Professionals and amateurs most enjoy the cannabis harvest. As with any crop harvest, there is a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. The process presents a learning experience that helps improve the quantity and quality of your next harvest.
Harvesting follows months of patience, observation, and care. Harvesting lets you enjoy and share the labor. Growing your cannabis takes some research and experience, but it helps if you know how to trim your growing cannabis plant to produce an effective yield.
Experience shows that trimming, drying, and curing improve the quality of the smoke, taste, and freshness of the cannabis. If you grow your cannabis, you know the process takes time and effort. If you are new to growing, you will want to optimize your crop with effective and efficient skills. The time and effort will prove educational and make the outcome profitable.
Trimming cannabis plants carefully means more than cutting back. “Trimming” refers to the management of the plant. It controls the size of the plant, manipulates the branching, and manages the flowering. You may worry about cutting your plants, but pruning will optimize the plants’ resources to produce the best outcome.
Trimming cannabis plants takes a little learning, but it will quickly become a matter of muscle memory to speed your harvest.
What it means –
Farmers of all sorts trim their plants and trees to remove damaged growth, redirect resources, and salvage the best crop. For example, owners prune apple orchards, grapevines, and strawberry fields to improve the flavor and size of their fruit.
Cannabis growers will improve their harvest by clipping off the damaged parts, removing the parts damaged by heat, water, or pests, and helping the sun and air reach all the growth parts.
However, you can overdo it. You must avoid stressing the plant. Cutting it too closely, choosing the wrong time, and trimming the excellent stuff will damage the plant and plans. These concerns should not discourage or prevent the need to cut well and timely.
When to trim –
Once a cannabis seedling can stand on its own, spreading its first set of leaves, it enters its vegetative stage. It will continue to grow leaves and stems that will become branches. All the plant’s efforts focus on growing tall, wide, and strong. The roots will grow deep and wide to support the plant and its flowers. When the plant reaches 12 to 14 inches (depending on the strain), you should focus on trimming the maturing plant.
You can prune away damaged or diseased sections at any time. However, you should avoid pruning too close to the flowering phase. Pruning the cannabis plant early may not hurt, but pruning near flowering may prevent the productive growth you want.
Different strains have different vegetative and flowering phases. Also, male and female plants grow at different speeds. A little research will help you observe and care for the strain or strains you have planted.
How to trim –
Trimming requires only three tools: sharp-bladed pruning shears in several sizes, a rag and supply of ethanol or isopropyl, and a plastic container with a tight lid.
It is easier to work about cannabis plants with several size-appropriate pairs of shears.
A simple wipe with an alcohol-soaked rag will sterilize the shears to avoid contaminating the plant as you trim.
You do not want to contaminate the soil or grow medium, so you must dispense with the pruned leaves and stems in a plastic container you can seal tightly.
Beyond these preparations, you should trim the cannabis plant strategically:
Start by topping off the plant. Cutting off the top at the desired height will drive the plant’s resources into creating a broad bushy plant with solid lateral branches to support flowers and nugs.
Bushy is healthy. However, you should remove larger leaves and branches to allow more air and light to reach throughout the plant. These cuts should be close to the central stem at a 45-degree angle. Clearing the space around the middle of the plant will strengthen the thinner and more tender branches and stems
Branches, stems, and leaves around the plant bottom tend to be yellowed or browned from lack of sun, too much nutrition, and age. Removing them allows the plant to focus its energy on the upper growth. Moreover, as you remove the bottom debris, you increase the airflow upward and through the plant's branches and leaves.
You should remove any brown or yellow leaves because they do not produce and because they prevent sun and air from reaching productive parts of the vegetation.
The pruning will stress the plant and its resources. This stress will affect flowering if the pruning occurs too close to the onset of flowering. The plant needs time to recover, and additional water and nutrition will help.
The cannabis plant’s genes will trigger new growth. Shoots and leaves will appear where you once pruned. Proper trimming, then, is an ongoing process that shapes, manipulates, and reinvigorates the cannabis plant.
On trimming more –
Growers must also trim the cannabis buds produced by their plants at harvest, but that’s the subject of another lesson. The preceding has explored the why, when, and how of trimming cannabis plants during their growth phases. With some research on the life cycle of the strains you grow, you have the info to care for your plants effectively.