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Hows & Whys Of Supercropping

InTheShed

Member of the Year: 2018 - Member of the Month: Jan 2018, Nov 2018 - Grow Journal of the Month: Aug 2018 - Plant of the Month: Oct 2018
Anyone interested in a bit on supercropping? Here is my introduction to the technique. I don't deal so much on the actual way to perform a supercrop, but the reasons and places to do it:

DISCLAIMER: This is high stress plant training and I do not recommend it for an autoflower plant. Not that you won't see people do it to theirs, I just don't recommend it. It definitely slows down the plant while it recovers.

Supercropping is a technique where you bend the stem at something close to a 90º angle, snapping the internal fibers of the plant in the process. It can be done in flower, though it's usually performed in veg. There are loads of videos on how to do it so I won't go into a detailed description. Generally, you squeeze the stem where you want the bend to be until you feel the plant's tissue give way, and then lay the upper part of the branch over at a right angle.

With thinner or woodier stems that are harder to crush, I rock them back and forth over my thumbnail until they soften enough to lay over.

The stem eventually forms a "knuckle" at the bend, and it increases the nutrient pathways to the top part of that branch. That's not usually why we do it, but it's another positive result. And if done early in flower (like at the end of stretch when you know who are the leaders), it can result in larger buds on that branch.

Now let's talk about why we supercrop our plants. The traditional reason is that it keeps the plant canopy level, making all your potential bud-sites the same distance from the lights. In this instance, the leaders are bent at the level of the rest of the canopy, usually toward the outside edge of the tent so as not to cover lower growth.

But there are other reasons to use this technique, for both indoor and outdoor growers (who don't need a level canopy).

Besides leveling the canopy, here are two additional reasons to supercrop.

First, to greatly increase the number of bud-sites. Every time you flatten a branch, everything that would have been larf can now become a new top. Here is where I bent an AK-47 branch:




And here is how many new tops were created by that one bend:



All of that lower growth will now head directly toward the light.

[Note that when you are thinning your undergrowth, keep the supercrop option in mind. If you strip everything underneath there will be no shoots to grow new tops. So if you plan on supercropping, thin with the future in mind.]

And second, supercropping to make room for other supercropping! In this example I bent branch that has no lower branches to grow up, but I've bent it away to clear room to bend a different branch that does have lower branches that I want to expose. (Read the boxes in numbered order so it makes sense.):


If I had just bent the top branch it would have covered the bud-sites on the lower branch, so I bent that out of the way first.

And I will often bend a branch into the middle of a plant so the plant doesn't get too wide, as long as there is an empty spot to fill in, or some weak growth below you will be pruning at some point anyway. You can see an example of that here:

Top left was supercropped inward to keep it within the existing outer circle of the plant, and middle left was cropped outward to fill in the space.

One last trick, for those crops that refuse to stay down, attach a small binder clip to a paper clip and hang that from the branch (you can just make out the paper clip at the arrow):


Two final pics. This is an AK-47 where I used all these techniques:



6.3 ounces and Plant of the Month!

Questions welcome. :Namaste:
 
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Amy Gardner

Member of the Month: March 2018 - Photo of the Month: April, Dec 2018, Apr 2019

Greenlizard

Well-Known Member
Great post. Thanks for sharing. I supercropped my current grow and will be harvesting this weekend. I am also currently vegging the next set of plants and they too are supercropped. My issue is that when scrogging or supercropping you can end up with too dense of a canopy and the buds can sometimes shadow one another. Do you prune some of the side branching from the supercropped branches in order to keep the single tops when getting ready for flower? I just personally find it gets a bit too dense so this next grow I plan on pruning after supercropping in order to keep the buds spaced enough to avoid larf. Any insight on that?
 

Archiweedies

Nug of the Month: Apr 2019
I like to use supercropping to promote the lower growth to rise to to the canopy and become tops. Sometimes in veg all I do is supercrop, no LST. The straps get in my way, it’s annoying haha.
 

InTheShed

Member of the Year: 2018 - Member of the Month: Jan 2018, Nov 2018 - Grow Journal of the Month: Aug 2018 - Plant of the Month: Oct 2018
Absolutely fantastic post - thank you!
I hope it helps!
nice post!
could have had this up a few months back lol would have helped me no end without asking questions all over lol
Sorry I was late!
Excellent explanation - lots of my questions answered!
:thanks:
Great post Shed
Notice I did not mention anything about supercropping 4" above the soil on a mature plant? Not recommended for beginners ;).
How did YOU know I wanted to read and look at hi res photos of supercropping?
Prescient!
Great resource Shed
It was really overdue. As falstaffo mentioned!
Nice write up Shed! Well done
Thanks Dutch!
Great post. Thanks for sharing. I supercropped my current grow and will be harvesting this weekend. I am also currently vegging the next set of plants and they too are supercropped. My issue is that when scrogging or supercropping you can end up with too dense of a canopy and the buds can sometimes shadow one another. Do you prune some of the side branching from the supercropped branches in order to keep the single tops when getting ready for flower? I just personally find it gets a bit too dense so this next grow I plan on pruning after supercropping in order to keep the buds spaced enough to avoid larf. Any insight on that?
Pruning is always a good thing to do whether you supercrop or not, so I definitely recommend getting a handle on new growth as you go. A branch can only grow so many quality tops (like thinning peach trees to one fruit every 8" or so), so once the new growth is established, go in and thin.
Nice tutorial Shed. Thanks
Glad to spread what I've learned. :Namaste:
I like to use supercropping to promote the lower growth to rise to to the canopy and become tops. Sometimes in veg all I do is supercrop, no LST. The straps get in my way, it’s annoying haha.
The pipe cleaners on my Berry Bomb are driving me nuts now that it needs water every other day! When I thin after stretch they are coming off for sure.
 

InTheShed

Member of the Year: 2018 - Member of the Month: Jan 2018, Nov 2018 - Grow Journal of the Month: Aug 2018 - Plant of the Month: Oct 2018
Thanks WJB! Plants look great and those white pots are so clean. o_O

I wouldn't do anything to them at this stage. Too late to train for additional budsites and most of those are low and wide anyway. If you get anything streaking for the lights that you're worried about getting burned later on, then you might want to lay those flat.
 

InTheShed

Member of the Year: 2018 - Member of the Month: Jan 2018, Nov 2018 - Grow Journal of the Month: Aug 2018 - Plant of the Month: Oct 2018
You can take off leaves blocking buds any time. The 21 day trim is for anyone doing a more severe pruning of anything not going to produce what you want it to, once stretch is over. Anything from a general clean-up underneath to a lollipop.

BTW, 21 days is a guide and not a date certain. It's whenever stretch is over for your plant if you are going that route.
 

Alafornia

Well-Known Member
Thanks!
 

InTheShed

Member of the Year: 2018 - Member of the Month: Jan 2018, Nov 2018 - Grow Journal of the Month: Aug 2018 - Plant of the Month: Oct 2018
I don't think I'd recommend it on your second grow. Depending on the strain, you can lower your yield with lollipopping if you take off buds that would have actually amounted to something! It's good to have grown a strain a few times (or at least followed other growers who have) to see whether that technique works with that plant's growth pattern.

If you feel like doing more than leaf picking, I would go through the undercarriage after stretch, and take all the branches that are weak or short. That will help direct the plant to send the nutrients and growth hormones to the buds that will be the best able to produce the size you want in the end.

That's what I do on most of mine. Only my AK-47 gets something close to a lollipop because I know exactly how it grows. I'm on the 6th or 7th generation clone of that.
 
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