There are numerous methods of growing marijuana to help maximize the yield. Low-stress training (LST) techniques are convenient ways to do so without subjecting your crop to much damage. In contrast, high-stress training (HST) methods are riskier with a higher potential for hurting your plants. However, with skill and practice, you could benefit from massive yields when you get it right.
Super cropping is considered as one of the most straightforward HST methods. It is one of the oldest and most widespread tactics, mainly because of its simplicity and the fact that it works. If you perform it expertly, you will love the large colas it produces. If you mess it up, you better hope that patching it up with duct tape helps your plant heal!
The process of super cropping involves placing stress on the plant by exerting gentle pressure to damage the tissues deliberately. It can result in more buds, bushier plants, and even more potent weed. If you are ready for the challenge, keep reading to understand the process of super cropping.
What Is the Purpose of Super Cropping?
It is necessary to learn why cannabis plants produce resin to understand the reason for super cropping. Marijuana plants create resin to protect themselves from predators. It contains a variety of substances, including the cannabinoid, THC. Therefore, in general, the more resin a plant produces, the better. Growers love getting their hands on sticky, resinous buds because they know intoxication awaits!
The buds and leaves of each plant have thousands of minuscule glands, and each one produces resin. The heat of sunlight softens the substance and enables it to pour all over the leaves and buds. Cannabis plants use it to keep themselves safe against pests, dehydration, and low temperatures. They initiate the resin-producing mechanism when damaged. When growers learn how to damage the plant without badly hurting it, they will benefit from resinous buds.
The primary reason to engage in super cropping is to boost yield and enjoy weed with a higher THC content. However, you can also do it to make your plants broader and more able to use light efficiently. When you super crop a plant, you bend half of the plant, and the top part grows horizontally. Side branches grow vertically, thus creating a larger surface area. It is an especially useful tactic if you only have a handful of plants.
Some growers use this HST technique when their plants are growing close to their grow lights. If you are unable to hang the lights higher, you face a problem. You’ll find that super cropping is great for sativas because they grow tall.
Pros and Cons of Super Cropping
- Relatively quick and easy.
- You don’t need much equipment.
- Ideal if your plants are growing too tall for their space.
- Provides higher yields and greater potency.
- Creates possible sites for infection.
- Mistakes are potentially costly.
- The process can backfire spectacularly if a plant reacts badly.
- Slow plant recovery time.
Your Guide to Super Cropping Marijuana Plants
Before you begin, you’ll need the following:
- Some experience of growing cannabis.
- Soft plant ties, or something else to tie down branches that isn’t sharp.
- Duct tape.
- Your fingers.
The super cropping process involves crushing stem tissue, so it becomes easy to bend. If you try bending the branch before this ‘softening up’ method, you increase the risk of a broken branch. Your goal is to snap the branches below the flower cluster. In theory, your bud lies to one side and exposes a side of the cluster to light. Here is a quick guide.
1 – Select Your Branches
Your first task is to find the most pliable (bendy) branches. Look for green parts rather than the older, firmer ones at the bottom of the stalk. If your plant already has several colas, super crop the same site on several of them. If it has a single cola, opt for the greener growth near the top.
2 – Squeeze & Bend
Your aim is to damage the plant’s inner tissue without hurting the exterior. This process helps make the stem easy to bend. Grab the branch and firmly squeeze it between your thumb and forefinger. Imagine that you are trying to crush that part of the branch. Wiggle it between your fingers for at least ten seconds and keep applying the pressure.
Keep wiggling the area until the inside of the stem feels softer. Once it feels loose, gently bend it in the direction you want. Use a plant tie to secure it in place. If the stem feels particularly stiff, you may need to squeeze and shake it for up to a minute. You should never try to force the issue. If a branch feels like it will snap, there’s an excellent chance that it will.
If you don’t bend the branch enough, it will return to its original shape within a few hours. This is why you must secure the stem. If the plant seems broken and is at a 90-degree angle from where you bent it, and the branch remains down, you have succeeded in your mission.
3 – Fix Any Damage
If you are new to super cropping, this step is inevitable. If you’re lucky, the damage is minimal, so no duct tape is required. However, you will need strong tape to reinforce the plant and help it to heal. You know there is real damage if you see a crack or open slit on the exterior of the stem.
If you don’t crack the stem, securing it with twisty ties or zip ties will suffice. The original site of the bend will now grow a large knot that helps transport more nutrients and water than before.
4 – Remove the Tape
After about a week, remove the tape. Don’t panic if you see discoloration in the healing area; this is normal. If the site has a gray hue and looks damaged, put the tape back on until you see the protective knot. As long as your plant has the tape in place, it will continue to use water and nutrients as usual. If you see some branches trying to straighten, tie them down LST style.
The result is more branches and buds, not to mention a bushier plant. Super cropping is especially useful when trying to grow in a small space – or in secret!
When Should I Start Super Cropping My Cannabis Plants?
One of the great things about super cropping is that you can complete the process relatively quickly. However, unlike other HST methods, you require patience. You can FIM, top, or LST plants once they develop a couple of sets of leaves in the early vegetative stage. With super cropping, you need to wait until the fourth week of vegetative growth. It works best on weed that has developed a little and plants that are at least 30cm tall.
You have a relatively short window to begin. Once your plants make the transition to the blooming stage, they undergo hormonal changes, and super cropping loses its effectiveness. When you super crop on time, the plant gets confused because its auxin distribution becomes manipulated. When this happens, it is unsure which branch is the main stem.
If you leave it until the flowering stage, however, the plant’s energy becomes focused on flower production. Its shoots also grow too rigid to bend for super cropping. Attempting to complete the process at this stage will only result in broken branches.
Unlike LST, autoflowering strains are not ideal for super cropping. While the technique is quick and easy to apply, your plants require a long vegetative cycle for full effectiveness. Ideally, the method will have an additional 6-8 weeks of vegetative growth to look forward to. You simply don’t get this amount of time with autoflowering strains.
Also, super cropping is a labor-intensive technique, which means it probably isn’t realistic for growers with extensive gardens.
You’ll Get Better – With Experience!
It is highly likely that you’ll make a few blunders at first. Unlike LST, it takes time and effort to get used to the ‘feel’ of super cropping. Different strains have varying structural strength and tolerances. You will find that some plants break easily, while others bend perfectly with little damage.
On the plus side, cannabis is a robust plant, and it heals extremely quickly. If you crack or break a branch, stay calm. In at least 90% of cases, your plant will recover as long as a broken limb is taped back before its leaves begin to droop. If you break a branch and the bud is hanging upside down, create a splint, or use wide tape to ensure it goes back into the right place.
At first, you will need to use plant ties or an alternative to ensure the branches remain where you want them to. In this case, tie branches on the trunk side of the scar rather than the bud side. Eventually, when you get more accustomed to the process, you will not need to tie down the branches because you have bent them correctly.
Final Thoughts on Super Cropping Marijuana Plants
You can sum up the super cropping process like this:
- Pick the branches you want to super crop.
- Pinch them between your thumb and forefinger.
- Wiggle the branch until it gets soft and pliable.
- Slowly bend the branch into position.
- Tie it down if necessary.
- Repair with duct tape if damage occurs.
When you super crop your cannabis plants, you potentially increase its resin production. The result is weed with a higher level of THC. There are certainly a few downsides, and it is something novices should avoid. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it earlier.
It is a reasonably quick HST method that you can use 3-4 weeks into the vegetative stage. If you aim to keep your plants compact, avoid starting the process until they are at least 12 inches tall. Once your plants enter the flowering stage, it is time to stop super cropping. This is because the side branches no longer grow vertically. You can try super cropping in the bloom phase, but only if your sole goal is increased resin production.