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24 February 2021

Low-Stress Training Techniques to Increase Yield in Cannabis Cultivation

The art of training cannabis plants to grow in a particular manner is an old trick many indoor growers use to capitalize on production. By spreading branches out in favourable directions, marijuana growers train plants advantageously to maximize grow space while increasing yields. 

Some cultivators implement high-stress training (HST) such as topping, FIM practices, super cropping, and pruning techniques to sculpt plants for the desired outcome. While these tactics, performed in the right manner, increase growth development, they also create a stressful situation for marijuana plants to overcome.

Low-Stress Training (LST) techniques, on the other hand, simply bend branches out and away from the base of the plant. This strategy opens up bottom stalks, allowing more light consumption and airflow throughout the plant. While leaves may look a bit forlorn when first bending them down, a quick rebound occurs as they reach toward the light source in a short time.

In this Low-Stress Training Tutorial, we’ll show you how to maximize the potential from a marijuana plant, ultimately increasing yield in your cannabis cultivation.

How Plants Respond to Low-Stress Training Techniques

When a cannabis seed is planted, its natural tendency is to grow up towards the light. The young plant generally has one large main stem, shooting side branches out as it matures through its life cycle.  If left unattended, the plant will grow up and out, resembling the shape of a Christmas tree. Botanists call this type of growth “apical dominance”.

Low-stress training procedures disrupt apical dominance as the top of the plant is bent sideways to encourage lateral growth. Bending the main stem down in early vegetative growth stimulates the cannabis plant to produce inter-nodal lateral shoots. These tiny stems eventually become branches that will support the massive bud weight that occurs in flower time. As the cannabis plant begins developing longer limbs, bending them in strategic directions defines the shape for future growth.

Continually bending branches as the marijuana plant matures in veg begins to paint a picture of how to shape the plant for peak performance. As the pre-flower stage emerges, growth skyrockets. Training techniques continue for the next couple of weeks to complete the canvas. With LST practices administered, a cannabis grower can create a masterpiece in the flowering stage as the plant supports a plethora of THC infused, resinous buds.

Spreading limbs and branches out and away from the base increases light penetration and airflow throughout the cannabis plant. Young, tender shoots popping up along bent down branches will eventually become thick stalks supporting dense, juicy buds. Creating multiple bud sites by implementing low-stress training techniques results in bigger yields.

Low stress training technique used to increased yield when growing marijuana

Preparing for Low-Stress Training on a Cannabis Plant

There are a few items you will require  to perform LST techniques. Gardener’s wire, twist ties, or pipe cleaners are the best way to tie down tender young stalks. Hemp twine is fairly non-abrasive but be careful if you use string. It tends to rub on branches causing cuts and scarring on delicate tissue.

Depending on personalized methods for growing cannabis, there are a couple of different approaches for applying LST. Tying branches to the pot is a simple manoeuvre. Holes are drilled in plastic pots to loop gardeners’ wire or twist ties to hold limbs down. Creative cannabis growers recommend attaching safety pins on fabric pots to secure the wire when tying down branches.

This procedure works well as the cannabis plant develops in the early growth stages. However, as the plant begins exponential growth in late veg and early flower phases, numerous twist ties or gardeners wire attached to the pot limits access to lower branches. Also, consider whether the cannabis plant needs transplanting after implementing low-stress training.

Some growers use staking methods for both LST in vegetative growth and structural support when the marijuana plant hits full bloom. Bamboo or rubber-coated metal stakes are driven into the substrate inside the pot. Gardener’s wire or twist ties are then used to secure side branches to the stakes. As the cannabis plant bursts into the flowering phase, stakes also help support weighty, bud laden branches.

Most commercial cannabis facilities use trellising to spread the canopy in desirable locations. This method, better known as the Screen of Green (ScrOG), requires a fine mesh netting or other similar material positioned horizontally over the plant(s). Bending and weaving tall branches under the trellis creates a uniform canopy, encouraging lateral growth.

Additional trellises are layered to support branches heavy with trichome-thick buds during the flowering stage. ScrOG techniques are powerful to help structure and support plant development. Many high-production cannabis companies use this method to initiate better yields.

How to Apply Low-Stress Training Techniques to Cannabis Plants

The best time to start low-stress training is when the cannabis plant is in early vegetative growth. Bend the main stem branch when it is tall enough to do so, usually 10cm – 15cm. Careful not to break the stem, tie it down low, out, and away from the plant base.

The plant will look a little awkward at first, as fan leaves opened wide to receive light for photosynthesis are now bent over and looking scraggly. But don’t worry, cannabis is a resilient plant. Within a short time, leaves will rearrange direction, shifting growth up to soak in warm light rays.

As the plant adjusts to the new position, internode shoots will begin to develop. Tying these branches down when they become long enough sets the stage for plant structuring. Maintaining an even canopy by strategically training stalks in different directions opens the plant up for expansive growth during the vegetative stage.

As the marijuana plant enters reproduction in the pre-flower phase, LST controls sprawling limbs during the stretch. Sativa dominant strains, in particular, benefit from low-stress training. Loosely tying long branches to tall stakes on these prolific plants, provides support for gangly limbs.

Be aware that this is a critical time during plant development as energy shifts into bud formation. Too much stress during the pre-flower stage could trigger the cannabis plant to hermaphrodite. Limit any plant training practices when it finishes the stretch heading into flower mode.

Growers using a ScrOG set-up in their grow room can easily bend branches in any direction to create a perfectly structured plant. Placing netting low when the marijuana plant is young directs branching growth away from the base, allowing more light penetration to spawn new stems and leaves. As the plant flourishes, adding additional screens spreads branches far and wide.

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Low-Stress Training Requires Attention

While low-stress training techniques are not necessarily difficult tasks, growers do have to make frequent adjustments as the cannabis plant explodes in lateral growth. For instance, thick-leafed Indica-dominant strains tend to be harder to control due to their strong meristem resilience to bending. These beauties may require daily correction and some defoliation to keep resistant limbs lowered.

Slow and steady training is a good practice to follow. The marijuana plant will rebound quickly after LST, and within a few days, new growth will advance rapìdly. Keep a watchful eye on plant growth progress to determine training practices best suited for the cannabis strain being grown.

If a branch breaks during training, merge the two pieces back together and secure the break with blue painters or duct tape. Cannabis plants have a miraculous healing process, even when an assault is produced by an unnatural source.

Increase Yields by Learning More about the Strain

Knowing specific traits from a particular cannabis cultivar helps a grower better understand what types of low-stress training techniques are best suited for the strain. For example, tall, languishing sativa strains generally require different training methods compared to their robust indica sisters.

Here at marijuanagrow. shop, we offer complete plant descriptions on all of our world-renowned strains, highlighting genetics, plant size, and ease of growth. These informative, detailed summaries provide valuable information to incorporate LST techniques that capture the full potential of a marijuana strain.

Whether your goal is to achieve success with a tried and true cultivar, or you want to dip your toes into uncharted territory, Marijuana Grow Shop supplies top of the line feminized, regular, and autoflower cannabis seeds for your next LST project. Visit MGS today for high-yielding cannabis strains that respond happily to low-stress training techniques.  

Post author
Charle Thibodeau
Charle’ Thibodeau is a freelance writer with almost a decade´s experience, specializing in cannabis content for the past two years. A strong motivation to educate, inform, and promote the culture surrounding this miraculous plant is her earnest mission.
See more from Charle Thibodeau

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