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vegetative growth - training/pruning

Smokinrav's supercropping technique

 
There are a few different ways of supercropping, this is one that I find most beneficial. An alternative name for this technique I?m going to describe would be Tie and Train, and I find it to be a lot like a scrog, but without the screen, and they are similar in the way they create a mostly flat even canopy of buds. This allows us to move the grow light closer to the top, obviously reducing the loss of lumens through distance. Also, this technique cuts in half the amount of plants needed to cover a given area.

  Supercropping relies on far fewer lateral buds growing vertically and more on multiple colas in a small space. Yield on a supercropped plant will be gathered from the length of the stem, light size dependant. My 400 HPS that grew the plants in this thread will give me 10 to 12" of bud down the cola. Bigger lights, bigger buds and more of them further down the stem.

  There are several ways to achieve a room of multi-cola plants forming an even canopy. The current description in the GrowFAQ uses topping only. I agree this is one way to the end result, but the book is still out on if it affects yield or not. Other disadvantages to topping are the continuation of vertical growth. 12 full inches taller than tied plants with training techniques performed at the same time and at the same node. Keep in mind, these plants are from seed, so genetic vagaries are expected.

  Another way is to tie the plant?s tip to base for a week to induce lateral growth, as I like to do, and a third way is to simply tie the plant over 45 degrees early in the vegetative stage of growth. I?ve only topped six and tied six (my way) in this thread.

  Once lateral growth is achieved, and the tieing method is the only way to nearly cease horizontal growth from the mainstem, the branches are observed over the course of a week or so to see which ones grow faster. These branches are gradually tied to the outside of the planter. Smaller growing shoots either get tied to the inside or made into clones or discarded. Obviously, we're tieing the faster growers to the outside so the smaller shoots can keep up with them height wise.


12 Rosetta Stone plants from seed at 3 weeks..
 

Grown in MG Prefertilized potting soil cut with 1/2 perlite. No chemical fertilizers were added during vegetative growth, only 1 tsp. of kelp extract per gallon of water.

I do employ the snapping of the hurd technique, but only to lessen the possibility of the stem folding or snapping when the tip is tied to base. So, pick your spot in the middle of the plant. Using the thumb and forefinger from each hand, slightly above and below the spot, counter-rotate your hands till you feel a light breaking inside the stem. It may or may not happen. If it doesn?t, don?t worry. Twist back and forth a few times to create a general loosening in rigidity of the plant. It should lean a bit, like this.

Take your tying material, I use a 10,000 foot roll of twine from Wal-Mart, and circle it loosely around the base and top of the plant. You want to pick a top node with some decent sized leaves (1"+) on it to prevent the plant from slipping its bond. They do try hard to do this.



Slowly compress it down to the shape you see here and cinch the tie. A bit of pressure at the top of the circled stem will help prevent folding. If the stem does fold, don?t worry. It really doesn?t appear to make a difference in the plant, except for the ease of tying it later. The plant WILL recover as long as its not severed, sometimes even to spite you, it seems.



You can see she badly wants to turn that grow tip towards the light. The week in tie, through hormonal responses, forces the plant to stop primary growth from this tip and focus on growing out all the branches at the nodes just above and below the tie. Until it is released of course, when the meristem once again begins to receive a share, though not the main share anymore.


This is just before release..



This is shortly after release, and it has already almost resumed its vertical stance. It?ll grow like this for a week and then we'll begin the tying for training. See where the damage is and look at the growth from the nodes under it compared to the growth above it.


You can clearly see my goal with this one..




I start with the countertie down low. It should be opposite of the way the stem is leaning from the tie for training. Far enough over that it is leaning in the other direction. Put the next tie on the stem, above where the hurd was snapped. Pull the plant over like shown. These ties will remain in place for the duration of the grow, and may have to be adjusted if the plant grows too far off of one side of the planter. Several inches of movement in any direction from center is possible. These two ties will also have to be watched carefully to make sure they don?t constrict the plant as it thickens. I use the twine because it has a lot of friction against itself and a single 1/2 knot is all that?s needed for most branches.


The first two ties are pictured here..




Already adjusting to the new shape..



Its has some ties in place already, but when I?m done there will be a ton more. All the flower tops you see are at different heights before training.



This plant is several weeks older..





After..



All tops that have been pulled over will reorient themselves toward the light in a matter of hours. They?ll also be at the same height.



I tied down the six topmost branches that resulted from topping, but that only succeeded in making the top so broad it was like an umbrella. Eventually I had to build a platform for the tied plants to be even.





Sexing of the plants was certainly interesting..


The results were:

- 2 out of 6 topped plants were female
- 5 out of 6 tied plants were female

I draw no conclusions from this until the next time I grow plants from seed, but the results are something to be researched for sure. Perhaps the stress of topping has some effect on expression? Maybe the different stress of tying has some effect in conjunction with keeping the main grow tip. I did end up with 7 of 12 female, so that?s right in line with the law of averages.

After seeing them at the finish, I would have kept only the top flowers you see here and not much else. The topped plants wasted too much energy on growing stem compared with the tied ones.




Here is a side by side from a couple of weeks ago. See the difference in the internode spacing? Some on the topped plants are 4" apart! The tied ones clearly have nodes all the way down the stem only an inch apart. You can also clearly see where the topped plant was cut. Had I allowed the branches to grow unfettered, they would easily be a foot or more taller than the tied ones. Keep in mind these all had their training technique performed at the same time.






They do grow up to be pretty similar even from seed..





My favourite plant..





The reason for doing all this..



An even canopy of buds just a week from harvest. That?s it, another viable alternative for small space and/or small light growers that want to maximize yield.