Growers are always looking for different ways to get the most out of their crops. Topping, super cropping, and mainlining are common. However, some people attempt a technique called defoliation. Others may hesitate to try it, but you can get massive yields if successful.
The entire process is short and simple. If you want to improve the quality of your buds, here are some helpful tips that can teach you everything you need to know.
What Is Defoliation (autoflower) Cannabis?
In a nutshell, defoliation is when you remove excess foliage from your plants. The extra amount of vegetation may not be too much of a problem when you are outside. However, indoor growers may feel the need to remove the unnecessary foliage to maximize the growing space.
The process involves plucking away some leaves from the branches during different stages of the life cycle. Meanwhile, the bud sites remain intact. Several growers question the use of defoliation. After all, the leaves help store nutrients for the plant. The storage is beneficial in case of droughts or pest infestations.
When growing cannabis indoors, the controlled environment does not require the leaves to store plenty of nutrients. As a result, the excess foliage is more bothersome than helpful. Still, defoliation is not meant for every type of setup.
It is necessary to only defoliate in specific situations. People consider it a high-risk technique, and you can end up harming the plant if you do it wrong. For example, some growers make the mistake of removing too much foliage, and they reduce the yield size.
Quick jump to: How to Apply Cannabis Defoliation (on Autoflowers)
Advantages of Cannabis Defoliation on Yield
While many growers have concerns over defoliation, there are multiple benefits of the method. With careful hands, you can improve the chances of higher yields. Defoliation can accomplish this by redirecting the plant’s energy.
Marijuana plants do not have infinite amounts of energy. They can only get what is available to them from the light and soil. The plants should make better use of their resources, and what better way than by removing some leaves?
The excess foliage does not support the development of the buds. Pruning the leaves can do wonders for harvest. Not to mention, you can improve air circulation.
Mold and pests can still find their way to indoor plants. These nuisances love warm, humid conditions, and they can harm your plants. As a result, the yield size can get reduced. By increasing airflow in between the branches, there is less humidity.
The risk of mold and insects lowers, and the number of healthy buds at the end goes up. You can wind up with some quality weed.
Can You Apply Defoliation on Autoflowers?
Not all plants should receive defoliation. For instance, sick or slow-growing plants would not do well from the stress of the process. It is critical to have healthy and strong marijuana. When it comes to strains, the main question on any grower’s mind is the ability to defoliate autoflowers.
Photoperiod strains like feminized seeds are definitely suited for defoliation. They can recover and grow back in time. However, autoflower plants do not give you enough time to do various training techniques.
Still, you may be surprised to learn that you can safely perform defoliation. It is critical to be careful since the process can be risky on this type of strain. As long as you defoliate at the right time, your yields should be safe.
The stress may slow down growth for a bit, but the plant can remain healthy with a gentle touch. The buds can still flower and be more potent than ever.
When Do You Start the Defoliation of Weed Plants?
The best time to defoliate weed is when it has at least three nodes. Usually, the plant grows strong enough for the method during the vegetative phase. Most people use defoliation sometime before they switch to the flowering stage.
(Heavy) defoliation during flowering
You also can use the method during the flowering stage. Around three weeks into the period is good enough. However, the earlier you begin, the better. Avoid taking away too many leaves by the end of the flowering phase.
Some people may think defoliation is counterproductive while the cannabis flowers. However, the buds benefit from exposure to light and air. So, if you need to perform the process again, you can safely do so.
When applying defoliation to autoflowers, stick to the flowering stage if you are new to the process. The vegetative period may present a few more challenges compared to the flowering stage. After some experience, you could carefully use defoliation earlier.
Alternatively, you can remove a small portion of leaves from the plant during this time.
What Do You Need for Defoliating Marijuana Plants?
Before you start defoliating cannabis, you should gather a few things. You do not need much in terms of equipment, and most of them are readily available to buy. The primary tool is a nice pair of scissors. Many people use curved trimming scissors for the best results, but a few growers opt for razor blades.
While you can use your hands to pluck or pinch the leaves, a sharp blade can give you better precision. Not to mention, a smooth cut can help the plant recover from the stress sooner.
Of course, the razor or scissors should be kept clean to prevent the risk of disease. Ethanol-based rubbing alcohol is great for keeping your tools sterilized.
Another item on the list is the plant. The seeds you use should be well-suited for defoliation. A durable, bushy indica strain is your best bet. Of course, your hands should be clean as well. A few people might buy a pair of gloves for when they defoliate cannabis. Gloves can prevent your skin from becoming sticky.
Lastly, it does not hurt to keep some duct tape around. If you accidentally break or cut the stems, the tap can repair any damage.
The steps to defoliating autoflowers are pretty much the same as the ones for any other strain of marijuana. The process is not complex and only has a few things you need to do for a successful session. In fact, you might find yourself finishing before you know it.
Keep in mind that you should not defoliate autoflowers too much. Experienced growers recommend doing it once during the vegetative phase and once while the plants are flowering. You would do the same actions for each time.
To get the most out of defoliation, here is what you should do:
During defoliation, you will be removing different types of leaves. The first group consists of the big fan leaves on the stems. They are almost as big as a person’s hand with multiple tips, so they stand out from the rest. If the plant does not look too leafy, then avoid cutting any fan leaves off.
The reason why you want to cut the large fan leaves off is that they prevent light from reaching the rest of the plant. The upper and outermost ones already have enough light, so you do not need to get rid of them. It is the middle and bottom areas of the marijuana plant that should have fewer leaves crowding each other.
If you are new to the process, cut off a small percentage of the plant’s fan leaves to be safe. At least two full ones should remain. You can place the discarded foliage in a tray or a nearby trash can.
The next thing you should do is remove some of the leaves that grow inside toward the plant. They tend to overshadow the buds, which can prevent the buds from getting enough energy. Look for the ones that rest on top of the flower sites and other necessary leaves.
The optimal amount to snip away is anywhere between 10-15%. However, you should avoid cutting off no more than 20% of the foliage. You do not want to defoliate your weed too much and stunt its growth accidentally.
Not to mention, you could cause a nutrient lockout. Far fewer leaves on the plant mean the transpiration gets interrupted. As a result, nutrients can build up in the roots. Make sure to leave the growing tips undisturbed as well.
If you keep plenty of the leaves, you could use them to make other marijuana products. Some growers tend to turn them into CBD tea or cannabis oil.
Another thing you need to get rid of is any leaves that look old and yellow. You would want to remove the exhausted leaves to free up energy that the plant spends to keep them alive. Not to mention, more important areas get better light and air circulation.
Start at the bottom of your cannabis plants and work your way up to around the third node. Again, cut off a few leaves to avoid harming your plant. The cannabis will not get stressed out too much and become weak. However, there will be enough stress for the trichomes to be rich in terpenes.
Your weed will begin to have a better structure as you remove the old leaves and other unnecessary ones. If you decide to defoliate while the plants start to flower, focus on the leaves that might interfere with the buds.
Tips for the Best Cannabis Defoliation results
Use the tips below for the best results when applying cannabis defoliation.
As mentioned before, the early moments of the flowering stage are the best time. However, you should not defoliate autoflower weed a few weeks before harvest. In the last stretch of the flowering period, your plants naturally shed some of their leaves.
If someone were to apply defoliation so late, then the plant would have less support than it needs. After all, it still needs some energy to bloom potent buds.
Additionally, you should stop the defoliation if you notice the autoflower displays signs of being overly stressed.
Many growers make the mistake of going too fast. They might cut off too many leaves, or they could snap the branches. It is important to have some patience and work slowly. It can be easy to develop a rhythm and get lost in the process.
Keep your focus on the task at hand, and remember to remove around 15% of the plant’s foliage. You can estimate the amount before you start.
You might be wondering if you can apply other training techniques to maximize yield size. Some high-stress methods should not be used on autoflowers. However, the good news is that you can combine defoliation with something like low-stress training.
The branches are bent down to control the height of the plant. It is necessary to keep pruning and topping to a minimum since you are already removing some leaves.
Try Defoliation of Cannabis (Autoflowers) Yourself
Defoliation is not something that is meant for everyone. Some growers shy away from it, and it is good to have some experience before trying the method out. If defoliating weed is something you are interested in, select some seeds that will respond well. What you want are bushy plants, and indica strains can grow enough leaves.
While autoflowers typically do not grow to be that big, the Northern Light x Big Bud strain is something worth considering. It combines the genes of two behemoths, and you can get generous harvests from it.
Another seed that could respond well to defoliation is the Santa Maria. This type of plant is easy to grow, and it can produce multiple strong side branches. You can still get quality buds despite the plant’s short height.
Alternatively, you can try the CBD Purple Kush strain. This cannabis contains 70% indica genetics, so you know it will become a bushy plant. It can be stable, which is great for defoliation. If you want to learn about other quality seeds, contact us as soon as possible.