Many cannabis growers engage in the practice of topping their plants in order to maximize their yields. So, you may be asking if the same can be done with autoflowers and whether it will have the same benefits overall. Here is a guide to topping autoflowers and improving your yield.
> Quick jump to: How to top autoflowers
Can you top Autoflowers?
You can top autoflowers but make sure you do so before they start developing buds. Your plant should also have about three or four nodes before you consider topping them. Be careful: if you top a plant that is flowering or slow growing, you may end up stunting the plant’s growth.
Should you top Autoflowers?
Topping your plants will always cause them a certain amount of stress, and there is always a risk of stunting, which can lead to lower yields. The benefits of topping autoflowers are that it can lead to multiple colas and higher yields, better control over the growth of the plant, and a wider and flatter canopy which is great for growers working in small spaces. However, there is the risk of stunting and lower yields, especially for inexperienced growers.
When to top Autoflowers?
The best time to top autoflowers is in the third week, or as soon as they’ve developed 3 or 4 nodes.
If you are new to growing cannabis, then we recommend that you gain some experience before you try topping your plants. Once you have successfully completed a couple of auto harvests, you can try topping plants that are robust and healthy.
When it comes to topping cannabis plants, you need to consider when the best time is to begin the topping process.
If you top it too soon, you could stunt or slow down its growth. Top it too late, and you may ruin your chance for a good yield.
Autoflowers in particular are trickier to top compared to the photoperiod cannabis plant. This is because autoflowers have been created with a shorter life cycle in mind. Topping causes a certain amount of stress in the plants, and autoflowers have less time to fully recover.
The best way to find out if an autoflower is ready for topping is to check how many nodes it has. If the autoflower plant has at least three or four nodes, then it will be ready for the topping process.
Make sure the plant itself is healthy: if it shows signs of disease, is over or under-watered, or looks in any way like it’s struggling to stay alive, then adding the stress of topping will set you right back.
In addition, do not start topping if buds have started to appear or if the plant is flowering. You will be able to tell if the flowering process has begun if there are small white hairs growing at the joints. At this point, it will be too late to begin the topping process.
Autoflowers tend to have a life cycle of around ten or eleven weeks. In most cases, the best time to start the topping process is around the third week. This will allow you to start just before flowering begins. That said, keep an eye on your plants to see when they develop nodes, as some autoflowers may be quicker or take longer to develop.
Topping is a high stress training method that involves cutting off the top of the main stem of your plant. The main stem, or cola, tends to absorb most of the sunlight which is focused towards growing the plant. Therefore, the idea behind topping is that it exposes more of the plant to light, causing an increase in growth in the lower branches. This in turn leads to multiple colas rather than just one, each one producing their own yields.
If done correctly, each cola will produce the equivalent that one untouched autoflowering plant would produce, multiplying your overall yield. A good place to top your plant is directly above the leaves of the next node down on the stem.
Another technique similar to topping is called fimming. Fimming involves leaving the main stem largely intact and only cutting off the top leaves.
The origins of this technique are rumored to come from a clumsy grower who, while trying to top his plant, ended up cutting only the top leaves. Seeing their mistake, they exclaimed, “F**k! I Missed!”, hence the term FIM.
Yet as the grower discovered, rather than ruining the yield, the plant ended up producing even more colas and a higher yield than originally anticipated. Fimming is much less stressful than topping, and if done correctly is less risky when it comes to autoflowers. Nonetheless, we recommend that you only try these techniques when you have gained some experience at growing autoflowers.
In addition to topping and fimming your autoflowers, controlling the shape of your plant, so you can direct sunlight to the shoots underneath, will further promote growth.
Low Stress Training (LST) works well with topping to create higher yields. Once you have topped the plant, bend the colas to the side as they grow. This will help the plant grow symmetrically so that light can penetrate the base of the plant. This ensures even the smallest buds will become large and heavy.
The trick is to distribute light evenly to the entire plant. You can use cable ties to bend the colas, but be careful not to snap the stem, as this could kill the plant.
As mentioned before, you should only top your flowers when the plant is in its vegetative state. Topping is highly stressful for the plant, and it will need enough time to recover before it can continue growing. Keep an eye on your autoflowering plant, and if the topping was successful, you should see new growth appear in two to three days.
One way to tell if the plant is diverting energy to making new colas is by checking the nodes. Each node should become enlarged at the base soon after topping, which shows that energy is being spread around the whole plant and building a stronger system for the delivery of nutrients. This will help in the development of new and bigger colas with increased yields.
Keep in mind that while photoperiod may be topped several times over their lifespan for even more colas, this is far riskier when it comes to autoflowering plants. Autoflowers have a much shorter time to grow and will not allow you much leeway for topping before the flowering period arrives. As such, we advise against topping your autoflower more than once.
Let’s Top autoflowers!
Now that you know how to top autoflowers, you can begin trying it out for yourself. We recommend trying the topping process on autoflower strains with a longer growth period and at least 70 days before flowering starts.
You can find these strains and autoflowering seeds at Weedseedsexpress.