Growing cannabis is great. You know what’s even better? Getting more buds per plant. The problem is that, if you’re a good grower, you’re probably approaching the maximum amount of bud you can harvest without doing something drastic.
If you’re confident that you’re currently taking great care of your plants and preventing them from getting stress, then it’s time to take the next step. To really increase cannabis yields, you can move from taking care of your plants to strategically damaging them through the process of defoliation.
What Is Defoliation?
The process of defoliation involves removing the bottom leaves off of your cannabis plants. How many leaves and when you should do this are objects of debate. The general idea is that by removing these lower leaves, you’re helping the plant redirect energy to growing bud.
The trick is to be cautious with leaf removal and to help supplement the plant so that it survives the shock of having so much mass removed.
Furthermore, by removing leaves from the lower half of the plant, the plant receives more light to the bud-producing nodes lower on the plant. This extra light helps spur growth in those bud nodes, and can significantly increase your harvest.
Some growers claim that through aggressive, strategic defoliation you can harvest up to three pounds of bud per plant, which is more than twice the average harvest.
When to Defoliate?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to defoliation. The first school says that defoliation can and should occur throughout different growth stages. The foliage at the bottom of the plant may not be receiving enough light and probably obstructs airflow through the plant.
By removing the leaves at the bottom of the plant, you allow air to move through the plant, preventing diseases such as white powdery mildew. You also keep the plant from wasting energy on leaves and bud nodes that won’t give you the harvest you want.
The other option is to avoid defoliation until the flowering stage. During the vegetative stage, the plant isn’t growing the buds, after all, so it isn’t wasting much energy by maintaining those lower leaves.
Instead, these leaves are removed just before you trigger the flowering stage. This keeps the plant from putting any energy into growing buds that’ll never reach the size you want, while helping the plant bring in as much energy as possible during the vegetative stage.
How To Defoliate Cannabis Plants?
Step 1. With a clean, sharp tool, remove the leaves you want gone. Start with any leaves that look unhealthy or kind of sad.
Step 2. From there, begin at the base of the trunk and move your way up the main stem and out along the branches – this method is called lollipopping, because the stems you leave look like lollipop sticks. Leave at least the leaves and the buds at the end of branches. Where you stop before that is up to you; however, the fewer leaves you remove, the less you will stress your plant.
A more advanced style of defoliation is “schwazzing.” With this method, you’ll defoliate once just before the flowering stage, and then again three weeks later. This increases the benefits of defoliation, but significantly increases the risk of plant death. As you learn, try on one or two plants at first, instead of your whole crop. This way you won’t lose your whole crop if you defoliate a little too much.
Defoliation is a risky but effective method of increasing cannabis yield during your next harvest. If you’re confident in your growing skills, learning how to defoliate cannabis plants could be what takes your plants to the next level.