What Is SCROG & How To Use It To Increase Yields
One of the top goals of cannabis cultivation is to harvest copious yields. Thus, efficient growing methods must be practiced to achieve this. And, with decades-worth of dedicated planting and research, new and ingenious growing techniques and refinements of existing ones have made home growing much more cost-effective with high yields. In particular, one of the best ways to increase the harvest is to use the Screen of Green (SCROG).
Screen Of Green
SCROG uses stress training and a screen to coax the cannabis’ development. The goal is to maximize the growing space by spreading out the canopy of a plant with the help of a fine grid. This way, branches could develop literally into a ‘sea of green’ that receives equal amounts of light. Come harvest time, the result would be dense and prolific buds from multiple branches of a single plant.
Scrogging, as many growers call the act of using this method, effectively increases the yields of cannabis indoors. Compared to traditional growing methods, it helps produce up to three times more flowers without sacrificing quality.
SCROG Over SOG
SCROG is not to be confused with SOG (Sea of Green). Although both are training methods meant to maximize space and increase indoor yields, the methodologies differ.
SCROG appears to offer more advantages. However, that observation remains highly subjective. In some cases, too, its suitability for use is also dependent on the specific growth trait of particular strains.
1. Lesser Quantity Of Plants Needed
Under SCROG, even only 2 to 4 plants at a time results in a bountiful harvest. Conversely, SOG possibly needs 30 to 40 small plants to grow simultaneously to match the yield.
A fundamental difference between the two is that SOG focuses on developing a single cola per plant. On the other hand, SCROG helps develop multiple bud sites per plant.
2. Ideal For Cultivating Sativa Strains
Sativa plants generally grow tall, and that makes it more difficult to plant indoors especially if the vertical growing space is limited. Using SCROG, the branches are tucked in the crevices of the screen. As such, instead of growing upwards, plants are coaxed into growing outward laterally.
Indica plants, on the other hand, are generally shorter and bushy. Instead of using SCROG, the better option is to employ SOG.
3. Excellent For Growing Plants From Seeds
Compared to clones, plants grown from seeds are relatively much sturdier and more high-yielding. Thus, if time is not an issue, growing from seeds is better.
Seedlings are best grown under the SCROG set up because it is given ample time to develop and develop around the screen. Generally, this method takes about six weeks to complete.
On the other hand, SOG can be harvested in only half the time. Furthermore, not only is it suitable for seed-grown plants but also for clones. One reason is that after 1-2 weeks, clones typically switch to the flowering phase. Without the benefit of a more extended vegetative period, it goes into overdrive and produces a single, main cola.
For simplicity, SCROG focuses on the development of bud sites while SOG is more about rapid growth rate.
4. Ease Of Maintenance
Compared to SCROG, the SOG technique requires more effort with regards to maintenance. This is because it needs more intense lights. Along with this necessity comes nuisances such as excessive heat and drier moisture. Consequently, more time is used to monitor and regularly adjust the temperature and humidity of the growing space. It also entails higher electricity expenses, amounts of water needed throughout the growth cycle, and more intensive labor in maintaining numerous plants all at once.
On the other hand, scrogging is the opposite. High yields could be obtained with less light, water, effort, and maintenance. SCROG is easy to set up. There is no need to tie down random branches. After installing the grid, simply weave the branches into it and all is set.
5. Lawful Cultivation
In some states such as California, Alaska, and Colorado, cultivating cannabis is allowed but limited to only 6 plants per adult. Trying to match the yield of SCROG with SOG could come at the expense of breaking the law if more plants are cultivated.
Increasing Yields Using The SCROG Method
Using the SCROG helps increase the yield by a factor of up to three times. Ensuring that it does, therefore, comes down to identifying the different factors that affect the yield and that each one is at an optimum.
1. Choose The Type Of Cannabis
Most of the highly in-demand seeds are capable of producing a high yield. Regular seeds do not compromise on the full potential of individual strains. However, males are likely to grow and not only wastes money and effort but could also fertilize the females. An option is to use feminized seeds. Auto-flowering plants, on the other hand, are not suitable for scrogging due to the extremely rapid growth rate leaving no time for training.
Clones could also be grown under SCROG. However, it has to be carefully chosen from a vegging plant
2. Understand The Growth Stages
Different strains have varying growth rates and attributes. Hence, it would require separate time allotment for the vegetative and flowering stages.
Compared to other growing techniques, the vegetative phase tends to be longer when using the SCROG method. Usually, it requires 6 to 8 weeks of vegetative growth to allow the branches to flourish. In the entire duration of this period, the plants are trained and pruned.
Generally, Indica strains tend to develop shorter than other variants. Hence, it needs an additional week in the vegetative stage to fully occupy the space in the screen. Meanwhile, since Sativa strains tend to stretch tall rapidly, it requires less time in the vegetative state. It can proceed to the bloom cycle after just 6 to 8 weeks.
The goal of this method is to maximize the number and growth of the plant’s colas. As buds grow through the gaps of the screen, it must be tucked outward into the next square until the third week of the bloom cycle. By that time, the entire screen should be filled with emerging colas.
Since Indica strains spend more time in the vegetative stage, it will most likely fill the screen as early as the beginning of its third week. During this time, the colas may now be allowed to flourish vertically. Once 80% of the screen is filled, it could be switched to the flowering stage.
Sativa strains, on the other hand, need constant bending and weaving until the fifth week of the bloom cycle. This is because these plants grow tall vigorously, so they need to be evenly spread out horizontally. Doing so will prevent the colas from getting too close to the source of light. By the last week of the bloom cycle, the growing area should be covered entirely with evenly distributed, big colas.
3. Install SCROG In The Grow Space
Setting up SCROG is surprisingly easy and straightforward.
- Screen with 4 to 5-inch diameter holes
- Plastic plant ties or string
- 5 to 6-gallon pot per plant
- Cannabis plants
- Pre-prepared growing space
- Position and suspend the screen 8 inches above the pots. Keep it as close as possible to the light source while leaving large room for the buds.
- Allot each plant with 12 square inches of screen.
- Gently tuck the branches through the screen. Allow only the top canopy to peek through the mesh.
- If necessary, use the plant ties or string to secure the branches. However, for most cases, the screen itself can hold the branches in place.
- Continue training the plants until most of the screen is covered. For Sativa strains, aim for 60% coverage, and for 80% for Indica. Once the desired percent of plant coverage is achieved, switch the light cycle to trigger the flowering phase.
- As the plant grows, continually guide it to fill the remaining spaces in the screen.
- Monitor the plants frequently and keep an eye on branches developing under the screen. These branches should be pruned so that it would not produce bud sites that do not receive much light. This will allow the plants to focus its energy on developing healthy, dense nugs above the screen.
There are two essential pruning techniques needed to manipulate the growth of the plant: topping and lollipopping.
This pruning method entails snipping off the top of the main branch to encourage two colas to grow instead of just one. Topping helps make plants grow shorter and bushier which, in essence, is the goal of scrogging.
It is ideal to top the plant during the growth stage – when it has grown at least 12 inches in height. Even premature plants can be pruned by pinching off the top of the main shoot between the fingers.
Topping can be used on a single plant multiple times, depending on how long the intended length of the plant’s vegetation period is. However, it is imperative to always provide at least a week for the plants to recover after topping before doing it again.
This technique helps to ensure that a plant produces dense and high-quality buds. Lollipopping has been proven to manipulate the plants to focus their energy on producing one large bud instead of multiple, popcorn colas. It involves removing all of the flowers from the branches, except for the top flowers. Shears and sterilized scissors may be used to prune the flowers. Alternatively, fingers could be used to pinch off the premature bud sites.
For plant types that bloom in eight to nine weeks, lollipopping has to be done at the end of the second week of flowering. Meanwhile, varieties that thrive in ten or more weeks have to be pruned at the end of the third week.
5. Maintain The SCROG Garden
Once the grow space is all set up and the plants are weaving well into the screen, the next best step is to maintain the ideal conditions in the garden.
Humidity & Air Circulation
One factor to keep a close eye on is the humidity in the area. Scrogging results to tightly packed plants with dense colas and thick bushes. Hence, this setup tends to retain more moisture in the flowers and foliage. Thereby, making the plants more susceptible to molds and mildew infestation. To prevent such problems, ensure that the area is well-ventilated.
Do this by installing a fan and dehumidifier in the grow space. Ensure that there’s always a breeze circulating over or under the canopy.
Also, ensure that the area’s humidity stays within the optimal level. This will depend on which stage of development the plant is on. But generally, as the plant approaches harvest time, the humidity levels are kept as low as possible.
|Optimal Humidity Levels|
|Clones||70% – 80%|
|Vegetative||40% – 60%|
|Flowering||40% – 50%|
|Final Week of Flowering||<40%|
Another thing to look out for is the proper hydration of the plants. Only water the plants when the soil is completely dry. Otherwise, overwatering will not only cause drooping, but it will also increase the chances of inviting mold, mildew, pests, and other pathogens that can damage the plants. Underwatering, on the other hand, will lead to wilting which is just as harmful to the herbs.
To determine when it is time to water, dip a finger about two inches deep in the soil. If the ground is still wet, it is too early to water it again. But if it is already dry, then that means it is time to spritz some water. It is best to keep the pH level of the water within the range of 5.8 to 6.0.
Less Is More
Cannabis cultivation is not a walk in the park. It entails hard-work, patience, and a deep understanding of the best practices of growing plants.
Screen of Green is among such efficient practices that guarantee more harvest with fewer plants. Setting it up is very straightforward, and it requires less effort and resources for maintenance compared to SOG. Nevertheless, continuous training and monitoring of factors that might affect the plant’s growth are still crucial.