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How To: Bend and top your way to a 1 pound monster

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TheCapn

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Intro:
Our end goal is giant cookie jars full of meds, right? It all starts in vegetative growth. For the scope of this article, I'll show you how to prepare INDOOR plants for yielding 1lb or more. Why grow one pounders? Grower rules are based on plant count, so why not get the most out of your plants?

What is our goal during vegetative growth?
The goal in VEG is to grow plants abap (as big as possible) for two months, to prepare them for flower. Most importantly, we will SHAPE (or train them) to look more like a square bush, instead of a christmas tree. WHY? Plants have auxins, a hormone that causes them to grow straight up. The plant focuses energy where the auxins are, at the top of the plant. By leveling out the top, we distribute the auxins, so the plant sends more equal energy to MANY tops, instead of just a few dominant tops. In addition, our ceilings are usually 8ft tall, we simply don't have the height to grow a tall plant, and we certainly can't illuminate it efficiently either.

How do we shape our plant in veg?
This is one of the most important things we need to do in order to get a high yield. We want to give our plant a "vanilla ice ice baby" FLAT top. This is what separates the 4oz plants from the "one pounder" plants. NOTE: Don't wait until your plant is too large before you start shaping it. The first thing will will do is top it.

Topping:
When we TOP a plant, we take off the terminal shoot; meaning, the very top of the branch that is making upward growth. When we do this, it causes the two lower branches (bud sites) to grow more equally, instead of a single dominant shoot.

Knowing when and where to top: You will get the feel for when it is time to top your plants. Wait until the plant has about 4-5 sets of fan leaves, then top. Once the plant grows a bit, you can top it again, making even more branches. This is about the size the plant should be when we top it for the first time: (and this is how clean your growing area should be)


Here's how: Find the terminal shoot from the branch. On a more mature plant from a clone, it might be hard to tell which one is actually the top. On a plant from seed, it's very easy. I'll show you one a little more difficult from clone (NOTE, this is not the same plant as the one above):



Then pinch it off. Pinching it off, instead of cutting it, tends to help close the wound a bit, rather than having it "bleed" from a fresh razor cut.


Here is what this plant looked like a couple days after topping it. See the two lower branches growing now?


And here it is again, after a couple weeks. Damn, that's pretty.



But she is getting too tall, it's time to bend her over ;-)

LST (low stress training)
LST simply means a way of training our plants to grow a certain way, without radically hurting them. Typically, when we refer to LST, we are talking about bending or holding down branches in order to expose more light to lower future bud sites. When we level the canopy, auxins are spread out more evenly to all branches. As I said before, the end result is a few dozen colas (bud masses) of the same size, rather than a few massive colas (prone to mold because they are too big) and many little ones.

When I train my plants, I spread it out so the little branches can get more light. I don't "kink" the branches (aka super cropping). Super cropping is more of a HST method (High stress), because the plant must repair the damaged tissue. I generally do whatever it takes to spread out branches so they are not on top of each other, without kinking.

Here is an example of bending, but not kinking branches (this is a different plant I did awhile back):
Before:

During:

After:

And a few days later:


See how the middle has filled in? Plants spring back. No matter how much you bend them, they have a way of righting themselves again. This is why some people KINK or "supercrop" their branches. If your branches keep popping up, you can keep bending them down or you can tie them down. In the above picture, you can see where I tied down these two main branches.

Now, let's get back to the plant we started working on. We topped it and now it has these two main branches. We can let these grow a couple nodes, and then top again, to get more branches.

Now, let's tie it down. You will need to SLOWLY bend the branch over a 4-5" area, in order to bend it without kinking the branch. In addition, BE CAREFUL not to put too much pressure on, or you will break the center stalk. Work slowly, and after a bit, your branch should stay bent over. Then you can tie it to your pot so it doesn't pop back up over night.


And after a couple days, we can see how the side branches of these two main stalks are pointing up and getting tons of light now.


After flowering, here is an example showing the power of what we're doing. Notice the red circles where I accidentally kinked them slightly.


Now it is up to you:
Continue to bend down branches and tie them if necessary, to keep the plant as short as possible. You will get the "feel" for it, when you see the results of all the side branches getting more light. Keep bending until it is a solid 3ft in diameter, then let branches grow up, and top the tall ones. Let it go about one more week and she will be ready for flower. Total time from seed or clone is about 2 months. At this point, it will be ready to produce about 40 - 50, 1/4-1/3oz colas.

Stay tuned. Part two of this article will show you how to put it under a trellis, or as stoners call it, a "SCROG". Screen of green.
 

TheCapn

New Member
There is one important thing I wanted to point out from my last post.

I wrote:
>>> Keep bending until it is a solid 3ft in diameter, then let branches grow up, and top the tall ones. Let it go about one more week and she will be ready for flower.

This is important. I should have said, "At LEAST a week". For fastest harvest, don't top or stress your plant within a week or two of flowering. Doing so, disturbs hormones and may delay flowering, while the plant is in "repair mode". Think of it this way... let's say you're a cyclist, and you ride 15 miles a couple times a week in order to prepare for a marathon. Well, you wouldn't ride 15 miles THE DAY BEFORE the marathon, right? When we go to flower, the plant goes through many changes to start budding, and we want it to finish asap, in order to make the most efficient use of our precious flowering space. It should be in the gate, HEALTHY and ready to go, not repairing itself from pruning.
 

TheCapn

New Member
Container Sizes and transplanting:

Before we get into the trellis, let's talk about an often under estimated subject, container sizes and transplanting. This is somewhat a different subject, which I will go into in another article, but it is worth mentioning briefly here. If you scour the web for people who are growing "one pounders", you'll find they all have a few things in common, but most importantly, monster containers. They aren't getting a pound out of a 2 gallon smart pot. In fact, I don't care for the fabric smart pots (except for a final flower container). The reason being is once it is in a fabric pot, the roots grow into the fabric, and then you stress it by transplanting. If you intend on moving to a bigger pot, use a pot with SMOOTH sides, so it will pull out of the container easy, without damaging roots.

Whether you are in dirt, rockwool, coco, whatever, we want to move up in container size frequently. In the above pictures, the plant was started in a 2" cube from seed, then moved to a 4" square pot, then moved to the 6" net pot, then one gallon pot, 2 gallon, 3.5, then finally below, a 5.8 gallon pot. Some may think this is too stressful for the plant, but if done correctly, your plant won't skip a beat. The root ball will be able to slowly build a large mass, instead of being stuck to the sides of the container.

 

TheCapn

New Member
Placing under the net / screen:

Ok, we're back to "bending it like TheCapn". It's time to put it under the net. I use a plastic coated, metal gardening fence material. It is easy to bend and cut. However, you could use just about any type of trellis you want, but I would keep the hole size to at least 2"x3". The nice thing about using metal, is later, if you want to move a large cola over just a bit, you can cut a link, move it, and bend the metal back, holding it in place.

So first let's see if we are big enough to be in the one pounder range. YEP.



Now we will cut our screen and use PVC and cable ties to position it in place:


Now, bend the screen down, SLOWLY AND GENTLY:


And the final position for now:


When you first put on the screen, error on the side of not putting it low enough. Start slow, let the plant go a day, and then come back and make adjustments. When we lower the screen, the taller branches get pushed outwards, and this gives light to the smaller branches, which will grow up and become buds. Without the screen, those shaded branches wouldn't produce much. With the screen, they will all get light and, if done correctly, you should have around 40 tops coming thru the screen.

A few days later, branches are poking up thru the screen all over:


Now we have some tough decisions to make. We have green under and above the screen. We will want to cut branches that are getting no light, and won't make it to the screen anytime soon. These budsites won't be much of anything and won't ripen either. If we cut them off, it will send more energy to tops. DON'T GET CRAZY HERE! I have seen some people devastate their plants by taking too much off. Again, error on the side of taking off too little underneath. Also, don't do it all in one day. Take a couple off, wait a few days, then take a few more off. After the second week of flower, I wouldn't take any more off, just let it go.


We will check back in with this plant in a few weeks and see how it's doing. The pressure is on now, for me to produce the 1 pound I promised ;-) I'm using a bit different method here than I normally do: (top feed instead of flood and drain) so I hope I can deliver.

In the meantime, questions and constructive comments welcome.
 

TheCapn

New Member
Too funny, man. Your topping photo is of a plant in flower. The third one with the yellow circle.
Hey all, Hipster chimed in here with a sarcastic remark. He can see pistils in this picture, so he thinks this plant is flowering. This subject is not really in the scope of this article, but since Hipster brought it up, lets talk about preflowers for a moment. I also talk about this in my article on sexing plants.

When we say, "pre-flower", that means the plant is starting to show it's sex, but won't "flower" until moved to a 12/12 hour light / dark cycle. The male staminate is almost round, where the female Calyx is longer, tear drop shaped. Frequently you will see the female Calyx before a pistol comes out of it, and with some experience you will be able to "predict" the sex before actually seeing the pistol. If you start a plant from seed, you will typically see pre-flowers in 6-9 weeks. EDIT: If you start flowering before 2 months of vegetative growth, you might never know what pre-flowers are. Once you take cuttings from a mature mother plant (with pre-flowers on it), you will usually see female pistils on the clones as they grow. You can usually tell if a plant was grown from seed, as the nodes will be directly symmetrical or across from each other. When a plant is mature, the nodes will alternate (and so will clones taken from it), as shown in the pictures below.

Here is a close up of that same picture with the yellow circle, giving a little better view of the female pre-flowers. Sorry the picture is not in focus, but you can see the female pistils:



Here is another good article on pre-flowers:
420 Magazine ®

Here is a picture of this plant (with the yellow circle) during the same photo session when I topped it on 5-1:


And here it is 9 days ago on 6-5, putting it into flower (you can tell it is the same plant because of the "Y" at the base):


Again, constructive comments welcome.
 
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Icemud

Member of the Month: July 2012, July 2014 - Nug of the Month: July 2012
I would like to commend you on a very nice writeup...definitely shows great ways to increase yield and the ways you described it with the photo's and layout were done really well!!! I personally use LST, Supercropping, and have Scrog'ed in the past and all work very well for increasing the amount of tops. Lately I also have been toying with topping as well..

Great post! +rep
 

Smokemupm8

New Member
Hey Capn...
Well, Firstly, you ve done a great job of setting out and illustrating what youre talking about!:goodjob: I, myself, am planning on setting up basically what you have done here, and also to produce over 1pound p/plant indoor in soil.
My last grow was smaller than its previous and it gave me over 1pound, unfortunately my current grow snapped a branch as I was tethering it into position, it was only being held in that spot for a minute at most but nearly as soon as I hooked it it broke!
Luckily I saved it and it grew, but the remainder of its growth ( as it was the original main stem ) was slowed down remarkably, and has only just gotten about 5 inch with the other tops come flower, But still, IMO this harvest will suffer..
So it appears that my plans on making a similar thread now I will have to reference YOU! I do vary my technique a little from yours, but the end goal is the same, and my set up is basically just for similar spaces, So I guess I can just post it within my limits and time frame..
I do not normally top my girls, just LST tho I will consider it at a later point. Anyways mate - again, Great thread and lots of helpful info and pics for newbies or first time LST ers, SPREAD THE KNOWLEDGE SO WE ALL CAN GAIN is my thinking;)
Nice to make your aquaintance and props to you for your work:bravo:
Take it easy, Smokemupm8
 

TheCapn

New Member
I would like to commend you on a very nice writeup...definitely shows great ways to increase yield and the ways you described it with the photo's and layout were done really well!!! I personally use LST, Supercropping, and have Scrog'ed in the past and all work very well for increasing the amount of tops. Lately I also have been toying with topping as well..

Great post! +rep
Thanks Ice, One question, how far along do you supercrop? Do you stop when you go to flower? Or one week in?
 

TheCapn

New Member
Hey Capn...
Well, Firstly, you ve done a great job of setting out and illustrating what youre talking about!:goodjob: I, myself, am planning on setting up basically what you have done here, and also to produce over 1pound p/plant indoor in soil.
My last grow was smaller than its previous and it gave me over 1pound, unfortunately my current grow snapped a branch as I was tethering it into position, it was only being held in that spot for a minute at most but nearly as soon as I hooked it it broke!
Luckily I saved it and it grew, but the remainder of its growth ( as it was the original main stem ) was slowed down remarkably, and has only just gotten about 5 inch with the other tops come flower, But still, IMO this harvest will suffer..
So it appears that my plans on making a similar thread now I will have to reference YOU! I do vary my technique a little from yours, but the end goal is the same, and my set up is basically just for similar spaces, So I guess I can just post it within my limits and time frame..
I do not normally top my girls, just LST tho I will consider it at a later point. Anyways mate - again, Great thread and lots of helpful info and pics for newbies or first time LST ers, SPREAD THE KNOWLEDGE SO WE ALL CAN GAIN is my thinking;)
Nice to make your aquaintance and props to you for your work:bravo:
Take it easy, Smokemupm8
Thanks for the kind words, smokem; nice to meet you too. I quickly scanned a few pages of each of your journals, so I'm going to check them out more journal later tonight. It is really fun growing these big plants, I know you'll enjoy it. Every time tweaking this or that to go a little bigger.

I've grown in soil too, and most recently, tried some "super soil", and I have to say the results are great. Hey, if you ever want to try rockwool, while keeping it simple, check out my thread on "simple hydroponics".
 

TheCapn

New Member
Re: How To: Bend and top your way to a 1 pound monster - Adjustable SCROG Height

Here is another cool idea I had for an adjustable SCROG net. I'm sure it has been done before but I've never seen it. In the previous pictures you see I cut the metal net a little high and then I slowly bend it down into the plant. That technique might not work if you are using a SCROG net made out of nylon string, or other material.

I made a height adjustable SCROG net. These pictures should explain how to do it. Here is the plant before adding the screen:



After adding screen:

And here it is after attaching net.


And use the thumb bolts to slowly lower the scrog on to the plant.


I also put the entire rig on wheels, in case I want to be a street vendor: "Popcorn! peanuts! fresh nugs here!" :ganjamon: ha ha.. you think that's funny, but I heard from another guy here, he has a cannabis friendly "farmer's market" where he lives. Seriously though, I did this so I can move it around and turn it, so I can tend to the other side of the plant. This canopy is 4' x 3'.



I'll be talking more about the roller in my "simple hydroponics" thread.
 

Scarfinger68

New Member
I like your article! I have a few questions.

Why grow one pounders? Grower rules are based on plant count, so why not get the most out of your plants?
I agree about getting the most out of your plants. I feel though at a certain point you are limited by pot size. I think you are using 5.8 gallon pots.

My question would be... "What is the minimum pot size you can grow 1 pound in"? I grow in 24 oz. cups of soil and so far 13 grams per plant dried seems to be my limit currently.

I like your article :) Good Luck!
 

TheCapn

New Member
>>>"What is the minimum pot size you can grow 1 pound in"?

Thanks for your comments and good question! Unfortunately there is no straight answer. But recently I grew a 20ozer in a 3.5 gallon pot:

How To: 10oz per plant perpetual indoors

However, this is exceptional. Typically I grow 10 ouncers in 3.5 gallon containers, flood and drain rockwool cubes. But as I said above, if you scour the web for people who are growing "one pounders", you'll find they all have a few things in common, but most importantly, monster containers. It also depends on what method of growing you are doing.
 

s1ingblade

New Member
Man you do a really sweet job growing, keeping your room sanitary and journaling. If any ADMINS are reading this how about adding a contest to our Board and calling it JOTM Journal of the month. If they did I'd vote for ya cap'n:)
Re: the LST imho there is not an easier container to do that than the airpots. For me the airpots a few paper clips and some twine and shes bending over just fine:)
 
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Hiker

Member of the Month: April 2013
Another great writeup! :goodjob:

Other than the scrog, I employ all of the techniques you're discussing. I have scrogged in the past, but for my current grow room, it's not practical. I also like being able to move each plant individually. (I use an Ebb & Gro)

Man you do a really sweet job growing, keeping your room sanitary and journaling. If any ADMINS are reading this how about adding a contest to our Board and calling it JOTM Journal of the month. If they did I'd vote for ya cap'n:)
Re: the LST imho there is not an easier container to do that than the airpots. For me the airpots a few paper clips and some twine and shes bending over just fine:)
I thought you no longer liked airpots due to the fungus gnat problem?

Tieing down plants is very easy with my Ebb& Gro too. I just spent a minute drilling some small holes just under the inner pot's rim, and now I can tie down anywhere I like. I use garden wire rather than string. I was using string, but it is MUCH more work tieing knots. You're a commercial grower Sl1ng. You should try wire. It's soooo much faster. :2: I just leave my little pieces of wire attached to the bucket and they are ready to go for the next batch.



I just thought of a question for others that train their plants withOUT the scrog....
Do you keep them tethered for the duration?

I untie all mine after only a few days. I've found that the branches tend to take on the bent shape, more or less, permanently after just a couple days. I did my last round of training the week before flip. I went through and did a couple maintenance passes over the next week, but I untied them all in the first week of flowering.

My approach is to keep the plant low an wide until I flip. At that point I should already have all the branches I'm after. Then I'm just letting them grow straight up during the stretch. Then at ~3 weeks after flip, I do the final defol and clean up all those lower branches that are not going to produce nice nuggs.
 

TheCapn

New Member
>>> I've found that the branches tend to take on the bent shape, more or less, permanently after just a couple days.

I have found the thick parts of the branches do stay put better. But the green ones have a way of really springing back.

>>Then I'm just letting them grow straight up during the stretch. Then at ~3 weeks after flip, I do the final defol and clean up all those lower branches that are not going to produce nice nuggs.

So how much space do you allow each plant? Looking at your pictures I would guess each one has a 2 x 2' area? Also, what do you use to hold up colas when they get too heavy? yoyo's immobilize them anyway.

I love your ebb and grow set up. I did it before by elevating the buckets instead of using a controller. Phenomenal growth rates.
 
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