Topping is a pruning technique commonly used during the vegetative stages of cannabis growth to promote more balanced energy distribution and maximize bud development. By cutting the tallest points of growth, topping effectively reduces apical dominance, encouraging the plant to invest energy into lateral bud sites. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits and considerations of topping and provide recommendations for its implementation.
Understanding Apical Dominance and Its Impact on Growth
Apical dominance describes a plant’s natural tendency to channel its energy towards the tallest shoot, hindering branching and leading to limited bud quality and size on lower branches. By employing topping, growers can disrupt this dominance and redirect energy to multiple bud sites, resulting in a more even and productive canopy.
Determining the Ideal Time for Topping
The timing of topping cannabis is influenced by various factors such as crop height and planting season. For simplified labor steps, some growers prefer to perform topping as a single task, disregarding genetic variations. Generally, we recommend topping plants when they reach a height between knee and shoulder level, which for us occurs in early to mid-July. However, this may vary depending on planting dates and individual cultivation practices.
Factors to Consider When Performing Topping
The amount of the plant to be cut during topping depends on factors like plant vigor, time of year, and desired canopy height. The range can vary from as little as ½” to several feet of growth. In our experience, we typically remove ½” to 18″ of plant material, with a preferred range of 4″ to 12″ based on recent years. However, it is essential to assess each plant’s characteristics and make informed decisions accordingly.
Topping and Autoflower Crops
Auto-flower cannabis cultivars have shorter vegetative cycles, and their limited height (2-4′) often does not necessitate topping. As a result, the effort involved is often not justified. While there may be rare instances where topping auto flowers could be considered, such cases are relatively uncommon.
Topping is a valuable pruning technique that allows growers to enhance cannabis growth by overcoming apical dominance. By strategically removing the tallest points of growth, energy distribution is improved, leading to a more even canopy and improved bud quality. However, it is crucial to consider factors like timing, individual plant characteristics, and the specific needs of different cannabis cultivars. As with any cultivation practice, understanding the unique requirements of your cannabis plants will help you make informed decisions when implementing topping techniques.