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How Topping Marijuana Plants Can Increase Your Yield | Growing Guide

How Topping Marijuana Plants Can Increase Your Yield | Growing Guide | The Seed Fair

One of the most common horticulture strategies available today is topping, and it involves taking off your plant’s top to allow for lateral growth. It is one of the most popular strategies used by cannabis growers, as it increases plant yield as well as the plant’s appearance.  Our guide will go over the benefits of how topping marijuana plants can increase your yield.

Cutting off parts of your cannabis plant is one thing the novice farmer finds difficult to do, as it often sounds less productive at first glance. This strategy is effective when applied accurately,  as it increases your plant’s colas and better the plant’s passage of light. The result of topping is the bushier plant you get, this of course comes with extra branches, abundant leaves, and a more robust bud.


Best time to top plants

Farmers can start topping plants immediately after the plants are big enough to overcome the damage they sustained during the pruning stage. It is best to top your plants as soon as possible, this will reduce negative effects on your plant growth. Most marijuana plants are ready for topping once it is up to 10-inch tall.

You should ensure your plant is big enough to stand topping, the height should not be the only thing of consideration here. Investigate your plant’s internodes, and ensure it has 4-5 internodes, with signs of secondary development near the lowest nodes. When your seedlings are topped just too young, you will often experience a decline in the plant’s growth.

Waiting for the plants to produce some sets of leaves before the topping is great. Also when you are growing in a pot, ensure your plants have begun to develop roots through their drain holes before topping.

Cloned plants are an exception to the rules here, once they have taken root and show signs of growth, clone plants are ready to be topped. Farmers can trim the plants to encourage the formation of new stems. When you top low, your plants will develop about 4 new shoots, if done close to the top, you will have the plant divided into two shoots.

Young plants are the best to top, if you wait to top your plants at the late vegetative phase, you will end up with a poorly grown plant with an average yield. Also, if you top at the flowering phase, you will decrease the yield output of your plant. The reason is that during flowering the plant spends its energy on the development of the bud, and diverting this energy won’t do you any good.


Knowing the plants to top

The act of topping and pruning your plants should be earmarked for the strong plants alone. If your plant has issues with light and nutrients, as well as showing a leggy stem, it is a sign that the plant is not ready for pruning. This is because the plant is not healthy enough!

Also, you will not get the same response to topping from all of your marijuana strains. For instance, topping short and slow developing Indica plants can increase their yield at around 5-ounce a plant. On the other hand, fast-growing Sativa strains produce great results with topping.

Before attempting this advanced strategy, growers should have a concrete idea of their skill sets. If you haven’t pruned a plant before, starting with a trial run is a good start. Begin by topping one or a few plants, instead of getting all your plants topped if you are just starting. This way you can easily evaluate your topping skills, without putting your entire plants at risk, you can also easily evaluate your progress on this part.


How to top your plants

Once you have sorted out the readiness of your plants for topping, the process of pruning is easy. Sterilize your scissors, knife, and blade depending on your choice and cut the stem above your newest node, which you can find on the plant’s main cola. This way you will allow light to reach your new main colas and allow them to grow.

After a few weeks, the cut colas will grow into a dominant and V-shape plant, once they can produce at least 4 colas, you can top them again. With the process of manifolding also known as mainlining, farmers top their plants three times in a row. However, if you are topping for the first time, sticking to one cut is a good bet.

Usually, it takes time for the plants to recover after every topping, you will see your growth slow down for a while. However, within 2-3 weeks, the new colas of your plants will be healthy and show signs of healthy growth. An important area of concern during this period should be disease, keep an eye on them as your plants are at an increased risk of diseases during pruning.


Advantages of topping

Topping is one of the numerous ways you can increase your plant yield, and it is an easy process to master. It works for indoor and outdoor cultivating and is best used in indoor grow rooms, with the guarantee of space and distance from lights.

Topping a plant is more than allowing lights to plummet the developing colas, and stimulating them to develop. Another advantage of topped plants v none topped plants, Is the ability of the plants to absorb light throughout the vegetative phase. When the new colas cultivate leaves they tend to spread out through a diagonal shape, in place of growing upward. Allowing more area for photosynthesis.

For home growers with greater restrictions on the number of plants to grow indoor or outdoor, topping will allow you to grow more cannabis. This doesn’t suggest that large-scale commercial farmers should not top their plants, it guarantees more yields and quality buds for your plants, even for commercial farmers. This is another advantage of topped plants v non-topped plants.

When your cannabis strains are made to grow without pruning and training, you get one vast stem with a robust bud and minor stems to go with. While the minor stems produce flowers, they are often small and lush, which will reduce the market value.


Dangers of topping

While topping is easy to do and quite straightforward, it comes with its antecedent risk and this is why the farmer should equip himself with basic pruning skills.

The most common danger that is linked with topping your cannabis plant is a disease and its spread. For this, growers should sterilize instruments, and wash hands before getting started on the job. While adequate sanitation here, doesn’t take away the risk entirely,  it, however, reduces the margin.

If done properly, topping can reduce the plant’s risk of serious disease in its later stage of growth. Another advantage here is that topped plants develop multiple buds instead of a giant bud as seen with non topped plants. The advantage here is that the likelihood of your plants developing bud rot and climate-induced infection is reduced, this advantage adds up for outdoor growers, who are more exposed to diseases.

Another danger of topping your plants is that the new colas may add too much weight to your plants, which can split your plant stem. Topping the stem just beneath the tallest nodes will allow you to avoid this problem. If you, however, choose to top your plants further times, tying your branches will give them the needed support.


How to tell your topping is paying off

The leaf nodes are the first place to look out for signs of your progress with your topping, you will have the signs here.

On completing your topping, you will see obvious signs that the connections between your stem and your top nodes have enlarged. This shows that the plant is dedicating much of its energy to the new colas, and over time it will deliver the building blocks to this new bud. The reality is that growth will fasten up, and the colas will be thicker, resulting in a vast bud.


Fimming vs. Topping

It is easy to find experienced growers’ mistake topping and fimming as the same. These are two different pruning strategies, even though they share similarities. While most farmers will prefer topping as the best method for increased yields, topped plants often have a more durable branch pattern, than plants drilled using fimming.

While fimming involves taking off the new growth from your plant’s top, topping involves removing the top of your plant which is between the nodes. For fimming, you cut above and not below.

Fimming unlike topping is not a hard concept to understand, and it doesn’t guarantee the best results either. Similarly, fimming is not productive at curtailing the height of marijuana plants, and it is not as stressful as a topping.  High-stress techniques, on the other hand, are effective at boosting yields and this is what experienced farmers know.


Common mistakes

The listed dangers above are in no way intended to put you off if you are a novice cannabis farmer who is starting, same with the common mistakes below. Instead of being anxious about this easy-to-do process, learning from the mistakes of others will ensure you succeed on your first shot.


Topping your plants too early

Topping your plants before they have developed about 3-4 nodes is not a wise thing to do, it will retard the plant growth and can leave your plant stunted. Also, this can reduce the number of colas your plant produces. It is safe to err on the side of caution, so wait until your plants have produced enough nodes.


Topping your plants too low

Cutting too much off your plant top is never a good place to start, topping down to your third set of nodes is a typical technique used for generating short manifolds, it also places the plant under extra stress than when you top to the 4th or 5th node. Similarly, the more plants a grower takes off, the extra stress your plant undergoes. If you want to give manifolding a shot, ensure your plants have a minimum of six nodes. If you want to top instead, cut the plant at a higher gauge.


Harming growth tips

Farmers should ensure they don’t destroy the tips of their plants when they are topping them. Leave a little more stem just above the nodes, to stay on the safe side. This will ensure your nodes are not destroyed, and this will guide the shaft from splitting just when your new stems are to thicken.


Inappropriate support

When the stalk of your plant looks likely to break, you will require reinforcements for the plants. There are good and bad ways of going about it, the use of string and thin wire to support your plants is out of place. This is because, over time, your stem will grow, when this happens, the string and wire will cut into your plant’s layers. Another downside is that this will give a chance for diseases and vectors to find their way in. Use plant ties and thick twine, in place of wire and string.


Topping unhealthy plants

Healthy plants are the best plants to be topped, topping a slow and sick plant will decrease your plant growth and hamper its recovery. Instead of concentrating on topping and pruning your plants, the focus should be on giving your plants adequate lighting and nutrients. The nutrients will define a good and bad yield.



Topping marijuana plants is a fantastic way to enhance your plant yield, reduce the height and have your plants stay in an easier environment to work with, especially in indoor cultivation. While there are associated risks with pruning techniques, knowing the right plants to prune and when to prune will make all the difference. If you are nervous about crop loss, start slowly and top some little crops until you perfect your art.  Hopefully, this article was able to show you that topping marijuana plants can increase your yield.

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