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Topping: Everything You Need To Know

Topping Cannabis

The process of topping cannabis plants is relatively simple and uncomplicated. Topping means shearing off the apical bud or tip of the main stem. Marijuana responds to this pruning for yield technique in two ways. By simultaneously bushing out and producing two colas instead of just a single main cola.

Topping causes plant growth hormones to be diffused. Resulting in vigorous branching and cola numbers doubling. Best of all the process is repeatable so 4, 8, 16 or even 32 colas can be developed. With a little practice, even a novice grower can master topping and harvest professional yields.

By the end of this easy topping guide, you will at least be confident enough to test top a few plants in the cannabis garden. It’s always best to experiment with one or two plants before totally committing an entire weed crop. And don’t panic if you happen to make a meal of topping. We’ve got you covered with grow guides for both LST and FIM techniques to rescue the situation.


When To Top Cannabis Plants

There are two schools of thought concerning the appropriate time to top cannabis plants. Old school growers are generally inclined to be more patient. While Millennials prefer to top right away. Waiting a month or more before commencing pruning is far too long for some.

Topping infant cannabis plants very early sets them on track to become bushes. Expect an extended vegetative growth cycle too. Waiting until plants get to the 4th week of vegetative growth before topping is less stressful. Although, not always practical with taller rapid growing strains.

As a rule of thumb, topping is always performed during vegetative growth. Save some exceptional circumstances. Also, most growers allow 1-2 weeks recovery time before repeating the process to further enhance cola development.



Scissors vs Fingers

Once again growers are divided into two camps. There are growers that swear by a quality pruning scissors. Then there are those that prefer to pinch off tops between fingertips. Both techniques are very effective. After a process of some trial and error. Pretty quickly you will discover which you prefer.

It really is a matter of personal preference. Go with what feels comfortable for you personally. A scissors makes a cleaner cut but if you’re topping in week 1 of vegetative growth pinching is probably easier.

Cannabis plants are very bendy and pliable during vegetative growth. But the longer they remain in the vegetative phase the thicker stems and shoots become. After 6 weeks growing most strains have matured enough to necessitate the use of scissors for pruning. Pinching is most effective when applied early.


Remember, topping marijuana is a stressful practice. Plants will need a 1-2 week recovery period minimum. Allow them time to heal before further pruning to encourage more colas. A good tip to speed up recovery is to feed plants a light dose of nutes, Vitamin B, and silica immediately after making the cut to top the plant.


Benefits And Disadvantages Of Topping

The number one advantage of topping cannabis plants is the tremendous yield potential that the technique unlocks. In comparison with marijuana left to grow au naturel, topped cannabis plants will deliver a heavier harvest nine times out of ten.

Topping can be combined with Lollipopping and the ScrOG method to produce huge harvests of top-shelf colas. Alternatively topped plants are often trained in a 4-way LST. Again, this can also be combined with the ScrOG method for equally impressive harvests.

The secondary benefit of topping is it facilitates an even canopy. Topped plants fill out lateral grow space. Instead of racing up vertically they focus on lateral growth and new colas. Topping will not completely curb the vertical growth entirely. Especially not mostly sativa stretchy strains. Rather topping slows vertical growth down allowing side branches to catch up while two new top colas are emerging.


Topping marijuana creates an open wound. If conditions in the grow-op are less than perfect or pests/pathogens are present there could be trouble in the forest. Any kind of stress is bad for cannabis plants. Topping can be an open invitation for fungi and other microbial nasties.

Overall the benefits of topping marijuana far outweigh the potential pitfalls. Topping cannabis plants in a perfectly dialled-in grow-op shouldn’t present any problems. It is oft espoused that certain unnamed cannabis strains respond poorly to topping.

We have yet to encounter the weed that didn’t produce more buds when topped. Give topping a try whatever cannabis strain you happen to be cropping. Do the math. More shoots equals more flowers.

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