What is Lollipopping?
A unique high yield pruning technique of cannabis plants that includes removal of a lower portion of the plants so that the upper buds take up all the energy for better yields is known as lollipopping. This technique is named after the way the plants get shaped like lollipops after being pruned.
The technique is put to use by the third week of the flowering cycle (vegetative phase of the plants). It's also responsible for the circulation of auxin(a growth hormone in plants). It promotes stem elongation, inhibits the growth of lateral buds and helps in maintaining the apical dominance of the plants. Therefore the quality and quantity of harvest are said to be improved by this technique.
Lollipopping is preferred by indoor cannabis cultivators as it's inexpensive and saves a lot of space for the growers. It also takes bare minimum tools that are handy to carry out this procedure. Equipment like soft plant ties/strings, scissors, duct tapes, small hand-drill, etc are required.
What Is Lollipopping Zone?
Lollipopping is a process used for better and greater yields. However to carry out the process meticulously one has to recognize the lollipopping zone of the plants.
The lower third of the cannabis plant is the lollipopping zone. This portion receives less light and is the best source and means for popcorn buds.
However, it's recommended that the growers do not prune more than 20-30% of the plant. The pruning of secondary shoots should also be carried out in a similar way as that of the main stem.
Though lollipopping may seem to be a harsh process, it proves to be very beneficial in the long run.
Suitable Time for Lollipopping
The final two weeks of the growing phase that follows the bloom or flowering phase is the most efficient period for this process to be carried out.
Some growers believe that extreme trimming is known as schwazzing, which includes stripping the cannabis crop of almost every leaf as soon as the bloom phase begins should be done during the start of the bloom phase.Some cultivators also recommend the cultivators to carry out the same process three weeks later.
Pros of Lollipopping
Some of the advantages of carrying out this process are:
● An adequate amount of light is very essential for the growth of cannabis plants. When the plants are not pruned properly, the areas that receive lesser light have lesser growth eg: the lower parts of the plants. Therefore, in this process the lower portion of the plants are pruned so that the plant concentrates all their energies into producing potent and bigger buds on the top.
● The lollipopping technique is effective for indoor cultivators with an inadequate lighting system. Only the upper portion of the plants need light for better yield from time to time.
Therefore this process saves a lot of electricity for indoor cultivators.
● The plants require minimum space to grow since most of the lower branches are trimmed off and the plants are given a specific shape.
● For the plants that grow in moist areas, the removal of the lower leaves that are closer to the ground reduces the risks of pest and mold infestation.
Cons of Lollipopping
Some of the disadvantages of carrying out this process are:
● This method of lollipopping cannot be applied universally to all kinds of cannabis plants in all kinds of environments.
● The process of bending and trimming all the lower branches is a tedious process as the growers have to be very careful about them. They also have to be alert about the branches and stems not getting broken while bending them.
● Many growers do not like the technique of lollipopping. They believe that lesser leaves mean less area for photosynthesis which in turn means the removal of energy source for the plants.
● The lack of knowledge of the growers regarding the main stem and side branches can prove to be disastrous.
Right Process of Lollipopping and Other Techniques that Can be Combined
The cultivators have to keep an eye on the cannabis plants and prune them accordingly for better yields. These growing techniques are mostly utilized by growers who have gained experience in cultivating cannabis.
● Although many cultivators make use of knives and scissors for pruning it's best if one makes the use of hands while lollipopping.The plants take less energy and time to heal this damage.
However for thicker stems, one may make use of scissors
Lollipopping is all about carefully removing lower bud sites and leaves and making sure not to cut through the shoots. It's very important to keep in mind to wait until the flowering phase to start lollipopping.
● Some growers prune anything lower than the fourth or even third bud site on each branch. Few growers also remove ⅓ of the plant from the bottom up.
These are both good rules of thumb to follow, but it should be kept in mind that everything really depends on the strain of the plant.
Some growers would want to work slowly and pay close attention to how the light affects the plants and decide for themselves what’s worth keeping and what has to be trimmed.
● The SOG or sea of the green method is a process that reduces the growing time and increases the cannabis yield. This method starts the flowering stage earlier than usual, forcing the plants to create buds quickly(pre vegetative stage-two weeks).
SOG set up goes well with being paired with the lollipopping method. The buds get enough light and air since premature plants are less likely to be susceptible to both. This technique is idealized for marijuana cultivation in smaller spaces.
● The SCROG or Screen of Green method, when combined with lollipopping, is another famous technique for marijuana cultivation.
This method is used mainly by indoor cultivators. The upper part of the plant is kept as close to the light as possible. This process suspends the upper part of the plant in between the spaces provided by the wiring.
The screen used for SCROG should be sturdy enough to support the weight of the buds on the upper part. This way, the growth of your marijuana plant would not be deprived.
It's mostly used for Indica strains because they grow vertically meanwhile Sativa ones are more bushy and horizontal in growth.
● Low-Stress Training or LST growers manipulate the shape of the cannabis plants for greater yield and better quality. Low-Stress Training releases important plant-growth hormones like auxin and evenly distributes them throughout the plant.
As the name suggests this technique allows a marijuana plant to increase the yield with a lesser strain on the plants.
Auxins are usually found in their highest concentrations towards the top of the plant, which is why the lower parts produce smaller buds.
It includes gentle bending and tying down of plants. This bending process is done for a better distribution of light. Cannabis plants tend to grow into a “Christmas tree” like shape known as apical dominance.LST aims at leveling the height of the canopy.
Low-Stress Training: An Ancient Technique
LST is an ancient technique, used in modern days to force trees to become of a particular shape. Similar techniques are believed to be used in other plants like apple, pear,fig-trees since times unknown. The ancient Egyptians were believed to have used similar methods to grow trees horizontally more than 3,000 years ago.
A method known as espalier became very popular in 17th century Europe and made carefully trimmed and shaped hedgerows of trees. The practice was not just for better harvests, but also as a way to beautify the landscape.
Step by Step Process of Low-Stress Training
As the name suggests Low-Stress Training puts emphasis on causing low stress to the plants. LST reduces the time needed for the plant to recover from the training.
Some of the necessary steps for Low-Stress Training are:
● Selection of Stems- The cannabis stems that can be bent easily, without snapping is suitable for LST. The initial portion of the plant that the cultivator must train is the main stem. It's also very important for the cultivators to select the shape of the plant.
It's an easier option to stick to the simple cannabis bush for the ones who have just started.
● Beginning the Process of Tying- The highest branch of the plant needs to be tied and bent lower than the other parts of the plant. The main idea is to keep all the stems at an equal distance from the light for equal distribution of it.
The process of LST is best to start when the plants are young because they are easier to bend then. Observation is a very major step in this process.
● Securing the stems- The stem should be secured with 2 pieces of strings: one about 1–2 inches from the tip of the plant, and another roughly should be 1–2 inches from the bottom.
While securing a rope or string around a stem, it has to be kept loose. Space is required to be left for the growth of new tissues. The branch tends to get suffocated if the knot is too tight.
● Process of Tying is Repeated- This process needs to be repeated by tying the lower branches after the canopy is properly filled and uniform again.
The top branches need to be bent first. The branches need to be bent like the main stem. This makes sure that the branches and leaves at the top of the plant don’t block any light from getting at the bottom parts.
While bending the branches it has to be made sure that the branches do not snap. This process has to be carried out very carefully.
● Flowering- The step of flowering in cannabis plants quickens the process of growth of the plants. The lower branches need to be pruned at this stage because they won’t get sufficient light at this time.
Pruning the plant at a stage when the plants are 2-3 weeks into flowering is ideal. Pruning allows better ventilation and helps in concentrating the energy on the upper buds for better growth of them.
Other Alternative Options of Lollipopping
There are quite a few pruning techniques that the cannabis cultivators can resort to for better yields.
● Topping- It's a technique in which the top part of a plant is cut off to stop it from growing upward in order to promote lateral growth in the lower branches.
Topping is done during the vegetative phase of the plants. It helps in the distribution of growth hormones from the main stalk to the lower parts of the plants.
● Fimming- This method is also quite similar to the process of topping. It includes removing a part of the main stem. The purpose is to promote multiple main colas.
Sometimes fimming can prove to be even more effective than topping for increasing the yield of cannabis plants.
Fimming can be applied anytime during the vegetative phase of the plants.
● Monster cropping- This process includes the cloning of flowering plants that grow very bushy. This technique is also known as Flowering clones.
Monster cropping can prove to be very successful when carried out outdoors or in a greenhouse.
● High-Stress Training- HST should be carried out ideally during the vegetative state of the cannabis plants. It can also be done early in flowering stages, but stressing the plants during flowering is not advisable.
These HST methods are recommended rather than the LST methods for outdoor cultivation.
Concluding Thoughts on Lollipopping and Low-Stress Training
These unique processes are both results of extensive experimentation. When applied by cannabis cultivators for greater yield and better quality weed production, the techniques proved to be quite effective.
By the process of lollipopping and LST, these cannabis plants are maintained just like the bonsai plants, controlling their height and increasing production.
Though pruning sounds very harsh on the plants it's one of the most important techniques to increase the ability of the plants to produce better buds and promote health to them.It also regulates the passage of hormones in the plants that affect the yield of the plants positively.
Though Lollipopping and LST are not very difficult procedures, experienced growers are preferred because the slightest of mistakes can prove to be fatal to the cannabis plants and their production.