Every grower wants to get the most out of their cannabis crop. There are dozens of suggested ways to do this, and each has vehement support from its fanbase. The general basis for these training methods is that cannabis plants not only recover from stress, they grow better afterwards.
However, stressing your plant can be, well, stressful. Cutting off large chunks of your plant seems counterintuitive, after all. That’s where super-cropping comes in. Super-cropping doesn’t involve cutting your plants at all. It’s not yet well-understood, but it works, and it gives results of which growers can be proud.
What Is Super-Cropping?
The goal of super-cropping is to get more light to your buds. By bending your branches, they spread horizontally instead of vertically. That gives your buds more light, in two ways. The smaller buds lower on the plant are no longer shadowed by the higher leaves and flowers. Also, since the buds are now sideways, they receive light all along the side instead of only from the top down. That extra light exposure leads to more growth and better harvests.
The process of super-cropping is simple. In general, you carefully snap the stems of your bud-bearing branches. They should be connected to the plant but no longer upright. Ideally, the location of the bend should be low enough that the buds leans away from the plant and nearly touch the ground.
This may seem extreme, but it’s really not. You’re not badly hurting the important parts of the plant. You’re just breaking the inner support. The parts of the plant that carry nutrients are still ready and working, as long as you’re careful.
Equipment for Super-Cropping
Super-cropping doesn’t require much equipment. The most important thing to keep on hand is duct tape. When a cannabis stem breaks or is otherwise injured, duct tape is the easiest and cheapest way to fix it. You can also get graft tape, which is specifically made for plants, but more expensive.
To fix a broken branch – or a branch that is more broken than you wanted – you don’t need much. Carefully align the broken parts of the branches so they fit back together. Take a couple inches of tape and align the center of the strip with the break. Wrap your tapes strip around the break as many times as necessary.
Don’t tighten the tape too much, or you’ll cut off the flow of nutrients, just like a tourniquet on a limb. The tape should be more than capable of supporting the weight of the branch and any future buds. If you’re worried about that not being enough, you can add a splint to the process to keep everything straight. In two to four weeks, you should be able to remove the tape and the splint.
You can also get stakes and soft ties. Your plant’s foliage actually touching the growth medium can cause disease. A stake and some soft ties can help support your bent branches so they aren’t in contact with anything that will cause problems.
Another optional item is a screen to place over your plants. If you want, you can easily combine super-cropping with ScrOG methods. Instead of using low-stress training to guide your plants along the screen, you can super-crop them. From there, the screen can help you guide your cannabis plants into an even, leafy canopy that’s guaranteed to grow good bud.
How to Super-Crop Your Cannabis
The most important part of super-cropping your plants is timing. You want your stems to have distinct stems and likely bud locations before you start. On the other hand, you need to give the plants some time to recover before you switch them over to the flowering stage. About four weeks into the vegetative stage works well for most growers.
It’s important to give the plants some time before the flowering stage. First, you want all the bud sites to rotate and stretch back towards the light before you switch into flowering. Second, the lighting change that triggers flowering changes your plants’ hormonal balance. Instead of working on healing, recovering, and stretching back towards the light, your plants are focusing on flowers. Bending your stems too late simply hurts the plant without the benefits of the vegetative stage’s growth hormones.
Once your plants are ready, you can choose where to bend. The goal of super-cropping is a flat canopy where every bud site gets equal light. Choosing all the sites where you want to bend in advance helps you aim for that shape from the beginning. In general, you should try to bend all your branches at the same plane. This starts your even canopy off on the right foot. If you’re concerned, you can mark your plants lightly with a Sharpie at the places you want to bend.
Bending itself takes a little patience. You can’t go too quickly, or you’ll just break the stem off entirely. Place the pads of your thumb and forefinger on the stem where you’re choosing to bend the plant. Pinch that spot, hard. You will feel a pop. That’s the sign that you’ve done it correctly. The outside skin should be at most a little bruising, but the branch will be limp and should fold where you pinched.
Carefully lower the branch. If it touches the ground, you can use a stake and tie to support it. If the skin of the stem splits, use duct tape to seal it off. In a few days, your plant will start to heal over, and your buds are ready to receive the light they deserve.
When to Super-Crop Cannabis
Super-cropping is great for controlling the height of your plants. Indoor gardens can use the super-crop method to keep big plants manageable inside. This makes it great for people who want to grow big sativa plants in the winter.
The process of super-cropping your plants can be labor-intensive in a big grow. It takes effort and concentration, and you need to do multiple branches on every plant. If you’re growing more than a dozen plants, you might not consider this training method worth your time. Other good options would be topping or fimming your plants instead.
It’s always smart to start a new technique on one plant, instead of a whole grow. Your first few attempts will probably be messy. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll be able to super-crop a whole grow.
How to Choose the Right Strains to Super-Crop
Many strains can benefit from super-cropping. Both sativa and indica strains can benefits from the additional light to their buds. The most important trait to look for in a strain is the length of the vegetative phase. The longer the vegetative stage, the better your plants will recover from this high-stress training method.
Autoflower strains might have many benefits, but they don’t work well with super-cropping. In order for super-cropping to work, your plants need to spend a solid amount of time in the vegetative stage. Autoflowers are specifically bred to have a short vegetative phase and start flowering without needing light changes. That means that instead of bouncing back from bent stems, they suffer from lower harvests and possible diseases.
Super-cropping is one of the simplest high-stress training methods out there. If you want to train your plants but you’re worried about cutting them, super-cropping lets you keep all plant matter attached. It’s easy to do, and it gets results. If you have a smaller indoor grow, super-cropping will help you get the most bud per square foot possible.