WHEN TO SAY WHEN WITH THE SHEARS
BY J. HAYS
Every cannabis grower seems to hold strong sentiment about pruning. Many believe their own innovations double or triple their expected yield or create more attractive produce in some other way.
Puritan growers hold firm to non-intervention philosophy. After all, cannabis is called weed for a reason, and when left to its own devices will succeed on adequate resources alone.
The advent of indoor cannabis cultivation relies on complete manipulation of every aspect of the plant’s environment.
Naturally, many distinctive methods for pruning and arranging growth have emerged out of this manipulation process from the top and trellis to the complete removal of all water leaf.
For a soil rooted indoor grow, by far the healthiest plants and maximum yield are most easily promoted by moderate pruning. If the following steps are taken with care, you’ll never be disappointed in the result.
The best time to prune cannabis is at the end of vegetation when one would naturally be taking clones. Pruning can be done sooner or later with good results, but it’s better to shock your plants fewest possible times. Quickest recovery results if you take clones, prune, stake, and reduce light hours all at once.
The best pruning tool is a new, clean, sharp utility blade. Use extreme care with this tool, as most industrial and workplace accidents result from straight blade or box knife mishandling. Once you’ve decided how not to open a vein with your tool, approach your well-hydrated little cannabis bush and look it over.
Notice how your strain grows, and realize that you will develop your own strategies over time by always paying attention to your strain’s specific needs and growth pattern. The first pruning will be a fairly general process whatever variety of cannabis you cultivate.
Since artificial light will only penetrate effectively where it touches, start from the base of the plant and remove each complete branch cleanly at the growth nodule connecting it to the main stem. Leave branches only at the top fourteen to eighteen inches of plant.
You will likely feel as though you have removed far too much mass. It should ease your mind to realize that all of the removed mass produces little to no bud, but requires proportionate resources to support it. You have just diverted all that support to bud-producing branches. Avoid removing large fan leaves except as are incidental to branch removal.
Those leaves are where most of the photosynthesis occurs (feeding your cannabis), and they are essential to the hydration of your plant. If you have ever sealed your finger over the tip of a drinking straw and lifted liquid, you understand the property of water that causes it to be drawn up through the roots and stems because of the evaporation from water leaves.
After you have removed all the lower branches, you may wish to strategically thin. At the base of each of the lower remaining branches, remove the first six or eight inches of sub-branches. These rest beneath the top buds and don’t receive enough light to be worth the mass they will become. Then you finish, you should have a roundish little bush atop a main stem with only forearms of foliage on lower branches.
At this point, I always provide my cannabis a bamboo stake to support all my optimism today and heavy bud-laden branches in the coming weeks. Pruning day, as mentioned earlier, is also the day I reduce light hours, initiating the onset of budding, so I have come to think of pruning as the dressing for my girls’ coming of age ceremony.
The simple pruning technique as described in no way undermines the innovations of professional growers and test gardeners. It is a simple, fool-proof technique for soil-grown cannabis of any strain.
That said, I strongly discourage frequent pruning, topping, breaking, and bending.
Although results may seem creative or somehow beneficial, you are deliberately damaging and stunting your cannabis plant’s potential.
By removing what is least productive, you give your plant good airflow, better light penetration and have reduced the likelihood they will become infected or infested and have improved their overall health.
By their next watering, you will see that your cannabis is already thriving, and on its way to abundant yield.
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