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What is Supercropping?

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April 29, 2020
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    There are many ways to improve cannabis yields. Feeding and watering correctly, maintaining a perfect environment and using high-yielding cannabis seeds are all good ways to get BIG yields… as is avoiding mistakes! These are all pretty passive, though, as far as the actual plant is concerned. Is there a way to physically work the plant to improve health and make it grow bigger?

    Absolutely there is. Supercropping is a selection of four techniques that maximize yields using physical manipulation of the cannabis plant. Some are easier to master than others and involve pretty basic pruning… others are more difficult and involve ‘hurting’ the plant to make it stronger. If you want to learn how to master each technique then you should check out Kyle Kushman’s Beginner’s Guide: Supercropping Your Plant, but this is as good a place as any to start. This article will take a look at basic questions such as, what is super cropping? Does super cropping increase yield? Can you super crop the main stem? When should I start super cropping? Can I supergroup during flowering? And, most importantly, does supercropping really work?

    Once you’ve read this article you’ll want to close your laptop or lock your phone and start supercropping your plants right away. Who doesn’t want heavier yields? Who doesn’t want to use their hands and get really connected to their plant? We would advise reading the article a few times and sharing it with fellow growers before you start. And WATCH THE VIDEO. Reading up on a subject is one thing, watching a demonstration from Kyle Kushman is another thing entirely.

    What are the four main supercropping techniques?

    As mentioned above, there are a few different ways you can supercrop your plants, some gentler (and easier to master) than others. Mastering advanced cannabis cultivation techniques isn’t vital at the outset, but the more you grow, the more you will want to grow. Here are the four techniques in order of difficulty (easiest first).

    1. Selective Leaf Pruning
    2. Branch and Node Pruning
    3. Topping and Training
    4. Bending and Breaking (aka Snapping and Twisting)

    1. What is Selective Leaf Pruning?

    Well, what is cannabis pruning? Why prune a cannabis plant? Surely, if you want a big, heavy-yielding cannabis plant, you want to avoid cutting bits off? Pruning, to the layman, can seem quite counter-intuitive, but it’s actually a really good way for you to help manage and redirect your cannabis plant’s precious resources. Big leaves are lovely to look at and their image is a scorched-on symbol of cannabis culture, but is growing leaves really the best use of your plant’s time and energy? Imagine you could take that energy and redirect it into growing bigger, denser, healthier buds? That’s what good pruning does! The easiest bit of pruning to understand is the removal of dead or dying leaves. But what about the healthy ones? How do you know how to select which healthy leaves to remove? That’s where selective leaf pruning comes in! Clever name, huh?

    As mentioned, some cannabis leaves can grow really big! And when they do, they can block light from reaching budding sites or nodes. You need to take a look at the plant, look at the direction of light, and decide which ‘shade’ leaves to remove. It could be quite a few! In fact, Kyle Kushman’s advice is to remove all of the ‘interior’ leaves growing below the first layer of leaves. By interior leaves, he means leaves that point towards the interior of the canopy.

    There is no need to start selective leaf pruning until your plant is well into veg. Look out for leaves crowding and shading the lower the nodes – once this begins, it’s time to start pruning! This cannabis supercropping technique is so simple and straightforward you could probably start employing it right now!

    2. What is Branch and Node Pruning?

    The theory behind branch and node pruning is the same as selective leaf pruning: delivering energy where you decide it will be most useful. It improves the efficiency of bud production and can dramatically increase both quality and quantity of cannabis yield.

    As your cannabis plant gains height and volume throughout vegging, it will produce numerous leaves, branches and nodes. If you think removing leaves can be helpful, removing branches and nodes is even more so! The branches you need to remove are called sucker branches. Not because they’re gullible or easily persuaded, but because they suck energy from the plant without rewarding you with anything useful. They don’t receive enough light to produce big, dense nugs.

    Removing these lower branches means more energy for the soon-to-be bud-heavy upper branches – the sites that get enough light to produce the amazing flower you’re hoping for.

    The same can be said about nodes. These are nascent branches that appear in the ‘armpit’ of a leaf stem and a main stem; they will grow into additional branches if not removed. If you allow all of these nodes to grow out you’re looking at a LOT of branches sucking a LOT of energy from the plant.

    Removing all but the top three nodes on each branch means light will hit the branches, leaves and buds you want it to hit. There will be minimum energy spent on growth inside the shade, maximum energy spent on trichome-rich flower.

    When is the best time for branch and node pruning? You should practice this throughout vegging, from 3 or four weeks right up until you flip into flower. Thinning before flowering means fewer branches and nodes crowding and butting up against each other. It means more airflow and less chance of mold and pests, and it means bigger, better yields.

    3. What is Topping and Training?

    How do you top a cannabis plant?

    When you feel ready to step up a skill level, you’ll be looking at topping and training your cannabis plant. Topping is a way of increasing the number of top colas, again with a counter-intuitive strategy. You’ll have noticed that cannabis plants, especially indica and indica-dominant cannabis plants, grow like a Christmas tree – a big, central branch/stem with smaller, lateral branches that give it the look of an isosceles triangle.

    If you remove the top of the central stem, the branches immediately below will now receive  equal light and they themselves will become main colas. The branch you topped will also form two new branches and you’ll end up with an even canopy of multiple tops. The Christmas tree will eventually look more like a menorah or an inverted pyramid.

    The tops will all receive full light and the plant, naturally evolved to send growth hormones to the highest point, will be sending energy to ALL of the tops. Multiple colas means heavier yields of healthier bud. The one downside of successfully topping your cannabis plants is the amount of money you might have to spend on mason jars. 

    How do you train a cannabis plant?

    Training, like topping, is a fantastic way to even out the canopy, best employed once you have topped your cannabis plants. As plants are natural, unpredictable things, you will often find that, post-topping, a few branches will shoot up quicker than those around them. It’s like Darwin’s survival of the fittest being played out within the same organism. 

    Instead of just lopping them off to keep the canopy even, you should bend them down and tie them off. Tie them to the plant pot, to a stake, to a lower branch or stem, or, even better, weave it into a mesh, like you would a SCROG.

    A SCROG (screen of green) is a brilliant way to produce fatter yields. By carefully weaving and massaging the rogue branches through the mesh, you’ll expose more nodes to the light, nodes that grow upwards into branches, creating more tops, more colas all at the same, even height. A super-even canopy of multiple bud sites all receiving maximum light from above, and maximum energy from below. You’ll definitely need more jars!

    4. What is Snapping and Twisting?

    Snapping and Twisting is also called Bending and Breaking. As it has such a major effect on the cannabis plant, some people think this is all we mean by Supercropping, ignoring the other skills. Admittedly, it’s the most effective of the supercropping techniques… but it’s also the most difficult to master.

    Cannabis stalks consist of several layers with a hollow centre. These layers are like a highway of cells (with water and nutrients being the traffic). If you twist the stalk until it ‘snaps’ (the snap is more of an audible description – you never snap the branch in two) you will be breaking the inner hurd while leaving the outer layer intact. A knuckle will form over the next few days and, like breaking a bone, the repair site will be tougher than the pre-broken stalk. If you perform this same technique at several sites, from bottom to top on all of your main branches, repeating (never in the same spot twice) the procedure as the plant grows, you will end with an extremely tough plant able to carry far heavier colas.

    And the colas will be heavier! As well as making super-strong stalks, these knuckles widen the cellular highway, meaning water and nutes move quicker and more efficiently around the plant. The difference is amazing, seriously. The more knuckles you make, the stronger the plant and the heavier the yields.

    Don’t start bending and breaking until your plant is about a foot tall, and try not to continue into flowering. If you really want to snap and twist into flowering, limit yourself to two weeks MAX.

    As you can probably tell, the best approach we can recommend is to start with some simple pruning, attempting the trickier techniques once you’re confident with the basics. We have taken a look at some of the more frequent supercropping enquiries and have tried to answer them below. If you have any further questions then please do get in touch through the comments section or via customer support.

    Suppercropping FAQs.

    When should I start super cropping?

    This depends on the supercropping technique. As mentioned above, there are four supercropping techniques and they apply to different (but overlapping) stages of the cannabis growth. You shouldn’t start selective leaf pruning until the plant is three or four weeks into veg, for example, and you should have stopped any bending and breaking once the plant enters flowering. Well, no more than a couple of weeks into flowering at the most.

    Can you super crop the main stem?

    Yes. All of the supercropping techniques apply to the main stem, especially topping. Topping the main stem will promote a more even canopy, while snapping and twisting the main stem will make it stronger and more efficient. Pruning leaves, branches and nodes from the main stem allows light to reach the parts of the plant where it’s needed most, increasing the quality and quantity of your overall yield.

    Can I supercrop during flowering?

    Generally, supercropping is not recommended deep into flowering (especially bending and breaking) but you can squeeze a little in during the first couple of weeks. Pruning can be done to some degree all the way through, but your branches will be too brittle to train or twist during the latter stages of flowering. 

    Does super cropping increase yield? Does super cropping really work?

    Yes! If you don’t believe us, ask Kyle Kushman 🙂