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Schwazzing to Increase Your Yield

Schwazzing to Increase Yields

Have you ever heard of schwazzing? It’s a relatively new version of tried and tested marijuana cultivation techniques that promises impressive yields. Pruning, leafing, and defoliation methods are popular, and schwazzing is currently trending. 

If the term sounds made up, that’s because it is. Schwazzing takes the idea behind methods like defoliation and improves on the techniques. 

Are you interested in learning how to schwazze? Start with this guide. Here, we break down important details about using this method to enhance your growing experience. We also look at how it can benefit marijuana plants and why the method works. 

Let’s get started by understanding what this modern technique is.

Schwazzing before harvest
Schwazzing before harvest

What is schwazzing?

The schwazzing method involves removing the fan leaves of a cannabis plant until it’s almost down to the bare bones of just the stems, roots, and buds. The sight can be scary for novice growers, but there’s a reason behind this extreme measure. 

Excessive trimming may sound counterproductive, but it’s effective and not specific to cannabis. Horticulturists have manipulated plant growth for hundreds of years to change how they develop and how much they yield. 

Joshua Haupt, a cannabis grower, entrepreneur, and author of the book ‘Three A Light’ played with these traditional practices and established this modern version.

Always looking for ways to increase yield and potency with minimal resources, he and his team pushed defoliation to the extremes with schwazzing. 

Pruning and leafing that remove foliage that doesn’t serve the plant. The practice encourages healthier growth, which is the goal of using the schwazzing process on marijuana crops.

Why schwazze?

Many plant training methods focus on improving the yield and potency of marijuana. The goal of schwazzing plants is to get more with less. 

Growers produce an average of 24–32 oz. per 1000 watt bulb in their greenhouse. Using this technique, some report yields of 48 oz. (or 3 lbs.) per light, hence the title of Haupt’s book, Three A Light. He continues tweaking the process and claims that you can even see over 64 oz. per light in some cases.

Schwazzing benefits your plant and your savings. It redirects the nutrients to where they matter most, the buds. The technique also optimizes resources. It’s perfect for growers who want to improve their yield but have limited space and capital.

Why does the schwazzing method work?

The schwazzing concept is similar to other training methods that expose the plant to stress. The stimulus encourages the plant to adapt so it can get stronger. This is why high- and low-stress training methods are popular among intermediate and expert growers.

If you’re supposed to nurture the plant to grow, why place it under duress? It might be a challenge to understand the logic behind them if you’re new to these practices. Let’s compare plants to muscles to understand how schwazzing can benefit your crops and yield. 

When you work out and expose your muscles to stress, the muscle fibers develop microscopic tears. When they recover, they grow stronger, and the muscles get bigger. Your body adapts to the stimulus of stress and becomes more resilient.

The schwazzing technique uses similar logic. Introducing stress forces the plant to adapt to survive, allowing them to thrive long term. If not done carefully, there are risks involved, but the reward of a greater yield is worth the effort. 

Is the schwazzing technique the same as defoliation?

Many growers use the terms defoliation and schwazzing interchangeably. However, the terms aren’t synonymous. 

They’re similar in that both are high-risk methods used to increase crop yields by removing fan leaves. However, the extent is different with each method. 

Defoliation is when you remove only excessive leaves with the goal of redistributing nutrients across the bud sites. Schwazzing is more intense, with heavy defoliation that strips the plant down to almost bare.


Is it ok to remove fan leaves on autoflower plants during the flowering stage?

The short answer is no. Don’t apply any training techniques once these crops flip to flower. Due to their short life cycles, removing fan leaves from autoflowers is a debated topic. 

They don’t have much time to recover, so if you implement any defoliation on autoflowers, it needs to be during the vegetative stage. It’s best to train autoflowers in the early stages. You can’t extend their vegetative period to correct mistakes. They also don’t have enough time to heal.

Plants are more malleable in the vegetative phase and are easier to manipulate. Once they flower, you can break the rigid plant and stunt the growth. There’s a risk of severe damage, given how important getting the timing right is with autoflowers. 

So, schwazze autoflowers at your own risk. Experiment with photoperiod plants and gain experience before trying these techniques on autoflowering cannabis. 

What are the benefits of schwazzing technique?

The goal of schwazzing is to increase yield, but how exactly does that happen? While leaves are important in the growth of marijuana crops, think of them as nutrient hogs. Excess foliage blocks the light and airflow that bud sites need to grow bigger and more potent. 

The best results occur when you direct most of the nutrients to the buds during the vegetative and flowering stages. Let’s look at how the schwazzing technique can help your plants.

It improves airflow

Indoor growers need adequate ventilation in their grow room. Too many fan leaves can hinder this. A thick canopy prevents proper air circulation, which locks in moisture and makes the plant prone to pathogens and disease. 

Proper airflow also acts as a stimulus for a plant to become more resilient. The breeze from oscillating fans serves as resistance training for the crops, improving their structural integrity

The increased strength is vital when it starts carrying heavier buds and leaves later on.

It removes light obstruction

Buds require adequate light during the vegetative and flowering stages to produce denser and more potent nugs. Wide fan leaves obstruct that light source. 

The schwazzing method is one of the ways you can improve light exposure. Channel macro and micronutrients to the buds during these crucial growth stages of your marijuana plant by implementing this intense defoliating technique.

It increases yield production

Schwazzing allows your plant to maximize available resources. As a result, you can grow more buds rich in terpenes and cannabinoids. 

When to schwazze your plants?

When exploring this technique for the first time, perform the schwazzing technique twice. Once in the vegetative and again during the flowering phase of your photoperiod plant. The timing depends on the strain and type of plant. 

Days 1 and 20 of the veg stage are ideal for removing large obstructive fan leaves. Do this before switching to a light cycle of 12 hours on and 12 hours off. This initiates the plant’s flowering stage and signals its readiness to produce buds.

Removing fan leaves
Removing fan leaves

How to apply the schwazzing method?

The process can be straightforward if you get the timing right. Here’s a rundown of the steps you need to take to maximize your schwazzing yield: 

1. During the vegetative stage and right before the flowering stage, remove excess foliage with a pair of pruning scissors. It might look sad and bare as you will remove the majority of its leaves, but don’t be alarmed. The leaves will grow back.

2. Return to your plant on day 20. Notice how much of the foliage has grown back in the flowering stage. Prune the bigger leaves to facilitate better light distribution and airflow.

It’s also essential to allow the plant time to adapt to the stress of cutting its leaves. Trimming leaves frequently puts it under a prolonged state of shock that it might not recover from. This is the reason schwazzing occurs with a 20-day interval.

Key ways to maximize schwazzing yield

One factor that can change the results of schwazzing yield is nutrients. The quantity is not as important as the quality the plant gets. To maintain proper plant function, growers need to introduce macronutrients and micronutrients, especially during stressful periods.

These can help marijuana recover from schwazzing. Know which leaves to remove. Large ones are the obvious choice because of how they interfere with the overall supply of light. You can also remove leaves that are sick, dying, or dead

Consider the lights, temperature, humidity, air quality, and flow as with any plant growing method. Schwazzing outdoor plants may produce different results from indoor plants.

Three A Light feeding schedule

Plants need a specific feeding schedule before and after schwazzing. Quality nutrients are essential fuels for your marijuana. These entail a blend of macronutrients and micronutrients that help your plant flourish and generate rewarding returns. 

The schwazzing feed schedule comprises large doses of phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium with smaller quantities of other nutrients. You can select from a variety of our Homegrown quality supplement options.

Early stages of schwazzing
Early stages of schwazzing

To schwazze or not to schwazze?

Although the science behind it is unconfirmed, schwazzing is a promising method for maximizing your marijuana plant yield. 

There is a level of risk with cutting off a plant’s fan leaves, but one that experienced growers are willing to take. The rewards are handsome, often yielding thick, potent buds.

Novice growers can gain experience by first dabbling in similar but less extreme growth methods, like pruning and lollipopping before attempting to schwazze. These involve trimming leaves, but not as intensely. 

Environment, nutrients, and how much foliage you remove are also factors that can influence the results of schwazzing. Growers need to be observant, continuously improving their understanding and cultivation skills.

Should you schwazze or skip this step? The answer to this question also depends on the plant you want to grow. If you’re keen on getting started, visit Homegrown Cannabis Co. We have a wide selection of quality strains, so you’re sure to find a plant that’s ideal for schwazzing. 

Did you find this article informative? Share it on your social media feed and inform fellow growers of the wonders of schwazzing!

About the author: Parker Curtis

Parker Curtis has around a decade of cannabis-growing experience, specialising in soil-less and hydro grows. He’s mastering outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor grows.

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