Topping is a gardening technique wherein you cut off the top part of a plant to stop its upward growth for the reason of promoting lateral growth in its lower branches. Although it might be quite strange to cut off and toss a part of the plant, it is a necessary and important process in order to keep your plants healthy and to produce top-quality yields.
In this article, we will discuss topping as a technique, including a similar plant training technique called “fimming.” These methods are deemed to be useful and at the same time very easy to perform and will surely help you produce a bounty of yield.
Importance of Topping Cannabis
Topping is an essential and crucial process in terms of growing healthy and strong marijuana plants. It should be done during the vegetative phase of your cannabis to aid in the redistribution of growth hormone s from the main stalk to the newly developed stalks and offshoots in the lower areas of the plant. Topping is a high-stress training method wherein the main purpose is to produce larger canopies and greater yields.
When left without interference, a cannabis plant will grow humongous and tall resembling a Christmas tree. The cannabis’ plant structure is composed of one main stem or cola, and this part takes apical dominance and absorbs the majority of the light and nutrients. Hence, the importance of topping.
If properly topped, the marijuana can avoid the horizontal apical dominance and detour into a bushy growth pattern with an even canopy. This in effect allows a more equal distribution of light to reach multiple colas, thus, producing larger yields. Furthermore, it would be of great advantage for growers who do not have enough room for height in their growing space as topping the cannabis prevents them from growing tall and skinny, but rather keeps them short and bushy.
If you ever find confusion between topping and pruning, just remember that topping cuts off the apical node which then encourages the growth of the farther lower lateral branches. Whilst pruning removes the lower branches to allow energy to be concentrated at the apex of the plant.
What are Auxins?
Auxins are hormones that are responsible for apical dominance in marijuana plants. Auxins can be found at the top of the plant, usually in the main cola, and controls how the plant grows. When the plant has already been topped, it allows redistribution of the auxins to the lateral branches which results in the change in apical dominance. Auxins open the gates for lateral branches to grow horizontally and have a larger canopy. Instead of growing into a Christmas tree shape, it transforms into a rather bushy shape. This happening is brought about by the auxins redistribution throughout the plant.
What is Fimming?
Fimming is a high-stress training method for cultivating cannabis that is similar to topping. It involves removing three-quarters of the new apex instead of removing them completely. This technique allows the formation of more colas and a stronger main branch to form. Akin to topping, fimming causes the lower branches to receive more plant energy and nutrients. However, fimming differs from topping in the sense that it has the ability to create four to eight new branches while topping only can produce double the amount of the removed part.
How to top or FIM cannabis?
The process of topping or fimming usually takes place in the early stages of the vegetative growth cycle. Since both are high-stress training techniques, they have the tendency to shock the plant and if performed hastily might cause poor root development for the cannabis. Conversely, if topping is done later in the growth cycle, it is most likely to follow the vertical apical development.
Topping is best performed when four to six nodes are already evident. Plants should be topped at the fourth or fifth node, letting the lateral branches prosper in height at par of the main stem, thus creating a bushy plant. If you want a bushier plant and an increased yield, you can perform multiple toppings. But if topping is performed more than once, there must be an interval before the next topping, in order for the plant to recover.
It is also crucial to have sterilized equipment when doing this technique for the purpose of preventing contamination to the plant.
- Sterilize your tools. You will need a pair of pruning scissors or a razor blade when performing topping cannabis. A sharper tool will make your job easier, however, you must be mindful in disinfecting your tools to avoid contaminating your plant.
- Decide where to top. Topping and fimming only differ on the location of the cut. In topping, you kick off the newly grown main stem or branch, whereas fimming makes you remove only a third of the newly grown stem or branch. Topping only produces a double of the amount you removed while fimming provides you with four to eight new stalks.
- Keep a tab of the progress and results. Both techniques display a more equal distribution of nutrients and energy to the lower branches of the growing cannabis and will start to level with the newly trained dominant stem. Monitoring your results will help you decide whether to top your plant again after when the initial topped part has been healed.
What Happens if I Don’t Top My Cannabis?
Do not fret, your cannabis plants will do just fine and grow in their natural state even if you failed to perform topping. As they are a very flexible plant that can adapt to their environment. Untopped cannabis will only grow tall and thin with one main apical cola and a number of smaller branches. It can still produce fluffy buds but they are lower in number as compared to a topped one. As mentioned, the only disadvantage of not topping your plant is reduced production of yield. In addition, there would be an imbalance of nutrients as the main cola absorbs 90% of the light, energy, nutrients, and auxins, thus limiting the resources for the lower branches. In effect, your cannabis plants will only bloom small flowers with lowered trichomes. That is why it is highly encouraged to top your cannabis plant so as to evenly distribute nutrients for growth, which in return reveals more resinous and dense flowers and a bountiful yield.