The short answer is ‘yes’; autoflowers can benefit from topping, a process that involves putting the tips of young plants to improve their structure and shape. Read this article for more information about why topping autoflowers is useful and the best techniques for training autoflowering strains of weed.
When growing photoperiod strains, you can top your cannabis plants numerous time during the vegetative stage as this can last significantly longer than autos. Since autoflowering strains are not photoperiod dependent, there is only a window of a few weeks in which to work with autoflowers.
What does topping involve?
The term topping’ just means removing the main shoot from the crown, leaving two side shoots at the top of the plant. The crown growth leads to apical dominance and the growth hormone Auxin is not needed any more, so the cannabis plants are free to develop into a more bushy shape.
When a cannabis plant is initially topped, the growth structure dramatically alters, as the side branches try to catch up with the remaining top shoots. It is important to be aware that the vertical height is drastically reduced, which puts many growers off attempting it with autoflower which are often on the small side compared to leggy Sativas. However, this effect makes it easier for growers without a great amount of space.
Related article: Topping weed plants, a guide for beginners
Our tips for topping autoflowers:
- Topping should only be carried out during the growth or vegetative phase; do not attempt it once buds have formed.
- It would be best if you allowed as much time as possible for the weed plants to recover.
- It can be done several times if you want to develop a lovely bushy canopy.
- Choose an auto with a reputation for growing quickly.
- Topping is a straightforward technique that can be carried out with a pair of scissors or merely using your finger and thumb to pinch out the leaves at the stem.
- Topping promotes the growth of two main shoots that replace the shoot that has been topped or cut.
- Try not to top too much – less is more when it comes to autoflowers!
- Choose an autoflower with strong Sativa-dominant genetics.
- Only ever attempt topping on plants which are healthy and have not been over or underwatered.
The pros and cons of topping autoflowers
There are pros and cons of topping autoflowers. Some strains respond better to the technique than others so it may be worth reading reviews or grow diaries of other cultivators before deciding whether to proceed or not. Depending on the variety you grow, you will observe the difference between a stunted and compact plant with low yields or a vigorous bushy plant that exceeds all your requirements when it comes to height.
Done correctly, topping autoflowers can result in a sea of fat, healthy buds; the goal of all growers.
There is a brief three-week period during which autoflowers can be bent and encouraged into the shape you desire before their natural urge to flower dominates.
This period is the best time to top your autoflowering plants. If you attempt to top your plants after 21 days, you risk harming your plants, and the effects will almost certainly be counterproductive to those intended. The best autoflowers to use are hybrids or those with Sativa-dominant genetics, as they usually achieve a height of over one metre if left untrained. Sativa dominant varieties, such as Green Gelato and Amnesia Haze auto are ideal for topping as they have a naturally broad structure and are tall.
Alternative training techniques to use with autoflowers
If you would prefer not to take the risk topping your autoflowers, especially if you aren’t sure of its effect on your chosen variety, you may be better advised to use alternative methods such as Low-Stress Training (LST).
- LST is a gentle, non-invasive way of opening out your canopy and significantly increasing the exposure of light to the lower branches of the plants. You can enjoy an impressively lush crop of plants with a vaguely lollipop look that causes virtually no harm to the plants.
- LST does not take a great deal of skill to perform and is ideal to use on all types of cannabis plants as a way of increasing yield and the amount of buds on each plant. When done with gentle pruning, LST is an effective way of manipulating height and shape without topping or the need to prevent apical dominance by pinching out.
- It is also inexpensive as you can use a piece of wire or gardener’s twine.
Final words on topping autoflowers
If you know the preferences of your chosen strain crop and have a good understanding of the advantages of topping autoflowers, you shouldn’t run into any issues. It’s imperative to know your strain, and the possible length of vegetation in order to confidently top them while still pretty much their seedling stage as the fourth node clears enough space to do the deed.
However, a beginner grower interested in getting the highest possible yields should go easy with topping, as they run the risk of negatively impacting the growth of the plants or, even worse, causing unintentional stress and harm at crucial points in the growth cycle. Our advice is to spend some time researching the preferences of the crop and work out in advance the optimal pruning or training techniques that are advantageous or the reverse. LST is really a better overall option for novice growers, whether growing auto flowers or any other type of cannabis. Just take care not to snap the stems when you bend them, or you could end up killing the plant!
Ready to grow?
Good genetics is also an essential factor when it comes to the advisability of topping autoflower – they allow for remarkable resilience and stability. And allow plenty of time to recover before attempting anything else! One final tip – always buy high-quality seeds from reputable suppliers such as Weedseedsexpress
Check it out! Autoflowers cannabis seeds