If you’re looking to get more out of your next harvest, it’s time to start investigating different growing methods.
The days of popping a seed in a pot and waiting to see the outcome are over. Today, master horticulturalists put their skills to work on raising indoor cannabis plants.
As a result, there are several “high-stress” and “low-stress” techniques the beginner grower can apply to their growing skillset to improve yield.
Let’s unpack everything you need to know about these two advanced growing techniques for growing in a grow tent indoors.
High-Stress Training Methods
High-stress techniques involve the grower purposefully damaging the plant to manipulate growth. Depending on the method employed, the plant could stop growing in height and spread laterally.
It could produce more buds and increase yields, turning a single plant into a serious monster. Here are the top high-stress techniques to try on your plants.
Topping is the most basic of the high-stress training (HST) techniques. With topping, you remove the primary node at the top of the plant that forms the main cola. As a result, the plant puts its energy into growing larger side buds, increasing the overall yield of your plant while reducing the waste on the lower limbs.
You can try the topping technique when there are at least four to five nodes on the plant. Pinch the top node off the plant or cut it off with some shears. After topping, the plant takes around a week to recover from the stress. As it recovers, you’ll notice the bottom branches start to grow much bigger and heavier. When harvest season rolls around, you’ll understand why topping is such a popular HST methodology.
The FIM Technique
The FIM technique is a little more challenging than the topping method. It also involves keeping the top cola, rather than doing away with it completely, as is with the topping method.
With FIM techniques, you’ll remove around ¾ of the top node at the new growth. The plant splits the main cola into four new buds instead of one if you do it right. If you do it incorrectly, you’ll get two or three top colas. You can FIM the plants when they have three or four nodes, about five to seven days before you top the plant.
For accurate FIMing and the best chance of maximum cola production, we recommend against using your fingers to FIM the plant. Choose a pair of sharp scissors and shape the top node into a cup-like appearance, leaving at least 20% to 25% of the plant material behind. By leaving some new growth on the top node, you trick the plant into thinking it needs to grow more nodes at the top. You’ll also notice that, like topping, the stress of the process causes your plant to wilt or slightly drawback for around 24 to 48-hours after you top or FIM the plant.
For this reason, you should always conduct this process just before the plant goes into its dark cycle for the day. The plant can recover overnight and use the next light session to restore its energy levels and continue growing. One of the biggest differences you’ll notice in a plant undergoing topping or FIM growing techniques is a remarkable thickening in the base of the plant.
Super cropping is a popular choice for growers with height issues with their tent or growing space, and they need to keep the height of the plant down without sacrificing yield. Super cropping is an HST method involving damaging the limbs of the plant to manipulate its shape.
To super crop, you start with topping the plant at the fourth node. After vegging the plant for a few weeks, you have a few long branches. Take these branches about 2/3rds from the apex, and cripple the stem between your fingers. We know that sounds crazy, but you want to bruise and bend the plant as much as possible, so the branch falls down and almost looks dead. The plant will recover surprisingly fast from this injury, and you’ll notice the stems and leaves coming back to life in a day or two.
When the plant recovers, it has a “knuckle” at the area you crippled, forming an upside-down “V” shape that limits its height but not its bud production. Many growers employ the super cropping technique alongside the SCROG method, which we’ll discuss in a bit.
Low-Stress Training Methods
Low-stress training involves methods that don’t do physical damage to the plant. The SOG and SCROG methods are the most popular and the best starting point for beginners transitioning into advanced growing techniques.
The SOG and the SCROG Method
The Sea of Green (SOG) and Screen of Green (SCROG) methods are two of the most popular low-stress training techniques. With SOG, you use more plants with less vegging time, while the SCROG method uses fewer plants, with plants that spend a longer in the vegetative process.
The SCROG method also uses a screen to create a blooming canopy at an even height. In contrast, the SOG method relies on starting all your plants simultaneously, using a single strain to even out the canopy height at harvest time.
Typically, the SOG method is better for fast-growing and flowering plants, such as auto-flowering varieties. The SCROG method uses mature plants, weaving the branches through a “scrog-net” positioned at a specific height above the plants. As the new nodes appear, the gardener weaves them into the scrog-net to keep the size and height of the canopy consistent.
It’s common for gardeners to include HST methods like super cropping along with SCROG net techniques. So, the difference between SOG and SCROG would be that SOG suits auto-flowering plants, while SCROG is better for growing larger clones. SCROG crops are typically larger than SOG crops, requiring half the number of plants to achieve double the harvest yield.
Experiment with Different Methods, the joy of indoor gardening comes from trial and error. Experiment with these different methods for your plants and see which one suits your growing style and needs.