the option of topping down to the 3rd node. This helps to form a manifold that can help with more extensive plant training.
It is important to leave some extra stem when topping, which will prevent splitting and maintain a strong stem. In addition, it is important not to damage the growth tips during topping as these will become your new main colas.
FLOWERING TOO EARLY
One of the most important skills that you need when training your marijuana plant is the ability to estimate when to put your plants on 12/12. One of the biggest mistakes you can make which will hurt your yield is to let your plants flower too early. The plant is then still too small to produce a good harvest, and you will not get much of a harvest from a flowering cannabis plant that is too small.
Timing is crucial for a good harvest! As you have read above, your harvest will suffer if you allow cannabis plants to flower too early. But also if you wait too long before flowering, you can get into trouble. Particularly indoors, where the height is limited, marijuana plants can then grow in the lamp, with all its consequences.
If you wait too long with the 12/12 light schedule, weed plants will become too large. Problems include plants growing into the lamp where the tops burn, another major problem is competing plants overlap each other and end up shading the buds this in turn drastically reduces yields and increases the chance of your buds suffering from mold.
It is a thin line, between flowering too early or late. This is because weed plants stretch for two to three weeks after switching to 12/12. It is your job as a grower to estimate how big they will eventually become.
NOT PROPERLY SECURING YOUR PLANT
Despite popular belief, string is not the best object for securing your plant as it will slowly cut into the plant overtime and can result in stress or damage. A better option for securing your plant for training techniques is to use plastic twist ties as they are easily manipulated and are softer material, so they will not cut into the plant.
A good tip is to secure the ties to the container itself, which makes it easier to move if needed!
TYING BRANCHES TOO TIGHTLY
When you train marijuana plants, you tie them so that they do not grow upwards but in the direction that you want. Do not make the mistake of tying the branches too tightly. If you bind branches too tightly, it will cut into the branches as they become thicker. The same can happen if you use string or wire which is too thin.
Do not bind branches too tightly and use soft material such as elastic or wide garden twine etc. This prevents whatever you have tied the plant with cutting into the branches and blocking the sap flow. Bear in mind that if you tie the branches you will no longer be able to move the pot you have the plant about your grow room. Tie the branches to the pot to prevent this.
Lastly, a plant that is slow growing or is suffering from a nutritional deficiency will be more sensitive to stress than a healthy plant. This means that any training technique from topping to low-stress methods can further agitate the plant and slow recovery time. If you have a sick or stressed plant, it is a good idea to move the grow light up a few inches and allow it a few days.
We hope that 11 mistakes not to make with plant training, helps you along the way and avoid some of the mistakes we all make when we first start training cannabis plants.
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