Training autoflowering strains is possible and easier than many people think. Due to the short amount of time autoflower strains spend in the vegetative stage, many people think they cannot be trained. This is far from true.
What are the benefits of training your autoflower strains?
Training autoflower strains brings a range of benefits to grower. One of the main benefits is autoflower yields can be much larger with some training. Plus, you can also get a wider, flatter marijuana plant. This isn’t as much of an issue with auto strains. However, it can help growers that have very little grow space.
Many people prefer to do very little topping and training of their autoflower strains. These plants don’t take long to reach full maturity and it’s best not to place them under undue stress. That doesn’t mean though, that growers can’t top or train their autoflowers at all. They just must know how to do it.
Low Stress Training (LST)
Low stress training is the perfect training option for autos. This type of training relies on bending the branches, without cutting them. It’s important to remember that autoflowers reach maturity very quickly. Therefore, their branches will be very firm and could snap off if they are bent too much.
When performing low stress training, simply pinch the stem rather than bending it. The force applied should be just enough to break the inner stem. After the stem has been bent, it can then be left to recover. When the stem has doubled in length, the plant can undergo more low stress training.
Another method used for training autoflower strains is topping autoflowers. This is a contentious issue for some growers, but it can be done.
Topping an autoflower strain should start at the fourth or fifth node of the plant. It should also be done within the first two weeks of the vegetative stage. This will give the plant plenty of time to recover. At this time, the very top of the main stem is cut off. This will force the plant to grow two stems instead of one.
Two main stems will essentially split the cola, giving you two instead of just one. It also allows the plant to spread out under the light, giving more lower branches access to light.
If possible, it’s best to use your fingers to top the plant. Wash your hands very well, so it does not stress the plant. Then simply squeeze the stem with your thumbnail. This will provide for a cleaner cut than scissors, as scissors can squeeze the stem too much.
Super cropping should only be done on very healthy plants. Even plants that have recovered from past damage should not be topped. There is simply no time for the plant to recover from further damage. Super cropping on the wrong plant could leave it in the recovery stag and it will briefly stop vegetating. When this happens, growth will be stunted.
Sea of Green (SOG)
Training autoflower strains with the Sea of Green (SOG) method is extremely effective. With this method, plants are packed close together. Therefore, many growers short on space use this method. While light cycles are typically involved, that’s not necessary with autoflowering strains. Here’s how it’s done.
- Germinate the auto seeds
- Grow the plants until they reach around 10 to 12 inches in height.
- Space the plants out, giving each plant one to two square feet of space around them.
- Trim the branches underneath
- Allow the plants to grow until a canopy of buds form.
- Harvest when ready.
While auto strains may not need to follow a certain light cycle, they do still need light to grow. This is true with any plant. Packing the plants so they form a canopy, or Sea of Green, allows the plant to make the most of the light they are getting.
Screen of Green (SCROG)
Using a Screen of Green (SCROG) growing method is like the Sea of Green method. Plants are still placed closely together in order to best utilize the light they receive. Plants also often develop more than one cola in a SCROG setup.
However, there is a difference with SCROG. With this method of training autoflower strains, a screen is placed over top of the plants.
To use the SCROG training method:
- Choose a screen. It can be chicken wire or nylon netting, anything that will back the tops of the plants. Make sure it has holes five centimeters in diameter.
- Keep the screen as close as possible to the light.
- Place one plant for every 30 centimeters of screen.
- As the plant grows, pull the branches back and tie them down onto empty sections of the screen.
- Remove larger fan leaves as the plant grows. This will allow the buds to get more energy from the light. Don’t remove too many of the large leaves, however.
- Provide proper air circulation. When packing plants so closely together, issues such as mold can be a problem. Autoflower strains still need good air circulation, so make sure they get it.
Even though they bring many benefits, auto strains still bring up a world of debate among growers. Whether or not training autoflower strains is one of the most contested topics. Truthfully however, it is possible to train autoflower strains. And growers can do with several different kinds of setups if they choose.
Just like any plant though, it’s important that the plant is strong and healthy before training begins. Otherwise it could place too much stress on the plant and it may not have time to recover.