The study of horticulture has shown us the method of topping or pruning the top cola of a developed plant – a process that is held crucial to its growth and health. In general, a cannabis plant grows to be skinny and tall where all its strength is focused on the cola or stalk that pushes itself upward for more sun. This phenomenon has been termed as apical dominance which determines the major characteristics of the plant. The science of topping trains the cannabis plant to grow horizontally which in turn enables the sunlight to reach the plant uniformly. It must be noted here that topping the cannabis plant will prevent it from having a stunted growth and fill the canopy faster than usual. Those who are planting cannabis for the first time might find it strange to cut off the most crucial part of the plant but this is the only way to produce more colas and big buds. LST or low-stress training might also come handy to direct the plant for a lateral growth but nothing beats old fashioned topping at the right time.
Planting cannabis and its life cycle
It is important to be aware of the plant’s life cycle once you decide on planting cannabis and growing it right. The cycle consists of three major stages; germination, seedling, and vegetative. Depending upon the kind of strain the germination takes not more than three days. The second stage or seedling generally takes two weeks. The third and final stage depends on the location it is planted, though it normally takes three to six weeks.
Significance of topping Cannabis plant
The apical dominance requires hormones which are the main content of the top shoot. One of the hormones called auxins playing an important part in the growth of the plant is produced in the shooting tip. This hormone is then carried all the way down through phloem to other parts of the tree. However, it must be noted that they don’t travel far down which explains why all the strength and potency of the plant is at its apex. So topping the main shoot end forces the hormone to spread equally in all the branches giving it a healthy growth.
When and How to commence topping
Wrong timing and equipment can have a negative effect on the plant. It might stop the plant from producing proper hormones for growth. Neither will the colas produce a sufficient amount of THC. So it is important to wait for the exact timing when the tree is ready to be pruned at the right place. Like every other tree, the cannabis tree has a vegetable cycle that lasts for four to five months. After planting cannabis make sure your plant is at its healthiest when you start pruning so that it has adequate energy to change its growth from vertical to lateral.
• Firstly it is essential to count the nodes of the plant as it tells us about its right vegetative cycle. A cannabis plant tends to grow nodes in pairs and the space between them is the junction called an internode. The Indica plant tends to grow with short nodes whereas the Sativa has longer internodes as they are taller than the former. It is a known fact that not all strains are good for topping, but generally, Sativas are the best for topping. So before topping one needs to make sure there are at least six to eight pairs of nodes.
• The second stage is to make sure that the plant is not in the stage of flowering or seeding. At this stage, they cannot offer much strength to bear the wound of topping its most nutritious stalk. So it’s crucial for you to manage or control the amount of light it is receiving.
• Choosing the right clean equipment is important. Select a pruning snip which is ideally nonsticky and has a friendly grip. The resinous stalks are going to be pretty sticky and thick, so a sharp snip should solve this problem with one clean cut. To be extra safe you can sterilize the tool in alcohol or boiling water to prevent any kind of infection to the plant.
• Finally, the topping is the easiest thing in the process where you have to cut the stem that rises from the plant’s main stalk above the newest node. Instantaneously you will notice how the remaining two colas are receiving light which in course will encourage them to grow stronger.
How topping effects the plant
• Immediately after topping the plant will be shown to produce more than one strong cola. Especially with indoor plants, access to light is no more a problem. Now all you have to do is nurture the plant with fertile soil and proper watering. These two ingredients are enough to produce sturdy colas. As the new stalks would start growing leaves they tend to grow diagonal instead of vertical. This leads to a more open surface for photosynthesis.
• The process of topping is a stressful experience, so it is natural for the plant to start recovering as soon as it is injured. For plants the word recovery stands for growth, it grows fast to compensate what it lost. This will lead to the emergence of multiple colas from the node which is just below the topping portion.
• The connection between the nodes and stem at the top tends to enlarge indicating the flow of the plant’s hormones and energy into the new colas. With time the growth will speed up making the other stalks thicker than before and yielding more numbers of healthy buds.
When you are planting cannabis plant it is obvious that you desire more potent buds than what you find at your weed store. The only way to achieve this effect is topping the plant at the right time. One can perform the topping more than once. It has been observed that a plant that went through topping four times created fifteen to sixteen new shoots. The only thing you need to do is select a plant in its perfect vegetative state and perform the topping in the right stage for the best result.