Pruning for yield

Is it better to clip the top of the plant when it’s a foot tall so it will grow two branches? Will that create more buds and increase the yield?
fah Q,

It depends on the size of the canopy provided for the plant. Figure that to grow big buds, each branch requires a space of about 6 inches x 6 inches. If plants are being grown in a sea of green system, four per square foot, each plant is limited to one main bud. Subsidiary buds below the canopy, which are destined to remain small, are trimmed from the plant when the lights are turned down and again about two weeks into flowering. The bud is supported so it doesn’t infringe on its neighbor’s space. This can be done using a stake netting or wires attached to the ceiling.

A plant with a one square foot canopy could support 4 buds. Rather than taking 5-7 days to vegetate the way 6 inch single stem plants require, these plants will grow more infrastructure and require a vegetative period of about 3 weeks. At about 10 days, the tip of the plant is removed. Most of the lower branches are also removed, leaving only three or four main branches. Each of these is supported so that it remains upright in its area of the canopy. Although you might prune down to four stems, each with support, you will find that only three will be large and one will be moderate sized.

Pruning away the underbrush and smaller branches focuses the plant’s energy on the remaining buds, which grow large and bulky with fewer leaves. The plant grows virtually no smaller, lower quality bud.

Indoor plants that occupy a larger portion of the canopy are very inefficient because they spend an inordinate amount of time in vegetation. They are growing linearly ? constructing one branch and then another, occupying the space over a period of time. With the sea of green approach, by using smaller plants, the branches are growing in parallel at the same time, and occupy the canopy in days rather than weeks or months.

Unfortunately, US cops, trying to prove that they can count even double and triple digits, take plant counts very seriously. For instance, in Oregon, patients are limited to cultivating six plants. A more objective, scientific basis for determining garden intent would be to determine total power to the flowering space of the garden (figure 1/4 pound per 1000 watt lamp) divided by patient use. Plant count is often used to determine intent and sentencing in non-medical cases in most states and in federal cases.

The political situation and threat of persecution may actually bend an individual’s concept of efficiency. Growing fewer, larger plants which take more time to grow and finish may actually be more efficient than growing a short crop, sea of green garden ? a situation warped by undemocratic laws of behavior control.

To grow plants with a canopy of more than a foot diameter, the roots need a lot of room to stretch out and the canopy has to be clear so that the plant can grow laterally. Clip the top after the seventh set of leaves, when the plant is about 12-15 inches tall. The side branches will lengthen to fill a diameter of 2 to 3 feet. Then prune the plant. Leave only those branches with direct access to the canopy. Looking down at the plant, any branches that you can’t see should be removed, so the plant can concentrate on growing big buds on the remaining branches.

Each branch should occupy a 6 inch diameter space. A plant occupying a 2 foot diameter space has an area of about 3 feet (pi x radius squared). This is enough space for about 12 branches. A 3 foot diameter plant occupies an area of about 7’2″, enough room for almost 30 branches. Of course, it may take six weeks to grow the plant to this size.

Readers with grow questions (or answers) should send them to Ed at:
Ask Ed, PMB 147, 530 Divisadero St., San Francisco, California 94117, USA
You can also email Ed at [email protected], and send queries via his website at
All featured questions will be rewarded with a copy of Marijuana Question? Ask Ed. Sorry, Ed cannot send personal replies to your questions.