Topping Technique


Andrija Ilic Avatar

Author:

Last Update:

05/01/24

Publish Date:

31/12/23


Topping technique is a transformative practice in cannabis cultivation, reshaping the way plants grow and boosting their potential.

This method, which involves cutting off the top of the main stem, is a strategic move to create more colas (branches), thereby enhancing the plant’s exposure to light and maximizing yield.

It’s a technique that turns an ordinary plant into a high-yielding powerhouse.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Topping Technique Enhances Cannabis Growth: Topping involves cutting the main stem to create more branches, promoting bushier growth and increasing yield by maximizing light exposure.
  2. Pros of Topping: Topping spreads the plant, breaks apical dominance, and is suitable for small spaces, resulting in higher yields.
  3. Cons of Topping: Topping can lead to stunted growth, susceptibility to disease, and plant stress if not done correctly.
  4. Step-by-Step Topping Guide: Topping requires precise timing, proper preparation, a 45-degree angled cut, and post-topping care for successful results.
  5. Secondary Topping and Long-Term Training: Secondary topping and training techniques can further boost yield and optimize plant growth.
  6. Common Mistakes to Avoid: Over-topping, early topping, improper technique, and neglecting post-topping care should be avoided.
  7. Preventive Measures: Minimize stress, ensure recovery, and watch for disease and pests to prevent issues after topping.
  8. Topping Benefits: Topping is a powerful technique for maximizing yield and plant structure, especially in limited spaces.

What is the Topping Technique?

Topping is a vital part of a grower’s toolkit, designed to spread the plant out and create a flatter, wider shape.

By increasing the total number of bud sites, it enhances the potential yield of the cannabis plant.

This growing technique is not just about cutting; it’s about strategically shaping the plant’s growth to harness its full potential.

  • Promotes Fuller, Bushier Growth: Topping stops vertical growth and encourages lateral growth, resulting in a bushier plant.
  • Breaks Apical Dominance: By redistributing auxins and hormones, topping allows side branches to flourish, creating multiple bud sites.
  • Ideal for Small Grow Spaces: Topping can control the height of the plant, making it a perfect technique for indoor setups with height limitations.
  • Increases Yield: More colas mean more bud sites, which can significantly increase the yield of your cannabis plant.
  • Risk of Stunted Growth: If not done correctly, topping can lead to stunted plant growth.
  • Susceptibility to Disease and Pests: The open wound can be a gateway for disease and pests if not managed properly.
  • Stress to the Plant: Topping is a high-stress technique that requires careful post-topping management to ensure the plant recovers well.

How To Apply Topping Method: A Step by Step Guide

Topping process requires a blend of skill and patience, transforming a simple cut into a strategic move for enhancing your plant’s yield and structure.

Let’s delve into the step-by-step guide designed for both novice and experienced growers.

Identifying the Right Time for Topping

The journey of topping begins with timing.

It’s essential to choose the right moment in your plant’s life cycle.

This typically falls into the late vegetative stage, ideally when your cannabis plant has developed between 4 to 7 nodes, which are the points on the stem where leaves and branches emerge.

The plant should be at least 30 days old, robust and healthy, to withstand the stress of topping.

Early topping, while the plant is young, allows for more time to arrange and develop the new colas.

Preparing for the Process

Before making that decisive cut, prepare your workspace and tools.

Sterilize your scissors or clippers to prevent introducing pathogens to the fresh cut.

Sharp, clean cutting tools are crucial to ensure a clean cut that the plant can recover from more easily.

Some growers also opt to use a pruning sealer on outdoor plants to protect the open wound from potential infections and pests.

Performing the Topping

Locate the topmost node on your cannabis plant – this is where you’ll make your cut.

Carefully cut directly above the leaves of the next node down, leaving about 2-3 cm above the node.

This ensures that there are enough leaves left to sustain the plant while it recovers.

The cut should be made at a 45-degree angle, which helps the plant heal more efficiently and reduces the risk of water damage, which can lead to rot.

Post-Topping Care

After topping, the plant will need a period of recovery.

This is a crucial time when the grower must monitor the plant closely.

The stress of topping can temporarily slow down growth as the plant redirects its energy to develop new colas.

Ensure that the plant has all it needs: adequate water, light, and nutrients, to support its recovery and new growth.

This phase is about maintaining a stable environment that nurtures the plant’s resurgence.

Secondary Topping

For those seeking even more control and yield, secondary toppings can be considered.

This involves repeating the topping process on the two new branches that develop after the initial topping.

Secondary topping further multiplies the number of colas and can lead to an even bushier, more productive plant.

However, it’s vital to allow the plant to fully recover from the first topping before proceeding with a second round.

Long-Term Training and Maintenance

After topping, growers may integrate other training techniques like Low-Stress Training (LST) or the Screen of Green (SCRoG) method to further shape and optimize plant growth.

Regular monitoring and adjustments in the following weeks are crucial to guide the plant’s shape and ensure even light distribution to all the new growth points.

This holistic approach to plant training can significantly boost the overall health, structure, and yield of your cannabis plants.

What to Avoid Doing

  • Avoid Over-Topping: Topping too many times can stress the plant excessively.
  • Early Topping: Topping too early in the plant’s life can stunt its growth.
  • Improper Technique: Incorrect cutting can damage the plant beyond recovery.
  • Neglecting Post-Topping Care: Failing to provide adequate care post-topping can lead to poor recovery and reduced yields.

How to Prevent

  • Minimize Stress on the Plant: Ensure the plant is healthy and well-established before topping.
  • Proper Recovery: Give the plant time to recover, usually a few days to a week, before transitioning to the flowering stage.
  • Disease and Pest Prevention: Keep a close eye on the plant for signs of disease or pest infestation following the topping.

Conclusion

Topping is a powerful technique in the cannabis cultivator’s arsenal, offering significant benefits in terms of yield and plant structure.

While it comes with its set of challenges, the rewards of mastering this technique are plentiful.

Growers looking to maximize their plant’s potential will find topping an invaluable method to boost their harvest, especially in limited spaces.

With the right approach and care, topping can transform your cannabis plants into high-yielding, robust producers.

FAQ

Topping cannabis should ideally be done when the plant has developed between 4 to 7 nodes, which typically occurs around 30 days into the plant’s life cycle. It is recommended to perform topping during the late vegetative stage.

Yes, topping is considered a high-stress training technique for cannabis plants. It involves cutting the top of the main stem, which can be stressful for the plant and requires a period of recovery.

The main difference between topping and super cropping is in their methods and stress levels. Topping involves cutting off the top of the main stem to create more branches, while super cropping is a more advanced technique that involves gently bending and slightly damaging the branches without breaking them. Topping is a high-stress method that removes part of the plant, whereas super cropping is a high-stress method that manipulates the plant’s existing structure.

The tops of cannabis refer to the uppermost part of the plant where the main stem or cola is located. This area typically receives the most light and develops the largest and most potent buds.

Yes, topping can increase yield. By cutting the top of the main stem, the plant develops multiple new branches or colas, leading to more bud sites and potentially a larger overall yield.

Topping a sativa can be beneficial as it promotes bushier growth and prevents excessive height, which is common in sativa strains. However, it should be done with care, considering the particular growth patterns and stress tolerance of the sativa plant.

Pralla author bio

Review by Nenad Nikolic aka Pralla, a veteran cannabis activist and cultivator, deeply versed in strain genetics and therapeutic applications. Despite legal setbacks, he fervently advocates for legalization, aiming to reshape public discourse and ensure safe, informed use through his platform Pralla.net.