Subcool’s Topping Tips

Topping is an area that is misunderstood by many growers.

While a single growing shoot will produce a larger single cola, topping a plant properly can put 4 colas in the sweet spot of light intensity. This allows more of the plant, especially the lower buds, to receive better light and produce larger buds. The overall yield of the plant is greater than an un-topped plant in most cases.

It’s important to top the plants early to get a good start on this style. As soon as my clones have rooted well and have started to grow I chop out the meristem, causing the plant to divide into 2 growing shots. This will slow the growth down initially but in the long run you will have a stronger plant that yields more. If this is performed low enough, the plant will actually develop 4 heads – just leave 4 growing shoots.

Not all strains benefit from topping, but most do. Some really short, slow Indicas like Urkle just take too long to grow out when topped like this, but this method allows us to harvest 5 ounces consistently in soil per plant. To be more clear: all plants do better if topped, but some slow-growing varieties will require additional time to mature to a proper budding plant size.

Topping early is the key with most strains, so the plant maintains a low profile with the maximum amount of bud sites in the sweet spot. Topping also allows fewer plants to fill a room. When dealing with medical limits, fewer plants that can produce the same amounts of cannabis is a very crucial aspect to master.

Seedlings are a bit different and you must allow the seedling to develop and have at least 4-5 internodes before topping. If you top a seedling too early, the shock will slow the plant down, wasting a tremendous amount of time. Allow a seeded plant to get herself rooted well and establish several sets of fan leaves. I like to wait till I see roots in the drain holes before my first topping.

Subcool is an expert grower and breeder, and author of Dank: The Quest for the Very Best Marijuana, published by Ed Rosenthal’s Quick Trading Company. He and is a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture and other marijuana magazines. Read Subcool’s Blog.



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  322. Anonymous on

    u can cut any where as long as is close to the ground and if you wanna cut a stalk big enough to clone…. FREE MARC WEST COAST CALI BUD

  323. Anonymous on

    How many books on growing have you written there brah? Kind of hard to take your condescension seriously when you mention getting your info from google instead of experience. My guess is that Subcool has a bigger yearly crop than you have in your entire lifetime.

  324. Smokeshow on

    This article was about TOPPING not FIMing. They are two different methods. This is good info on topping.

    As well, there is tons of great information on this website and all for free.

    Sound like the person who posted that above comment comes from one of CCs sourgrapes competitors who don’t post free articles online

    Overgrow the government!

  325. Anonymous on

    Never hurts to reiterate standard trimming techniques. He didn’t claim that the article was the latest in trimming technology. It is what it is. Looks like an accurate description to me.

  326. Anonymous on

    What about the FIM technique where you trim the growing tip just so and it sprouts into four? An up-to-date article should have the latest info don’t you think? Maybe Google it if you want to stay current.

    Where did you cut-and-paste that from? An old copy of the defunct CC mag I bet. Nice try. Better luck next time.

    Where’s that on-line mag we were promised? I miss the hard copy. I used to do the forums here but went elsewhere for my 420 info.

    Sorry Subcool, but you’re better than that.

  327. Herb Roach on

    I look at the pictures and it looks like the stalk is being cut rather then the meristem? Isnt the meristem the very tip top of the plants growth? right where the newest set of fan leaves are attatched to the stalk.