Growing is our passion and we like to experiment ever year with new techniques and fun ways of training plants.
When it comes time to plant outdoors or indoors it is all about building a solid foundation for the plant and the main goal is to get as many buds as possible on one plant and through topping, super cropping and main lining you will be able to create the perfect canopy. We have all seen un-topped plants that grow straight up and form more of a Christmas-tree shape, and it’s not that this is a bad thing but through years of experience growing we have found that when you top your plants and spread them open you increase your yield. “Topping” a plant is when you cut off the tip of a branch.
Every time you top a branch you are creating twice the bud sites and increasing your canopy size. Through super cropping you are able to slow the growth on the top of the plant and allow lower branches to become tops. “Super cropping” is when you bend a top branch sideways without actually cutting it off. By pinching the branch you can soften the outer stem and then bend it sideways allowing more secondary branches to stretch up.
As well as slowing down the very top of the plant’s growth – super cropping actually strengthens the plant and can improve yields as well. “Main lining” is when you top your plant from the very beginning and instantly tie it down, thereby creating more of a Bonsai tree formation. Never letting the plant grow straight up and continually forcing the plant to expand wider instead of tall is main lining.
This style leaves you with a perfect flat top of nothing but buds, leaving no secondary branches (or what some like to call ‘suckers’). Plant training requires daily maintenance; the goal is to grow the widest plant possible. If you have ever grown a large scale plant you know how much work it takes to keep it clean. Once a plant reaches a certain size it is nearly impossible to reach the middle or try to spot a problem that is over 12ft off the ground. Not only does it become very hard to manage those sky high buds, but once the weather turns and rain falls you are in for a hell of a time. This is when caging and use of a trellis really comes in handy.
Throughout the season we are constantly training each plant to do exactly what we want it to. From the very first day of planting we start with a small inner cage that sets the base of our foundation. Something we have learned over time is that creating pressure on the plant not only strengthens the overall structure but actually makes the plant grow faster. Through the inner cage main branches are instantly tied out and locked in to place.
When plants reach a certain size every branch starts to become very heavy and can easily break from the main stalk. With this inner cage in place you can prevent branches from peeling off the main stalk and increase its ability to hold more weight. Once this plant has overgrown the first cage it is time for the second layer.
This is when we start to use green tape and pull every branch into its own area. Every time you pull out a branch you are letting more light penetrate into the inner section of the plant. With more light comes more branches and at the end of the season this means more buds.
Sometimes when trying to pull a branch through the cage it won’t quite be long enough and will bend right back in, so we figured out an easy technique.
Using one of the fan leafs you can wrap the long steam around the cage and actually lock the branch in place. With the fan leaf twisted around the cage it will no longer bend back in and will continue to grow and reach out. The next step is to set your first trellis layer over the top of the plant. This trellis will allow you to pull each top branch into its own square and prevent the inner section of the plant from breaking or falling sideways.
Some people think that caging and trellis is overkill but when it comes time to harvest and plants are at their max weight you can see how well this system works. It is amazing how fast plants can grow under the full sun and sometimes they get so big we need to lock in the triple cage. Now it is time for the next roll of green tape and the final training process to finish off the season.
Measuring a whopping 40ft long, this triple cage will hold up all of the outer branches and prevent buds from falling down into the dirt. As harvest time comes to an end and rain falls this plant will be ready for any weather. When branches start to lean and fall sideways they will no longer continue to produce weight because they think they have reached their limit. With the help of caging and trellis you can keep these branches and buds standing up straight, thereby enabling them to continue producing more weight.
Growing is our passion and we like to experiment ever year with new techniques and fun ways of training plants. In 2015 we grew the world’s first “ganja microphone stand” by training a plant to grow straight up and cutting off all the side branches. This technique is completely backwards to how we usually train our plants, as instead of training it to be a bush we trained it to grow sky high.
Maxing out at 14 1/2ft tall this plant had a perfect smooth stalk that we could then let cure and begin to sand and lacquer for a clean finish. After dialing in our technique the following year we grew another ganja mic stand but this time we topped it at the height we needed instead of letting it go untopped.
By doing this we were able to grow a much larger stalk and experiment with some insane main lining. Instead of the traditional tall cage we tossed on a section over the top laying it side ways to create a “T” shape so we could then train the tops to grow straight out.
Weaving branches in and out of the cage holes we trained these tops to grow in a complete circle around the “T” cage. Some strains are very flexible and can bend any way you want, while others can easily break and snap where you try bending. It takes experience to know the limits of plant training, and it always depends on the genetics you are growing.
Some strains benefit from training more than others do. When working with Sativa-dominant genetics top and train often, when working with Indica-dominant genetics you want to let them get established before topping.
Sometimes you can slow down the growth of a plant if it is not a vigorous growing strain. Training plants is all about manipulating the way they grow, so have fun and try something new next time you go out to your garden. Check out our “How To Grow” DVD on our website www.mendodopemusic.com to learn more about outdoor growing.
Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 136