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Marijuana Pruning: Topping Vs Fimming

Do you dream of long-running, resinous, chunky cannabis colas? Make it a reality in your marijuana garden with high-yield cultivation methods. Topping and Fimming are two proven techniques. Keep reading to find out which one is the best method for you.

  • 1. What is topping cannabis?
  • 1.a. When to top cannabis
  • 1.b. How to top cannabis
  • 1.c. Equipment for topping cannabis
  • 2. What is fimming cannabis?
  • 2.a. When to fim cannabis
  • 2.b How to fim marijuana
  • 3. Limitations of topping and fimming
  • 4. Pruning and training for maximum yield
  • 4.a. Lollipopping
  • 4.b. Scrogging
  • 1. What is topping cannabis?
  • 1.a. When to top cannabis
  • 1.b. How to top cannabis
  • 1.c. Equipment for topping cannabis
  • 2. What is fimming cannabis?
  • 2.a. When to fim cannabis
  • 2.b How to fim marijuana
  • 3. Limitations of topping and fimming
  • 4. Pruning and training for maximum yield
  • 4.a. Lollipopping
  • 4.b. Scrogging

WHAT IS TOPPING CANNABIS?

Topping is the process of pruning the growing tip of the main stem of a cannabis plant. This is perhaps the most common HST or high stress training technique applied by both indoor and outdoor growers. Marijuana growing naturally will typically take on a Christmas tree structure; One dominant, main central cola and multiple sets of side branches. All plant parts receiving a share of sunlight at some stage during the day as the sun traverses the sky.

In contrast, indoor cannabis plants receive illumination from a stationary grow lamp positioned above. This makes naturally-shaped cannabis plants inefficient to crop indoors, unless you cultivate in large numbers using the SOG or Sea of Green method. Topping is the method of choice for pro growers to increase yields. It is also favoured by home growers that want to fill out their grow space with a handful of plants, rather than pack in as many as possible.

Removing the terminal bud will encourage the development of two new main colas and promote growth of the lower, secondary branches. The aim is to invert the Christmas tree shape to allow more light penetration. Growth hormone is diffused to all of the shoots once the apical bud’s dominance is removed. Branchy, low-profile plants are more desirable to every grower. Indoors, vertical space is often at a premium and outdoors, bushes are stealthier than tall trees. Topping is a great technique to take control of the cannabis canopy.

WHEN TO TOP CANNABIS

Top your plants after they’ve developed between 3–5 nodes, as this is when their roots and stems are strong enough to recover from the stress of the process. Plants typically reach this size after around 30 days of vegetative phase. Be mindful that different varieties grow at different speeds.

Plants can’t handle topping during the seedling stage. If you try topping during this time, you risk killing or stunting your seedlings. Similarly, topping during the flowering phase is sure to cause damage to your precious plants.

Wait about 1–2 weeks before topping new growth. Your plants will require this time to recover from the stress and readjust to the new growth pattern.

HOW TO TOP CANNABIS

To top a plant, make a clean cut to the tip of the main stem using sterile scissors and fully remove the top growth. Be sure to leave about 5cm of space between where you cut and the lateral branches. This will give you slight room for error and help you avoid accidentally severing these important structures.

Instead of forming a solitary central cola, the plant will now grow two separate branches—the main cola will not continue to grow and the two side nodes will take over as colas.

You can repeat this process later on down the line. Eventually, the two branches you just created will be ready to top. This will further divide what was a single terminal flower into four distinct bud sites.

Continue the process until you’re satisfied with your plant’s canopy.

EQUIPMENT FOR TOPPING CANNABIS

Topping cannabis requires accuracy, precision, and cleanliness. Snipping your plant with a blunt tool can cause the stem to break and it can leave a much larger wound than intended.

Use the sharpest blades you can get your hands on. Office and kitchen scissors work, but they’re not as efficient as tools specifically designed for the job, so consider using pruning scissors. Razor blades are also a good option.

Try out these Curved Trimming Scissors made for taming and topping cannabis plants. The sharp blades and robust handle make them perfect for your needs. Their curved design makes them perfect for pruning deep within canopies and trimming off sugar leaves during harvest. You can also use this handy tool to obtain clean cuttings for cloning.

Top and FIM your plants with accuracy and ease using these Curved Trimming Scissors. The sharp blades slice through cannabis stems without leaving a mess behind—allowing plants to recover swiftly.

Top and FIM your plants with accuracy and ease using these Curved Trimming Scissors. The sharp blades slice through cannabis stems without leaving a mess behind—allowing plants to recover swiftly.

WHAT IS FIMMING CANNABIS?

Fimming is another HST technique used to increase yield that is similar to topping, but not quite the same. The objective is still to increase the number of main colas. But instead of doubling down, fimming can give rise to 4+ new top colas. This technique is highly recommended for micro-growers with perhaps just 1-2 plants.

Secondary shoots are juiced with the growth hormone that previously would have been used to develop the main stem. However, most growers report that fimming is slightly less effective at reducing stretching than topping. A fimmed cannabis plant can still grow rather tall, albeit with far more top colas.

WHEN TO FIM CANNABIS

Wait until your plant has developed 3–5 nodes before you FIM it. Like with topping, performing the procedure too early will shock the plant and slow down the growth of your seedling. You should only FIM plants during the vegetative phase to allow plants to focus all of their energy on bud production during the flowering stage. If you want to train your plant during this time, try gentle techniques such as low-stress training (LST).

HOW TO FIM MARIJUANA

Fimming involves pinching or cutting off around 75% of the tip of a plant. The very word FIM stands for “f*ck I missed”, and hints at how sloppy the technique appears. It looks as though the grower messed up their topping attempt! Looks aside, it’s an extremely simple and effective technique.

Grab the tip of your plant and gently elongate the growth with one hand. Use a pair of clean scissors to snip about 75% of the top. You’ll be left with a small turf of growth that will eventually give life to four colas.

LIMITATIONS OF TOPPING AND FIMMING

Topping and fimming will prolong the amount of time cannabis plants will need to spend in the 18/6 vegetative growth stage. Expect a 4-6 week vegetative growth phase if you plan on applying these techniques.

Another oft-overlooked and obvious problem with encouraging the formation of multiple fat colas is that marijuana plants tend to become really top heavy. In the absence of a ScrOG, plants may require staking with bamboo for support.

PRUNING AND TRAINING FOR MAXIMUM YIELD

Do you want the heaviest harvest possible? If you do, then you must be prepared to blend a few techniques. Topping or fimming cannabis plants alone is not really going far enough. Go the extra mile for those extra grams. By adding the following two methods to the mix, you might hit upon the recipe for a scale-tipping harvest.

LOLLIPOPPING

In brief, lollipopping is the removal of fluffy, lower bud sites from cannabis plants. The idea is to focus plant energy on developing big, fat nugs, rather than popcorn buds. Most growers like to strip away lower growth during week 3 of flowering. Pinching off is generally preferred to clipping away with a scissors. ScrOG growers will usually remove all of the lower growth beneath the screen to improve airflow and drive all plant energy to the tops.

SCROGGING

All of the above high-yield cannabis cultivation techniques can be further enhanced with a ScrOG or Screen of Green. A ScrOG is the pinnacle of high-performance marijuana growing. By deploying a mesh screen across the grow space, the whole grow-op is tuned for maximum production. Essentially, the grower must bend and fold shoots to fill out as many of the grid squares as possible. This begins in the vegetative stage and continues on until early bloom.

Push your marijuana into maximum overdrive with high yield pruning methods. This one is all about Topping and Fimming cannabis plants.

Topping cannabis and other training techniques

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Contents

  1. When to train your cannabis plants
  2. Training techniques

If a cannabis plant is left to grow naturally without human intervention, it will focus its energy on the growth of one main cola with a series of small bud sites below. This natural growth pattern is not ideal for optimal bud yield.

When a cannabis plant grows this way, the lower budding sites are typically not given sufficient light exposure and tend to grow much smaller nugs relative to the main cola. Unless you plan on growing a cannabis plant with a Christmas tree shape, your crop will need some training.

Depending on your grow setup, you might need to utilize special techniques to help your cannabis plant produce better yields.

Ideally, a cannabis plant will have all of the main growth tips in an even line to ensure they are all exposed to the same light intensity. In short, the more even exposure to light intensity, the more consistent the yield of your cannabis crop. Depending on your grow setup, though, you might need to utilize special techniques to help your cannabis plant produce better yields.

There are several training techniques that growers can deploy to get an optimal yield out of their plants with limited space and lighting conditions. You can train a plant’s height, width, number of cola growth tips, and the evenness of the canopy to help increase nutrient uptake, deter bacterial growth, and improve overall yield.

You can train a plant’s height, width, number of cola growth sites, or apical meristems, and the evenness of the canopy to help increase nutrient uptake, deter bacterial growth, and improve overall yield. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Most growers face a variety of reasons to train their plants. Encouraging a dense, even canopy, facilitating large, compact cola production, ensuring proper airflow to reduce bacterial development, and reducing flowering time for an early harvest are all common reasons for training.

If you have limited height in your home or backyard, you may want to top cannabis plants to limit vertical growth during vegetation. If you have low plant limits in your state and want to get the most out of each plant, you may want to train your plants to encourage lateral growth. You may only have one plant left, and need to train it to be a mother plant so you can maintain the genetics. Whatever the reason, training your cannabis plants can yield hefty, healthy results.

When to train your cannabis plants

When does a grower need to begin training their plant? Is it during the rooting, vegetative, or flowering phase? The answer depends on what the end goal is. If it’s to keep mother plants healthy and in a position where they can produce vital clones, the plants will need constant training. If you want to ensure the plants stay short throughout the flowering phase, train during the vegetative phase. If you’re trying to redirect a cannabis plant’s energy from many growth sites to a few, the first couple weeks of flowering are the time to train.

Training techniques

Unless you plan on growing plants like a Christmas tree, your crop will need some extent of training. Decide what your goals are — whether it’s shortening the vegetative period, getting larger colas, getting an even canopy, or other considerations — and apply the techniques that will ensure you achieve those goals. You’ll likely find out you need to perform more than one training technique for optimal results.

All training techniques involve manipulating the shape and development of the plant, most often by bending the stem in a fashion that suits available grow conditions or by diverting the plant’s energy to growth tips that weren’t a priority.

Controlling the lighting cycle

If you are growing indoors, you’re going to need to control each phase by controlling the amount of light available to your plant. If you are limited to only one outdoor season with restricted plant counts and want to make sure of a bountiful harvest, you may want to train your cannabis plants indoors and place them outside during the summer solstice.

If you are growing indoors, you’re going to need to control each phase by controlling the amount of light available to your plant. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Unless your cannabis plants are autoflowering, they will stay in the vegetative stage, not producing colas, as long as you keep more than 16 hours of light on them. Doing so will allow you to start rooting a clone indoors and train it to be whatever height you’d like prior to placing it outdoors and letting the natural sun cycle take over.

For example, if you start growing a plant indoors during April or May in the Northern Hemisphere, your plant could be as tall as 10 feet, or 3 meters, by the time you place it outdoors to start flowering. By the time you harvest the plant, it could be well over 15 feet, or 4.6 meters, and produce many more flowers than a plant introduced to the sun at 3 feet, or 0.91 meters, in height.

The light deprivation (aka light dep) technique can also be used to force plants to flower in a greenhouse setting by reducing the amount of naturally available light. Using light dep techniques on varieties with short flower cycles allows cultivators to get the most out of the outdoor sunlight without overextending the vegetative cycle. You can also extend natural flowering cycles using supplemental lighting in areas with long winters to ensure your plants have enough light to flower and aren’t exposed to extremely cold temperatures.

Deleafing

Deleafing is removing the large fan leaves or small flowering sites from a cannabis plant. It’s the most basic form of training, usually performed at various points of the vegetative and flowering stages.

Removing large fan leaves during the second half of the vegetative stage rediverts plant energy to other growth sites and allows for more airflow throughout the plant, drastically reducing the likelihood of bacterial spread. During the flowering phase, some leaves may be blocking valuable light to crucial grow points. It’s also possible for small budding sites at the bottom of the canopy to divert energy that should be used elsewhere in the plant. At these points, the leaves or small growth sites should be removed.

Topping

Topping cannabis is clipping the growing tip of the plant’s main stem at a 45 degree angle, causing multiple colas to form instead of one. When you top cannabis plants, it slows the lateral growth of the plant and allows lower bud sites to catch up to the main stem. Cultivators can employ topping repeatedly, and top cannabis multiple times to turn one growth site into two new ones, two growth sites into four, and so on.

Similar to topping cannabis, the FIM method (or fimming) involves cutting most of a budding tip, rather than topping it completely at a 45 degree angle, with the intention of growing many colas in the place of one main cola. Developed from improperly topping of the plant (hence the name FIM, short for “F**k, I missed”), fimming could lead to an uneven canopy as it’s difficult to control the extent of developing growth sites.

Sea of Green (SOG)

The Sea of Green (SOG) method is typically used to promote the shortest possible vegetative phase, which leads to the production of a single, dense cola. It involves growing several small plants instead of a few large ones, maximizing space and cultivating single colas. Clones are placed into flowering immediately or soon after they are rooted, skipping at least a good portion of the vegetative phase and ensuring only one main growth site.

Screen of Green (ScrOG)

If local laws limit the amount of cannabis you can cultivate, the Screen of Green (ScrOG) method will allow you to create the most growth sites, thereby producing the largest yield possible. The ScrOG method forces cannabis plants to grow through a suspended horizontal screen, allowing colas to form in otherwise dormant areas of the plant as it spreads laterally across the screen. In short, a ScrOG encourages horizontal plant growth during the vegetative phase by inhibiting it vertically.

The ScrOG method forces cannabis plants to grow through a suspended horizontal screen. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Low Stress Training (LST)

Low Stress Training (LST) involves bending and tying down plant stems for maximum yield and light exposure for a chosen area on the cannabis plant. The term “low stress” refers to altering stem growth without extreme bending to prevent too much stress from breaking or cutting the main stem or side branches. LST is usually performed in conjunction with the ScrOG method and should typically begin during the plant’s vegetative stage before stems are hard and unpliable.

Super cropping

Rather than emphasizing sustained levels of low stress, super cropping involves strategically executed forms of “high stress” to boost the plant’s development of cannabinoids and terpenes. Super cropping consists of pinching areas of the stems and tying them down. If you try super cropping and end up applying to much stress, apply duct tape to the damaged area to help the plant heal.

Lollipopping

Removing growth from the lower portion of the plant, resulting in a “lollipop” shaped plant, diverts energy to the higher, cola-producing branches. For SCROG and other indoor cannabis grows that have minimal light for the lower branches, lollipopping is especially effective in encouraging an optimal yield.

Topping cannabis and other training techniques Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents When to train your cannabis plants Training techniques