If there’s one thing you probably know about autoflowers is they can be far more sensitive than regular cannabis plants, due to their short natured life cycle. But, one topic that’s recently been trending amongst the growing world is the act of low stress training (LST) autoflower plants. As autoflowers become more popular, professionally and personally, many are experimenting with the best ways to grow the most maximized and high-quality yields. So, should you LST autoflower or not? We’ll answer that question and more in our ultimate LST autoflower guide.
The Basics of Low-Stress Training
Before we cover low-stress training autoflowers, let’s refresh ourselves on what LST actually is. Low stress training cannabis plants describes the art of training your cannabis plants with low-stress techniques that manipulates canopy shape for varying benefits. Why? The idea is to disrupt the plant’s natural apical dominance or natural way of growing upward with one centra cola. By doing so you’re training the plant’s side branches to grow alongside the main cola, overall maximizing growth and weight.
Examples of LST for autos include bending branches by tying or staking, SOG or SCROG (more about that later) methods. While low-stress training techniques are common for regular photoperiod cannabis varieties because autoflowers have a short life cycle even the slightest stressor can stunt or halt growth. This is why LST for autos is somewhat debated amongst the growing world.
Advantages & Disadvantages of LST for Autos
So far, as growers expand the use of low stress training autoflower plants we’ve collectively come across some advantages and disadvantages. Those being
Advantages of Low-Stress Training Autoflowers
- Maximize light exposure for maximized yields – With even levels of light you can seen increased bud sites to maximize yields.
- Decreased vertical space – If you’re low on ceiling space, low stress training autoflowers will help by training the plant to grow more horizontally vs vertically.
- Denser buds – Some growers report denser, fatter nugs with LST autoflower plants most likely due to increased light exposure.
- Control space & stretching – You can maximize the amount of space you have with your grow room by controlling and manipulating stretching of the plant.
Disadvantages of Low-Stress Training Autoflowers
- Could stress plant and stunt or halt growth – When not done properly, LST for autos can stunt growth or halt it completely.
- Plant stress or stunts can minimize yields and overall quality – If low stress training autoflower plants do become stressed or stunted, your yields and quality will be negatively affected.
How To LST Autoflower Plants
If you’re willing to take the slight risk of the disadvantages that LST for autos may cause – here are the most common ways to implement LST techniques for autoflowering plants.
Bending & Tie-Down
One of the easiest LST methods for autoflowers is the art of bending and tying down branches. It’s also one that’s preferable amongst growers since it rarely results in growth stunts or issues. To do so successfully, basically, you’ll slightly bend the top branches to become in line with the rest of the canopy. Therefore manipulating a more horizontal canopy versus vertical. By typing the branches to the edge of the pots (make holes and use green tie!) you can control the structure of the plant’s growth to maximize light exposure. Therefore, bulking up buds that normally would have been in the shadows of other branches. In turn, maximizing yields overall.
SCROG or Screen of Green references the installation of a ‘screen’ above the plant canopy to provide support and stability. The idea is, the top canopy of the plant with the additional support becomes ‘high-value’. By removing the lower branches, growers allow the plant to divert its energy to the top branches. Learn more with our complete guide here.
SOG or Sea of Green method is another that’s common for photoperiod and autoflowering plants. To learn more about the simple LST technique and how to integrate it for your crops, read our full guide here.
You should also keep in mind that certain strains and genes will respond or react differently to LST techniques than others. The best seed banks will indicate if LST for the individual strains they breed if the information is known. Otherwise, read up on the following tips when beginning to implement LST for autos.
Tips for Successfully Low-Stress Training Autoflowers
In general, for any autoflower low-stress training techniques – be sure to keep these best practices in mind.
Time LST right
You should do the most of your LST for autos in the first 4 weeks of the plant’s life cycle. But, don’t do it too often either. It’s recommended to implement low stress training for autoflowers once in the first 4 weeks, and never during flowering.
Use thick twine
To avoid damaging your plant’s fragile young branches, use thick twine versus ones that can easily slice or cause breakage.
Choose a suitable strain
Do your research and ensure the strain you grow is suitable for LST. Like the following –
Improving Autoflower Yields with LST
With the knowledge you’ve gained today, now you know how to improve and even maximize autoflower yields with LST. Plus, the best tips and tricks to follow to do so successfully. What always helps optimal growth is high-quality seeds to start with. So, look no further than AutoSeeds for top-notch autoflowering seeds and genetics. Shop our collection now, or browse our growing guides for more best practices and growing advice.